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E05258: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Julian (45), describes how relics (wax and dust) were brought from the tomb of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035) in Brioude (central Gaul) to Aredius in the Limousin (western Gaul), and how along the way a young boy was freed from a demon. 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) 45

Quae postquam gesta sunt, misit clericum suum, dicens: 'Vade', inquit, 'ad beati Iuliani basilicam, et fundens orationem, supplica, ut tibi aliquid cerae vel pulveris de sepulchro iacentis largire dignentur aeditui, ut delatum a me cum benedictione suscipiatur'. Ille vero veniens, quae sibi fuerant imperata flagitat ac suscipit. Et cum suscepta ferre vellet, tanto gravatur pondere, ut vix cervicem possit erigere. Unde tremore magno concussus, pavimento prosternitur, et iterum cum lacrimis orationem fundens, surrexit incolomes et acceptam sensit abeundi habere libertatem. Igitur arrepto itinere, incandescente nimium sole, siti corripitur. Veniens autem ad villam viae proximam, unam casolam adit, aqua deposcens; de qua egrediens iuvenis dare responsum, ut eos vidit, in terram corruit, factusque est sicut mortuus. Concurrentes autem parentes eius, calumniabant hominibus, adserentes, parentem suum eorum magicis artibus fuisse peremptum, et adpraehensum puerum, levaverunt eum semivivum. At ille de manibus eorum elapsus, percussis palmis, coepit debachando clamare vel dicere, quod martyris Iuliani virtute exuriretur. Clericus vero haec audiens, positam super caput eius capsulam cum pignoribus sanctis, fide plenus orare coepit attentius; ipse quoque cum vomitu sanguinem daemoniumque proiciens, purgatus abscessit. Dehinc firmatus in fide portitor, iter totum cum psalmis et gratiarum actionibus carpens, ad locum praeoptatum, martyre ducente, pervenit. Iam exinde tempore procedente quanti ibi inergumini, frigoritici vel diversis morbis obpraessi martyris virtute sanati sunt, nec nomina reteneri nec numerus potuit collegi.

‘After these events [Aredius] sent his cleric, saying: ‘Go to the church of the blessed Julian, offer a prayer, and ask that the wardens deign to give you some of the wax and dust that is lying by the tomb, so that once these relics are brought [here] I may receive them as a blessing.’ The man then went, requested what had been commanded of him, and received [the relics]. But as he wished to carry what he had received, he was burdened with such a weight that he was scarcely able to lift his neck. He was struck with a great shudder, prostrated himself on the pavement, and again wept and offered a prayer. Then he stood up unharmed and realized that he had received permission to leave. So he set out on his journey; but as the sun was very bright, he suffered from thirst. When he came to a village that was near the road, he went to one cottage and requested water. A young boy came out of the cottage to give a reply; but when he saw the man and his companions, he fell to the ground and seemed to be dead. His parents rushed out and blamed these men by claiming that their son had been killed by the men’s skills in magic They took their son who was almost dead and lifted him up. But the boy slipped from their hands, clapped his hands together, and began to dance and shout and insist that he was being burnt up by the power of the martyr Julian. When the cleric heard these words, he placed the reliquary that contained the holy relics (capsulam cum pignoribus) on the boy’s head and with complete faith began to pray passionately. The boy vomited blood and expelled the demon; then he left after being cleansed. The courier was confirmed in his faith and spent his entire journey chanting psalms and giving thanks. With the martyr as his guide he came to the chosen spot. Thereafter as time went by, the martyr’s power cured so many possessed people, so many people suffering from chills, and so many people afflicted by various illnesses, that their names cannot be remembered and their numbers cannot be counted.’

Text: Krusch 1969, 131. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 190-191; lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Julian, martyr of Brioude : S00035

Saint Name in Source


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


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Exorcism Saint aiding or preventing the translation of relics

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Children

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - dust/sand/earth Contact relic - wax Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Touching and kissing relics Reliquary – institutionally owned


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.


Gregory learned this story from *Aredius (monk of Limoges, ob. 591, S00302), whom Gregory knew well (see E05254). Later, after his death in 591, Gregory described Aredius as a saint able to effect miracles in his own right (E02387); but here he appears as an exceptionally reliable witness of the miraculous power of 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