University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E05198: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Julian (20), recounts how a man tried to rob a gem-encrusted cross, and some cloth hangings, from the tomb of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035) in Brioude (central Gaul), but could not find the exit of the church, and was discovered by the custodians. Written in Latin in Clermont and Tours (central and north-west Gaul), 570/587.

online resource
posted on 2018-03-16, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 20

Advenerat festivitas sancti, et ecce quidam e populo conspicatur ornamentis inmensis beatam basilicam effulgere. Concupescit iniqua mente, quod adipiscens non poterat occultare. Igitur discedente populo a basilica post gratiam vespertinam, hic se in angulo basilicae repraemens latitavit, ac datum cunctis nocturna quiete silentium vel operiente umbrosa caligine mundum, consurgit ab angulo, et nihil dubitans, utique quia satellite Satanan inpellebatur, super cancellum beati sepulchri cursu prosilit rapido, detraetamque detractamque a summo unam gemmis corruscantibus crucem ad terram deiecit, collectisque villolis ac palliolis de circuitu parietum pendentibus, unum voluculum facit, inpositumque umeris, ac elevatam crucem manu, ad locum unde discesserat repetit, ac positam capiti sarcinam, peccati sopore conpraessus, obdormivit. Media vero nocte circumeuntes custodes sanctam basilicam, aspiciunt in angulo unam gemmam crucis tamquam iubar caeleste refulgere; obstupefacti accedunt comminus cum timore, admotoque cereo, inveniunt personam cum rebus furatis, quas auferre non potuerat, inibi decubare. Denique, sub custodia eum illa nocte detentum, mane facto cuncta quae fecerat patefecit, adserens se lassum obdormisse, eo quod diutissime circuiens cum fasce basilicam, ostium unde egrederetur repperire non poterat.

‘The saint’s festival had arrived, and behold, one man in the crowd noted that the blessed church gleamed with its lavish decorations. In his wicked mind the man coveted what upon acquiring he could not conceal. While the people were leaving the church after the service of vespers, this man lingered in a corner of the church and hid himself. Once silence fell upon everyone in the quiet of the night and black darkness was covering the world, the man got up from the corner and, [because] he was of course prompted by an agent of Satan, with no hesitation he quickly jumped over the railing around the blessed tomb. He ripped a cross with glittering jewels from the top of it and tossed it to the ground; then he gathered curtains and drapes hanging on the surrounding walls. From them he made up a single bundle and put it across his shoulders. Then he picked the cross up in his hand and returned to the corner that he had left. He put the bundle under his head; then, drowsy and weighed down by his sin, he fell asleep. In the middle of the night the custodians walked through the holy church and saw in a corner one jewel from the cross, shining just like a star in heaven. They were disturbed and fearfully came closer. Once they brought a candle, they found the man lying there with the stolen objects that he could not carry away. During the night the man was kept in custody; then at daybreak he confessed everything that he had done. He claimed that he had become weary and fallen asleep because after walking around the church for a very long time with his bundle he could not find a door through which he might exit.’

Text: Krusch 1969, 123. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 177; lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Julian, martyr of Brioude : S00035

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 Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tours Clermont

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

Tours Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré Clermont 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 - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Destruction/desecration of saint's shrine

Cult Activities - Miracles

Power over objects Miracle after death Punishing miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



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. 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.


The festival of Julian was celebrated in Brioude on 28 August.


Edition: Krusch B., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover 1969), 112–134. Translation: 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. Further reading: 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.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager