Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 46a
During the episcopate of Cautinus, a plague devastated Clermont. Gregory went with his servants to Brioude, seeking the protection of Julian. While he was staying there, one of his servants, was stricken by this plague and suffered from a fever and an inability to hold down any food. The other servants summoned a soothsayer (ariolus), who whispered chants, cast his fortune and tied amulets around his neck (incantationes immurmurat, sortes iactat, ligaturas collo suspendit). Hearing what had happened, Gregory was very angry, and the servant died. A few days later another servant began to suffer from a similar illness. Gregory ordered that something be brought from the tomb of Julian. The servants went and collected a bit of the dust that was lying by the tomb. When the ill boy drank some of the dust mixed with water, he recovered. Gregory closes the chapter with a warning to Christians to avoid the seductions of the devil, and with an exhortation to seek instead the patronage of the martyrs (patrocinia martyrum) and the help of the confessors (adiutoria confessorum).
Text: Krusch 1969, 131-132. Summary: Katarzyna Wojtalik.
Saint NameJulian, martyr of Brioude : S00035
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles
Evidence not before570
Evidence not after587
Activity not before571
Activity not after571
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 - PlacesBurial site of a saint - tomb/grave
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVisiting graves and shrines
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Healing diseases and disabilities
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
Cult Activities - RelicsContact relic - dust/sand/earth
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.
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.