Venantius Fortunatus, Poems 10.5 (In nomine Domini nostri Iesu Christi, incipiunt versus de oratorio Artannensi, 'In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the verses begin on the oratory at Artannes')
Quisquis ad haec properas venerandi limina templi
dona precaturus quae dat amore deus:
haec in honore sacri Gabrielis culta coruscant,
qui pia iussa dei rite minister agit,
Zachariae veniens qui nuntia detulit astris, 5
Elisabeth datas est quando propheta potens,
quique redemptorem e caelo regem omnipotentem
post ait ut terris ventre Maria daret.
Quae sacer antistes nova tecta Gregorius effert,
ut sibi caelestes restituantur opes. 10
'Whoever you are who hurry to the threshold of this sacred building to petition for the gifts that God from his love dispenses, this resplendent finery serves to honor saintly Gabriel, who dutifully performs God’s holy orders as his servant, who coming to Zachariah brought the tidings from the stars, when a powerful prophet was granted to Elizabeth, and who afterward said that Mary would produce on earth from her womb an almighty king and redeemer from heaven. This new building the holy bishop Gregory is erecting so as to receive in return the riches of heaven.'
Text: Leo 1881, 234. Translation: Roberts 2017, 655.
Saint NameGabriel, the Archangel : S00192
Saint Name in SourceGabriel
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Poems
Evidence not before576
Evidence not after594
Activity not before576
Activity not after594
Place of Evidence - RegionGaul and Frankish kingdoms
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Tours
Major author/Major anonymous workVenantius Fortunatus
Cult activities - PlacesOratory
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsConstruction of cult buildings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
SourceVenantius 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.
DiscussionThe poem was written on the dedication of an oratory of Gabriel in Artannes, a village in the territory of Tours, where Gregory was bishop between 573 and 594. Poems 10.10 (see E05759) was written on the same occasion, and lists relics kept in the oratory.
According to Pietri, citing Meyer, these two poems were two versions of an elogium composed in honour of Gregory of Tours (Pietri 1983, 826 and 828). On Fortunatus' poems to Gregory of Tours, see George 1992, 124-131; Roberts 2009, 269-283; Roberts 2015.
BibliographyEditions 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).
Brennan, B., "The Career of Venantius Fortunatus," Traditio 41 (1985), 49-78.
George, J., Venantius Fortunatus: A Latin Poet in Merovingian Gaul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).
Pietri, L., La ville de Tours du IVe au VIe siècle. Naissance d'une cité chrétienne (Rome: École Française de Rome, 1983).
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.