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E04051: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Martin (3.50), recounts how Lupus, a priest of Bordeaux with a quartan fever, came to the church of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) at his feast in July 586, probably in Tours, and took home two candles from the shrine. He lit the candles, drank the ashes of the papyrus wicks mixed with water, and was cured. While hurrying to the church, he had met a Jew who questioned the power of Martin and was then afflicted with the quartan fever. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 586/588.

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posted on 2017-09-17, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Martin (Libri de virtutibus sancti Martini episcopi) 3.50

Lupus Burdegalensis urbis presbiter quodam tempore graviter a quartano typo vexabatur, ita ut, accedente febre, neque cibum neque potum sumere possit. Interea advenit festivitas sancti Martini antestitis. At ille, celebratas cum reliquo clero vigilias, mane praecedit omnes et ad basilicam sancti festinat. Dum autem properat, obvium habuit Iudaeum; quo inquerente, quod pergeret, respondit: 'Typum quartanum incurri, et nunc ad basilicam sancti propero, ut me virtus eius ab hac infirmitate discutiat'. Qui ait: 'Martinus enim nihil tibi proderit, quem terra obpremens terreum fecit; casso eius aedem expetis; non enim poterit mortuus viventibus tribuere medicinam'. At ille dispiciens verba serpentis antiqui, abiit quo coeperat, et prostratus coram sanctis pignoribus, orationem fudit, repperitque ibi duas candelulas ex cera ac papiro formatas. Quibus adsumptis, ad domum exhibet, inluminatisque eis, favillam papiri cum aqua munda hausit, mox sanitatem recepit. ludaeus vero ab hac infirmitate correptus, per anni spatium ventilatus est; sed mens iniqua nec tormentis inutari potuit umquam.

'Lupus was a priest of the city of Bordeaux. He was once so severely afflicted with a quartan fever that when the fever was present, he was unable to swallow either food or drink. Then it was time for a festival of the bishop Saint Martin. After Lupus celebrated vigils with the other clergy, in the morning he preceded everyone else and rushed to the saint’s church. As he was hurrying, he met a Jew who asked where he was going. Lupus replied: "I am suffering from a quartan fever, and now I am rushing to the saint’s church so that his power might save me from this illness." The Jew said: "Martin will be of no use to you, because the dirt pressing down on him has made him into dirt. In vain do you go to his shrine; a dead man will not be able to provide medicine for the living." But Lupus ignored these words of the old serpent [i.e. the Devil] and went where he intended. He knelt before the holy relics, offered a prayer, and found there two small candles made of wax and papyrus that he took and brought home. He lit the candles, drank the ash of the papyrus with clear water, and soon recovered his health. But the Jew was afflicted with this illness and disturbed by it for a year; yet his wicked mind was never able to be converted through these torments.'

Text: Krusch 1969, 194. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 278, modified (= de Nie 2015, 745-747).


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 - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of the cult of saints

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Punishing miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Jews

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Contact relic - other Contact relic - wax Eating/drinking/inhaling relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles Other


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.


This happened at the festival of Martin celebrated on 4 July 586, probably at Martin's shrine in Tours (since Gregory does not say otherwise). It is, however, possible that the celebration was at the saint's church in Bordeaux, which was built c. 550 and situated on a hill outside the city, near the Jewish cemetery; hence Lupus meeting the Jew (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 54-55).


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. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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