The Life of the Jura Fathers 44 (Life of Saint Romanus the Abbot)
Basilicam sanctorum, immo, ut ita dixerim, castra martyrum, in Acaunensium locum, sicut passionis ipsorum relatio digesta testatur, quae sex milia et sescentos uiros non dicam ambire corpore in fabricis, sed nec ipso, ut reor, campo illic potuit consaepire, fidei ardore succensus deliberauit expetere.
'Enflamed with the ardor of faith, Romanus had decided to seek out in Agaune the basilica of the saints. (I should say, rather, the encampment of the martyrs, as the published report of their martyrdom testifies.) I will not say that six thousand, six hundred men could be enclosed in the building, nor could they, I suppose, even be held in the field around it.'
It is on his journey from Condat to Agaune that Romanus encounters and heals two lepers (E05903
Text: Martine 1968, 286, 288. Translation: Vivian et al. 1999, 123.
Saint NameTheban Legion, commanded by *Maurice, martyrs of Agaunum, Gaul : S00339
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Lives
Evidence not before512
Evidence not after525
Activity not before435
Activity not after460
Place of Evidence - RegionGaul and Frankish kingdoms
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcCondat
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Condat
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVisiting graves and shrines
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
SourceThe Life of the Jura Fathers (Vita patrum Iurensium) consists of three vitae – of Romanus (ob. 455/460; PCBE 4, 'Romanus 3'), Lupicinus (ob. 472/475; PCBE 4, 'Lupicinus 4'), and Eugendus (ob. 512/515; PCBE 4, 'Eugendus'). Romanus and his brother Lupicinus were the founders of the ascetic communities which grew up in the 5th century in remote rural areas in the Jura mountains of eastern Gaul; Eugendus was their eventual successor in the late 5th century. Romanus' community was located at Condat (Condadisco), modern Saint-Claude, where he seems to have settled sometime in the 430s (to judge from the not always clear chronology of his Life); within a few years he was joined by his younger brother Lupicinus. As the size of the community grew, Lupicinus eventually established his own settlement nearby at Lauconnus (modern Saint-Lupicin). Romanus also founded a female monastic community, headed by his sister (whose name is unknown), at Balma (La Balme, modern Saint-Romain-des-Roches), a few miles from Condat.
The Life of the Jura Fathers was written after the death of Eugendus, which occurred in the period 512/515 (the date is established by Avitus of Vienne, Letter 19), probably soon after. François Massai pointed out that in spite of the author's demonstrative reverence for Eugendus, the Life attributes no posthumous miracles to him (Massai 1971, 57), suggesting that it was composed only a short time after his death. More debatably, Massai argued (Massai 1971, 50, 56) that references in the text to the shrine of the Theban Legion at Saint-Maurice-d'Agaune – notably the preface (E05898) and § 44 (E07851) – seem to depict it before its refoundation by the Burgundian prince Sigismund in 515. While not dating the work quite so early, Martine 1968, 56, argued that it influenced the Life of the Abbots of Agaune (E06267), which he dated to the mid 520s.
The Life of the Jura Fathers is anonymous, but the author discloses various details about his life: he seems to have been a native of the Jura region, and he himself was a member of the community at Condat. He knew Eugendus personally, and regularly emphasises that he was a witness of events in Eugendus' time and was told about many earlier events by Eugendus himself. His knowledge of Romanus and Lupicinus came from the traditions of the community and the reminiscences of Eugendus and other older monks (by the time the Life of the Jura Fathers was written, thirty to forty years had passed since the death of Lupicinus, and fifty to sixty since the death of Romanus). On the author, and the information that can be established about him, see Martine 1968, 45-53; Vivian et al. 1999, 48-52.
The author was well-read in Latin ascetic literature: he was certainly familiar with the works of Sulpicius Severus on Martin of Tours, which he sometimes quotes directly. Allusions and references in his work suggest that he also knew the Life of Antony (probably the Latin version by Evagrius, E00930), Jerome's ascetic Lives, Rufinus' Latin version of Eusebius' Church History, and works by Basil of Caesarea (in translation) and John Cassian. See Vivian et al. 1999, 50-51.
For full discussion of the text, author, and date, see primarily the introduction to Martine 1968; see also Vivian et al. 1999, 47-61. For brief accounts of the sites associated with Romanus, Lupicinus and Eugendus, see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 249-250, 262-264, 273-274. The lives of Romanus and Lupicinus are also recounted by Gregory of Tours in his Life of the Fathers 1 (see E00003, E00004).
DiscussionIn this passage the author refers to a pilgrimage made by Romanus, together with the monk Palladius, to the shrine of the Theban Legion at Agaune (his main purpose is to tell the story of the miraculous healing of two lepers which took place during the journey – E05903). Romanus died no later than about 460, so his pilgrimage took place many decades before the founding of the celebrated monastery at Agaune by Sigismund of the Burgundians in 515. Very little is known about the shrine before 515, except that it appears to have been much less institutionalised than it was after the establishment of the monastery. The reference to a written relatio of the Legion's martyrdom is presumably to the Passion of the Martyrs of Agaune (Passio Acaunensium martyrum), written between c. 430 and c. 450 by Eucherius, the bishop of Lyon (E06108).
Martine, F., Vie des pères du Jura (Sources Chrétiennes 142; Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1968).
Vivian, T., Vivian, K., and Russell, J.B. The Life of the Jura Fathers (Cistercian Studies Series 178; Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1999).
Massai, F., "‘La «Vita patrum iurensium» et les débuts du monachisme à Saint-Maurice d’Agaune," in: J. Autenrieth and F. Brunhölzl (eds.), Festschrift Bernard Bischoff zu seinem 65. Geburtstag (Stuttgart, 1971), 43-69.
Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).