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E02860: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Martin (1.12), recounts the visit to Tours of Queen Ultrogotho, and how three blind men were cured during a mass celebrated in honour of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) at his tomb. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 573/576.

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posted on 2017-05-28, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Martin (Libri de virtutibus sancti Martini episcopi) 1.12

When Ultrogotho, the queen [widow of King Charibert who died in 558], heard about the miracles which happened at the tomb of Martin, she visited Tours. She did not approach the tomb, because she announced that she was unworthy to do that.

Abstenens ergo se a cibis et somno, praecurrentibus etiam largissime elymosinis, pervenit ad sanctum locum, ingressaque basilicam, timens et tremens, nequaqnam audebat adire sepulchrum, indignam se esse proclamans, nec ibidem posse obsistentibus culpis accedere. Tamen deductam vigiliis et orationibus ac profluis lacrimis unam noctem, mane oblatis multis muneribus, in honore beati confessoris missas expetiit revocari. Quae dum celebrarentur, subito tres caeci, qui ad pedes beati antestitis longo tempore privati lumine resedebant, fulgore nimio circumdati, lumen, quod olim perdiderant, receperunt. Quo facto, clamor in caelum attollitur magnificantium Deum. Ad istud miraculum currit regina, concurrit et populus, mirantur omnes fidem mulieris, mirantur gloriam confessoris; sed super omnia conlaudatur Deus noster, qui tantam virtutem praestat sanctis suis, ut per eos talia operari dignetur, tale inter reliqua luminaria huic mundo in beatum Martinum inmensum sidus adtribuens, per quem eius tenebrae refulgeant; qui vere sicut oliva fructifera per singulos dies fructus exhibet Domino de conversionibus miserorum.

'She therefore abstained from eating and sleeping and sent very generous alms in advance; then she went to the holy place. She entered the church, but because she was frightened and nervous, she did not dare to approach [the tomb] because her sins prevented her. Then she passed a night keeping vigils, praying, and weeping profusely. At daybreak she presented many gifts and sought to celebrate a mass in honor of the blessed confessor. During the celebration of mass three blind men who had sat at the feet of the blessed bishop for a long time after being deprived of their sight were suddenly surrounded by a great flash and regained the sight that they had once lost. After this miracle occurred, the shouting of the people who were glorifying God was raised to heaven. The queen rushed to [see] this miracle, the people quickly joined her, and everyone marveled at the queen's faith and the glory of the confessor. Above all, they praised our God, who bestows such power on his saints that he deigns to work such miracles through them. For among the other lights [available] to this world, God grants the blessed Martin an immense star, and through him this world's darkness becomes light. Indeed, just like a fruitful olive tree every day he produces fruit for the Lord by converting wretched people.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 146. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 213-214.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours (Gaul), ob. 397 : S00050

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles


  • 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 - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Unspecified miracle Healing diseases and disabilities Miracles causing conversion

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Women Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


Gregory, of a prominent Clermont family with extensive ecclesiastical connections, was bishop of Tours from 573 until his death (probably in 594). He was the most prolific hagiographer of all Late Antiquity. He wrote four books on the miracles of Martin of Tours, one on those of Julian of Brioude, and two on the miracles of other saints (the Glory of the Martyrs and Glory of the Confessors), as well as a collection of twenty short Lives of sixth-century Gallic saints (the Life of the Fathers). He also included a mass of material on saints in his long and detailed Histories, and produced two independent short works: a Latin version of the Acts of Andrew and a Latin translation of the story of The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. Gregory's Miracles of Martin (full title Libri de virtutibus sancti Martini episcopi, 'Books of the Miracles of Saint Martin the Bishop'), consists of four books of miracles, 207 chapters in all, effected by Martin, primarily at his grave and shrine in Tours. Most of them occurred at the time of the saint's festivals, on 4 July and 11 November. Gregory tried to record the miracles in chronological order, so historians have been able to calculate quite precisely the dates of the events and miracles mentioned in the work. This fairly precise chronology has enabled scholars to determine the dates of completion of each book. There have been three main dating schemes proposed for the composition of the four books. The oldest was suggested by Monod in 1872, another by Krusch in 1885, and then one by Van Dam in 1993 (for fuller discussion, see Shaw 2015, 103-105). Their datings of the individual books do not vary substantially, and in our entries we have given only those of Van Dam. Shaw 2015 convincingly demolishes an earlier theory, that Gregory wrote the Miracles in two distinct stages: a first stage that was written during a particular period, and a second stage in the early 590s, in which Gregory revised the whole work. Book 1, with 40 chapters, was written between 573 and 576. In the prologue, Gregory mentions that he started writing after he became bishop of Tours in August 573. Book 1 must have been completed by 576, since Venantius Fortunatus in a letter to Gregory of that year referred to it (Epistula ad Gregorium 2, prefatory letter to Fortunatus' Life of Martin, MGH Auct. ant. 4.1, p. 293). Book 2 consists of 60 chapters. It must have been finished before November 581, because the last miracles it mentions occurred in November 580, while the first ones recorded in Book 3 happened in November 581. Using the same methodology, the completion of Book 3, which also covers 60 chapters, can be dated between 587 and July 588. Book 4, which consists of 47 chapters, seems never to have been completed, presumably because of Gregory’s death. There are two main arguments in support of the idea that it is unfinished. Firstly, Book 4 has no conclusion and no tidy number of chapters, while each of Books 1 to 3 has these elements. Secondly, the last story recorded in Book 4 is not about Gregory himself, unlike the final stories of Books 2 and 3. Book 1 covers miracles that occurred before Gregory’s episcopate in Tours. The next three books are a running chronicle of Martin’s miracles under Gregory’s episcopate. Some of the miracles are recorded in very summary form, while others are much more elaborately presented: because of this, it has been argued that Gregory first jotted down notes, and only subsequently gave the stories full literary treatment (which in some cases, he was never able to do). The three completed books of the Miracles of Martin were probably released as they were completed, rather that published together. In this sense they are the exception amongst Gregory's writings, since the rest of his work was not finally completed and seems to have been unpublished at the time of his death. For discussion of the work, see: Krusch, B. (ed.), Gregorii episcopi Turonensis miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 1,2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969), 2–4. Monod, G., Études critiques sur les sources de l’histoire mérovingienne, 1e partie (Paris, 1872), 42–45. Shaw, R., "Chronology, Composition and Authorial Conception in the Miracula," in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston, 2015), 102–140. Van Dam, R., Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 142–146, 199.


Editions and translations: Krusch, B. (ed.), Gregorii episcopi Turonensis miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 1,2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969), 134–211. Van Dam, R. (trans.), Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 200–303. de Nie, G. (ed. and trans.), Lives and Miracles: Gregory of Tours (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 39; Cambridge MA, 2015), 421–855. Further reading: Murray, A.C. (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston, 2015). Shanzer, D., "So Many Saints – So Little Time ... the Libri Miraculorum of Gregory of Tours," Journal of Medieval Latin 13 (2003), 19–63.

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