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E02347: The Life of *Severinus (hermit and monk of Noricum, ob. c. 482, S00848) is written in Latin in 511 by Eugippius, abbot of Lucullanum (c. 467-c. 533), a close contemporary and monk of Severinus' monastery. It narrates Severinus’ life in Noricum (on the upper Danube), where he helps the locals in their dealings with invading barbarians, performs miracles and founds a monastery; his death; and the transfer of his relics to Castellum Lucullanum near Naples where a new monastery is founded.

online resource
posted on 2017-02-09, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Eugippius of Lucullanum, Life of Severinus:

The Life is transmitted in a dossier consisting of the following documents:

- Letter from Eugippius of Lucullanum to the deacon Paschasius (see E02786)

- Letter from the deacon Paschasius to Eugippius (see E02787)

- The Life of Severinus (called a Commemoratorium) preceded by a list of chapters summarising its contents.

Summary of the Life:

1) Severinus arrives from the East to the provinces of Noricum Ripensis and Pannonia (on the upper Danube), in the tempestuous times which follow the death of Attila [in AD 453]. He establishes himself first in the city of Asturis, but leaves it, prophesying its destruction, when the citizens refuse to ward off the danger with fasting, prayer and charity. He moves to Comagenis, which is under the strict control of barbarians allied with the Romans. There he learns of the capture and destruction of Asturis.

2) The citizens of Comagenis fast and pray, at the suggestion of Severinus, and an earthquake occurs, causing the barbarian occupiers of the town to abandon it.

3) Severinus relieves famine in Favianis by shaming a rich woman into releasing her supplies of food. Soon after, boats, formerly blocked by ice, arrive on the Danube with food. The inhabitants attribute the unseasonable unblocking of the ice to the prayers of Severinus.

4) Barbarian raiders seize many captives from Favianis, but, inspired by Severinus and with the help of God, these are freed. After a period living as a solitary, Severinus builds a monastery near Favianis, though he occasionally withdraws into solitude. His fame spreads. Eugippius gives examples of Severinus' asceticism: for example, that even in the depth of winter he went barefoot.

5) Flaccitheus, king of the Rugi, threatened by Gothic hostility, seeks Severinus' counsel. The saint foretells that the king will survive the threat, and saves him from an ambush; as predicted, the king lives out his reign successfully.

6) Severinus cures a Rugian youth, long afflicted with a debilitating disease. Many Rugi, and other barbarians, come to him seeking help.

7) He is visited by Odoacer, later to be king of Italy, and foretells his success.

8) Feletheus, also called Feva, succeeds Flaccitheus as king of the Rugi. Though himself a devout follower of Severinus, his wife Giso [who is evidently an Arian] proves his enemy and an oppressor of both Romans and Catholics, forcing the rebaptism of the latter. She seizes some villagers from near Favianis, intending to enslave them; Severinus procures their release by saving her son, Fredericus, who had been taken hostage by some enslaved royal goldsmiths.

9) Severinus is a great deliverer of captives; with the help of one of these liberated men he obtains relics of *Gervasius and Protasius [see E02838 for this story]. Severinus refuses an offered bishopric - he enjoins his monks to stick to their difficult chosen path.

10) Severinus foretells the capture by barbarians of the janitor of his monastery, and is then able to procure his freedom.

11) Everyone in Noricum Ripensis seeks Severinus' help, believing that he can ensure their safety. At the castellum of Cucullis he exposes some inhabitants who were secretly still making pagan sacrifices (at a festival, only the tapers of the truly devout are miraculously ignited).

12) By getting the inhabitants to pray for deliverance, Severinus saves Cucullis from a plague of locusts. Only the one man who did not join in the prayers loses all his crops.

13) In a church near Iuvao, Severinus' taper is miraculously lit when all were struggling to produce fire to light the lamps.

14) He cures a gravely sick woman of Iuvao.

15) By cutting a cross on one of the posts supporting a wooden church at Quintanis, Severinus saves it from further flooding of the Danube.

16) At Quintanis, Severinus brings a priest back from the dead (having first expelled a hidden consecrated virgin who had wished to witness the miracle); but then, at the revived priest's own request, he allows him to return to eternal rest.

