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E00622: Gregory of Tours, in his Glory of the Martyrs (75), relates two miracles connected to the tomb and monastery of the *Theban Legion (soldiers and martyrs of Agaunum, S00339) and its commander Maurice, in Saint-Maurice-d'Agaune (eastern Gaul): a woman saw a vision of Maurice and then heard her son (a recently deceased monk) singing with the choir; a priest, bringing relics of the martyrs to King Guntram, calmed a storm on Lake Leman by casting them into the waters. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 580/594.

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posted on 17.07.2015, 00:00 by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs 75

Summary

The power at the grave of these martyrs [the Theban Legion] is great; many miracles must be omitted, and only a few told. A woman brought her only son to the monastery to be trained as a cleric, entrusting him to the abbot. While learning his letters and singing in the choir, he fell ill and died. The woman was inconsolable and wept over the grave of her son. Maurice appeared to her at night and promised that her son was with the blessed; if she attended matins she would hear her son singing with the monks, and would do so every time she came. This duly happened.

King Guntram abandoned the pomp of this world, and gave his wealth to churches and the poor. He sent, as he had vowed to (ex voto), gifts to the brothers who served the saints of Agaune, asking the priest who took them to bring back relics (reliquias). Duly returning with these relics (cum his ... pignoribus), he was crossing Lake Leman when a great storm arose and huge waves threatened the boat. The priest 'taking the locket from his neck, which held the relics of the saints' (extracta a collo capsula, quae sanctorum pignora contenebatur), cast it into the waters, while invoking the saints' aid. The wind and waves dropped, and the travellers reached the shore. 'I learned these things from that very priest' (Haec ab ipso cognovi presbitero). Gregory concludes by telling us that Lake Leman contains trout up to one hundred pounds in weight.

Text: Krusch 1969, 87-88. Summary: Bryan Ward-Perkins.

History

Evidence ID

E00622

Saint Name

Theban Legion, soldiers commanded by *Maurice, martyred in Gaul, ob. 286 : S00339

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

515

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Vow

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miraculous sound, smell, light Miraculous protection - of people and their property Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Monarchs and their family Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Reliquary – privately owned

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. On the shrine at Saint-Maurice-d'Agaune, see discussion in E00621. The Frankish king Guntram ruled from 561 to 593. The second story illustrates his interest in collecting relics. It ends rather surprisingly, since the translation ordered by Guntram does not reach its goal: the relics are thrown into the lake and never arrive to their intended destination. The priest carrying their reliquary wore it around his neck, a practice attested for privately owned relics, but in this case apparently done for security of transport.

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.

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