Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 42
A paralysed man 'was brought to his monastery' (ad eius monasterium est adductus). While he was lying in a cart in front of the church, he suddenly saw it light up, and he heard voices, as if of many men chanting psalms there. As the man offered a prayer, he seemed to lose his senses and forgot his pain. The bright light faded, he returned to his senses and was cured.
Text: Krusch 1969, 131. Summary: Katarzyna Wojtalik.
Saint NameJulian, martyr of Brioude : S00035
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles
Evidence not before570
Evidence not after587
Activity not before574
Activity not after581
Place of Evidence - RegionGaul and Frankish kingdoms
Gaul and Frankish kingdoms
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcTours
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Tours
Major author/Major anonymous workGregory of Tours
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVisiting graves and shrines
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Healing diseases and disabilities
Miraculous sound, smell, light
Apparition, vision, dream, revelation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
SourceGregory, 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.
DiscussionGregory learned this story from *Aredius (monk of Limoges, ob. 591, S00302), whom Gregory knew well (see E05254). Later, after his death in 591, Gregory described Aredius as a saint able to effect miracles in his own right (E02387); but here he appears as an exceptionally reliable witness of the miraculous power of Julian.
There is no consensus among scholars as to where the three miracles recounted in Miracles of Julian 42-44 took place, since Gregory's reference to 'his monastery' can be interpreted in two different ways. Vieillard-Troiekouroff suggested that it refers to the monastery of Julian at Brioude (near Clermont), the main shrine of the saint (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 68). But it is more probable that Gregory is referring to the monastery of Aredius (the source of these stories), at Saint-Yrieix in the Limousin (western Gaul), where Aredius built a church dedicated to Julian.
For details about the church of Julian in Saint-Julien see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 259.
Krusch B., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover 1969), 112–134.
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.
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).