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E00351: Gregory of Tours, in his Life of *Monegundis (female recluse of Chartres and Tours, mid/late 6th c., S00150), recounts the death of the saint, her burial in her cell, and the posthumous miracles at her tomb, some with the use of oil and salt that she had blessed; the support of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) for her and her community is stressed. From Gregory's Life of the Fathers, written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 573/594.

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posted on 25.03.2015, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Gregory of Tours, Life of the Fathers 19.4

Monegundis lives in a cell at the basilica of Martin in Tours and is head of a small monastic community there.

Iam enim tempus vocationis eius adpropinquabat, et defessa corpori solvebatur. Quod cum viderent sanctimoniales, quas secum habebat, flebant valde, dicentes: "Et cui nos, mater sancta, relinques? Vel cui conmendas filias, quas in [hoc] loco pro Dei intuitu congregasti?" At illa parumper lacrimans, ait: "Si pacem sanctificationemque sequamini, Deus erit protectio vestra, habebitisque sanctum Martinum antestitem pastorem magnum. Nam et ego non discedam a vobis, sed invocata adero in medio caritatis vestrae". At illae rogabant, dicentes: "Venturi sunt multi infirmi ad nos, flagitantes benedictionem a te accipere; et quid faciemus, cum te non viderint esse superstitem? Confusae enim eos foris emittimus, cum tuam faciem non contemplamur. Rogamus enim, ut, quia haec ab oculis nostris absconditur, ut saltim digneris oleum salemque benedicere, de quo possemus aegrotis benedictionem flagitantibus ministrare". Tunc illa benedicto oleo ac sale, tradidit eis, qua suscipientes, diligentissime servaverunt. Sicque beatissima obiit in pace, et sepulta est in ipsa cellula, multis se in posterum virtutibus repraesentans. Nam de memorata benedictione multi post eius transitum aegroti incolomes beneficia sunt experti.

'But already the time was approaching when God would call her to Him, and her strength began to desert her. Seeing this, the nuns who were with her wept bitterly and said "And to whom do you leave us, holy mother?" She told them, weeping, "If you keep peace and holiness, God will protect you, and you will have the great bishop St Martin as shepherd. And I shall not be far from you, for if you invoke me I shall be in your hearts." But the nuns implored her, saying "Many sick people will come to us, asking to receive your blessing, and what shall we do when they see that you are no more? We shall be confused, and send them away, since we shall no longer contemplate your face. We beg you, then, since you are going from our eyes, that you deign at least to bless some oil and salt that we can give to the sick who ask for a blessing." And she blessed some oil and salt for them, which they preserved with great care. And thus the blessed woman died in peace; she was buried in her cell, and she manifested herself thereafter by many miracles, for many sick people were cured, after her death, by the blessing which we have just mentioned.'

Bosonis denique diaconi pes unus a pusula mala conflaverat, ita ut gressum facere non valeret, deportatusque ad eius tumulum, orationem fudit. Puellae vero accipientes ex oleo memorato, quem sancta reliquerat, posuerunt super pedem eius; extemplo, erumpente vulnere, defluente veneno, sanatus est.

'A deacon called Boso had a foot which was very swollen because of a malignant pustule, so that he could no longer walk. He had himself carried to the tomb of the holy woman and said a prayer there The sisters then took some of the oil that the saint had left and put it on his foot. Immediately the pustule opened, the venom flowed out and the man was cured.'

Caecus quidam adductus ad eius tumulum, in oratione prosternitur. Inruente autem sopore, obdormivit, apparuitque ei beata, dicens: "Indignam quidem me iudico exaequari sanctis, sed tamen unius hic oculi recipies lumen; deinceps autem propera quantotius ad pedes beati Martini et prosternere in conpunctione animi coram eo.Ipse enim tibi restituit alterius oculi visionem". Expergefactus homo, unius oculi recepto lumine, abiit quo iussio inpulit imperantis; ibique iterum obsecrans beati confessoris virtute, depulsa caeci oculi nocte, videns abscessit.

