Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 21
A poor man devoutly attends vigils for the festival of the saint; at dawn, he finds that his horse has disappeared, leaving no trace. After two days and more of enquiries, he returns to the shrine to ask the saint's help in recovering his horse, pointing out that he had come in all humility to offer his prayers. Leaving the church he is at once reunited with his horse.
Text: Krusch 1969, 123. Summary: Katarzyna Wojtalik.
Saint NameJulian, martyr of Brioude : S00035
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles
Evidence not before570
Evidence not after587
Activity not before500
Activity not after581
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 - Festivals
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVigils
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Finding of lost objects, animals, etc.
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesThe socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves)
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.
DiscussionThe festival of Julian was celebrated in Brioude on 28 August.
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.