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E00652: Gregory of Tours, in his Glory of the Martyrs (99), tells of *Domitius/Dometios (monk and martyr of Syria under Julian, S00414), a specialist at curing sciatica (because he himself had suffered from it); how he cured and converted a Jew, thereby angering (but subsequently curing) Christian sufferers at his shrine. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 580/594.

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posted on 2015-08-17, 00:00 authored by erizos
Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs 99

In the previous two chapter, Gregory discusses two saints from Syria (E00650, E00651), and continues:

Domitius equidem alius martyr in hac habetur regione, qui cum multa beneficia incolis praestet, sciaticis tamen veloci virtute medetur. Nam fertur ab hoc sanctus fuisse, dum in corpore esset positus, dolore detentus. Denique cum multis, ut diximus, in hac necessitate laborantibus mederetur, quidam Iudaeus ab ipsa infirmitate correptus sancti basilicam, quamquam Christo non crederet, devotus tamen expetiit, seque ad ianuam atrii deponi praecipiens, indignum se esse vociferans, qui sanctum limen ingrederetur. Aiebat enim: "Scio, me quidem, gloriose martyr, legis velamine obcaecatum, cui tu inpertire misericordiam dedigneris; sed nunc ad te confugio et supplex tuam misericordiam posco, ut, aversa prius infirmitate corporea, languorem incredulitatis avellas". Haec cum ante portam aulae fateretur, adveniente nocte, obdormivit; sed martyr beatus non longi spatio temporis distulit miserere. Igitur ea nocte visitans aegrotum per somnium, iussit recedere sanum. At ille expergefactus sentit se redditum incolomitati, confessusque, Christum filium Dei esse salvatorem mundi, sanus abscessit. Quod videntes christiani, qui in ipsa tenebantur infirmitate, quaerimonias sancto inferunt, dicentes: "Ecce, nos bene Deum confessi necdum meruimus liberari, et hic incredulus in Christum regem, circumcisus carne, non corde, sanus abscedit!" Et haec dicentes, cum ira lychnos basilicae, qui ex camera dependebant, comminuere coeperunt. Sed nec his defuit misericordia postulata; nam ipsa die sanati ad propria sunt regressi.

'Domitius is another martyr from this region, who, although he offers many blessings to the local inhabitants, with his quick power heals those suffering from sciatica. For the saint is said to have been hampered by this pain when he was alive in the flesh. Since, as I said, he heals many who ache from this affliction, a Jew who suffered from this infirmity piously went to the saint's church, even though he did not believe in Christ. He asked to be brought to the doorway of the forecourt (ianua atrii) and cried that he was unworthy to cross the holy threshold. He said: 'I know, glorious martyr, that I with whom you refuse to share your compassion am blinded by the veil of the law. But now I take refuge with you and as a suppliant beg for your compassion, so that after first removing the illness of my body you might remove the illness of my unbelief.' After he said this in front of the gate of the courtyard, night came and he fell asleep. But the blessed martyr did not postpone his compassion for long. During that night he approached the ill man in a dream and ordered him to depart with his health. The Jew awoke and realised that he had been restored to health. He confessed that Christ, the Son of God, was the Saviour of the world and he left with his health. When the Christians who suffered from the same infirmity saw this, they complained to the saint and said: 'Behold, we who faithfully believe in God do not deserve to be freed [from our infirmities], but this man who does not believe in Christ the king and who is circumcised in the flesh but not in his heart departs with his health!' And as they said this, they began angrily to smash the lights of the church that were hanging from the rafters. But the compassion they demanded was not lacking for these people; for on that very day they were cured and returned to their own homes.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 103-104. Translation: Van Dam 2004, 92, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Dometios, monk and martyr of Syria, ob. 363 : S00414

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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Destruction/desecration of saint's shrine

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Specialised miracle-working Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miracles causing conversion

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives


Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles


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. Gregory does not tell us where he learned this information on Dometios, a saint with no record of cult in the Latin West. The story offers a very unusual example of a saint specialising in a particular type of miracle (curing sciatica) because he had suffered from the same affliction in life. We have no other evidence to support Gregory's account. The conversion of a Jew as a result of a miracle performed on him by a saint is a common topic in hagiography. Interestingly, the Jew was cured at the threshold of the saint's shrine, being unworthy to enter it (see also E00651, and E00585). The detail at the end of the story - of angry Christian sufferers in effect forcing the saint to cure them - has parallels elsewhere in Gregory's hagiography (E00625, E02687, E03492).


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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