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E00570: Gregory of Tours, in his Glory of the Martyrs (49), mentions the martyrdom of Photinus/Potheinos, bishop and one of the *Martyrs of Lyon (S00316), and tells of the martyrdom of his successor *Irenaeus (bishop and martyr of Lyon, S02832), who is buried in the church of *John (probably the Baptist, S00020, possibly the Evangelist and Apostle, S00042) in Lyon (central Gaul), next to *Epipodius and Alexander (martyrs of Lyon, S00318); dust gathered from their graves can cure the sick. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 580/594.

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posted on 27.05.2015, 00:00 by dlambert
Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs 49

Igitur martyrio consummatus gloriosus Photinus episcopus, qui Lugdunensi praefuit urbi sacerdos, per certaminis nobilis meritum invectus est caelo. Cui et merito et sanctitate condignus Hereneus successit episcopus, per martyrium et ipse finitus. Hic in cripta basilicae beati Iohannis sub altari est sepultus. Et ab uno quidem latere Epypodius, ab alio Alexander martyr est tumulatus. De quorum monumentis si pulvis cum fide collegatur, extemplo medetur infirmis. Magna enim claritas in cripta illa contenetur, quae, ut credo, meritum martyrum signat.

'So the glorious bishop Photinus, who presided as bishop for Lyon, was perfected by martyrdom, and as a result of the merit of his noble struggle he was transported to heaven. Irenaeus, a man worthy of his predecessor's merit and holiness, succeeded as bishop and also died as a martyr. Irenaeus was buried beneath the altar in the crypt of the church of the blessed John. On one side was the tomb of Epipodius, on the other the tomb of the martyr Alexander. If ill people have faith and scrape some dust (pulvis) from the martyrs' tombs, immediately they are healed. In this crypt there is a great brightness, which I think indicates the merit of the martyrs.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 72. Translation: Van Dam 2004, 48-49.

History

Evidence ID

E00570

Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020 John the Evangelist : S00042 Irenaeus, bishop and martyr of Lyon : S02832 Epipodius/Ephypodius and Alexander, martyrs of Lyon : S00318 Martyrs of Lyon (Gaul), ob. 177 : S00316

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Iohannes Hereneus Epypodius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

583

Evidence not after

593

Activity not before

177

Activity not after

593

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 - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - dust/sand/earth

