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E00264: Gregory of Tours, in his Life of *Martius (abbot near Clermont, ob. 500/510, S00105), recounts the burial and posthumous miracles of the saint at his monastery near Clermont (central Gaul). From Gregory's Life of the Fathers, written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 573/594.

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posted on 2015-01-19, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Gregory of Tours, Life of the Fathers 14.4

(Ch.4) Ipse [Martius] autem iam aetate nonaginaria, bono desudans certamine, consummato cursu vitae, servans in Deo fidem, ad illam coronam iustitiae, quam in illa retributionis die redditurus est ei Dominus, conmigravit. Dehinc cum summo honore ablutus dignisque vestimentis indutus, infra oratorium monasterii est sepultus. Quod autem beatum eius tumulum divinis virtutibus inlustretur, ipsa quae adsistit caterva poterit contestare. Quae cum infirmos mittit ad tumulum, extemplo incolomes remittit ad domum. Nam cum de diversis partibus confluentes deferentesque morborum genera, inibi capiant medicinam, frigoriticorum tamen vibrantia tremore membra saepius ad soliditatem integram restaurantur, tribuente hoc domino nostro Iesu Christo, qui glorificat inlustribus miraculis sanctorum nunc tumulos, quondam mortuos reducens e tumulis; ipsi gloria in saecula saeculorum! Amen.

'(Ch. 4) At the age of ninety, covered with the sweat of his good fight, he completed the course of his life. Keeping always his faith in God, the saint went elsewhere for that crown of justice which the Lord will give him on the day of Judgement. Then his body was washed with great honour and dressed in suitable clothes, and buried in the oratory of the monastery. That tomb was made famous by the divine miracles that were manifested there, as can be attested by the crowd of sick people who visit it. They go to the tomb sick and immediately return home cured. And indeed when the sick come there from all sides with various diseases they find a remedy there, and often feel the shivers of fever which agitated their body replaced by a perfect health, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who glorifies by illustrious miracles the tombs of the saints, just as he formerly recalled the dead from their tombs. To Him be glory for ever and ever! Amen.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 270. Translation: James 1991, 93-94, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martius, abbot near Clermont in Gaul, ob. 500/510 : S00105

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint


  • Latin

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)

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Tours

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Ceremonies at burial of a saint

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Considerations about the nature of miracles

Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities Healing diseases and disabilities


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 Martius, see E00263. Martius' death apparently took place in the first decade of the sixth century, as can be deduced from the information in chs. 3 and 4 of the Life (see James 1991, 93). Gregory says that Martius was buried in the oratory of the monastery where he was abbot, but does not name the place where the monastery stood. In the 10th century, a church of Saint-Mart is mentioned in the Libellus de ecclesiis Claromontanis in the village of Chamalières (now a district of Clermont-Ferrand), but with no reference to a monastery (see Vieilliard-Troiekouroff 1976, 80-81).


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). Translation: 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: 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.

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