Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 13
When King Theuderic entered the territory of the city of Clermont, some of his soldiers attacked Brioude. The local inhabitants took refuge in the church of Julian with many of their possessions, barring the doors. One of the soldiers broke the glass window near the altar, entered, and opened the doors. The soldiers seized what they found and divided it up. When these events were reported to the king, he seized some of these soldiers and had them killed. But the man who had been the instigator of this theft, who had fled, was struck dead by fire from heaven, and storms washed away all attempts to bury his body. Others of the thieves returned home, but were possessed by demons and ended their lives in various painful deaths. Theuderic returned everything that had been stolen from the church and ordered that no-one use violence within seven miles of it (Praeceperat enim, ne in septimo a basilica miliario quis vim inferret).
Text: Krusch 1969, 119-120. Summary: Katarzyna Wojtalik.
Saint NameJulian, martyr of Brioude : S00035
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles
Evidence not before570
Evidence not after587
Activity not before524
Activity not after524
Place of Evidence - RegionGaul and Frankish kingdoms
Gaul and Frankish kingdoms
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcTours
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Tours
Major author/Major anonymous workGregory of Tours
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsSeeking asylum at church/shrine
Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, ScepticismDestruction/desecration of saint's shrine
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Miraculous protection - of church and church property
Miraculous protection - of people and their property
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesSoldiers
Monarchs and their family
Other lay individuals/ people
SourceGregory, 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.
The Miracles of Julian, full title Martyrdom and Miracles of the Martyr Saint Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris), consists of 50 chapters. It opens with a brief account of Julian's martyrdom and of the discovery of his head in Vienne (chapters 1 and 2), followed by 48 chapters of miracles effected by the saint, primarily at his tomb in Brioude (south of Clermont, central Gaul), but also through relics distributed in other areas of Gaul (and in one case, chapter 33, even in an unnamed 'city of the East').
Brioude and the shrine of Julian are within the ancient territory of Clermont, Gregory's native city, and the attachment that he and his wider family felt towards Julian is manifest in a number of stories in the Miracles, including evidence that Gregory often attended the feast of the saint on 28 August. In chapter 50 Gregory addresses Julian as his patron and asks for his support through the remainder of his life.
Gregory wrote the Miracles of Julian over an extended period, very possibly starting before he became bishop of Tours in 573. Statements he makes in chapters 32 and 34 suggest that he initially planned to draw the book to a close with less chapters than the fifty we have, and that this was soon after his consecration to Tours; but, learning later of more miracles (primarily from Aredius of Limoges, chapters 41-45) and himself witnessing a further miracle (chapter 46a), he extended the book to 50 chapters, completing these in the early or mid 580s. Chapter 50 addresses the reader in a valedictory tone, with a personal invocation of Julian; but it is possible that the work was never published in Gregory's lifetime.
For discussion of the work, see:
Krusch B., Gregorii Turonensis Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969), 2.
Monod G., Études critiques sur les sources de l’histoire mérovingienne, 1e partie (Paris, 1872), 42–45.
Van Dam, R., Saints and their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 162-163.
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.
DiscussionTheuderic invaded Clermont in 524 (Van Dam 1993, p. 172, n. 11). His invasion was also recorded by Gregory in Histories 3.12 (E07746).
This passage is interesting for the seven-mile radius of peace that Theuderic decreed around the basilica, reminiscent of the areas of asylum that are frequently documented in the 6th c. East.
Krusch B., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover 1969), 112–134.
de Nie. G., Lives and Miracles: Gregory of Tours (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 39; Cambridge MA, 2015).
Van Dam, R., Saints and their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 200–303.
Murray A.C. (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden and 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.