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E05555: Venantius Fortunatus writes eleven books of Poems in Latin, mainly in western and north-western Gaul, 565/600; many of them with reference to saints. Overview entry.

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posted on 2018-05-27, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Venantius Fortunatus, Poems

Here are listed only those poems that include references to saints.

Preface - Dedicatory letter to Gregory of Tours - $E05556.

Book 1
1 - To Vitalis, bishop of Ravenna - see $E05560.
2 - Verses on the church of the Lord Andrew - see $E05563.
3 - On a church of the Lord Stephen - see $E05564.
4 - On a church of Saint Martin - see $E05565.
5 - For the cell of Saint Martin where he clothed a poor man - see $E05566.
6 - On a church of Saint Martin - see $E05584.
7 - In honour of a church of Saint Martin that Basil and Baudegund built - see $E05585.
8 - On a church of Saint Vincent beyond the Garonne - see $E05586.
9 - Again on the church of Saint Vincent at Vernemet - see $E05611.
10 - On the Lord Nazarius - see $E05612.
11 - On a church of the Lord Dionysius - see $E05632.
12 - On the church of Saint Bibianus - see $E05633.
13 - On the church of Saint Eutropis - see $E05634.
15 - On bishop Leontius - see $E05635.

Book 2
7 - On Lord Saturninus - see $E05636.
8 - On Launebod, who built the church of Saint Sarurninus - see $E05637.
12 - On the church of Saint George - see $E05638.
13 - On the chapel of Trasaricus - see $E05639.
14 - On the saints of Agaune - see $E05.640
16 - On Saint Medard - see $E05641.

Book 3
1 - To Eufronius, bishop of Tours (prose letter) - see $E07842.
2 - To Eufronius, bishop of Tours (prose letter) - see $E05642.
3 - To Eufronius, bishop of Tours - see $E05682.
7 - In honour of those whose relics are contained in the cathedral in Nantes - see $E05683.
12 - Again on the castle of the bishop Nicetius of Trier above the Moselle - see $E05686.

Book 4
2 - Epitaph of Lord Gregory, bishop of the city of Langres - see $E05687.
5 - Epitaph of the Ruricii, bishops of the city of Limoges - see $E05690.
11 - Epitaph of Victorianus, abbot of the monastery of Asan - see $E05692.
26 - Epitaph of Vilithuta - see $E07844.

Book 5
1 - To Martin, bishop of Galicia (prose letter) - see $E07845.
3 - On bishop Gregory, to the citizens of Tours - see $E07846.
11 - To Gregory, bishop of Tours, on his journey - see $E05751.
14 - To Gregory, bishop of Tours, in recommendation of a girl - see $E05752.

Book 8
3 - In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the lady Mary his mother, on virginity - see $E06237 and $E06245.
11 - To Bishop Gregory on his own sickness - see $E05753.
12 - To Bishop Gregory in the interests of the abbess - see $E05754.

Book 9
14 - On a beam of the church of Saint Laurence - see $E05755.

Book 10
5 - In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, verses here begin on the oratory of Artannes - see $E05756.
6 - In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, verses for the Cathedral of Tours - see $E05757.
7 - To King Childebert and Queen Brunhild, on the feast day of Saint Martin, bishop of Tours - see $E05758 and $E07847.
10 - Verses on the oratory of Artannes - see $E05759.
11 - Verses composed in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ at table in a villa of Saint Martin in the presence of assessors of taxes - see $E05760.
12a - On a girl held captive by the judges - $E07848.
17 - To Count Sigoald, for having fed the poor on behalf of the king - see $E05761.

Book 11
25 - To Radegund and Agnes, about his journey - see $E05832.

19 - Again another poem - see $E07849.
21 - Again another poem - see $E05833.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Saturninus, bishop and martyr of Toulouse : S00289 Eutropis, bishop and martyr of Saintes (Gaul) : S00332 Bibianus, bishop of Saintes (western Gaul), ob. AD 5th century : S01282 Andrew, the Apostle : S00288 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Peter the A

Saint Name in Source

Saturninus Eutropis Bibianus Andreas Paulus Peter Laurentius Cosmas, Damianus Martinus Caecilia Maria Vigilius Stephanus Vincentius Nazarius Augustinus Dionisius Victorianus Gabriel Ferreolus Gregorius Iulianus Nicetius Georgiu

Related Saint Records

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Major author/Major anonymous work

Venantius Fortunatus

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


Venantius Fortunatus was born in northern Italy, near Treviso, and educated at Ravenna. In the early 560s he crossed the Alps into Merovingian Gaul, where he spent the rest of his life, making his living primarily through writing Latin poetry for the aristocracy of northern Gaul, both secular and ecclesiastical. His first datable commission in Gaul is a poem to celebrate the wedding in 566 of the Austrasian royal couple, Sigibert and Brunhild. His principal patrons were Radegund and Agnes, the royal founder and the first abbess of the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers, as well as Gregory, the historian and bishop of Tours, Leontius, bishop of Bordeaux, and Felix, bishop of Nantes, but he also wrote poems for several kings and for many other members of the aristocracy. In addition to occasional poems for his patrons, Fortunatus wrote a four-book epic poem about Martin of Tours, and several works of prose and verse hagiography. The latter part of his life was spent in Poitiers, and in the 590s he became bishop of the city; he is presumed to have died early in the 7th century. For Fortunatus' life, see Brennan 1985; George 1992, 18-34; Reydellet 1994-2004, vol. 1, vii-xxviii; PCBE 4, 'Fortunatus', 801-822. The eleven books of Poems (Carmina) by Fortunatus were almost certainly collected and published at three different times: Books 1 to 7, which are dedicated to Gregory of Tours, in 576; Books 8 and 9 after 584, probably in 590/591; and Books 10-11 only after their author's death. A further group of poems, outside the structure of the books, and known from only one manuscript, has been published in modern editions as an Appendix to the eleven books. For further discussion, see Reydellet 1994-2004, vol. 1, lxviii-lxxi; George 1992, 208-211. Almost all of Fortunatus' poems are in elegiac couplets: one hexameter line followed by one pentameter line. For the cult of saints, Fortunatus' poems are primarily interesting for the evidence they provide of the saints venerated in northern Gaul, since many were written to celebrate the completion of new churches and oratories, and some to celebrate collections of relics. For an overview of his treatment of the cult of saints, see Roberts 2009, 165-243.


Editions and translations: Leo, F., Venanti Honori Clementiani Fortunati presbyteri Italici opera poetica (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi 4.1; Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1881). Roberts, M., Poems: Venantius Fortunatus (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 46; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017). George, J., Venantius Fortunatus, Personal and Political Poems (Translated Texts for Historians 23; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1995). Reydellet, M., Venance Fortunat, Poèmes, 3 vols. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1994-2004). Further reading: Brennan, B., "The Career of Venantius Fortunatus," Traditio 41 (1985), 49-78. George, J., Venantius Fortunatus: A Latin Poet in Merovingian Gaul (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992). Roberts, M., The Humblest Sparrow: The Poetry of Venantius Fortunatus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009). Roberts, M., "Venantius Fortunatus and Gregory of Tours: Poetry and Patronage," in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015), 35-59.