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E01959: The Latin Second Life of *Romanus priest at the fort of Blaye (Gaul, S01129), written by an anonymous author, possibly in the 5th c., probably in the region of Bordeaux (south-west Gaul), presents its protagonist as a monk, presbyter and miracle-worker, who, being admonished in a vision by *Saturninus (bishop and martyr of Toulouse, S00289) and collaborating with *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050), destroyed pagan cults and converted the local population.

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posted on 2016-10-26, 00:00 authored by robert
Second Life of Romanus, Priest at the Fort of Blaye


1. This work will present Romanus as a monk and a priest (sacerdos). He is born in Africa and as a young man flees to a monastery.

2. Brethren make him a deacon. He conducts an ascetic life.

3. The author will describe only a few out of a number of miracles omitted up to now by other authors.

4. Romanus heals a blind man and performs other miracles not described in this book.

5. A vision orders him to go to Burdigala (Bordeaux, Gaul), to the place known as Blaviae (modern Blaye) and destroy there a pagan temple; God would send another priest (sacerdos) to help him and they would chase away demons from that place. He sails to Narbo (Narbonne, Gaul), and when there he cannot hide his power. People are coming to him looking for healing.

6. He heals the son of a widow.

7. He performs other miracles in Narbo and then leaves the city. He travels through many provinces, destroying temples and consecrating churches, showing people the light of the truth.

8. Close to Toulouse he sees in a dream *Saturninus, bishop and martyr at this city, who admonishes him to follow what he had been ordered in the previous vision.

9. Romanus arrives at Blaviae. Thanks to him the journey by sea passes in safety. He builds a monastic cell for himself in a place where pagan idols stand and rituals are still performed. Seeing his determination and miracles, many pagans convert.

10. *Martin, bishop of Tours receives in a vision an order to help him. God announces to Romanus Martin’s visit. They meet and pray together in Romanus’ cell and then destroy the local idol and baptise the locals.

11. Martin ordains Romanus presbyter. Romanus continues baptising people and they both chase away demons from this place.

12. He builds churches where demons were worshipped before. This is followed by other conversions.

13. He dies, accompanied at his deathbed by Martin. A dove flies out of his mouth. His soul is greeted by martyrs, confessors and virgins.

14. People weep for the loss of their patron.

15. Martin presides at his funeral. Miracles happen at Romanus’ tomb up to these days. Sailors who invoke his name are saved from danger at sea.

Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Romanus, priest at Blavia (Gaul), ob. c. 390 : S01129 Martin, bishop of Tours (Gaul), ob. 397 : S00050 Saturninus, bishop and martyr of Toulouse (Gaul), ob. 250/1 : S00289

Saint Name in Source

Romanus Martinus Saturninus

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)

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

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracle after death Specialised miracle-working Miracles causing conversion Healing diseases and disabilities Healing diseases and disabilities Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miraculous protection - of people and their property

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Pagans Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The Life of Romanus (Vita s. Romani, presbyteri et confessoris apud castrum Blaviae quiescentis) must have been written some time after his death, which, if the chronology of the hagiography has any veracity, preceded that of Martin of Tours who died in 397. Its author is anonymous and we can only say that it is probably a 5th century text, perhaps reworked in the 6th century. Its author certainly knew the Life of Martin by Sulpicius Severus, written in 395/6, and he shapes the image of Romanus on that of Martin. He possibly also knew the Life of Hilarion by Jerome from which he could have borrowed the motif of Romanus' travels. He refers to earlier authors who wrote about Romanus, which must be a reference to the earlier Life (E06490). The Life of Romanus is one of very few late antique Lives of presbyters, but Romanus is shown acting rather like a bishop: building churches, converting people, baptising, and being equal to bishop Martin of Tours (they are both called sacerdotes, priests). It is interesting how the author links his hero with two renowned Gallic saints: Saturninus, who died about 150 years earlier, appears to Romanus in a vision; Martin, his contemporary, helps him to fight with pagan cults. Such enhancing links with famous saints are common in the hagiography of lesser saintly figures.


Edition: "Vita s. Romani, presbyteri et confessoris apud castrum Blaviae quiescentis," Analecta Bollandiana 5 (1886), 177-191.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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