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E05870: Gregory of Tours writes the Life of the Fathers, collecting the lives of twenty Gallic bishops, abbots and recluses; written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 573/594. List of the twenty Lives.

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posted on 2018-06-23, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Life of the Fathers

(1) Life of *Lupicinus and Romanus (brothers and founders of the Jura monasteries, mid 5th c., S00003)– see $E00003.

(2) Life of *Illidius (bishop of Clermont, ob. 384/385, S00022) – see E00024.
For his burial and rebuilding the crypt with his relics see E00022; for his miracles see E00023 and E00024 and for placing his relics in the altar of an oratory in Tours (north-west Gaul) see E00027.

(3) Life of *Abraham (abbot at Clermont, ob. 477, S00005) – see $00005
For his church see E00009.

(4) Life of *Quintianus (bishop of Rodez and Clermont, ob. 525, S00028) – see E00036.
For the miracle of his uncle - *Faustus (bishop, probably in Africa, ob. ?, $S00025) - see $E00033; for how he transferred the body of *Amantius (bishop of Rodez, late 5th c., S00026) to a church in Rodez see E00034 and for his burial see E00037.

(5) Life of *Portianus (abbot in the Auvergne, ob. after 525, S00032) – see E00038.

(6) Life of *Gallus (bishop of Clermont, ob. 551, S00034) – see E00039.
For how he instituted rogations see E00043 and for his death and burial see E00048.

(7) Life of *Gregory (bishop of Langres, ob. 539/540, S00038) – see E00049.
For how he venerated relics of unnamed see E00052; for the translation of his body and his burial see E00053 and for deposition of his relics in the new apse see E00055.

(8) Life of *Nicetius (bishop of Lyon, ob. 573, S00049) – see E00061.
For healing a deacon by a copy of the book of his life see E00059; for his posthumous miracles see E00062, E00067, E00068, E00098 and E00156; for his healing see E00063; for how he appeared in a vision see E00064 and how a deacon collected contact relics from his tomb see E00065.

(9) Life of *Patroclus (hermit of Berry, ob. 576, S00064) – see E00157.
For his foundations see E00158; for his burial see E00159 and for his miracles see E00166.

(10) Life of *Friardus (recluse near Nantes, ob. 573, S00078) – see E00174.
For his fellow see E00176 and for his miracles see E00177.

(11) Life of *Caluppa (recluse of the Auvergne, ob. 576, S00083) – see E00221.

(12) Life of *Aemilianus and Brachio (hermit, and monastic founder of the Auvergne and Touraine, ob. 535/550 and 576, S00087) – see E00222.
For Brachio learning how to read see E00223 and holding vigils see E00224; for his burial and transfer his relics see E00225.

(13) Life of *Lupicinus (recluse of Lipidiacum, ob. first half of the 6th c., S00104) – see E00258.
For his death see E00261 and his burial see E00262.

(14) Life of *Martius (abbot near Clermont, ob. 500/510, S00105) – see E00263.
For his burial and posthumous miracles see E00264.

(15) Life of *Senoch (ascetic and miracle-worker near Tours, ob. 576, S00116) – see E00290.
For how he made the reliquary fitted its place see E00291; for his death, posthumous cult and miracles see E00293.

(16) Life of *Venantius (priest and abbot in Tours, ob. late 5th c., S00121) – see E00308.
For how he comunicated with the dead in the tomb see $E00309 and for his posthumous miracles see E00310.

(17) Life of *Nicetius (bishop of Trier, ob. c. 565, S01305) – see $05466.
For his miracles see $E05467, $E05470, $E05471, E05472 $E05473 and $E05476; for his visions see $E05468, E05474 and $E05475; for how he was snatched up during his journey $E05469 and for the miracles at his tomb see E05477.

(18) Life of *Ursus and Leobatius (abbots in Berry and the Touraine, around AD 500, S00137) – see E00332.
For how the saints enlighten the world see E00333 and for miracles of Ursus see E00334.

(19) Life of *Monegundis (female recluse of Chartres and Tours, mid/late 6th c., S00150) – see E00335.
For how she venerated relics E00348; for her miracles see E00350 and for her death, burial and posthumous miracles see E00351.

