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E00624: Gregory of Tours, in his Glory of the Martyrs (77), tells of the miraculous power of *Baudilius (martyr of Nîmes, S00383): leaves from a tree growing on his tomb at Nîmes (southern Gaul) cure the sick, and, when carried by a merchant to a port in the East, take with them the presence of the saint; and of an intervention in c.510/526 that saved two priests of Nîmes. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 580/594.

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posted on 2015-07-17, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs 77

Est apud Nemausensis urbis oppido Baudillii beati martyris gloriosum sepulchrum, de quo saepius virtutes multae manifestantur. Ex quo sepulchro laurus orta et per parietem egressa, arborem foris fecit, salubri coma vernante.
Quod saepe loci incolae in multis infirmitatibus habere caeleste remedium sunt experti. Pro quibus virtutum beneficiis cum plerumque nudaretur a foliis vel ipsa quodadmodo cortice, arida est effecta. Unde quia morbos ab ea multorum infirmitatum diximus depelli, longum fuit singulos quosque memorari; ideo haec sufficere putavi, quod ea medicamenta largiendo aridam effectam dixi. Nam fertur celebre a negotiatore quodam in Oriente de his foliis deportatum pignus fuisse; sed priusquam portum negotiator attingeret, inerguminus in eclesia, adire Baudillium martyrem orientalem plagam, stupentibus populis, declamavit.

'The glorious tomb of the blessed martyr Baudilius is in Nîmes. Many miracles are revealed at his tomb. A laurel grows from his tomb. Sticking out through a wall, it became a tree outside with lush and beneficial foliage. The inhabitants of the region discovered that this tomb often possessed a heavenly remedy for many illnesses. Since the tree was repeatedly stripped of its leaves and some of its bark to obtain the benefits of its powers, it became withered. Although I have noted that the diseases of many were cured by this tree, it would take a long time to list each individually, so I have thought it sufficient [proof], that I have said that the tree became withered by dispensing these medicines. It is often said that a merchant brought a relic of these leaves to the East. Even before the merchant put into port, a possessed man announced in a church to the surprised congregation that the martyr Baudilius was arriving in the eastern region.'

Gregory then recounts an elaborate story set in the period of Theoderic's rule in Nîmes. The duke (dux) Ara, resident in Arles, ordered the arrest of the archpriest of Nîmes, but his soldiers in error captured and brought to Arles the archdeacon. He (the archdeacon) appeared in a dream to Ara, who, realising his error and the power of God, begged forgiveness of the archdeacon, sent him back to Nîmes with gifts, and eventually ordered that he be made bishop of Nîmes. He (Ara) also stopped pursuing the archpriest. All these good things Gregory attributes to the power of the martyr.

Text: Krusch 1969, 89-90. Translation: Van Dam 2004, 72-73, modified. Summary: Bryan Ward-Perkins.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Baudilius, martyr at Nimes (Gaul), ob.? : S00383

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts


  • 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 - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Freeing prisoners, exiles, captives, slaves Juridical interventions

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Merchants and artisans Aristocrats Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - other Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Eating/drinking/inhaling relics Privately owned relics


