Eucherius, On contempt for the world and secular philosophy (De contemptu mundi et saecularis philosophiae), lines 371-377
Gregorius e Ponto sacerdos, philosophia primus apud mundum et eloquentia praestans, sed postea maior praestantiorque virtutibus, adeo ut, sicut de hoc historiae nostrae fides loquitur, inter reliqua admirabilium signa meritorum precibus huius atque orationibus mons referatur secessisse, lacus exaruisse.
'Gregory, Bishop of Pontus, was first in the world in philosophy and outstanding in eloquence; but afterwards greater and more outstanding in his miracles, to the extent that—as the faith of our history relates—among the other signs of his extraordinary merits, through his prayers and supplications a mountain is said to have moved and a lake to have dried up.'
Text: Pricoco 1990, p. 80. Translation: David Lambert.
Saint NameGregory the Miracle-Worker (Taumatourgos), bishop and missionary in Pontus, ob. c. 270 : S00687
Saint Name in SourceGregorius
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Theological works
Literary - Letters
Evidence not before432
Evidence not after432
Activity not before250
Activity not after275
Place of Evidence - RegionGaul and Frankish kingdoms
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcLérins
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Lérins
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle during lifetime
Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather)
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
SourceEucherius (380/390-c. 452) was a member of the senatorial aristocracy in Gaul, who settled with his family (his wife and two sons) at Lérins, the site of the monastic community founded c. 400-410 by *Honoratus (S00438). Eucherius and his family settled on an island neighbouring Honoratus', probably at some point in the decade from 410 to 420, and formed a kind of satellite community. It is not clear whether Eucherius ever joined the main, cenobitic community on the other island. In the mid 430s, Eucherius became bishop of Lyon; he died c. 451.
Eucherius was a major literary figure in 5th century Gaul: his surviving works comprise a tract on monasticism, In Praise of the Desert (De laude eremi); two books on the Bible, the Instructiones, containing basic reference information, and the Formula spiritalis intellegentiae, a guide to interpretation; and the first known account of the martyrdom of the *Theban Legion, the Passion of the Agaunensian Martyrs (E06108).
On contempt for the world and secular philosophy (De contemptu mundi et saecularis philosophiae, CPL 493) is a tract in the form of a letter addressed to a relative of Eucherius named Valerianus. It argues that ascetic renunciation is a suitable life to be adopted by someone of an upper-class, educated background. Eucherius mentions (De contemptu, ed. Pricoco, p. 94) that he is writing in the 1185th year since the founding of Rome, which implies the year 432. At that point, Eucherius had not yet become bishop of Lyon and was probably still resident at Lérins.
DiscussionIn part of De contemptu mundi (ed. Pricoco, lines 361-406), Eucherius lists a succession of 'noble' and educated predecessors whom he believes should inspire Valerianus, and it is in this context that he refers to Gregory Thaumaturgus. The other individuals mentioned are Clement of Rome, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea, Paulinus of Nola, Hilary of Arles, and Petronius of Bologna. These figures, some of whom were alive when Eucherius wrote, are presented as role models rather than saints to be venerated; only in the case of Gregory is there any reference to miracles.
The miracle performed by Gregory is taken from Rufinus ’ Latin version of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. The passage is an addition by Rufinus; it is not in Eusebius’ original (Rufinus’ text can be found in GCS, n.F. 6,2, pp. 953-5).
Pricoco, S., Il Rifiuto del Mondo (Florence, 1990), with Italian translation.