(20) Life of *Leobardus (recluse of Marmoutier, later 6th c., S00175) – see E00354.
For how he decided to leave the secular world see E00355; for the book of his life see E00356; for his death and burial see E00357.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Lupicinus and Romanus, brothers, late 5th-century ascetics of the Jura (Gaul) : S00003 Illidius, bishop of Clermont, ob. 384/5 : S00022 Abraham, abbot of Clermont, ob. 476/7 : S00005 Quintianus, bishop of Rodez and Clermont, ob. 525 : S00028 Port

Saint Name in Source

Romanus; Lupicinus Illidius Abraham Quintianus Portianus Gallus Gregorius Nicetius Patroclus Friardus Caluppa Brachio Lupicinus Martius Senoch Venantius Nicetius Ursus Monegundis Leobardus

Related Saint Records

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts


  • 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)

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Tours

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


Gregory, bishop of Tours from 573 until his death (probably in 594), 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 Life of the Fathers by Gregory of Tours is different from his other hagiographical works (Miracles of Julian, Miracles of Martin, Glory of the Confessors and Glory of the Martyrs), which all concentrate on posthumous miracles of the saints. The Life of the Fathers, by contrast, describes the exemplary behaviour in life of twenty Gallic saints (for a list of the Lives, see E05870). Gregory himself draws this contrast in the opening words of his preface: 'I had decided to write only about what has been achieved with divine help at the tombs of the blessed martyrs and confessors; but I have recently discovered information about those who have been raised to heaven by the merit of their blessed conduct here below, and I thought that their way of life, which is known to us through reliable sources, could strengthen the Church' (trans. James 1991, 1). In this preface Gregory also explains why he chose to call the book Life of the Fathers, not Lives of the Fathers: because they all lived the same bodily life. The nineteen Lives of men, and the single Life of a woman (Life 19), all relate to holy people of Gaul, the majority living in the mid to later sixth century. Although this agenda is unspoken, there can be little doubt that Gregory wrote these Lives partly to show that holiness, and the miraculous, were not just things of the past, but very much present within the Gaul of his day (a message that he expressed explicitly in his Histories). Almost all the saints he describes were active within one or other of the two dioceses with which Gregory was most familiar (his native Clermont, and Tours, the city of his episcopate), or indeed were his relatives (all bishops - Life 6 is of an uncle, Life 7 of a great-grandfather, and Life 8 of a great-uncle). Although Gregory says in his preface that they all shared one bodily life, in reality his saints fall into one of two distinct categories: holy bishops who are effective leaders of their flocks but only moderately ascetic (Lives 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 17), and holy ascetics who have withdrawn from the world and sometimes engage in extreme mortification of the body (Lives 1, 3, 5, 9-16, and 18-20). Gregory's work was unquestionably didactic in purpose - teaching the correct way to lead a good Christian life, and it is notable, for instance, how, in this work written by a bishop, his ascetics accept episcopal correction when necessary (Lives 15.2 and 20.3, in both cases from Gregory himself), and might even delay their death to suit the timetable of a bishop (Life 10.4). Because the focus is on the lives of these holy people, there is much less emphasis on their cult after death than in Gregory's other hagiographical works; however, all the Lives close with an account of the burial of the saint, and in almost all cases with reference to posthumous miracles recorded there (the exceptions are Lives 10, 11 and 20, which have no reference to miracles at the tomb). Gregory probably collected material for the Life of the Fathers (and perhaps wrote individual Lives) over a long period of time. However, from the words of his preface (quoted above) and from other references within the text, it is evident that he assembled his material into the polished work we have today only towards the very end of his life, after he had already written much of his extensive hagiography recording the miracles of saints lying in their graves. Because Gregory's views on saints do not seem to have changed during his writing life, we have not here expended energy in exploring the possible dating of individual lives, merely recording them all as written some time between 573 and 594. For more on the text, and on its dating: James 1991, xiii-xix; Shaw 2015, particularly 117-120.


Edition: Krusch, B., Gregorii Turonensis Opera. 2: Miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1969). Translation: James, E., Gregory of Tours. Life of the Fathers (Translated Texts for Historians 1; 2nd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991). de Nie, G., Gregory of Tours, Lives and Miracles (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 39; Cambridge MA, 2015). Further reading: 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.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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