University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E00009: Gregory of Tours, in his Life of *Abraham (abbot at Clermont, ob. 477, S00005), recounts how, at the feast of *Cyricus/Kyrikos (child martyr of Tarsus, S00007) in Clermont (central Gaul), Abraham miraculously multiplied the wine needed for those invited. From Gregory's Life of the Fathers, written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 573/594.

online resource
posted on 2014-08-28, 00:00 authored by admin, dlambert
Gregory of Tours, Life of the Fathers 3.1

The episode recounted below happens after Abraham has come to Clermont and established a monastery at the church of St Cyricus.

Igitur cum festivitas supradictae basilicae advenisset, praepositum vocat, ut vasa vino plena ad reficiendum populum, qui solemnitati aderat, in atrio ex more conponeret. Causatur monachus, dicens: "Ecce episcopum cum duce et civibus invitatum habes, et vix nobis supersunt quattuor vini amphorae, unde omnia ista conplebis?" Et ille: "Aperite", inquid, "mihi poenum". Quo aperto, ingressus est; et dans orationem, quasi novus Helias, elevatis ad caelum manibus, infusis fletu luminibus, ait: "Ne deficiat, quaeso, Domine, de hoc vasculo vinum, donec cunctis ministretur in abundantiam", et, inruente in se Spiritu sancto, ait: "Haec dicit Dominus: Non deficiet vinum de vase, sed omnibus petentibus affatim tribuetur, et abundabit".

Verumtamen ad verbum et hilaritatem dispensationis illius cuncto populo in abundantia ministratum est, et superfuit.
Sed quia strenuitas praepositi prius mensuraverat vasculum quinquagenarium et reppererat quattuor palmorum mensuram, cernens quae acta fuerant, in crastino iterum mensurans, tantum repperit in vase, quantum in eo praecedente reliquerat die. Ex hoc sancti virtus in populis declarata est.

'Then, when the feast of this church had come, he told the prior to prepare a jar of wine, as usual, in the forecourt of the church, for the refreshment of the people who were at the ceremonies. The monk complained, saying, "Look, you've invited the bishop, the duke and the citizens, and there are scarcely four jars of wine left. Where are we going to get enough wine for all these people?" And he replied, "Open the cellar!" That was done, and he entered and prays, like a new Elijah, lifting his hands to heaven, with his eyes full of tears: "O Lord, I pray that wine shall not be lacking in this jar until all have received an abundance." And he is filled with the Holy Spirit, and cries, "This saith the Lord: the wine shall not lack in this jar, but all those who ask for it shall have enough, and there shall be an abundance left over."

And it happened as he had said: it was served in profusion to all the people, who drank of it happily, and there was wine left over. The conscientious prior had previously measured the jar, which was a size to contain 50 measures, and had found that it contained only four hands; seeing what had happened, he measured it again the following day, and found there was as much wine in the jar as before. The power of the saint was thus made manifest to all.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 222-223. Translation: James 1991, 18-19.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyrikos, 3rd c. child martyr in Tarsus, son of *Julitta : S00007 Abraham, abbot in Clermont (Gaul), ob. 476/7 : S00005

Saint Name in Source

Ciricus Abraham

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


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)