'A blind man led to the same tomb began to pray, and was overcome by sleep; he slept and saw in a dream the blessed woman, who said to him, "I judge myself unworthy of being ranked with the saints; nevertheless you will recover here the sight of one eye. Go then to the feet of the blessed Martin and prostrate yourself in front of him in the compunction of your soul. He will give you back the use of your other eye." This man woke up and, having recovered the sight of one eye, he went where he was told, and there he begged for the power of the blessed confessor; the night was expelled from the blind eye, and he left with his full sight.'

Mutus etiam ad hoc beatae tumulum prostratus occubuit, qui in tantum fide conpunctus est, ut rivis lacrimarum cellulae inficeret pavimentum. Qui consurgens, absoluta lingua virtute divina, regressus est.

'A dumb person also came to fall at the tomb of the holy woman, and his heart was so contrite with faith that he moistened the floor of the cell with floods of tears; when he stood up he found his tongue loosened by divine power, and he left.'

Alius denique mutus veniens, in oratione decumbens, corde tantum inplorabat et non voce solubili beatae feminae auxilium, in cuius ore de memorata benedictione parte infusa, erumpente sanguine mixto cum pure, vocis officium meruit adipisci. Frigoriticus accedens ad hoc monumentum, pallam tegentem attegit, restincta contagionis febre, convaluit.

'Another dumb person came then, and beginning to pray he implored for the help of the blessed woman with his heart, not being able to do so with his mouth. A little of the blessed oil and salt was put in his mouth, and immediately there escaped from his lips blood mixed with pus, and he obtained the use of his voice. A man who had fever approached this tomb also, and he had hardly touched the cloth which covered it when the fever calmed, and he was cured.'

Contractus vero Marcus nomine manibus deportatus aliorum ad sepulchrum beatae, [ibi] orationem diutissime fudit. Hora autem nona pedibus propriis stetit, domique regressus est.

'A cripple called Marcus was carried to the tomb of the blessed woman and prayed there for a long time. At the ninth hour he stood up on his own feet and walked home.'

Leodinus puer cum in valitudine gravi inruens quarto aegrotaret mense et non solum gressum, verum etiam ciborum usum, insistente febre nimia, perdidisset, ad eius deportatus sepulchrum praemortuus, accepta salute, surrexit e tumulo redivivus.

'A boy called Leodinus who had been gravely ill for four months and could not walk or even eat, because of the violence of a persistent fever, was brought to the tomb almost dead; he found health there, and arose from the tomb restored to life.'

Quid de frigoriticis reliquis loquar, cum plerisque hoc fuit beneficium remedii, cum pallam tumuli sunt fideliter osculati? Quid etiam de inerguminis? Qui adducti ad cellulam beatae, cum limen sanctum fuerint ingressi, integrae menti restituuntur; nec moratur larva egredi e corpore, cum sanctae huius senserit adesse virtutem, operante hoc domino nostro Iesu Christo, qui timentibus nomen suum praemia largitur aeterna.

'What should I say of all the others who have been cured of fever, just by kissing the cloth on the tomb, with faith? What should I say of the possessed who are led to the cell of the blessed woman, and who, when they cross the sacred threshold, recover their senses? The demon did not delay to leave their body when it felt the power of this saint working through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who freely gives eternal reward to those who fear His name.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 289-291. Translation: James 1991, 123-125.

History

Evidence ID

E00351

Saint Name

Monegundis, female recluse from Chartres and Tours, ob. 2nd half of the 6th c. : S00150 Martin, bishop of Tours (Gaul), ob. 397 : S00050

Saint Name in Source

Martinus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

573

Evidence not after

593

Activity not before

550

Activity not after

597

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tours

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Tours Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Tours

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Considerations about the hierarchy of saints

Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Children

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil Contact relic - other Contact relic - cloth Touching and kissing relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Cloth over/near the shrine

