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E05237: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Julian (34 & 35), recounts how, while attending the saint's festival, he took some threads from the cloth covering the tomb of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035) in Brioude (central Gaul); how he was asked to dedicate a church of Julian in Tours with these relics, and did so, while a possessed man proclaimed the presence of Julian and was cured; in 573-574. Written in Latin in Clermont and Tours (central and north-west Gaul), 573/587.

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posted on 20.03.2018, 00:00 by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 34 & 35

Haec ego dudum experta. Contigit, ut post ordinationem meam Arvernus accederem; profectusque, beati basilicam adivi. Expletaque festivitate, disruptis a palla quae sanctum tegit tumulum fimbriis, in his mihi ferre praesidium credens, impleta oratione, discessi. Apud Turonicam vero urbem monachi in honore ipsius martyris basilicam, qualem possibilitas eorum habuit, aedificaverunt, cupientes, eam eius virtutibus consecrari. Audientes autem, haec pignora a me fuisse delata, rogabant, ut dedicata aedes hisdem augeretur exubiis. At ego, adpraehensam secretius capsam, ad basilicam beati Martini, incipiente nocte, propero. Referebat autem mihi vir fidelis, qui tunc eminus adstabat, cum nos basilicam sumus ingressi, vidisse se pharum inmensi luminis e caelo dilapsam super beatam basilicam discendisse, et deinceps quasi intro ingressa fuisset.

‘Here are some events that I experienced recently. It happened that I returned to Clermont after my consecration [as bishop of Tours]. After a [further] journey I came to the church of the blessed [Julian at Brioude]. At the conclusion of his festival I pulled some threads from the cloth that covered the holy tomb, because I thought they would offer me protection; then I finished my prayer and left. In the city of Tours monks had constructed, in honour of this martyr such a church as their means allowed; now they wished it to be consecrated to his powers. When they heard that I had brought these relics, they requested that this church be dedicated and enhanced with these spoils. But I secretly took the reliquary and at nightfall hurried to the church of the blessed Martin. A trustworthy man who was at the time standing at a distance told me that when I entered the church, he saw an immense flash of light fall from heaven, descend over the church and then enter as it were inside.’

Placing the relics on the altar, Gregory celebrates vigils, and the next day solemnly takes them to the new church. A possessed man cries out asking why Julian has come to join Martin, and is cured at the end of the mass.

Text: Krusch 1969, 128. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 186; modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Julian, martyr of Brioude : S00035 Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050

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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous sound, smell, light Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - cloth Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Reliquary – institutionally owned


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.


Gregory’s consecration as bishop of Tours occurred on 20 August 573. Gregory pulled the threads from the cloth on 28 August (while the festival of Julian was being celebrated in Brioude), and consecrated Julian's church in Tours in spring 574. For details about the church of Julian in Tours, see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 310.


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. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d’après les oeuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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