He was born around 1140 in the Anglo-Scottish border area (Northumberland & Scottish Borders) to parents whose names and identity are unknown. The details of his earliest education are not known either, but at some stage he may have studied under the great Hugh of St Victor. He is known to have rejected a clerical life in favour of monasticism, entering the Premonstratensian house of Dryburgh Abbey and becoming a priest there in 1165 at the age of twenty five.
Adam served under the first two abbots, Roger and Gerard, before in 1184 Adam himself became abbot. It is not clear if Adam became a full abbot or if he was just acting abbot or coadjutor. Abbot Gerard may have become incapacitated by illness, and Adam apparently refused to be blessed by a bishop while Abbot Gerard still lived. Adam was summoned to Prémontré, France, by its abbot the head of Adam's order. While in France Adam visited the Carthusian priory of Val St Pierre, which impressed him so much that he himself vowed to become a Carthusian, resigning his abbacy at Dryburgh. In this he was following in the footsteps of Abbot Roger, first head of Dryburgh Abbey, who had retired to Val St Pierre in 1177.
Adam returned to Britain and visited Hugh of Lincoln, Bishop of Lincoln. After consulting with this senior Carthusian figure and future saint, Adam joined Hugh's old priory at Witham, Somerset. The Premonstratensians did not give up trying to get him back, however, and it was only after the intervention from Bishop Hugh that a letter of release was issued to Adam. Adam would remain at Witham until his death, perhaps in the year 1212. He had no children, was said to have been of medium height; he was noted for his cheerfulness, his skill as a preacher and his good memory.
Adam was also a prolific writer, which included many sermons as well as theological and other religious texts. Among his most famous works were De tripartito tabernaculo, written at Dryburgh in 1180, and Liber de quadripartito exercitio cellae', written at Witham. His writings were first published by Aegidius Gourmont in Paris in 1518. Later in that century the churchman John Bale gave more writings to Adam by mistakenly attributing six works to Adam five of which he had no connection with.
Propers for Adam Scotus - 10 December - Monastic and Theologian
GOD, who hast endowed thy servant Adam Scotus with clarity of faith and holiness of life: Grant us to keep with steadfast minds the faith which he taught, and in his fellowship to be made partakers of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - Wisdom 7:7-14.
I CALLED upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her before sceptres and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither compared I unto her any precious stone, because all gold in respect of her is as a little sand, and silver shall be counted as clay before her. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for the light that cometh from her never goeth out. All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. And I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom goeth before them: and I knew not that she was the mother of them. I learned diligently, and do communicate her liberally: I do not hide her riches. For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth: which they that use become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning.
The Gospel - St. John 17:18-23.
AS thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
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