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E05157: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Julian (16), describes how Becco, count of Clermont, wrongly accuses of theft a servant of the church of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035), who has to be redeemed with money from the shrine; a year later at the festival of the saint, when Julian's Martyrdom is read out, Becco is struck down, and never recovers; in 511/533. Written in Latin in Clermont and Tours (central and north-west Gaul), 570/587.

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posted on 05.03.2018, 00:00 by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 16

Count Becco was arrogant and unjustly oppressed many people. Once he lost his hawk and at the same time a young servant of the church of Julian found another lost hawk. When Becco heard this, the boy was accused of theft, and imprisoned with the intention of executing him.

Tunc sacerdos maestus valde ad sepulchrum sancti properat, reseratisque cum gemitu capsis, adprehensis decim aureis, per fideles amicos Becconi obtulit. Quod ille pro nihilo respuens, cum iuramento adseruit, numquam se puerum dimissurum, nisi exinde aureos triginta acciperet. Quod presbiter desuper sepulchro sancti accipiens, Becconi transmisit; quos acceptos, satiata auri cupiditate, puerum restauravit incolomem.

Sed Deus omnipotens, qui permanet ante solem, secundum bonitatis suae divitias humiliavit calumniatorem. Nam ipsius anni transacto curriculo, veniens ad sancti festivitatem cum caterva satellitum, ingressus est limen sanctum. Procedente vero lectore, qui beatae passionis recenseret historiam, ut revolvit librum et in principio lectionis sancti Iuliani protulit nomen, confestim Becco voce nescio qua teterrima ad terram corruit, cruenteque spumans, dare voces diversas coepit. Inde inter suorum manus sublatus, a basilica domi reducitur. Nec fuit dubium pueris eius, haec ob iniuriam basilicaris famuli evenisse. Omnem quoque ornatum, quod super se tunc habuit, tam in auro quam in vestimentis, basilicae contulit et multa deinceps munera misit; sed usque ad diem obitus sui sine sensu duravit.

'The priest [of Julian's basilica] sorrowfully hurried to the tomb, and with a sigh opened the boxes, took ten gold coins, and sent them to Becco with his trustworthy friends. But Becco rejected these gold coins as worthless and insisted with an oath that he would never release the servant until he had received thirty gold coins. The priest took these coins from above the saint’s tomb and sent them to Becco. Once Becco received the coins, his greed for gold was satisfied, and he released the servant unharmed.

But omnipotent God, who endures longer than the sun, humbled this perverse man in accordance with the riches of his goodness. For after the cycle of this year was completed, Becco came to the saint’s festival with his entourage of retainers and entered the holy door [of the church]. The lector who was to recite the account of [Julian’s] blessed suffering advanced, and as soon as he opened the book and pronounced the name of Saint Julian at the beginning of his reading, immediately Becco fell to the ground with a most horrid and unfamiliar cry. With blood foaming from his mouth he began to utter various shouts. Then he was lifted by the hands of his retainers and brought from the church to his home. His retainers had no doubt that this had happened because of his mistreatment of this servant from the church. Becco contributed to the church all the valuables that he then had with him, as much in gold as in garments, and he then sent many gifts; but he survived to the day of his death without his senses.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 121; lightly modified. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 174; modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Julian, martyr of Brioude : S00035

Saint Name in Source


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 Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tours Clermont

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

Tours Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré Clermont 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 Punishing miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Officials Slaves/ servants Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


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. The Miracles of Julian, full title Martyrdom and Miracles of the Martyr Saint Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris), consists of 50 chapters. It opens with a brief account of Julian's martyrdom and of the discovery of his head in Vienne (chapters 1 and 2), followed by 48 chapters of miracles effected by the saint, primarily at his tomb in Brioude (south of Clermont, central Gaul), but also through relics distributed in other areas of Gaul (and in one case, chapter 33, even in an unnamed 'city of the East'). Brioude and the shrine of Julian are within the ancient territory of Clermont, Gregory's native city, and the attachment that he and his wider family felt towards Julian is manifest in a number of stories in the Miracles, including evidence that Gregory often attended the feast of the saint on 28 August. In chapter 50 Gregory addresses Julian as his patron and asks for his support through the remainder of his life. Gregory wrote the Miracles of Julian over an extended period, very possibly starting before he became bishop of Tours in 573. Statements he makes in chapters 32 and 34 suggest that he initially planned to draw the book to a close with less chapters than the fifty we have, and that this was soon after his consecration to Tours; but, learning later of more miracles (primarily from Aredius of Limoges, chapters 41-45) and himself witnessing a further miracle (chapter 46a), he extended the book to 50 chapters, completing these in the early or mid 580s. Chapter 50 addresses the reader in a valedictory tone, with a personal invocation of Julian; but it is possible that the work was never published in Gregory's lifetime. For discussion of the work, see: Krusch B., Gregorii Turonensis Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969), 2. Monod G., Études critiques sur les sources de l’histoire mérovingienne, 1e partie (Paris, 1872), 42–45. Van Dam, R., Saints and their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 162-163. 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.


Becco was probably count of Clermont while Sigivald was duke, during the reign of Theuderic, dating this miracle to between 511 and 533. Whereas we are usually transcribing Krusch's text unaltered, here we have given 'reseratisque cum gemitu capsis' (from de Nie 2015, p.342), which is surely more correct than Krusch's 'reseratisque cum gemitu causis'.


Edition: Krusch B., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover 1969), 112–134. Translation: de Nie. G., Lives and Miracles: Gregory of Tours (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 39; Cambridge MA, 2015). Van Dam, R., Saints and their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 200–303. Further reading: Murray A.C. (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden and 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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