17) Severinus constantly seeks to help captives and the needy. By his own example and by exhortation, he persuades others in the region to give tithes to support the poor. The citizens of Tiburnia are slow to produce these, and end up having cede a part of their wealth to the Goths.

18) The citizens of Lauriacum are also reluctant to produce these tithes; their crops are threatened with disease, a threat which Severinus averts after they have shown contrition.

19) Severinus frequently visits Batavis to help the citizens in dealing with king Gibuldus of the Alemanni. Gibuldus respects Severinus and promises to release captives; but this only happens after the deacon instructed to bring this about sees a vision of Severinus enjoining him to persist in his mission.

20) Soldiers from Batavis seeking pay from Italy are ambushed and killed; Severinus is miraculously aware of their deaths.

21) Severinus successfully foretells that the priest Paulinus will be made bishop of Tiburnia.

22) Severinus foretells the arrival of relics of *John the Baptist [see E02846]. When asked to intercede with the Rugi to allow the citizens of Batavis to trade, he foretells the fall of the city to the barbarians; during its capture a priest, who had mocked the frequent vigils and fasts enjoined by Severinus, is slain.

23) A man brings Severinus relics of John the Baptist (see E02841).

24) The inhabitants of Joviaco ignore the warnings of Severinus to abandon their town, and it is captured by Heruli; they hang on a cross a good priest, Maximinus, who had ignored specific warnings from the saint that he should flee, and lead many inhabitants into captivity.

25) Severinus foretells an attack on the province of Noricum, which therefore prepares for it with three days of fasting. A large number of Alemanni attack and devastate the province; but the fortresses (castella) are saved.

26) Severinus cures a leper from Milan.

27) The inhabitants of Quintanis, under Alemannic pressure, withdraw to Batavis; encouraged by Severinus, a force of Alemanni are successfully defeated. But Severinus then encourages withdrawal from Batavis to Lauriacum. Those who do not heed the saint's advice are overcome by a Thuringian assault and either slaughtered or led into captivity.

28) Severinus provides oil for the poor in Lauriacum, a commodity difficult to obtain - the amount to be given is miraculously increased.

29) A collection of clothing for the poor arrives at Lauriacum from Noricum, brought in mid-winter; the difficult journey is facilitated by a vision of Severinus and by a bear who makes a path through the snow.

30) Severinus, through his gift of foresight, saves Lauriacum from a surprise night assault. A man who ignored his warnings loses his cattle.

31) Severinus helps the citizens of Lauriacum to negotiate a settlement with Feletheus, king of the Rugi, whereby they are resettled in cities under Rugian control.

32) Severinus negotiates the pardon of an exile by Odoacer in Italy, and also foretells the end of his rule.

33) During a visit to Comagenis, Severinus heals the gravely ill son of a Rugian nobleman.

34) A leper, who came to Severinus from far away, is cured.

35) A monk who seeks healing for his physical eyes, is successfully admonished to instead look to improving his inner vision.

36) Severinus punishes three monks of Boiotro, guilty of pride, by having them tormented by the devil. Eugippius justifies this manner of punishment, citing texts by Ambrose and Sulpicius Severus. After forty days of fasting, the monks are forgiven.

37) Severinus has miraculous knowledge of the danger posed by barbarians to two of his monks on a journey.

38) Severinus prevents the oncoming fatal illness of a monk by encouraging him to undertake forty days of preventative fasting.

39) On the strict daily regime of Severinus, and on his power to foretell the future.

40) Sensing his impending death, Severinus summons the rulers of the Rugi, Feva and his wife Giso, and admonishes them not to rule oppressively. He foretells to the people of Lauriacum that they will soon leave their town and travel to Italy, taking with them his body.

41) Two years before it happens, Severinus predicts the precise day of the year on which he will die.

42) Ferderuchus, brother of king Feva, had been granted rule over Favianis by Feva. He visits Severinus and is enjoined not to plunder the saint's monastery after his death; he is threatened with the wrath of God should he do otherwise.

43) On 8 January [c. AD 482], after bidding farewell of the monks, Severinus dies.