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Tours

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Aristocrats


Gregory, bishop of Tours from 573 until his death (probably in 594), was the most prolific hagiographer of all Late Antiquity. He wrote four books on the miracles of Martin of Tours, one on those of Julian of Brioude, and two on the miracles of other saints (the Glory of the Martyrs and Glory of the Confessors), as well as a collection of twenty short Lives of sixth-century Gallic saints (the Life of the Fathers). He also included a mass of material on saints in his long and detailed Histories, and produced two independent short works: a Latin version of the Acts of Andrew and a Latin translation of the story of The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. The Life of the Fathers by Gregory of Tours is different from his other hagiographical works (Miracles of Julian, Miracles of Martin, Glory of the Confessors and Glory of the Martyrs), which all concentrate on posthumous miracles of the saints. The Life of the Fathers, by contrast, describes the exemplary behaviour in life of twenty Gallic saints (for a list of the Lives, see $E05870). Gregory himself draws this contrast in the opening words of his preface: 'I had decided to write only about what has been achieved with divine help at the tombs of the blessed martyrs and confessors; but I have recently discovered information about those who have been raised to heaven by the merit of their blessed conduct here below, and I thought that their way of life, which is known to us through reliable sources, could strengthen the Church' (trans. James 1991, 1). In this preface Gregory also explains why he chose to call the book Life of the Fathers, not Lives of the Fathers: because they all lived the same bodily life. The nineteen Lives of men, and the single Life of a woman (Life 19), all relate to holy people of Gaul, the majority living in the mid to later sixth century. Although this agenda is unspoken, there can be little doubt that Gregory wrote these Lives partly to show that holiness, and the miraculous, were not just things of the past, but very much present within the Gaul of his day (a message that he expressed explicitly in his Histories). Almost all the saints he describes were active within one or other of the two dioceses with which Gregory was most familiar (his native Clermont, and Tours, the city of his episcopate), or indeed were his relatives (all bishops - Life 6 is of an uncle, Life 7 of a great-grandfather, and Life 8 of a great-uncle). Although Gregory says in his preface that they all shared one bodily life, in reality his saints fall into one of two distinct categories: holy bishops who are effective leaders of their flocks but only moderately ascetic (Lives 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 17), and holy ascetics who have withdrawn from the world and sometimes engage in extreme mortification of the body (Lives 1, 3, 5, 9-16, and 18-20). Gregory's work was unquestionably didactic in purpose - teaching the correct way to lead a good Christian life, and it is notable, for instance, how, in this work written by a bishop, his ascetics accept episcopal correction when necessary (Lives 15.2 and 20.3, in both cases from Gregory himself), and might even delay their death to suit the timetable of a bishop (Life 10.4). Because the focus is on the lives of these holy people, there is much less emphasis on their cult after death than in Gregory's other hagiographical works; however, all the Lives close with an account of the burial of the saint, and in almost all cases with reference to posthumous miracles recorded there (the exceptions are Lives 10, 11 and 20, which have no reference to miracles at the tomb). Gregory probably collected material for the Life of the Fathers (and perhaps wrote individual Lives) over a long period of time. However, from the words of his preface (quoted above) and from other references within the text, it is evident that he assembled his material into the polished work we have today only towards the very end of his life, after he had already written much of his extensive hagiography recording the miracles of saints lying in their graves. Because Gregory's views on saints do not seem to have changed during his writing life, we have not here expended energy in exploring the possible dating of individual lives, merely recording them all as written some time between 573 and 594. For more on the text, and on its dating: James 1991, xiii-xix; Shaw 2015, particularly 117-120.


For an overview of the Life of Abraham, see E00005. The church and monastery of Cyricus (in French, Saint-Cirgues or Saint-Cyr) was located outside the city of Clermont, but close to the walls (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 96-97; Prévot 1989, 36). The interest of this passage is in what it tells us of the obligations of hospitality that fell on a monastery at a feast day, here the feast of Cyricus, patron of the community's church. Much of what Gregory wrote about Abraham derived from his epitaph, written by Sidonius Apollinaris in 477 (E06751); but this episode is not recorded there. Presumably Gregory learned of it from the social memory of the monastery.


Edition: Krusch, B., Gregorii Turonensis Opera. 2: Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1969). Translations: James, E., Gregory of Tours. Life of the Fathers (Translated Texts for Historians 1; 2nd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991). de Nie, G., Gregory of Tours, Lives and Miracles (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 39; Cambridge MA, 2015). Further reading: Prévot, F., "Clermont," in: N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule, vol. 6: Province ecclésiastique de Bourges (Aquitania Prima) (Paris, 1989), 27-40. Shaw, R., "Chronology, Composition, and Authorial Conception in the Miracula", in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston 2015), 102-140. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les oeuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager