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E05254: In Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Julian (41), recounts how a church of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035) in the Limousin (western Gaul) was dedicated with relics of the saint (wax from his tomb at Brioude, and water from the spring where his head was washed, miraculously transformed into balsam) by *Aredius (monk of Limoges, ob. 591, S00302). Written in Latin in Clermont and Tours (central and north-west Gaul), 573/587.

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posted on 2018-03-25, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 41

Cum autem ad me Aridius presbiter ex Lemovicino venisset, vir valde religiosus, cui etiam in secundo virtutum beati Martini libro memini, dum sollicite vitam eius perscrutarer et actionem, inquirere coepi, quae ibidem beatissimus in miraculis prodidisset; in honore enim beati martyris basilicam aedificavit, quam et eius reliquiis inlustravit. Sicut ergo est verecundissimus, diu cunctatus, tandem haec et valde invitus exposuit. 'Quando', inquit, 'primum beati Iuliani adivi basilicam, parumper cerae a sepulchro sustuli. Inde veniens ad fontem, in quo beati sanguis effusus est, abluta aquis facie, parvam ab his pro benedictione conplevi ampullam. Tester omnipotentem Deum, quia, antequam ad domum accederem, colore, spissitudine atque odore in balsamo conmutata est. Veniens vero sacerdos ad dedicandam aedem, cum haec exposuissem, nihil aliud pro reliquiis in sanctum altare condere voluit nisi vasculum cuius aqua in balsamo conmutata fuerat, dicens: ‘Haec sunt certae reliquiae, quas martyr paradisiacis virtutibus inlustravit’.

'Aredius, a priest from Limoges, visited me, a most devout monk whom I have mentioned in my second book about the miracles of the blessed Martin. While I was carefully questioning him about his life and deeds, I began to ask what miracles the most blessed [Julian] had demonstrated there; for, in honour of the blessed martyr, Aredius had built a church and embellished it with his relics. As a very modest man, Aredius hesitated for a long time and then most reluctantly told these stories. He said: ‘When I first went to the church of the blessed Julian, I took a drop of wax from his tomb. Then I came to the spring in which the blessed [Julian’s] blood had been shed, washed my face in the water, and filled a small jar with this water as a blessing. I call omnipotent God as my witness, that before I returned home [this water] had been transformed into the colour, the consistency, and the fragrance of balsam. A bishop came to dedicate a shrine. Once I showed him these relics, he wished to place no other relics in the holy altar except this jar whose water had been transformed into balsam. The bishop said ‘These are certainly relics that the martyr has distinguished with the powers of Paradise.''

Text: Krusch 1969, 130-131. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 189; modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Julian, martyr of Brioude : S00035 Aredius, monk of Limoges, ob. 591 : S00302

Saint Name in Source

Iulianus Aridius

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

Oral transmission of saint-related stories

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous behaviour of relics/images

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - wax Contact relic - water and other liquids Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Ampullae, eulogiai, tokens


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.


Aredius (monk of Limoges, ob. 591, S00302) was well known to Gregory, much admired by him, and used by him as a source of miracles stories of both Julian and Martin (the specific reference here to Gregory's Miracles of Martin is to 2.39 (E03217)). Later, after his death in 591, Gregory described Aredius as a saint able to effect miracles in his own right (Histories 10.29; E02387); but here he is mentioned, not as a saint, but as an exceptionally reliable witness of the miraculous power of Julian. For this church of Julian in the Limousin, see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 259.


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. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d’après les oeuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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