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E03542: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Martin (3.24), recounts how *Aredius (monk of Limoges, ob. 591, S00302), came to the tomb of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) for his feast in November 583. Aredius took some oil from the tomb and on his journey home he poured out some of it for a woman, and the oil miraculously increased. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 583/588.

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posted on 07.08.2017, 00:00 by Bryan
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Martin (Libri de virtutibus sancti Martini episcopi) 3.24

Hic [Aridius] ad festivitatem sancti cum illa qua solitus est benignitate, humilitate et caritate pervenit. Regrediens vero ampullam parvulam de oleo sancti sepulchri completam secum detulit, dicens: 'Forsitan infirmus aliquis in via adest, qui a beati Martini aede benedictionem corde conpunctus accipere desideret'. Denique in quodam loco mulier devota accessit ad eum, exhibens ampullam aliam cum oleo, dicens: 'Rogo te, serve Christi, ut tua hoc oleum benedictione sanctifices'. At ille, ne vanitati subiectus videretur, ait: 'Parva est virtus mea; sed, si placet, oleum de sepulchro beati Martini habeo, ex quo hoc oleum perfundatur. Tu vero, si credis eius virtutem magnam, ex hoc salutem hauries'. At illa gaudens, petiit explere quae presbiter loquebatur. Vas etenim illud medium erat. Cumque de hoc liquore, quod ad basilica sancti adsumptum fuerat, perfunderetur, protinus ebulliens oleum ampullam usque ad summitatem implevit. Quod matrona cernens, admirans virtutem confessoris beati, domi regressa est gaudens.

'Aredius came to the saint’s festival with his usual kindness, humility, and love. Upon his departure he took with him a small jar (ampulla parvula) filled with oil from the holy tomb and said: 'Perhaps on my journey there is some ill person who is anguished in his heart and desires to receive a blessing from the shrine of the blessed Martin. Then in another place a pious woman approached him, held out another container with oil, and said: 'Servant of Christ, I ask you to sanctify this oil with your blessing.' But Aredius, lest he appear to be overcome by arrogance, said: 'My power is slight; but if it pleases you, I have oil from the tomb of the blessed Martin, from which this oil was poured. If you believe in his great power, you will drink health from this oil.' The woman rejoiced and asked that what the priest recommended should be done. Her container was half-full. After he poured out some of the liquid that had been taken from the saint’s church, immediately the oil bubbled up and filled the container to the top. Once the woman saw this, she marvelled at the power of the blessed confessor and returned home rejoicing.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 188-189. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 271-272, modified (= de Nie 2015, 705).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours (Gaul), ob. 397 : S00050 Aredius, monk of Limoges, ob. 591 : S00302

Saint Name in Source

Martinus Aredius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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 - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous behaviour of relics/images

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots Women

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil


Gregory, of a prominent Clermont family with extensive ecclesiastical connections, was bishop of Tours from 573 until his death (probably in 594). He 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. Gregory's Miracles of Martin (full title Libri de virtutibus sancti Martini episcopi, 'Books of the Miracles of Saint Martin the Bishop'), consists of four books of miracles, 207 chapters in all, effected by Martin, primarily at his grave and shrine in Tours. Most of them occurred at the time of the saint's festivals, on 4 July and 11 November. Gregory tried to record the miracles in chronological order, so historians have been able to calculate quite precisely the dates of the events and miracles mentioned in the work. This fairly precise chronology has enabled scholars to determine the dates of completion of each book. There have been three main dating schemes proposed for the composition of the four books. The oldest was suggested by Monod in 1872, another by Krusch in 1885, and then one by Van Dam in 1993 (for fuller discussion, see Shaw 2015, 103-105). Their datings of the individual books do not vary substantially, and in our entries we have given only those of Van Dam. Shaw 2015 convincingly demolishes an earlier theory, that Gregory wrote the Miracles in two distinct stages: a first stage that was written during a particular period, and a second stage in the early 590s, in which Gregory revised the whole work. Book 1, with 40 chapters, was written between 573 and 576. In the prologue, Gregory mentions that he started writing after he became bishop of Tours in August 573. Book 1 must have been completed by 576, since Venantius Fortunatus in a letter to Gregory of that year referred to it (Epistula ad Gregorium 2, prefatory letter to Fortunatus' Life of Martin, MGH Auct. ant. 4.1, p. 293). Book 2 consists of 60 chapters. It must have been finished before November 581, because the last miracles it mentions occurred in November 580, while the first ones recorded in Book 3 happened in November 581. Using the same methodology, the completion of Book 3, which also covers 60 chapters, can be dated between 587 and July 588. Book 4, which consists of 47 chapters, seems never to have been completed, presumably because of Gregory’s death. There are two main arguments in support of the idea that it is unfinished. Firstly, Book 4 has no conclusion and no tidy number of chapters, while each of Books 1 to 3 has these elements. Secondly, the last story recorded in Book 4 is not about Gregory himself, unlike the final stories of Books 2 and 3. Book 1 covers miracles that occurred before Gregory’s episcopate in Tours. The next three books are a running chronicle of Martin’s miracles under Gregory’s episcopate. Some of the miracles are recorded in very summary form, while others are much more elaborately presented: because of this, it has been argued that Gregory first jotted down notes, and only subsequently gave the stories full literary treatment (which in some cases, he was never able to do). The three completed books of the Miracles of Martin were probably released as they were completed, rather that published together. In this sense they are the exception amongst Gregory's writings, since the rest of his work was not finally completed and seems to have been unpublished at the time of his death. For discussion of the work, see: Krusch, B. (ed.), Gregorii episcopi Turonensis miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 1,2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969), 2–4. Monod, G., Études critiques sur les sources de l’histoire mérovingienne, 1e partie (Paris, 1872), 42–45. 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. Van Dam, R., Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 142–146, 199.


This festival of Martin was celebrated on 11 November 583. Aredius was admired by Gregory and a source of information for several miracle stories of Julian and Martin (see, particularly, Miracles of Julian 41-45: E05254, E05255, E05256, E5257, E05258). After his death in 591, Gregory described Aredius as a saint able to effect miracles in his own right (E02387); here the miraculous power is attributed to Martin, though doubtless facilitated by Aredius' piety.


Editions and translations: Krusch, B. (ed.), Gregorii episcopi Turonensis miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 1,2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969), 134–211. Van Dam, R. (trans.), Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 200–303. de Nie, G. (ed. and trans.), Lives and Miracles: Gregory of Tours (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 39; Cambridge MA, 2015), 421–855. Further reading: Murray, A.C. (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston, 2015). Shanzer, D., "So Many Saints – So Little Time ... the Libri Miraculorum of Gregory of Tours," Journal of Medieval Latin 13 (2003), 19–63.

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