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. Internal references to datable events and to other work by Gregory, suggest that he wrote the greater part of his Glory of the Martyrs between 585 and 588, though there is one chapter (ch. 82), long before the end of the book, that describes an event that is most readily dated to 590. It is in fact likely that Gregory was collecting and recording these stories throughout his life, and, fortunately for our purposes, precise dating is not of great importance, since his views on the role of saints and the correct ways to venerate them do not seem to have changed during his writing life. The work was probably never fully completed and polished: the version we have closes with four very disparate chapters, including one (105) about the divine punishment of an avaricious woman that bears no obvious connection to the overall theme of the book. (For discussions of the dating, see Van Dam 2004, xi-xii; Shaw 2015, 104-105, 111.) In his preface, Gregory states that his aim in the work is 'to publicise some of the miracles of the saints that have until now been hidden' (aliqua de sanctorum miraculis, quae actenus latuerunt, pandere), so, as in his Glory of the Confessors, his focus is not on the lives of the saints, nor on the details of their martyrdoms, but on miracles they have effected, particularly through their relics. Miracles are recorded from many places; but unsurprisingly the largest number is from Gaul. The book opens, rather curiously, with a sizeable number of miracles and relics of Jesus and his mother Mary, neither of them conventional 'martyrs'. The explanation for this must be that Gregory's interest was really much more in relics and miracles in general than in martyrs specifically. Many of the Gallic saints he included are somewhat obscure, but outside Gaul he concentrates for the most part on major saints; towards the end of the book, however, he slips in a couple of lesser Syrian saints, probably because they had interesting specialisms: Phokas and Domitios, with, respectively, particular skills at curing snake bites and sciatica. In the case of the non-Gallic saints, it is not always clear whether they were attracting active cult in Gaul – Phokas and Domitios, for instance, almost certainly didn't. It is only when Gregory tells us of a church dedication or relic that we can be certain that the saint concerned had serious cult in Gaul: in the case of the martyrs of Rome, for instance, this is true of Clement and Laurence, but not of Chrysanthus and Daria, Pancratius, and John I. Although each section contains extraneous material, the work can be broken down very roughly into the following sections:    *Chapters 1-7: Miracles and relics of Jesus (with some of Mary), including three chapters (5-7) on relics of the Passion. (For the most part, these chapters are not covered in our database.)    *Chapters 8-19: Miracles and relics of Mary and John the Baptist.    *Chapters 20-25: Miraculous images of Jesus, and a spring associated with Easter.    *Chapters 23-34: Miracles and relics of the Apostles and Stephen (i.e. New Testament saints).    *Chapters 35-41: Miracles and relics of the post-apostolic martyrs of Rome.    *Chapters 42-46: And of northern Italy.    *Chapters 47-77: And of Gaul (in no obvious order, except that the first three chapters are occupied by early martyrs). This is the longest section of the book.    *Chapters 78-87: Very miscellaneous, with only marginal references to saints: three anti-Arian stories (79-81); two stories regarding relics of Gregory's (82-83); four stories of the punishment of impure people (84-87).    *Chapters 88-102: Miracles and relics of martyrs of Spain, Africa (just one, Cyprian of Carthage), and the East, in that order.    *Chapters 103-106: Miscellaneous. But tight structuring was never a great concern of Gregory's, so within this broad framework, he often wanders off his main theme. For instance, a clutch of miracle stories relating to John the Baptist (chs. 11-13) lead Gregory into a general discussion of the River Jordan (ch. 16), which then leads him to discuss some springs near Jericho (ch. 17), linked to the preceding chapter by the common theme of 'miraculous waters in the Holy Land', but with no connection to any martyr. Similarly, a miracle story involving relics of St Andrew and the punishment of an Arian count (ch. 78) leads Gregory into three stories against Arians with no relation to saints. These digressions did not bother Gregory and are part of the charm of his work. Gregory very seldom tells us about his sources, which for the most part were certainly oral; he had a wide circle of acquaintances within the Gallic church, and also met and collected stories from travellers from abroad, including (if the source is to be believed) a man who had travelled to India (ch. 31). But Gregory also used a range of written texts, including Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (chs. 20 and 48), the poems of Prudentius, Paulinus of Nola, and Venantius Fortunatus, and a substantial number of Martyrdoms (Van Dam 2004, xiv-xvi). Because many of his stories are set abroad, Glory of the Martyrs is less informative about cult practices than Glory of the Confessors, with its very local and very Gallic focus, but it is still a gold-mine of information. To take just two examples: the story of Benignus of Dijon is a remarkably rich and detailed account of the discovery and enhancement of a previously unknown martyr (ch. 50), while that of Patroclus of Troyes shows the importance of a written Martyrdom, and the degree of scepticism that might greet a new one (ch. 63). There is a good general discussion of Glory of the Martyrs in Van Dam 2004, ix-xxiii, and of Gregory's hagiography more widely in Shaw 2015. (Bryan Ward-Perkins)


For the overview of the Glory of the Martyrs see E00367. The first miracle refers to a tree growing on the tomb of the martyr - a detail Gregory mentions also for other saints. Equally, the healing infusion made of a plant growing at the martyr's tomb is not exceptional in his writings. The most unusual information, however, relates to the merchant carrying one of these leaves to an unspecified port in the East (probably as a personal relic), and, at least according to Gregory, this relic leading a possessed man there to recognise the power of Baudilius. Ara was duke (dux) of Arles on behalf of Theoderic, Ostrogothic king of Italy, c. 510-526. The story concerning Ara and the archdeacon of Nîmes sits somewhat strangely in this collection of miracle stories of the martyrs: Gregory is explicit that the happy outcome of the story was brought about by Baudilius, but at no point in the story does anyone invoke the aid of the saint.


Edition: Krusch, B., Liber in gloria martyrum, in: Gregorii Turonensis Opera. 2: Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 1.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969). Translation: Van Dam, R., Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs (Translated Texts for Historians 4; 2nd ed., Liverpool, 2004). 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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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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