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E05202: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Julian (24), recounts how his family attended the festival of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035) in Brioude (central Gaul), and how his older brother Peter was healed from a fever with dust from Julian’s tomb, drunk or hung round his neck; AD 538/548. 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) 24

Post multum vero tempus advenerat festivitas beati martyris, et pater meus cum omni domo sua ad huius solemnitatis gaudia properabat. Nobis vero iter agentibus, Petrus, frater meus senior, ab ardore febrium occupatur et tam graviter agit, ut neque vigere neque cibum sumere possit. Totumque illud iter cum grandi agitur maerore, et in discrimine res vertitur, utrum convalescat aut pereat. Denique cum isto labore pervenitur ad locum; ingredimur basilicam, adoramus sacrosancti martyris sepulturam. Prosternitur et aegrotus in pavimento, deprecans medellam a martyre glorioso. Post conpleta vero oratione ad metatum regressus, febris paululum conquievit. Veniente autem nocte, nobis ad vigilias properantibus, rogat se et ille deferri, incumbensque ante sepulchrum, tota nocte martyris suffragium deprecatur. Exactis deinde nocturnis excubiis, rogat, ut de pulvere, quod circa beatum erat tumulum, collecto vel potui darent vel collo suspenderent. Quo facto, ita omnis ardor febrium conquievit, ut ipsa die et cibum caperet incolomis et, ubi delectatio vertisset animum, ambularet.

‘Much later it was time for the festival of the blessed martyr, and with his entire household my father hurried to enjoy these celebration. As we were making this journey my older brother Peter was afflicted with a burning fever and suffered so badly that he was unable either to retain his strength or to eat. He completed the entire journey with great suffering and it was uncertain whether he would recover or die. Finally, with a great effort we came to the shrine, entered the church, and prayed before the tomb of the holy martyr. My ill brother too prostrated himself on the pavement and requested a cure from the glorious martyr. After he finished his prayer, he returned to our lodging; the fever moderated a bit. When night came we hurried to vigils, and Peter asked that he also be brought. He lay in front of the tomb, and throughout the entire night he prayed for the martyr’s assistance. At the completion of these nocturnal vigils he asked that they give him dust collected around the blessed tomb to drink, or to hang around his neck. Once this was done, the burning fever completely vanished. Hence, on that day he was healthy, took food and walked wherever fancy turned his spirit.’

Text: Krusch 1969, 124-125. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 180, 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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives


Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - dust/sand/earth Eating/drinking/inhaling relics


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 on 28 August. As is evident throughout the Miracles, Gregory and his family had a particular devotion to Julian.


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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