Source

The Life of the Fathers by Gregory of Tours (bishop of Tours, 573-594) is different to his other hagiographical works (Miracles of Julian, Miracles of Martin, Glory of the Confessors and Glory of the Martyrs), which all concentrate on posthumous miracles of the saints. The Life of the Fathers, by contrast, describes the exemplary behaviour in life of twenty Gallic saints. Gregory himself draws this contrast in the opening words of his preface: 'I had decided to write only about what has been achieved with divine help at the tombs of the blessed martyrs and confessors; but I have recently discovered information about those who have been raised to heaven by the merit of their blessed conduct here below, and I thought that their way of life, which is known to us through reliable sources, could strengthen the Church' (trans. James 1991). In this preface Gregory also explains why he chose to call the book Life of the Fathers, not Lives of the Fathers: because they all lived the same bodily life. The nineteen Lives of men, and the single Life of a woman (Life 19), all relate to holy people of Gaul, the majority living in the later sixth century. Although this agenda is unspoken, there can be little doubt that Gregory wrote these Lives partly to show that holiness, and the miraculous, were not just things of the past, but very much present within the Gaul of his day (a message that he expressed explicitly in his Histories). The vast majority of the saints he describes were active within one or other of the two dioceses with which Gregory was involved (his native Clermont, and Tours, the city of his episcopate), or indeed were his relatives (all bishops - Life 6 is of an uncle, Life 7 of a great-grandfather, and Life 8 of a great-uncle). Although Gregory says in his preface that they all shared one bodily life, in reality his saints fall into one of two distinct categories: holy bishops who are effective leaders of their flocks but only moderately ascetic (Lives 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 17), and holy ascetics who have withdrawn from the world and sometimes engage in extreme mortification of the body (Lives 1, 3, 5, 9-16, and 18-20). Gregory's work was unquestionably didactic in purpose - teaching the correct way to lead a good Christian life, and it is notable, for instance, how, in this work written by a bishop, his ascetics accept episcopal correction when necessary (Lives 15.2 and 20.3, in both cases from Gregory himself), and might even delay their death to suit the timetable of a bishop (Life 10.4). Because the focus is on the lives of these holy people, there is much less emphasis on their cult after death than in Gregory's other hagiographical works; however, all the Lives close with an account of the burial of the saint, and in almost all cases with reference to posthumous miracles recorded there (the exceptions are Lives 10, 11 and 20, which have no reference to miracles at the tomb). It is not known precisely when Gregory wrote the Life of the Fathers: probably he collected material for the work (and perhaps wrote individual Lives) over a long period of time. However, from the words of his preface (quoted above) and from other references within the text, it is evident that he assembled his material into the polished work we have today only towards the end of his life, after he had already written much of his extensive hagiography recording the miracles of saints lying in their graves. For more on the text, and on its dating: James 1991, ix-xxv; de Nie 2015, xvi-xix; Shaw 2016.

Discussion

For an overview of the Life of Monegundis, see E00335. Monegundis died in the second half of the 6th century, as can be approximately calculated on the basis of indirect evidence (James 1991,123). Monegundis is one of the saints buried in her cell, a custom Gregory mentions elsewhere in his work (see e.g. E00225, E00357). The cell was located somewhere in the vicinity of the basilica of Martin in Tours where she had settled and where she became the head of a small monastic community. It clearly became a cult site visited by people seeking healing. The miracles performed at Monegundis' tomb are typical, they include healing of common diseases and disabilities; Gregory refers also to exorcisms. The cult activities described are equally standard and include prayers, touching and kissing of the cloth covering the saint's tomb, rubbing the ill body parts with blessed oil, etc. Of some interest may be the use of salt blessed by the saint as a contact relic. The story of the woman who falls asleep at the shrine and has a vision of Monegundis is also interesting – at one level this echoes the practice of incubation, common at shrines in the east Mediterranean; but Gregory makes it clear that she does not fall asleep deliberately. The miracle stories are quite numerous and include some names, but it is difficult to speculate whether Gregory knew them from a written source or from oral accounts which circulated at the sanctuary. Interesting are the two references to Martin. Monegundis is consistently presented as a servant of the great saint (see E00335 and E00350) and this hierarchy between the saints continues after Monegundis' death, when she continues to question her own worthiness after death.

Bibliography

Edition: Krusch, B., Gregorii Turonensis Opera. 2: Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1969). Translation: James, E., Gregory of Tours. Life of the Fathers (Translated Texts for Historians 1; 2nd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991). de Nie, G., Gregory of Tours, Lives and Miracles (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 39; Cambridge MA, 2015).

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