44) Ferderuchus does indeed plunder the monastery - a soldier who takes the communion service off the altar is struck with a trembling of his limbs, and within a month Ferderuchus himself has been slain by one of his nephews. Odoacer successfully invades the kingdom of the Rugi; the Roman inhabitants of the kingdom are ordered to withdraw to Italy. Severinus' body is disinterred and is found to smell sweetly and to be miraculously intact (inlaesum), although six years in the grave; it is carried on a wagon into Italy.

45) During its travels, several healings occur, including that of a dumb man given the power of speech.

46) A noble lady, Barbaria, with the support of pope Gelasius, grants Severi


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Severinus, monk in Noricum, ob. 482 : S00848

Saint Name in Source


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

Italy south of Rome and Sicily

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Lucullanum Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Punishing miracle Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Healing diseases and disabilities Power over life and death Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money) Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Miraculous interventions in war Freeing prisoners, exiles, captives, slaves Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Foreigners (including Barbarians) Heretics Monarchs and their family Soldiers Merchants and artisans Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Women Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Pagans Aristocrats Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Peasants

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Raising of relics


The Life of Severinus is one of the few preserved lives written in Italy during late Antiquity. The author, Eugippius, was the abbot of the newly founded monastery of Lucullanum near Naples, where the monastic community founded by Severinus fled, after the invasion of barbarian Rugi in 488. Eugippius wrote the Life in Lucullanum in 511 and sent it to the Roman deacon Paschasius. There are around thirty manuscripts of the Vita and accompanying letters. See, with bibliography, Gioanni (2010), 434. The oldest manuscripts listed by Gioanni are: Novara, Biblioteca Capitolare, LXI, f. 41r-57v (10th c.); Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale, F IV 25, f. 1-24 (10th c.); Rome, Archivio Later., 79, f. 29v-40 (10th–11th c.). The Life of Severinus is precisely dated to 511, thanks to the date found in Eugippius’ letter to Paschasius, which accompanies the work: Eugippius states that his decision to write the Life was taken two years earlier during the consulship of Importunus (509 AD), see E02786.


The Life of Severinus has been used extensively by scholars, because of the uniquely vivid evidence it provides of life in a frontier province as the western Roman empire disintegrated. Severinus is a highly unusual saint, who seems to have gone to Noricum Ripense precisely in order to help its inhabitants in very taxing times. He is attributed with saintly powers, performing several miracles of healing (as well as one temporary resurrection from the dead), and above all with the ability to foretell the future and to know what is happening far away, but much of his success depends on his organisational ability and the prestige in which the local barbarian kings held him. The translation of his body, six years after his death, from Noricum to the area near Naples, is also highly unusual - being done by a community wishing to bring its saint with them when it abandoned an area overrun by barbarians. Eugippius, as abbot of the monastery where Severinus' body now rested, is keen to stress that his saintly powers continued to be effective after death and around his body in its new home.


Edition: Noll, R., Eugippius. Das Leben des heiligen Severin, 2nd edition (Passau, 1981), 59-116. English translation: Bieler, L., and Krestan, L., Eugpippius, The Life of St. Severin (Fathers of the Church 55; Washington D.C., 1965), 57-119. Further reading: For more bibliography: Genovese, A., Eugippio Abate. Opere, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiae Aquileiensis VII (Aquileia, 2012), 52-54. Régerat, P., Eugippe, Vie de saint Séverin (Sources Chrétiennes 374; Paris, 1991). Pohl, W., and Diesenberger, M., (eds.), Eugippius und Severin – Der Autor, der Text und der Heilige (Vienna, 2001). Gioanni, S., “Hagiographie d’Italie (300-550). II. Les Vies de saints latines composées en Italie de la Paix constantinienne au milieu du VIe siècle”, in: Philippart, G. (ed.), Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, Volume V (Turnhout, 2010), 371-455, at 418-425 and 434-435.

Continued Description

nus' body, and his monks, a new home at Castellum Lucullanum near Naples. The body is laid in a tomb (mausoleum) that Barbara had built for it. On the occasion of the arrival of the body, three miracles occur. The monastery on the site still exists, and many possessed of devils are cured at the site.Text: Noll 1981, 58-116. Summary: M. Pignot.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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