Strabo (or STRABUS, i.e. the squinter) is the homely appellative under which a not unimportant theologian belonging to the former half of the 9th century is usually mentioned in history. His real name was Walafried (Walafridus). He was born probably at the close of the reign of Charlemagne, and inn the Upper Rhine country (though some writers call him an Anglo-Saxon); and was educated, according to some authorities, at St. Gall, under Grimwald, and, according to others, at Reichenau, under Tate, but, at all events, in the end of his course at Fulda, under Rhabanus Maurus. Afterwards he became dean of the convent at St. Gall, and in 812 abbot of the Benedictine convent at a Reichenau, o an island in Lake Constance, where he is reported to have previously been a teacher, Trittenheim (q.v.) makes him to have been also president of the school in the Convent of Hirschfeld. Strabo died while engaged in a diplomatic mission to the court of Charles the Bald, July 17, 849. For a view of the uncertainties in which our knowledge of this monk is involved, see the larger bibliographical collections, e.g. those of Oudin, D. Ceillier, the Histoire Litteraire de France (tom. 5), and Fabricii Bibl. Latina Medioe AEtatis. Older sources are given in those works.
Walafried's writings usually offer nothing of historical interest to the student. We note, first, his Latin poems relating generally to Church festivals, i.e. to apostles and martyrs. One, entitled Hortulus, describes the author's garden. These poems have been collected in Canisii Lectiones Antiquae, 6 (or 2, 2, new ed.). The historical, poems are also found in the Bollandists and in patristical collections. A prose life of St. Gall by Strabo is printed in Goldasti Script. Rerum Allemann. tom. 1, and Mabillon, Acta Ord. S. Ben. Soec. II (comp. Ermenrich of Teichenau, in Oudin, 2, 76). Greater importance attaches to a little compendium of Christian archaeology, entitled De Exordiis et Incrementis Rerum Ecclesiastarum (in Hittorp, Script. de Officiis Dionis [Cologne, 1586], and elsewhere). It treats of ecclesiastical usages, buildings, altars, prayers, bells, images, sacraments, in thirty-one chapters, and in a scholarly and judicious manner. In the matter of image worship, a position midway between superstitious iconolatry and fanatical iconoclasm is assumed; and on the Lord's supper the statement is made that bread and wine afforded the most adequate symbols to indicate the union between the head and members, thus departing from the transubstantiation doctrine of the contemporary Radbert.
The fame of Walafried rests principally, however, on the great exegetical compilation (of which he was mainly, if not exclusively, the author), which constituted the principal source of Biblical learning for the Western Church during nearly five hundred years. It bore the title of Glossa Ordinaria, and rapidly became authoritative in matters of interpretation. Numerous editions were published down to the 17th century, all of which are mentioned in the art. "Walafrid" in the Hist. Lit. de France, and in Busse's Grundriss d. christl. Literatur, § 583. The work was generally printed in connection with Nicholas de Lyra (q.v.), and has brief scholia interpolated between the lines of the text by the hand of Anselm of Laon in the 12th century. Walafried's Notes contain the kernel of the older patristical exegesis in considerable perfection. In the 16th century the report was current that Charlemagne had caused the Bible to be rendered into German, and Flacius, in the preface to his edition of Otfried, speaks of three doctors who performed the work Rhabanus, Haymo of Halberstadt, and Walafried; but the story is without support of any kind. See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.