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E00293: Gregory of Tours, in his Life of *Senoch (ascetic and miracle-worker near Tours, ob. 576, S00116), describes the death, posthumous cult and miracles of *Senoch (ascetic and miracle-worker near Tours, ob. 576, S00116); all near Tours (north-west Gaul). From Gregory's Life of the Fathers, written in Latin in Tours, 573/594.

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posted on 2015-02-15, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Gregory of Tours, Life of the Fathers 15.4

(...) Cum esset annorum circiter quadraginta, modica pulsatus a febre, per triduum lectulo decubavit. Nuntiatumque est mihi, cum transitu esset propinquum. At ego velocius illuc properans, ad lectulum eius accessi, sed nihil ab eo conlocutionis elicere potui. Erat enim valde defessus. Dehinc interposito quasi unius horae spatio spiritum exalavit. Congregataque est ad eius exequias multitudo illa redemptorum, quos supra diximus ab eo vel a iugo servitutis vel a diversis debitis absolutos, quos vel alebat cibo vel vestitu tegebat. Plangebant enim dicentes: "Cui nos, pater sanctae, relinques?" Post haec sepulturae locatus, saepius se manifestis virtutibus declaravit. Nam trigesimo ab eius obitu die, cum ad eius tumulum missa celebraretur, Chaidulfus quidam contractus, dum stipem postulat, ad eius sepulturam accedit. Qui dum pallam superpositam osculis veneratur, dissolutis membrorum ligaturis, directus est. Sed et multa alia ibi gesta conperi, de quibus haec tantum memoriae habenda mandavi.

'Having attained the age of about forty years he [Senoch] was taken by a small fever which kept him in bed for about three days. Someone then announced to me that his end was near. I hurried there, approached his bedside, but I was not able to get any word out of him, for he was very weak, and after about an hour he gave up the spirit. To his funeral came that crowd of people whom he had ransomed, that is to say, those whom we have mentioned whom he freed from either servitude or debt, and those whom he had nourished and clothed. They mourned, saying "To whom do you leave us, holy father?" Later, when he was lying in his grave he often manifested himself by evident miracles. The thirtieth day after his death, when a Mass was being celebrated at his tomb, a paralysed man called Chaidulf, who had come to ask for alms, recovered the use of his limbs as soon as he had kissed the cloth which covered the tomb (pallam superpositam). I have known many other miracles which happened in this place, but I think that these are enough to recall his memory.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 273-274. Translation: James 1991, 99.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Senoch, ascetic and miracle-worker from Poitou, Gaul, ob. 576 near Tours : S00116

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 - Liturgical Activity

  • Eucharist associated with cult

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Begging

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Distribution of alms

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Cloth over/near the shrine


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 Senoch, see E00290. According to Gregory's Histories 5.7 Senoch died in 576 (E07873). He was buried in the monastery he had founded, which was almost certainly located in today's Saint Senoch near Tours [see E00291]. According to his own words, Gregory was closely acquainted with Senoch and - as stated in the quoted passage - was also an eye-witness to his death. Of some interest in the passage is the information about the Eucharist celebrated at the saint's tomb thirty days after his death. A mass as a form of cult activity is not a common occurrence and we may suspect that in our case it is rather a customary mourning mass for the dead, prescribed by the Church on the third, seventh and thirtieth day after death (or burial: the first mention of this custom is Ambrose's De obitu Theodosii I). The healing of the paralysed man is a miracle which corresponds well with Senoch's healing activity during lifetime [see E00290]. In his Glory of the Confessors 25 (E02578), Gregory records a further posthumous miracle of Senoch. A cloth covering a saint's tomb and working as a contact relic is frequently mentioned by Gregory [see especially E00059].


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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