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E05933: The Chronicle of Fredegar describes the discovery of the body of Victor, martyr of the *Theban Legion (S00339), in a church at Geneva (eastern Gaul) in 602. Written in Latin in Gaul/Francia, 659/700.

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posted on 10.07.2018, 00:00 by dlambert
Chronicle of Fredegar 4.22

Eo anno corpus sancti Victoris, qui Salodero cum sancto Vrsio passus fuerat, a beato Aeconio pontifice Mauriennense inuenitur. Quadam nocte in suam ciuitatem ei reuelatur in sompnium ut surgens protinus iret ad eclesiam, quam Sideleuba regina suburbanum Genauinse construxerat: in medium eclesia designatum locum illum sanctum corpus adesset. Cumque Genaua festinus perrexisset cum beatis Rusticio et Patricio episcopis, triduanum faciens ieiunium, lumen per noctem ubi illum gloriosum et splendidum corpus erat apparuit. Quem cum selencio hii tres pontifecis cum lacrimis et orationibus, eleuato lapide, in arcam argentiam inuenerunt sepultum cuius faciem robentem quasi uiuum repperunt. Ibique princeps Theudericus presens aderat, multisque rebus huius eclesiae tribuens, maxemam partem facultates Warnacharii ibidem confirmauit. Ad sepulchrum illum sanctum mirae uirtutes ex ipsa diae quo repertum est prestante Domino integra adsiduaetate ostenduntur.

'In this year [602] the blessed Aeconius, bishop of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, discovered the body of Saint Victor, who had been martyred at Solothurn with Saint Ursius. One night, when he was in his city, it was revealed to him in a dream that he should get up at once and go to the church built by Queen Sideleuba outside Geneva. He would be informed of the spot where, in the middle of the church, the saint's body lay. So he made all haste to Geneva with the blessed Bishops Rusticius and Patricius. For three days he fasted and then, in the night, a light appeared over the spot where lay those glorious and illustrious remains. The three bishops, praying and in tears, lifted a stone and there found the body in a silver coffin. The saint's face had the fresh complexion of a living man. King Theuderic [II], who was present, made many gifts to the church and on the spot confirmed it in possession of the greater part of Warnachar's goods. From the day of that discovery astounding miracles were, by God's grace, constantly performed at that blessed grave.'


Text and translation: Wallace-Hadrill 1960 (translation adapted).

History

Evidence ID

E05933

Saint Name

Theban Legion, commanded by *Maurice, martyrs of Agaunum, Gaul : S00339

Saint Name in Source

Victor, Ursius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

659

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

602

Activity not after

602

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

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

Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miraculous sound, smell, light Unspecified miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Source

The work known as the Chronicle of Fredegar dates from the second half of the 7th century. There is a long history of controversy over the questions of how many authors were involved in its compilation and precisely when they worked, but the current consensus is that it was produced by a single author working in one of the Frankish kingdoms at some point after 659 (Collins 1996, 83, 91-96). While the first three books of the chronicle largely reproduce earlier sources, Book 4 is an original composition, covering events from 584 to 642.

Discussion

The cult of Victor and Ursus was a kind of satellite cult of the Theban legion: they were believed to be members of the legion, but martyred not at Agaune, but Solothurn (in the north of present-day Switzerland, a significant distance from Agaune). They appear in the foundational text of the cult of the Theban legion, Eucherius' Passion of the Martyrs of Agaune (E06108), composed 430/450, with the statement that 'they are said to be from the same legion' but that 'tradition (fama) states that they were martyred at Solothurn' (Passion of the Martyrs of Agaune 14). Solothurn was a very small settlement in this period – Eucherius refers to it as a fort (castrum) rather than a town – so the translation of Victor's body to Geneva is not inherently implausible, but without further evidence it is impossible to say more than that. The name of Aeconius, bishop of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, is given in other sources (and in PCBE 4) as Hiconius. He attended two church councils at Mâcon in 581 and 585. The two other bishops mentioned, Patricius and Rusticius (PLRE 4, 'Patricius 3' and 'Rusticius 4') are not attested in any contemporary documents, but one of them is likely to have been bishop of Geneva, a see whose bishops are poorly recorded in this period (see Duchesne 1907, 229, n. 2, who observes that 'il est difficile que l'évéque de Genève soit resté étranger à cette cérémonie'). The Martyrdom of Victor and Ursus (E07726) states that they were bishops respectively of Tarentaise and Octodurum/Sion, but the date and sources of this text are uncertain. Fredegar states that the church in which Victor's body was revealed had been founded by Queen Sideleuba, which is the name he uses (previously in Chronicle 3.17) for the daughter of the Burgundian king Chilperic and sister of Clovis's wife Clotild, whose name is given by Gregory of Tours (Histories 2.28) as Crona. This would imply that the church was founded in the late 5th or early 6th century. The basis for Fredegar's claim is unknown, as is the reason why he gives Sideleuba/Crona a different name from Gregory. Some modern researchers (e.g. Favrod 1997, 294-8) have preferred to follow the Martyrdom of Victor and Ursus (E07726) which attributes the church to Queen Theodelinda, the wife of another Burgundian king, Godegisel (on whom see e.g. Gregory of Tours, Histories 2.32-3). Since Theodelinda and Sideleuba/Crona were contemporaries, this makes no material difference chronologically, and the issue will not be pursued here (for further discussion and references, including to theories more speculative than those discussed here, see Bonnet and Santschi 1986, 47, and – especially – their updated discussion, Bonnet and Santschi 2014, 105-6). The key point for Fredegar is that by the time of Aeconius the presence of Victor's relics in the church had been forgotten.

Bibliography

Edition and translation: Wallace-Hadrill, J.M., The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar (London, 1960). Further reading: Bonnet, C., and Santschi, C., “Genève,” in: N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 3: Provinces ecclésiastique de Vienne et d'Arles (Viennensis et Alpes Graiae et Poeninae) (Paris, 1986), 37-48. Bonnet, C., and Santschi, C., "Genève," in: F. Prévot, M. Gaillard, and N. Gauthier (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 16: Quarante ans d'enquête (1972-2012): 1. Images nouvelles des villes de la Gaule (Paris, 2014), 98-106. Duchesne, L, Fastes épiscopaux de l'ancienne Gaule, vol. 1 (2nd ed.; Paris, 1907). Favrod, J., Histoire politique du Royaume Burgonde (443-534) (Lausanne, 1997). Collins, R., "Fredegar," in: P.J. Geary (ed.), Authors of the Middle Ages: Historical and Religious Writers of the Latin West, vol. 4, nos. 12-13 (Aldershot, 1996), 73-138. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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