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E02392: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (10.31), gives the list of fasts and vigils instituted by Perpetuus, the sixth bishop of Tours (bishop 460-490), in the churches of Tours (most frequently in that of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050)), the majority associated with the commemoration of saints, both local and international. These fasts and vigils were still being held in Gregory of Tours' times. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 591/594.

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posted on 2017-02-18, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 10.31

Hic instituit ieiunia vigiliasque, qualiter per circulum anni observarentur, quod hodieque apud nos tenetur scriptum, quorum ordo hic est:

De ieiuniis.
Post quinquagesimum quarta, sexta feria usque natale sancti Iohannis.
De Kalendis Septembris usque Kalendas Octobris bina in septimana ieiunia.
De Kalendis Octobris usque depositionem domni Martini bina in septimana ieiunia.
De depositione domni Martini usque natale Domini terna in septimana ieiunia.
De natale sancti Hilarii usque medio Februario bina in septimana ieiunia.

De vigiliis.
Natale Domini in ecclesia.
Epiphania in ecclesia.
Natale sancti Iohannis ad basilicam domni Martini.
Natale sancti Petri episcopatus ad ipsius basilicam.
Sexto Kalendas Aprilis resurrectio domini nostri Iesu Christi ad basilicam domni Martini.
Pascha in ecclesia.
Die ascensionis in basilica domni Martini.
Die quinquagesimo in ecclesia.
Passio sancti Iohannis ad basilicam in baptisterio.
Natale sanctorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli ad ipsorum basilicam.
Natale sancti Martini ad eius basilicam.
Natale sancti Simphoriani ad basilicam domni Martini.
Natale sancti Litorii ad eius basilicam.
Item natale sancti Martini ad eius basilicam.
Natale sancti Brictii ad domni Martini basilicam.
Natale sancti Hilarii ad domni Martini basilicam.

'He instituted the fasts and vigils which are still observed in Tours throughout the course of the year. I possess a written list of these. It runs as follows:

At Whitsun, the fourth and sixth days of the week, until the Nativity of Saint John [24 June] [= *John the Baptist, S00020]
From 1 September to 1 October, two fasts each week.
From 1 October until the Burial of Saint Martin [11 November], three fasts each week. [= *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050)]
From the Burial of Saint Martin until Christmas, three fasts each week.
From the Feast of Saint Hilary [13 January] until the middle of February, three fasts each week. [= *Hilary (bishop of Poitiers, ob. 367, S00183)]

At Christmas, in the cathedral.
At Epiphany, in the cathedral.
On the Nativity of Saint John [24 June], in Saint Martin’s church.
On the Feast of the Episcopate of Saint Peter [22 February], in Saint Peter’s church. [= *Peter (the Apostle, S00036)]
On the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, 27 March, in Saint Martin’s church.
At Easter, in the cathedral.
On Ascension Day, in Saint Martin’s church.
On Whit-Sunday, in the cathedral.
On the Passion of Saint John [29 August], at the basilica [of Martin] in the baptistery.
On the Feast of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul [29 June], in their church. [= the Apostles Peter and Paul (S00008)]
On the Feast of Saint Martin [4 July], in Saint Martin’s church.
On the Feast of Saint Symphorianus [22 August], in Saint Martin’s church. [= *Symphorianus (martyr of Autun, S00322)]
On the Feast of Saint Litorius [13 September], in the church of Saint Litorius. [= *Litorius (bishop of Tours, ob. 370/371, S01214)]
On the Feast of Saint Martin [11 November], in Saint Martin’s church.
On the Feast of Saint Bricius [3 November], in Saint Martin’s church. [= *Bricius (bishop of Tours, ob. 443, S01170)]
On the Feast of Saint Hilary [13 January], in Saint Martin’s church.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 529-530. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 596-597, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours (Gaul), ob. 397 : S00050 Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, ob. 368 : S00183 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Symphorianus, martyr at Autun (Gaul), ob. 2nd/3rd c. : S003

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Petrus Martinus Hilarius Paulus Simphorianus Litorius Bricius

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 - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


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.


This list contains fasts or vigils for eight saints: three biblical figures, John the Baptist (S00020) and the apostles Peter (S00036) and Paul (S00008); three bishops of Tours, Litorius (S01214), Martin (S00050), and Bricius (S01170); one major Gallic bishop from outside Tours, Hilary of Poitiers (S00183), and one Gallic martyr, Symphorianus (S00322). Four churches are mentioned in the list: The cathedral at Tours is mentioned frequently by Gregory, without stating directly who it was dedicated to (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 304; Pietri 1987, 28-29). However, he says in his account of his actions as bishop at the end of the Histories (10.31) that the cathedral had originally had relics of *Maurice and the Theban legion, which he rediscovered (E02419). St Martin's church, where Martin was buried, had first been constructed by Martin's successor Bricius, then rebuilt by Perpetuus, the bishop who compiled the list of vigils (E02023). It was severely damaged by fire under Gregory's predecessor Eufronius and only partially repaired (E02066), and was then fully refurbished by Gregory himself (E02419). The references to the church of Peter and the church of Peter and Paul are almost certainly to the same church (Pietri 1987, 35). This was established by Perpetuus, and was built using the vault (camera) of the original church built for Martin by Bricius, which Perpetuus rebuilt: see E02023. The church of Litorius: Litorius was the second bishop of Tours. According to Gregory he created the first church in the city and was buried in it (Histories 10.31; E07787); later Martin reburied the first bishop, Gatianus, in the same church (E02427). For further information, see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 304-329; Pietri 1987; Pietri and Lorans 2014.


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. Pietri, L., "Tours," in: N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 5: Province ecclésiastique de Tours (Lugdunensis Tertia) (Paris: Boccard, 1987), 19-39. Pietri, L., and Lorans, E., "Tours," in: F. Prévot, M. Gaillard, and N. Gauthier (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 16: Quarante ans d'enquête (1972-2012): 1. Images nouvelles des villes de la Gaule (Paris, 2014), 284-288. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).