Gervinus Petri

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by Roger Andersson.

Gervinus Petri(d. ca. 1445), priest brother at the Birgittine abbey of Vadstena, Sweden, 1420–1445(?); confessor general 1426–1443; composer of sermons.


A former curate in the parish of Lärbro, Gotland, Gervinus Petri became a student at the University of Paris, where he (probably in 1414 or before) obtained the degree baccalaureus in iure. At Paris he served as procurator for the colleague of Linköping. After his studies Gervinus Petri is mentioned as canon of Linköping. On 15 December 1420 he entered Vadstena Abbey (DV 317). In 1426 he and >Johannes Bernardi spent a couple of months in the German daughter house, Marienwold; the purpose of the visit was to participate in the general chapter of the Order and to restore unity (DV 370). After his return (in August 1426) he was elected confessor general (DV 373) and in 1429 was made procurator of the entire Order (together with Nicolaus Jacobi from Maribo), with responsibilities for the central administration and for contacts with the papal Curia (DV 413). On 20 July 1430 he left for Rome together with two companions (DV 413) on a mission concerned with affairs of the Order. He returned to Vadstena in 1431 or the following year. On 13 August 1433 Gervinus left for Basel together with >Acho Johannis for the reform council (FREDRIKSSON ADMAN 2003, 19 et passim). Three years later (1436) he returned “without having achieved much on behalf of the Order” (DV 458). In 1438 he was commanded by the bishop of Linköping to dismiss all the sisters’ confessors, but only three of them were effectively removed (DV 482). In his capacity as confessor general of Vadstena Abbey Gervinus was involved during the following years in several property transactions, more than once together with members of the highest levels of society (Karl Knutsson, King Christopher). Gervinus initiated the construction of a new infirmary in Vadstena in 1442 (DV 522); the following year he composed regulations for the economy of the Abbey, which were later confirmed by the bishop (ed. GEETE 1900–1916, 155–66). On 16 October 1443 he voluntarily resigned from the confessorate. He is thought to have died in 1445 (SILFVERSTOLPE 1898, 85, without indication of source).


The most important work of Gervinus Petri was in the homiletic field. Uppsala University Library, C 328 contains both de tempore and de sanctis sermons. Some of his sermons are similar to sermons in wide-spread model collections by authors such as Jacobus de Voragine, but for the vast majority no definite source is known. The way in which he compiles his sermons from different sources may be illustrated in a sermon for the 8th Sunday after Trinity (C 328, fols. 150r–153v). Gervinus takes the beginning of the sermon from Jacobus de Voragine, but its main part is copied from a scientific treatise entitled De exemplis et similitudinibus rerum, composed by the fourteenth-century Dominican Johannes de Sancto Geminiano (ANDERSSON 2001, 94; cf. also 158 ff.). In all probability (cf. MHUU 4, p. 583) he has also written C 390, a manuscript which apart from sermons contains copies of a variety of theological texts together with a short piece in Old Swedish (Tolv mästare av Paris, ed. SCHÜCK 1885, 156 ff.). He has also written a minor part of C 338 (cf. MHUU 4, p. 290). The popularity of his sermons may be judged by the fact that younger colleagues sometimes quote from them. The piece in the vernacular, Tolv mästare av Paris, may (according to SCHÜCK 1885) have been composed by Gervinus, but seems on the other hand to be an elaboration of a German original. Gervinus is also known to have initiated biographies of St. Birgitta’s confessor >Petrus Olavi and her daughter Katherina (ed. SCHÜCK 1895, 18; cf. ibid., p. 123, 132 and FRÖJMARK 1992, 52).


  • ANDERSSON, R. 2001: De birgittinska ordensprästerna som traditionsförmedlare och folkfostrare. En studie i svensk medeltidspredikan på den 8:e söndagen efter Trefaldighet (Runica et Mediævalia), Stockholm.
  • DV = Vadstenadiariet. Latinsk text med översättning och kommentar (Kungl. Samfundet för utgivande av handskrifter rörande Skandinaviens historia. Handlingar del 19), ed. C. Gejrot, Stockholm 1996.
  • FREDRIKSSON ADMAN, A. 2003: Heymericus de Campo: Dyalogus super Revelacionibus beate Birgitte. A Critical Edition with an Introduction (Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia Latina Upsaliensia 27), Uppsala.
  • FRÖJMARK, A. 1992: Mirakler och helgonkult. Linköpings biskopsdöme under senmedeltiden (Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia historica Upsaliensia 171), Uppsala.
  • GEETE, R. (ed.) 1910–1916: Småstycken på fornsvenska 2 (SFSS), Stockholm.
  • MHUU = Mittelalterliche Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Uppsala. Katalog über die C-Sammlung 1–8 (Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis 26:1–8), ed. M. Andersson-Schmitt, H. Hallberg & M. Hedlund, Uppsala 1988–1995.
  • SCHÜCK, H. 1885: “Medeltidsstudier. 5. Tolf mästare af Paris,” Samlaren 6, 156–59.
  • SCHÜCK, H. 1895: “Två svenska biografier från medeltiden,” Antiqvarisk tidskrift för Sverige 5, 295–475 (other pagination 1–181).
  • SILFVERSTOLPE, C. 1898: Klosterfolket i Vadstena. Personhistoriska anteckningar (Skrifter och handlingar utgifna genom Svenska Autografsällskapet 4), Stockholm.