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E05266: Gregory of Tours, in his Miracles of Julian (46b), tells how Urbanus, the new warden of the church of Julian in Brioude (central Gaul), found the tomb of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035) strewn with fresh roses that smelled overpowering; he collected them and used them to cure the sick. Written in Latin in Clermont and Tours (central and north-west Gaul), 573/587.

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posted on 2018-03-26, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of Julian (Liber de passione et virtutibus sancti Iuliani martyris) 46b

Eo tempore, cum post obitum Proserii martyrarii Urbanus diaconus huius basilicae ordinatur aedituus, mira res ad sepulchrum sancti apparuit. Nam, vigilante diacono in lectulo suo, auditus est sonitus, quasi ostium basilicae panderetur. Post multarum vero horarum spatium audivit eum iterum claudi. Post haec surgens de stratu, praecedente lumine accedit ad tumulum sancti. Mirum dictu! Vidit pavimentum rosis rutilantibus esse respersum. Erant autem magnae valde cum flagrantia odoris inmensi. [In ipsas quoque cancelli celaturas mirabatur rosas intus, nonus enim erat mensis]; et haec ita erant virides, acsi easdem ipsius putaris horae momento ramis virentibus esse discerptas. Tunc cum grandi reverentia collectas secretius posuit, multis exinde infirmis medicamenta distribuens. Nam inerguminus quidam ex Turonico veniens, ut exinde delibuto potum sumpsit, eiecto daemone, purgatus abscessit.

‘After the death of Proserius, the keeper of the martyr’s shrine, the deacon Urbanus was ordained as warden for his church. At that time a marvellous thing occurred at the saint’s tomb. For while the deacon was lying awake in his bed, he heard a noise, as if the door of the church were being opened. Many hours later he heard the door again being closed. Then the deacon arose from his bed and, with a light, went to the saint’s tomb. Wonderful to report! He saw that the pavement was covered with red roses. The roses were very large, and the fragrance of their scent was overpowering. He was amazed to see them through the carvings of the railings also inside, because it was the ninth month. These roses were so fresh that you might think that they had been cut at that moment of the hour from the living stems. The deacon collected these roses with great reverence, hid them, and thereafter distributed them as a medicine to many ill people. For when a possessed man who came from Tours swallowed a drink soaked [with these roses], his demon was ejected, and he left cleansed.’

Text: Krusch 1969, 132-133. Translation: Van Dam 1993, 192-193; 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 - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous sound, smell, light Miracle with animals and plants Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - other 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.


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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