Venantius Fortunatus, Miracles of Hilary (Libri de virtutibus sancti Hilarii) 7 (20-23)
After Clovis had collected troops in order to fight the Arians, in the middle of the night he saw a light coming over him from the church of Hilary in Poitiers. He was advised first to pray at this shrine and then attack the enemy. Clovis followed this advice, prayed to Hilary and then won the battle.
Text: Krusch 1885, 9. Summary: Katarzyna Wojtalik.
Saint NameHilarius/Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, ob. 367 : S00183
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles
Evidence not before567
Evidence not after568
Activity not before507
Activity not after507
Place of Evidence - RegionGaul and Frankish kingdoms
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcPoitiers
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Poitiers
Major author/Major anonymous workVenantius Fortunatus
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Miraculous interventions in war
Miraculous sound, smell, light
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesMonarchs and their family
SourceVenantius Fortunatus was born in northern Italy, near Treviso, and educated in Ravenna. In the early 560s he crossed the Alps into Merovingian Gaul, where he spent the rest of his life, making his living primarily through writing Latin poetry for the aristocracy of northern Gaul, both secular and ecclesiastical. His first datable commission in Gaul is a poem to celebrate the wedding in 566 of the Austrasian royal couple, Sigibert and Brunhild. His principal patrons were Radegund and Agnes, the royal founder and the first abbess of the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers, Gregory, the historian and bishop of Tours, Leontius, bishop of Bordeaux, and Felix, bishop of Nantes, but he also wrote poems for several kings and for many other members of the aristocracy. In addition to occasional poems for his patrons, Fortunatus wrote a four-book epic poem about Martin of Tours, and several works of prose and verse hagiography. The latter part of his life was spent in Poitiers, and, probably in the 590s, he became bishop of the city; he is presumed to have died early in the 7th century.
Fortunatus' Miracles of Hilary (Liber de virtutibus sancti Hilarii) consists of thirteen very short chapters describing only nine miracles. The work is a complement to his Life of Hilary (see E06713). Both the Miracles and the Life are dedicated to Pascentius, bishop of Poitiers, which enables us to date their composition with some precision to 567/568, since Fortunatus almost certainly arrived in Poitiers in 567, while Pascentius died, and was succeeded as bishop by Meroveus, in 568. Gregory of Tours used the Life and Miracles, in Glory of the Confessors 2 (see E02452) and Histories 2.37 (see E02032).
DiscussionThe story of the miraculous light that appeared over Clovis from the church of Hilary, on his way to defeat the Visigoths at the battle of Vouillé in 507, was also recounted by Gregory of Tours in his Histories 2.37 (see E02032).
Krusch, B., Venanti Honori Clementiani Fortunati presbyteri Italici Opera pedestria (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi 4.2; Berolini: Apud Weidmannos, 1885).
Van Dam, R., Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).