Source

Gregory, bishop of Tours from 573 until his death (probably in 594), was the most prolific hagiographer of all Late Antiquity. He wrote four books on the miracles of Martin of Tours, one on those of Julian of Brioude, and two on the miracles of other saints (the Glory of the Martyrs and Glory of the Confessors), as well as a collection of twenty short Lives of sixth-century Gallic saints (the Life of the Fathers). He also included a mass of material on saints in his long and detailed Histories, and produced two independent short works: a Latin version of the Acts of Andrew and a Latin translation of the story of The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. Internal references to datable events and to other work by Gregory, suggest that he wrote the greater part of his Glory of the Martyrs between 585 and 588, though there is one chapter (ch. 82), long before the end of the book, that describes an event that is most readily dated to 590. It is in fact likely that Gregory was collecting and recording these stories throughout his life, and, fortunately for our purposes, precise dating is not of great importance, since his views on the role of saints and the correct ways to venerate them do not seem to have changed during his writing life. The work was probably never fully completed and polished: the version we have closes with four very disparate chapters, including one (105) about the divine punishment of an avaricious woman that bears no obvious connection to the overall theme of the book. (For discussions of the dating, see Van Dam 2004, xi-xii; Shaw 2015, 104-105, 111.) In his preface, Gregory states that his aim in the work is 'to publicise some of the miracles of the saints that have until now been hidden' (aliqua de sanctorum miraculis, quae actenus latuerunt, pandere), so, as in his Glory of the Confessors, his focus is not on the lives of the saints, nor on the details of their martyrdoms, but on miracles they have effected, particularly through their relics. Miracles are recorded from many places; but unsurprisingly the largest number is from Gaul. The book opens, rather curiously, with a sizeable number of miracles and relics of Jesus and his mother Mary, neither of them conventional 'martyrs'. The explanation for this must be that Gregory's interest was really much more in relics and miracles in general than in martyrs specifically. Many of the Gallic saints he included are somewhat obscure, but outside Gaul he concentrates for the most part on major saints; towards the end of the book, however, he slips in a couple of lesser Syrian saints, probably because they had interesting specialisms: Phokas and Domitios, with, respectively, particular skills at curing snake bites and sciatica. In the case of the non-Gallic saints, it is not always clear whether they were attracting active cult in Gaul – Phokas and Domitios, for instance, almost certainly didn't. It is only when Gregory tells us of a church dedication or relic that we can be certain that the saint concerned had serious cult in Gaul: in the case of the martyrs of Rome, for instance, this is true of Clement and Laurence, but not of Chrysanthus and Daria, Pancratius, and John I. Although each section contains extraneous material, the work can be broken down very roughly into the following sections:    *Chapters 1-7: Miracles and relics of Jesus (with some of Mary), including three chapters (5-7) on relics of the Passion. (For the most part, these chapters are not covered in our database.)    *Chapters 8-19: Miracles and relics of Mary and John the Baptist.    *Chapters 20-25: Miraculous images of Jesus, and a spring associated with Easter.    *Chapters 23-34: Miracles and relics of the Apostles and Stephen (i.e. New Testament saints).    *Chapters 35-41: Miracles and relics of the post-apostolic martyrs of Rome.    *Chapters 42-46: And of northern Italy.    *Chapters 47-77: And of Gaul (in no obvious order, except that the first three chapters are occupied by early martyrs). This is the longest section of the book.    *Chapters 78-87: Very miscellaneous, with only marginal references to saints: three anti-Arian stories (79-81); two stories regarding relics of Gregory's (82-83); four stories of the punishment of impure people (84-87).    *Chapters 88-102: Miracles and relics of martyrs of Spain, Africa (just one, Cyprian of Carthage), and the East, in that order.    *Chapters 103-106: Miscellaneous. But tight structuring was never a great concern of Gregory's, so within this broad framework, he often wanders off his main theme. For instance, a clutch of miracle stories relating to John the Baptist (chs. 11-13) lead Gregory into a general discussion of the River Jordan (ch. 16), which then leads him to discuss some springs near Jericho (ch. 17), linked to the preceding chapter by the common theme of 'miraculous waters in the Holy Land', but with no connection to any martyr. Similarly, a miracle story involving relics of St Andrew and the punishment of an Arian count (ch. 78) leads Gregory into three stories against Arians with no relation to saints. These digressions did not bother Gregory and are part of the charm of his work. Gregory very seldom tells us about his sources, which for the most part were certainly oral; he had a wide circle of acquaintances within the Gallic church, and also met and collected stories from travellers from abroad, including (if the source is to be believed) a man who had travelled to India (ch. 31). But Gregory also used a range of written texts, including Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (chs. 20 and 48), the poems of Prudentius, Paulinus of Nola, and Venantius Fortunatus, and a substantial number of Martyrdoms (Van Dam 2004, xiv-xvi). Because many of his stories are set abroad, Glory of the Martyrs is less informative about cult practices than Glory of the Confessors, with its very local and very Gallic focus, but it is still a gold-mine of information. To take just two examples: the story of Benignus of Dijon is a remarkably rich and detailed account of the discovery and enhancement of a previously unknown martyr (ch. 50), while that of Patroclus of Troyes shows the importance of a written Martyrdom, and the degree of scepticism that might greet a new one (ch. 63). There is a good general discussion of Glory of the Martyrs in Van Dam 2004, ix-xxiii, and of Gregory's hagiography more widely in Shaw 2015. (Bryan Ward-Perkins)

Discussion

For the overview of the Glory of the Martyrs see E00367. Photinus/Potheinos, bishop of Lyon, was one of the *Martyrs of Lyon (S00316), whose martyrdoms and cult Gregory discusses in the previous chapter of the Glory of the Martyrs (E00548). Irenaeus was not only bishop of Lyon, but also a prominent Christian writer, author of an attack on heresy (Adversus Haereses), but Gregory either did not know this or was only interested in him as a martyr. Epipodius/Ephypodius and Alexander are well attested as a pair of Lyon martyrs, for instance in an anonymous sermon, probably of the 5th c., preserved in the 'Eusebius Gallicanus' collection (E00874). The church in which Irenaeus, Epipodius and Alexander were buried was later re-dedicated to Irenaeus, Saint-Irénée.

Bibliography

Edition: Krusch, B., Liber in gloria martyrum, in: Gregorii Turonensis Opera. 2: Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 1.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969). Translation: Van Dam, R., Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs (Translated Texts for Historians 4; 2nd ed., Liverpool, 2004). Further reading: Shaw, R., "Chronology, Composition, and Authorial Conception in the Miracula", in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston 2015), 102-140.

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Licence

Exports