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E02239: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (1.33), recounts the stories of several martyrs. He records the following martyrs of Clermont (central Gaul): *Antolianus (S00347), *Liminius (S01193), *Cassius (01157), and *Victorinus (S01194), and their tombs outside Clermont. He describes the martyrdom of *Privatus (bishop and martyr of Javols, S01184) near Mende (southern Gaul), and of *Quirinus (bishop and martyr of Siscia, S00614) at Siscia (Dalmatia). Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 575/594.

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posted on 2017-01-10, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 1.33

Iuxta hanc urbem Liminius Antolianusque martyres requiescunt. Ibi Cassius ac Victorinus in dilectione Christi fraterno affectu sociati, per effusionem cruoris proprii caelorum regna pariter sunt adepti. Nam refert antiquitas, Victorinum servum fuisse ante dicti templi sacerdotis. Qui dum plerumque vicum, quem christianorum vocant, ad persequendos christianos adit, Cassium repperit christianum. Cuius praedicationibus atque miraculis motus, credidit Christo, relictisque fanaticis sordibus ac baptismo consecratus, magnus in virtutum operatione enituit. Nec multo post per martyrium, ut diximus, in terris sociati, ad caelestia pariter regna venerunt.

'The two martyrs Liminius and Antolianus are buried outside this town [Clermont]. It was here, too, that Cassius and Victorinus, united as brothers in their love of Christ, both won their place in the kingdom of heaven by pouring forth their blood. An old tradition maintains that Victorinus was the servant of the priest of the temple about which I have told you. He often used to go into that quarter of the town where the Christians lived, and there he made the acquaintance of Cassius, who was himself a Christian. He was greatly moved by the sermons of Cassius and by the miracles which he performed, and so himself came to believe in Christ. He abandoned his wretched heathen practices, accepted the consecration of baptism, and became famous for the miracles which he himself performed. Not long afterwards these two, who had been friends on earth, suffered martyrdom and so went together to the kingdom of heaven.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 25. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 89.

Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 1.34

Inruentibus autem Alamannis in Gallias, sanctus Privatus Gabalitanae urbis episcopus in criptam Memmatinsis montis, ubi ieiuniis orationibusque vacabat, reperitur, populum Gredonensis castri monitione conclusum. Sed dum oves suas ut bonus pastor lupis tradere non consentit, daemoniis immolare conpellitur. Quod spurcum ille tam exsecrans quam refutans, tamdiu fustibus caeditur, quoadusque putaretur exanimis. Sed ex ipsa quassatione, interpositis paucis diebus, spiritum exalavit.

'During the invasion of Gaul by the Alamanni, Saint Privatus, Bishop of the town of Javols, was found in a mountain cavern (cripta) near Mende, where he was fasting and praying while his people were shut up in the fortified castle of Grèzes. This good shepherd was not willing to surrender his sheep to the wolves, and so the Alamanni tried to force him to make sacrifices to their demons. Privatus refused to do anything so foul and he made his revulsion clear. They beat him with sticks until he was thought to be dead. Within a few days he died as a result of the beating.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 26. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 89-90.

Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 1.35

Eo tempore Quirinus Sisciensis ecclesiae sacerdos gloriosum pro Christi nomine martyrium tulit, quem, ligato ad collum molare saxo, in fluminis gurgite sevitia inpulit paganorum. Igitur cum cecidisset in gurgite, diu super aquas divina virtute ferebatur, nec sorbebant aquae, quem pondus criminis non praemebat. Quod factum admirans multitudo populi circumstantes, dispecto furore gentilium, ad liberandum properant sacerdotem. Haec ille cernens, non passus est, se a martyrio subtrahi, sed erectis ad caelum oculis ait: 'Iesu domine, qui gloriosus resedis ad dexteram Patris, ne patiaris me ab hoc stadio removeri, sed suscipiens animam meam, coniungere me tuis martyribus in requiae sempiterna dignare'. Et his dictis reddidit spiritum. Cuius corpus a christianis susceptum venerabiliter sepulturae mandatum est.

'At that time [under Diocletian] Quirinus, who was Bishop of the church of Siscia, suffered the glory of martyrdom in Christ’s name. A millstone was tied to his neck and the savage pagans threw him into a swift-flowing river. As
he fell into the whirlpool, through God’s intervention he floated for a long time on the waters, which could not pull him to the bottom because no weight of sin dragged him down. The crowd of people which stood on the banks were astounded at what had happened: they took no notice of the fury of the Gentiles, but rushed forward to free their Bishop. Quirinus saw what they were going to do, but he did not want to be rescued from his martyrdom. He raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘Lord Jesus. You who sit in glory on the right hand of the Father, do not allow me to be taken from my course, but receive my soul and deign to add me to Your martyrs in eternal rest.’ As he said these words he died. His body was recovered by the Christians and was buried with great reverence.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 26. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 90.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Antolianus, martyr at Clermont (Gaul), ob. in the late 3rd c. : S00347 Cassius, martyr in Clermont-Ferrand, ob. 3rd century AD : S01157 Privatus, bishop and martyr at Javols (south Gaul), ob. 3rd/4th/5th century : S01184 Quirinus, bishop and marty

Saint Name in Source

Antolianus Cassius Privatus Quirinus Liminius Victorinus

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

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle at martyrdom and death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Pagans Foreigners (including Barbarians)

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


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.


A story about Antolianus' tomb and church in Clermont is told by Gregory in his Glory of the Martyrs 64 (see E00603). He records the tomb of Liminius, inside the church of *Venerandus, in his Glory of the Confessors 35 (see E02598). The tombs of Cassius and Victorinus were in the church of Saint Cassius in Clermont (Prévot 1989, 34).


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. Prévot, F., "Clermont," in N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 6: Provinces ecclésiastique de Bourges (Aquitania Prima) (Paris, 1989), 27-40. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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