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E03086: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Martin (2.14), recounts how Palatina, a paralysed girl, was cured on the feast of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050), after spending three months at his church in Tours; AD 575. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 575/581.

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posted on 2017-06-25, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Martin (Libri de virtutibus sancti Martini episcopi) 2.14

Sed nec hoc reticebo, quid in suam festivitatem operatus sit hic patronus. Palatina quaedam puella paralisi umore percussa, usum gressuum male redacta perdiderat, ita ut, contractis in poplitibus nervis, calcaneos ad crura coniungeret. Quam pater Turonus deferens, ante pedes beati Martini devotus exposuit, ibique tribus mensibus
iacens, stipem a praetereuntibus postulabat. Factum est autem in die insignis solemnitatis beati viri, ut illa, nobis missas dicentibus, in loco quem superius nominavimus fideliter exoraret. Cumque nos rite sacrosancta solemnia celebrantes, contestationem de sancti domini virtutibus narraremus, subito illa vociferare coepit et flere, indicans se torqueri. At ubi, expeditam contestationem, omnis populus Sanctus in laudem Domini proclamavit, statim dissoluti sunt nervi, qui ligati erant, et stetit super pedes suos, cuncto populo spectante, et sic, propitiante Domino, usque ad altare sanctum ad communicandum propriis gressibus, nullo sustentante, pervenit. Qui usque
hodie incolomis perseverat.

'Nor will I pass over this story about what this patron did during his own festival. A girl named Palatina was afflicted with the swelling of paralysis, lost the use of her feet, and was so badly affected that the nerves in her knees stiffened and she bent her heels to her thighs. Her father brought her to Tours and piously placed her before the feet of the blessed Martin; she lay there for three months and begged alms from people who passed by. But on the day of the notable festival of the blessed man, while I was reciting the mass, it happened that she was faithfully praying in the spot that I mentioned earlier. While I was formally celebrating the holy ceremony, I recited the prefatory prayer about the miracles of our holy Lord; suddenly she began to shout and weep and indicated that she was being tormented. But when upon the completion of the prefatory prayer the entire congregation proclaimed the Sanctus in praise of the Lord, immediately her tendons that had been bound were loosened, and she stood on her own feet as the entire congregation was watching. And so, with the support of the Lord but without anyone’s assistance, she walked on her own feet to receive communion at the holy altar. To this day she has remained healthy.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 163. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 235, lightly modified (de Nie 2015, 559-561).


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 - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Other lay individuals/ people Ecclesiastics - bishops


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.


The festival of Martin mentioned in this chapter was probably on 4 July 575.


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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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity