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E05200: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Julian (22), describes how a blind man, advised in a dream vision, came to the church of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035) in Brioude (central Gaul), and received his sight after Publianus, an archpriest, made the sign of the cross over his eyes. Written in Latin in Clermont and Tours (central and north-west Gaul), 570/587.

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posted on 2018-03-16, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 22

Cum autem quidam ab eo loco per incursum diabolicum oculum perdidisset et ad hospitiolum suum viduatus lumine infeliciter resederet, ac manibus propriis nihil laborare praevalens, spem ullam alimonii non haberet, apparuit ei vir in visu noctis, commonens, ut ad beati basilicam ambularet; ibique, si devote suggerat, promittit auxilium inveniri. At ille nihil moratus, arrepto bacello, adminiculante puero, sanctum ingressus est locum. Qui post conpleta oratione archipresbiterum, qui tunc locum ipsum regebat, nomine Publianum adivit, supplicans, ut oculis caecis Christi crucem inponeret. Erat enim valde religiosus. Quod ille, dum iactantiam evadere cupit, evitans, tenetur a caeco, nec omnino dimittitur, nisi quae petebat adimpleret. Tunc ille prostratus ante sepulchrum, diutissime martyris est suffragium inprecatus; deinde admotam oculis caecis manum, protinus ut signum crucis inposuit, visum iste recepit. Admiramini, quaeso, virtutem martyris, cum parum sit exercere miracula, nunc etiam per manus discipulorum, adstipulante virtutis suae favore, publice operatur. Sed nec meritum discipuli fuit exiguum, cui haec praestita esse cernuntur.

‘A man from this place lost [sight in] his eyes after being assaulted by a demon. Because he had lost his sight, he remained in misery in his lodging; and because he was unable to do anything with his own hands, he had no hope of supporting himself. During the night a man appeared to him in a dream and suggested that he go to the church of the blessed [Julian], and promised that he would find help there if he asked devoutly. The blind man did not hesitate. He picked up his staff and with the assistance of a servant entered the holy shrine. Once he had finished his prayer, he went to the archpriest named Publianus who was then in charge of the shrine and asked that he make [the sign of] the cross of Christ over his blind eyes, for Publianus was a very pious man. When the latter refused, seeking to avoid pride, he was seized by the blind man who would not release him until Publianus did what he requested. Publianus prostrated himself before the tomb and for the very long time prayed for the martyr’s assistance. Then he stretched out his hand over the eyes of the blind man, and as soon as he made the sign of the cross, the blind man received his sight. I beg of you, marvel at the martyr’s power; while it is easy [for him] to perform miracles, now they happen in public, with the favour of his power, even through the hands of his disciples. But the merit of the disciple was not slight, to whom these things are seen to have been given.’

Text: Krusch 1969, 123-124. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 178-179, 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 - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

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

Other lay individuals/ people Slaves/ servants Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


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.


At the end of the story, Gregory is careful to clarify that this was a miracle of Julian, not of Publianus, while acknowledging the virtue of the latter as a worthy intermediary for Julian's power.


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.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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