File(s) not publicly available

E06019: Constantius of Lyon, in his Life of *Germanus (bishop of Auxerre, ob. c. 448, S00455), written in Latin at Lyon (central Gaul) between c. 460 and c. 480, describes how, by applying consecrated oil, Germanus healed victims of an outbreak of plague caused by a conspiracy of demons.

online resource
posted on 19.07.2018, 00:00 by dlambert
Constantius of Lyon, Life of Germanus of Auxerre 8

For a full account of Constantius' Life of Germanus, see $E05841. This passage follows the one discussed in $E07550.

Quodam tempore conspiratione terribili beato uiro bellum quoddam daemones intulerunt. Quem cum multiplici infestatione temptatum, indutum fidei lorica inexpugnabilem repperissent, conceptam machinam ad plebis excidium contulerunt. Nam primum paruuli, deinde maiores natu, repente tumefactis intrinsecus faucibus interibant, ut, inruente morte, aegritudinis spatium uix triduo traheretur. Ita more furentis gladii populus delebatur. Nihil opis humana prouisio conferebat, et paene sero plebs trepida ad diuinum praesidium per antistitem decucurrit.

Qui protinus oleum benedixit, cuius tactu ita intrinsecus tumefacta tabescebat infirmitas, ut statim meatus peruius et anhelitum et cibum deficientibus ministraret, tantaque celeritate remedium caeleste succurrit quanta inruerat inlata pernicies. Quod admissu malignorum spirituum contigisse, unus ex obsessis, dum a sancto uiiro purgatur, euomuit, omnesque in fugam uersos eius oratione confessus est.

'At one time there was a fearful conspiracy of demons to wage a kind of war on the man of blessings himself. When they found him immune, thanks to the breastplate of faith, to all their assaults, they contrived a device for the destruction of his flock. First the children, then their elders, began to succumb to a swelling in their throats which brought about death after an illness of less than three days. His congregation was being wiped out as if they were being slaughtered by the sword. No human measures brought any relief and, when it was almost too late, the panic-stricken people appealed to their bishop for divine aid.

Immediately he blessed some oil and, at its touch, the internal swelling went down and a passage was thereby opened for breathing and swallowing. The heavenly remedy effected a cure as rapidly as the onslaught of the disease had brought death. One of those who had been possessed bawled out when he was being exorcised that all this had been brought about by the entry of demons, and acknowledged that they had been put to flight by the holy man's prayer.'

This passage is followed by the one discussed in $E07551.

Text: Borius 1965. Translation: Hoare 1954.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, ob. c. 448 : S00455

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

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

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Healing diseases and disabilities Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Demons


Germanus of Auxerre (PCBE 4, 'Germanus 1', pp. 878-883) was the most important and revered episcopal saint of 5th century Gaul. The Life of Germanus was written at an uncertain date, some years after Germanus' death, which is traditionally dated to 448 (but some scholars would place up to twelve years earlier). The Life was probably written at some point between about 465 and 480. The author was Constantius (PCBE 4, 'Constantius 3', pp. 521-522), a literary figure, possibly a cleric, attested as active in Lyon in the 460s and 470s. For full discussion of the issues relating to the authorship and date of the Life of Germanus, see E05841.


This incident is narrated during part of the Life (§§ 7-11) in which Constantius narrates miracles which took place in Germanus' see of Auxerre (most of the Life is devoted to events that take place elsewhere). This account of Germanus' healing of the victims of an outbreak of plague at Auxerre is notable for the claim that the plague was the result of conspiracy (conspiratio) of demons directed against Germanus, and for Germanus' use of oil he had blessed as a means of healing.


Editions: Borius, R., Constance de Lyon, Vie de saint Germain d'Auxerre (Sources chrétiennes 112; Paris, 1965), with French translation. Levison, W., Vita Germani episcopi Autissiodorensis auctore Constantio, in: Passiones vitaeque sanctorum aevi Merovingici V (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 7; Hannover and Leipzig, 1919), 246-283. English translation: Hoare, F.R., The Western Fathers (London, 1954), 283-320. Reprinted in T.F.X. Noble and T. Head (eds.), Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints' Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (University Park PA, 1995), 75-106.

Usage metrics