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E03477: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Martin (2.56), recounts how a woman from Poitiers (western Gaul), whose fingers were bent into her palm, came to the tomb of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) in Tours on the day of his feast in November 580. While returning home, she has a dream vision and is healed; AD 580. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 580/581.

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posted on 21.07.2017, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Martin (Libri de virtutibus sancti Martini episcopi) 2.56

A woman from Poitiers, with fingers bent into her palm, came to the festival of Martin seeking his help. She left devoutly, acknowledging that her sins were preventing her cure.

Vergente quoque in vespera die, prope amnis Caris ripam accepit mansionem. Medium fere noctis expergefacta, gratias Deo refert, quod esset, quod viveret, quod vigeret, vel quod beati pontificis tumulum attigisset; quae cum maximo cum fletu proferret, iterum obdormivit. Et ecce vir crine cigneo, indumento purporeo, crucem gestans manu, stans ante eam ait: 'Nunc sana eris in nomine Christi redemptoris nostri'. Et adprehensa manu eius, misit digitum suum inter digitos illius qui clauserant palmam, et parumper movens, direxit eos. Dum haec in visu videret, evigilans, defluente adhuc sanguine, sanam elevavit in Dei laudibus manum. Regressaque ad basilicam, impleta gratiarum actione, laeta redivit.

'As the daylight was turning into evening, she took lodging along a bank of the Cher River. About midnight she was awakened and gave thanks to God because she existed, because she was alive, because she was flourishing, and because she had touched the tomb of the blessed bishop. She offered her gratitude while greatly weeping, and then fell asleep again. And behold, a man stood before her with hair as white as a swan, dressed in purple, and carrying a cross in his hand. The man said: "In the name of Christ our Redeemer now you will be healed." Then he took her hand, placed his own finger among her fingers that were closed in her palm, moved them a bit, and straightened them. As she was seeing this in her dream, the woman awoke and, in praise of God, held up her hand that was healthy even though blood was still flowing from it. She returned to the church, gave thanks, and left rejoicing.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 178. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 256 (de Nie 2015, 651).

History

Evidence ID

E03477

Saint Name

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

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

580

Evidence not after

581

Activity not before

580

Activity not after

580

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tours

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

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women

Source

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.

Discussion

The festival of Martin mentioned in this chapter was celebrated on 11 November 580. Although Gregory does not say so explicitly, the figure who appeared to the woman must have been Martin, whose most salient characteristic in these Miracles is his white hair.

Bibliography

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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