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E02101: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (4.32), records the death of *Julianus (ascetic and miracle-worker of Randan near Clermont, S01167) in 571, whom Gregory himself had seen curing a demoniac in the church of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035) in Brioude; all in central Gaul. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 575/594.

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posted on 2016-12-11, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 4.32

Erat tunc temporis apud Randanensim monasterium civitatis Arvernae presbiter praeclarae virtutis Iulianus nomine, vir magnae abstinentiae, qui neque vinum neque ullum pulmentum utebatur, cilicio omni tempore sub tunicam habens, in vigiliis promtus, in oratione assiduus; cui inerguminos curare, caecos illuminare vel reliquas infirmitates depellere per invocationem dominici nominis et signaculum sanctae crucis facile erat. Idem cum stando pedes ab humore haberet infectos et ei diceretur, cur contra possibilitatem corporis semper staret, dicere cum ioco spirituali erat solitus: 'Faciunt opus meum, dum et vita comis est, nec me eorum sustentatio, Domino iubente, relinquid'. Nam videmus eum quadam vice in basilica beati Iuliani martyris inerguminum verbo tantum curasse. Quartanariis et aliis febribus saepe per orationem remedia conferebat. Qui sub hoc tempore lues dierum atque virtutum plenus ex hoc mundo est adsumptus in requie.

'At that time there lived in the monastery of Randan near the city of Clermont a priest called Julianus who had extraordinary miraculous power (praeclara virtus). He was most temperate in his personal habits, never drinking wine, never eating meat, always wearing a hair-shirt under his tunic, constant in his vigils, perpetually at prayer. To him it was a simple thing to cure the possessed (inerguminos), to restore sight to the blind and to heal all other infirmities by calling on the name of our Lord or by making the sign of the Holy Cross. Through long standing his feet were swollen with dropsical fluid, but when he was asked why he stood longer than his bodily strength permitted he used to answer wittily enough: "As long as life is in me, my feet will serve me well enough, and by God’s grace they will not fail to support me." Once in the church of saint Julian the martyr I myself saw him heal a possessed man by uttering a single word. Often he would relieve quartan fevers and other such diseases by prayer. At this time of plague he was taken from this world to his rest, full of days and famous for his miracles.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 166. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 227, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Julian, martyr of Brioude (Gaul), ob. late 3rd/early 4th c. : S00035 Julian, priest of Randan (near Clermont, Gaul), ob. c. 560-580 : S01167

Saint Name in Source

Iulianus Iulianus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • 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 - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Healing diseases and disabilities Healing diseases and disabilities Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Gregory of Tours wrote the Histories (Historiae) during his episcopate in Tours (573–594). They constitute the longest and most detailed historical work of the post-Roman West. Gregory's focus is Gaul under its Frankish kings, above all the territories of Tours and (to a lesser extent) Clermont, where he had been born and brought up. Much of his work tells of the years when, as bishop of an important see, he was himself centrally involved in Frankish politics. The Histories are often wrongly referred to as a History of the Franks. Although the work does contain a history of the rulers of Francia, it also includes much hagiographical material, and Gregory himself gave it the simple title the 'ten books of Histories' (decem libri historiarum), when he produced a list of his own writings (Histories 10.31). The Histories consist of ten books whose scope and contents differ considerably. Book 1 skims rapidly through world history, with biblical and secular material from the Creation to the death in AD 397 of Martin of Tours (Gregory’s hero and predecessor as bishop). It covers 5596 years. In Book 2, which covers 114 years, the focus moves firmly into Gaul, covering the years up to the death of Clovis in 511. Books 3 and 4, which cover 37 and 27 years respectively, then move fairly swiftly on, closing with the death of king Sigibert in 575. With Book 5, through to the final Book 10, the pace slows markedly, and the detail swells, with only between two and four years covered in each of the last six books, breaking off in 591. These books are organised in annual form, based on the regnal years of Childebert II (r. 575-595/6). There continues to be much discussion over when precisely Gregory wrote specific parts of the Histories, though there is general agreement that none of it was written before 575 and, of course, none of it after Gregory's death, which is believed to have occurred in 594. Essentially, scholars are divided over whether Gregory wrote the Histories sequentially as the years from 575 unfolded, with little or no revision thereafter, or whether he composed the whole work over the space of a few years shortly before his death and after 585 (see Murray 2015 for the arguments on both sides). For an understanding of the political history of the time, and Gregory's attitude to it, precisely when the various books were written is of great importance; but for what he wrote about the saints, the precise date of composition is of little significance, because Gregory's attitude to saints, their relics and their miracles did not change significantly during his writing-life. We have therefore chosen to date Gregory's writing of our entries only within the broadest possible parameters: with a terminus post quem of 575 for the early books of the Histories, and thereafter the year of the events described, and a terminus ante quem of 594, set by Gregory's death. (Bryan Ward-Perkins, David Lambert) For general discussions of the Histories see: Goffart, W., The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D. 550–800): Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon (Princeton, 1988), 119–127. Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative," in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden and Boston, 2015), 63–101. Pizarro, J.M., "Gregory of Tours and the Literary Imagination: Genre, Narrative Style, Sources, and Models in the Histories," in: Murray, A Companion to Gregory of Tours, 337–374.


Gregory, who was brought up in Clermont, will have witnessed this miracle on a visit to nearby Brioude, Julian of Brioude being a favourite saint of Gregory's family. His account of Julianus of Randan is interesting and unusual: he mentions numerous miracles during his lifetime, but does not record his place of burial nor any posthumous miracles. It is unclear from Gregory's account, whether Julian, although a man with powerful intercessionary powers in life, attracted posthumous cult.


Edition: Krusch, B., and Levison, W., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Libri historiarum X (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.1; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1951). Translation: Thorpe, L., Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks (Penguin Classics; London, 1974). Further reading: Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative", in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston 2015), 63-101. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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