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E05845: Constantius of Lyon, in his Life of *Germanus (bishop of Auxerre, ob. c. 448, S00455), written in Latin at Lyon (central Gaul) between c. 460 and c. 480, states that Germanus always wore a capsule (capsula) around his neck containing relics of the saints.

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posted on 2018-06-21, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Constantius of Lyon, Life of Germanus of Auxerre 4

For a full account of Constantius' Life of Germanus, see $E05841.

Noctibus numquam uestitum, raro cingulum raro calciamenta detraxit, redimitus loro semper et capsula sanctorum reliquias continente.

'He never removed his clothes at night, and seldom either his belt or his shoes, and he always had round his neck a leather strap with a box containing relics of the saints.'

Constantius mentions the capsule during his account of Germanus' personal ascetic practices and generosity (§§ 4-5). He goes on to mention Germanus' foundation of a monastery at Auxerre and to begin discussion of Germanus' miracles: $E07555.

Text: Borius 1965. Translation: Hoare 1954, adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, ob. c. 448 : S00455 Saints, unnamed : S00518

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saints


  • 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, village, etc


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

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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Privately owned relics Collections of multiple relics Reliquary – privately owned


Germanus of Auxerre (PCBE 4, 'Germanus 1', pp. 878-883) was the most important and revered episcopal saint of 5th century Gaul. The Life of Germanus was written at an uncertain date, some years after Germanus' death, which is traditionally dated to 448 (but some scholars would place up to twelve years earlier). The Life was probably written at some point between about 465 and 480. The author was Constantius (PCBE 4, 'Constantius 3', pp. 521-522), a literary figure, possibly a cleric, attested as active in Lyon in the 460s and 470s. For full discussion of the issues relating to the authorship and date of the Life of Germanus, see E05841.


The relic container worn by Germanus is used by him during one of the most important miracles described in the Life of Germanus: the healing of a blind girl by touching her eyes with the capsule at the climax of the debate between Germanus and the Pelagians, during his visit to Britain in 429 (E05881). Constantius tells us that when Germanus died, the reliquary was appropriated by the empress Galla Placidia (E05847). Constantius never says what relics were contained in the capsula or of which saints they were of.


Editions: Borius, R., Constance de Lyon, Vie de saint Germain d'Auxerre (Sources chrétiennes 112; Paris, 1965), with French translation. Levison, W., Vita Germani episcopi Autissiodorensis auctore Constantio, in: Passiones vitaeque sanctorum aevi Merovingici V (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 7; Hannover and Leipzig, 1919), 246-283. English translation: Hoare, F.R., The Western Fathers (London, 1954), 283-320. Reprinted in T.F.X. Noble and T. Head (eds.), Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints' Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (University Park PA, 1995), 75-106.

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