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E04476: Gregory the Great, in his Dialogues (3.14), describes miracles effected by *Isaac, (6th c. abbot of Spoleto, S01755) in and near Spoleto (central Italy). Written in Latin in Rome, c. 593.

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posted on 19.12.2017, 00:00 by frances
Gregory the Great, Dialogues 3.14

Summary:

When Isaac arrived in Spoleto from Syria, he spent three days and nights in a church praying. One of the sacristans, who was filled with pride, accused Isaac of ostentatiously displaying his piety. At that moment, the sacristan was thrown before Isaac’s feet by a spirit. The spirit shouted that Isaac was casting him out, and was indeed driven out of the sacristan. As a result of this, Isaac’s reputation spread and men and women of all social statuses visited the holy man.

He built a dwelling in a remote spot and was visited by devotees. In his interactions with them he showed he possessed the skill of prophecy. One time naked beggars came to ask for mercy. He directed his disciple towards a tree where clothes were hidden. These were the supposed beggars' own clothes, which they had hidden; thereby Isaac revealed their naked begging to be a sham.

Another time, a boy was sent with two baskets of food for Isaac. The boy took one for himself and hid it on the road. When he saw Isaac, the holy man warned him a snake had entered the hidden basket. The boy escaped death, but his sin was exposed.

Summary: Frances Trzeciak.

History

Evidence ID

E04476

Saint Name

Isaac, sixth-century abbot of Spoleto : S01755

Saint Name in Source

Isaac

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

590

Evidence not after

604

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

560

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Rome

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

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory the Great (pope)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Uncertainty/scepticism/rejection of a saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Exorcism Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Children Animals Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves)

Source

Gregory the Great (Pope, 590-604) wrote his Dialogues on the Lives and Miracles of the Italian Fathers (Dialogi de vita et miraculis patrum italicorum) in Rome around 593. Organised into four books, the first three are a collection of lives and miracles of various Italian saints. The longest is the Life of Benedict of Nursia, which comprises the entirety of book 2. The final book consists of an essay on the immortality of souls after death. As a whole, the work documents and explains the presence of the miraculous in the contemporary world and the ability of saints to effect miracles both before and after death. The attribution of the Dialogues to Gregory has been disputed, most recently by Francis Clark who argued that the work was created in the 680s in Rome. Others - such as Adalbert de Vogüé, Paul Meyvaert and Matthew dal Santo - have, however, strongly argued for Gregory's authorship and it is broadly accepted that Gregory was responsible for the Dialogues. For a discussion of Gregory's devotion in writing the Dialogues, see E04383, and for the role of the Dialogues as a tract justifying the nature of miracles and theorising on the immortality of souls, see E04506. Gregory's principal aim in collecting the miracle stories of the holy men and a very few women of sixth-century Italy was to show the presence of God's power on earth as manifested through them, rather than to encourage the cult of these individuals. Indeed, though posthumous miracles at the graves of a few individuals are recorded (and also a few miracles aided by contact relics of dead saints), there is very little emphasis in the Dialogues on posthumous cult; some of the miraculous events that Gregory records (e.g. E04429) are not even attributed to named individuals. Although very few of the holy persons in the Dialogues are 'proper' saints, with long-term cult, we have included them all in our database, for the sake of completeness and as an illustration of the impossibility of dividing 'proper' saints from more 'ordinary' holy individuals.

Bibliography

Edition: Vogüé, A. de, Grégoire le Grand, Dialogues, Sources chrétiennes 260 (Paris: Cerf, 1979). Translation: Zimmerman, O.J., Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great, Fathers of the Church 39 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1959). Further Reading: Clark, F.,The 'Gregorian' Dialogues and the Origins of Benedictine Monasticism (Leiden: Brill, 2003). Dal Santo, M., "The Shadow of A Doubt? A Note on the Dialogues and Registrum Epistolarum of Pope Gregory the Great (590–604)," Journal of Ecclesiatical History, 61.1, (2010), 3-17. Meyvaert, P., "The Enigma of Gregory the Great’s Dialogues: A Reply to Francis Clark," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 39 (1988), 335–81. Vogüé, A. de, "Grégoire le Grand et ses Dialogues d’après deux ouvrages récents," Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 83 (1988), 281–348.

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