b) The Fulfillers of Prayers

Such a belief of appealing to the goddesses so as to have one’s prayers listened to and one’s vows granted seems to be highlighted by other names of Celtic goddesses. According to Delamarre, the Mother Goddesses called Vediantiae, mentioned in two inscriptions discovered in Cimiez (Alpes-Maritimes), might be glossed as ‘the Praying Mother Goddesses’. The inscriptions are the following: Matronis Vediantiabus P(ublius) Enistalius P(ubli) f(ilius), ‘To the Mother Goddesses Vediantiae, Publius Enistalius, son of Publius’ and [--deab]us Vedia[ntiabus--], ‘To the Goddesses Vediantiae’.2237 The term vediantiae could indeed bear some relation to the verb (in the first person) known from the lead of Chamalières: uediiumi, ‘I pray, I invoke’ (Gaulish verb gwhedhiiō ‘I pray’> IE *gwhedh-, ‘to pray’, ‘to invoke’ or ‘to ask’), which is cognate with Old Irish guidiu, ‘I pray’, guide, ‘prayer’ and geiss, ‘taboo’, and Welsh gweddi, ‘to pray’.2238 The Matronae Vediantiae, who are etymologically linked to the Gaulish tribe of the Vediantii, located in the area of Nice, would therefore have embodied this cult of soliciting the help and advice of the divine through prayers and various rites.2239

The Menmandutiae, revealed in an inscription from Béziers (Hérault): Menmandútis M(arcus) Licinius Sabinus v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito), ‘To the Menmandutiae, Marcus Licinus Sabinus fulfilled his vow willingly and deservedly’,2240 and probably related to the goddess Menmanhia invoked on an dedication discovered in Rome,2241 may be ‘the Ones who pay attention (to the prayers)’, that is ‘those who answer (the prayers)’. Their name can be related to the Gaulish menman ‘thought’, ‘prayer’ or ‘intelligence’, similar to Old Irish menme, ‘mind, ability of thinking, intelligence, feeling, desire’, Welsh mynw and Breton meno, ‘opinion’ and Sanskrit mánman-, ‘thought’, ‘mind’.2242 Delamarre points out that their name could be composed like Latin sacerdōs, ‘priest’ or ‘priestess’ > *sakro-dhōts, ‘who accomplish the sacra 2243 : menman-dut- > *ménmn-dhōts, ‘who accomplish (fulfil) the thoughts (prayers)’. Like the Rokloisiabo, the Matres Menmandutiae may thus have been goddesses who had the ability of listening to the pilgrims’ prayers.

Finally, the goddess Garmangabis mentioned in an inscription from north-west of Lanchester Fort (Co. Durham), in Britain, might be understood as ‘She who Takes the Cries away’ or the ‘Cries-Taker’.2244 The inscription is the following: Deae Garmangabi et N(umini) Gor[di]ani Aug(usti) n(ostri) pr[o] sal(ute) uex(illationis) Sueborum Lon(gouicianorum) Gor(dianae) (uexillarii) uotum soluerunt m(erito), ‘To the goddess Garmangabis and to the Deity of our Emperor Gordian for the welfare of the detachment of Suebians of Longovicum, styled Gordiana, the soldiers deservedly fulfilled their vow’. On the left side of the altar, a knife and a jug are engraved, while on the right side a patera* and a disk are represented. This divine name could be either of Germanic or of Celtic origin, depending on the interpretation of the stem gabi-, which means ‘to give’ or ‘to offer’ in Germanic and ‘to take’ in Celtic.2245 If it is seen as a Celtic theonym, Garmangabis could be composed of the Gaulish gabi-, ‘to take’ and garman or garo-, ‘cry’, ‘yell’ or ‘scream’, cognate with Old Irish gáir and Welsh gawr ‘shout’, ‘cry’, or Old Irish gairm, Welsh and Breton garm, ‘clamour’, ‘vociferation’ or ‘cries of rage’, and be the ‘Cries-Taker’.2246

These various names of mother goddesses are interesting for they might denote important functions concerning the Listening Goddesses. The Matronae Vediantiae (‘the Praying Mother Goddesses’) are the very embodiment of the custom of appealing to the divine in order to have one’s prayers answered. As for the Menmandutiae (‘the Ones who pay attention to (the prayers)’, they represented the belief of being heard by the goddesses, who would benevolently aid and relieve the pilgrims by granting their vows. It is clear that the supplications of the believers must have often been filled with sorrow, distress, anxiety or regret, and thus mingled with tears, moans, screams and yells, which the goddess Garmangabis (‘She who Takes the Cries away’) seem to embody. They must have represented this divine function of symbolically taking pain, sadness and misfortune away when listening to the lamentations of the faithful and then fulfilling their orisons.


See Chapter 3 for details about these two inscriptions. CIL V, 7872, 7873 ; Delamarre, 2007, pp. 192, 235 ; Delamarre, 2003, pp. 309-310: their name could alo be derived from the IE root * weid-, ‘to know’ or *wedh-, ‘to lead’, ‘to marry’ - cognate with Old Irish fedid - and thus mean ‘the Match-Macker Mothers’, which is less probable. Olmsted, 1994, p. 423 only refers to the Matronae Vediantiae as the ‘Matrons of Vediantia’, situated in North Italy.


The inscription on the lead tablet of Chamalières is: andedíon uediíumí diíiuion…mapon(on), ‘I invoke Maponos (…)’. See Lambert, 1995, pp. 150-159.


See Chapter 3 for the Vediantiae as ‘Mother Goddessses of the Vediantii tribe’.


CIL XII, 4223 ; RE, vol. 1, p. 260, n°281 ; RE, vol. 4, p. 57, n°1320. The inscription was discovered on the ‘Plateau des Poètes’.




Delamarre, 2003, pp. 190, 224-225.


Religious cults or ceremonies, sacrifices or offerings.


RIB 1074 ; Olmsted, 1994, pp. 412-413 proposes ‘Weaver of Fate’ for Garmangabis, from an Irish word garman, ‘weaver’s beam’, but this form would be in Gaulish *garmano- or *karmano- in view of the Brythonic forms.


See Chapter 1 for more details. Lambert, 1995, pp. 123, 173 ; Delamarre, 2003, p. 173 ; Delamarre, 2007, p. 221 ; Spickermann, 2005, pp. 134, 140 ; Schmidt, 1987, p. 144 ; Neumann, 1987, p. 111 ; Olmsted, 1994, pp. 285-286, 412-414 ; Boyer, 1995, p. 64 ; Fleuriot, 1982, pp. 123-124 ; De Bernardo Stempel, 2005a, pp. 185-200.


Delamarre, 2003, p. 176.