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E02990: The anonymous author of the Lives of the Fathers of Mérida says in his preface that his work, inspired by the Dialogues of Gregory the Great, is intended to persuade those who doubt that miracles can occur in present times. Written in Latin in Mérida (southern Spain), 633/660.

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posted on 2017-06-13, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
Lives of the Fathers of Mérida, preface

In nomine Domini incipit Liber Vitas Sanctorum Patrum Emertinesium

Praefatio huius libri

Virorum ortodoxorum maxime que catholicorum prossus uera esse nullus ambigeat miracula, qua sanctissimus egregius que uates, Romane presul urbis, Gregorius inflammatus paracliti carismate Spiritus Dialogorum in libris ueridico edidit prenotationis stilo; qua olim scilicet omnipotens Deus seruulis per suis sibi bene placitis propter honorem nominis sui patrare dignatus est. Ne quolibet ab hoc dubietatis quispiam estuet animo, quod priscis iam temporibus gesta esse uideantur, ac fortassis fidem plenam minime adcommodet et prefatum sacratissimum uirum electionis, sacrarium Spiritus sancti, aliqua uanis ac nebulosis uerbis fuscasse opinetur, dum luce clarius euangelice auctoritatis uoce cunctis manifestetur Dominum semper operasse et actenus operari. Quam ob rem ut omnium legentium uel audientium fides maiori credulitate robore firmetur, ea odiernis temporibus in Emeretensi urbe fuisse narramus, que non relatu aliorum agnouimus neque finctis fabulis didicimus, sed que ipsi, eos referentes, auribus nostris audiuimus, quos e corporibus mirabiliter egressos ad etherea regna peruenisse non dubitamus.

'In the name of the Lord here begins the book of the lives of the Holy Fathers of Merida.

Preface to this book

No Orthodox believer and above all no Catholic ought to disbelieve in the miracles which that most holy and famed bishop, Gregory, Bishop of the city of Rome, fired by the grace of the Comforting Spirit, set down in his books of Dialogues, writing them with a pen which told the truth: miracles which in olden times Almighty God thought it fit to work for the glory of His name through humble servants who were indeed pleasing to Him. Let no one’s mind be troubled by this doubt: that these things appear to have happened in ancient times, and so perhaps not believe in them completely, thinking that this holy man of divine election, a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, has obfuscated some points with empty and nebulous language. For through the authoritative words of the evangelists it is made clearer than the light of day to everyone that the Lord had always worked miracles and works them to this day. Wherefore in order that the faith of all those reading or listening may be strengthened with greater and stouter belief, I shall tell of the things that have happened in the city of Merida in our present times: which are not events we have learned about from the tales of strangers or from contrived fables, but which we ourselves have heard with our own ears from those who have left the body in wondrous fashion and who we have no doubt have reached the heavenly realms.'

Text: Maya Sánchez 1992, 3-5. Translation: Fear 1997, 45.


Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Merida Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of miracles


The Lives of the Fathers of Mérida (Vitas Sanctorum Patrum Emeretensium) is a complex hagiographical work composed c. 633/650. The last bishop mentioned in the text is bishop Renovatus who died in 633. J. Garvin (1946) thought the Lives were composed during the episcopacy of Renovatus' successor, Bishop Stephen (633-638). A.T. Fear (1997, xxxi) following Diaz y Diaz (1981) preferred to date the work slightly later, to the middle of the 7th century, The Lives consist of five parts, the first three recount miraculous stories that took place in Mérida, in imitation of the Dialogues of Gregory the Great (written probably 593/594). The last two tell the history of the bishops of Mérida from the second half of the 6th century: Paul, Fidelis, Masona, and Renovatus. The author of the Lives identifies himself as a deacon of the church of Saint Eulalia. The edition of Maya Sánchez from 1992 is based on ten manuscripts, the earliest of the 10th c. (Maya Sánchez 1992: x–xxxi).


Editions: Garvin, J.N., The Vitas Sanctorum Patrum Emeretensium (Washington, 1946). Maya Sánchez, A., Vitas sanctorum patrum Emeretensium (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 116; Turnhout, 1992). English translation: Fear. A.T., Lives of the Visigothic Fathers (Translated Texts for Historians 26; Liverpool, 1997), 45-105. Further reading: Diaz y Diaz, M.D., "Passionnaires, légendiers et compilations hagiographiques dans le haut Moyen Age espagnol," in: Hagiographie, Cultures, et Sociétés, IVe-XIIe siècles. Actes du colloque organisé à Nanterre et à Paris, 2-5 mai 1979 (Paris, 1981), 49-61.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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