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E05903: In the anonymous Life of the Jura Fathers, the author describes how *Romanus (ascetic and monastic founder of the Jura, ob. 455/460, S00003) healed two lepers near Geneva (eastern Gaul), explicitly comparing Romanus' miracle to a similar one by *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050); 430/460. Written in Latin at Condat in the Jura mountains (modern Saint-Claude in eastern Gaul), 512/525.

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posted on 2018-07-01, 00:00 authored by dlambert
The Life of the Jura Fathers 45-50 (Life of Saint Romanus the Abbot)


Palladius, the companion of Romanus, told the author about an incident in which he participated. Romanus decided to visit the shrine of the Theban Legion at Agaune (see $E07851). He tried to travel as an unknown poor man. One evening, on the way to Geneva, he and Palladius sought shelter in a cave near the road where two lepers lived. They were a father and his son. They had gone to gather wood, and after Romanus and Palladius finished prayers, the lepers came back and saw their unexpected guests. Romanus greeted, embraced and kissed them, in the manner of Martin (in morem Martini), and then they ate together. Next day in the morning Romanus and Palladius resumed their journey. After they left, Romanus' similarity in power (in operatione similitudo) to Martin became apparent: the lepers realised that they were cured. They rushed to the city and proclaimed the miracle. The people of Geneva started to seek Romanus, and the prefect ordered men to guard the passes of Mount Bret to intercept them on their return from Agaune. They recognised Romanus and Palladius, and brought them back to the city, where the people poured out to meet them, led by the bishop. The former lepers threw themselves at Romanus' feet. The crowd surrounded him, full of eagerness to be healed (pro salutis remediis magna ambitione); he healed some, and consoled or admonished others. Then he returned with all speed to Condat, fearing the temptations of the secular world and the possibility of pollution by something heard or seen.

Text: Martine 1968, 286-294. Summary: Katarzyna Wojtalik/David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Romanus and Lupicinus, brothers and founders of the Jura monasteries, mid 5th c. : S00003 Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050

Saint Name in Source

Romanus Martinus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives


  • 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)

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

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves) Crowds


The Life of the Jura Fathers (Vita patrum Iurensium) consists of three vitae – of Romanus (ob. 455/460; PCBE 4, 'Romanus 3'), Lupicinus (ob. 472/475; PCBE 4, 'Lupicinus 4'), and Eugendus (ob. 512/515; PCBE 4, 'Eugendus'). Romanus and his brother Lupicinus were the founders of the ascetic communities which grew up in the 5th century in remote rural areas in the Jura mountains of eastern Gaul; Eugendus was their eventual successor in the late 5th century. Romanus' community was located at Condat (Condadisco), modern Saint-Claude, where he seems to have settled sometime in the 430s (to judge from the not always clear chronology of his Life); within a few years he was joined by his younger brother Lupicinus. As the size of the community grew, Lupicinus eventually established his own settlement nearby at Lauconnus (modern Saint-Lupicin). Romanus also founded a female monastic community, headed by his sister (whose name is unknown), at Balma (La Balme, modern Saint-Romain-des-Roches), a few miles from Condat. The Life of the Jura Fathers was written after the death of Eugendus, which occurred in the period 512/515 (the date is established by Avitus of Vienne, Letter 19), probably soon after. François Massai pointed out that in spite of the author's demonstrative reverence for Eugendus, the Life attributes no posthumous miracles to him (Massai 1971, 57), suggesting that it was composed only a short time after his death. More debatably, Massai argued (Massai 1971, 50, 56) that references in the text to the shrine of the Theban Legion at Saint-Maurice-d'Agaune – notably the preface (E05898) and § 44 (E07851) – seem to depict it before its refoundation by the Burgundian prince Sigismund in 515. While not dating the work quite so early, Martine 1968, 56, argued that it influenced the Life of the Abbots of Agaune (E06267), which he dated to the mid 520s. The Life of the Jura Fathers is anonymous, but the author discloses various details about his life: he seems to have been a native of the Jura region, and he himself was a member of the community at Condat. He knew Eugendus personally, and regularly emphasises that he was a witness of events in Eugendus' time and was told about many earlier events by Eugendus himself. His knowledge of Romanus and Lupicinus came from the traditions of the community and the reminiscences of Eugendus and other older monks (by the time the Life of the Jura Fathers was written, thirty to forty years had passed since the death of Lupicinus, and fifty to sixty since the death of Romanus). On the author, and the information that can be established about him, see Martine 1968, 45-53; Vivian et al. 1999, 48-52. The author was well-read in Latin ascetic literature: he was certainly familiar with the works of Sulpicius Severus on Martin of Tours, which he sometimes quotes directly. Allusions and references in his work suggest that he also knew the Life of Antony (probably the Latin version by Evagrius, E00930), Jerome's ascetic Lives, Rufinus' Latin version of Eusebius' Church History, and works by Basil of Caesarea (in translation) and John Cassian. See Vivian et al. 1999, 50-51. For full discussion of the text, author, and date, see primarily the introduction to Martine 1968; see also Vivian et al. 1999, 47-61. For brief accounts of the sites associated with Romanus, Lupicinus and Eugendus, see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 249-250, 262-264, 273-274. The lives of Romanus and Lupicinus are also recounted by Gregory of Tours in his Life of the Fathers 1 (see E00003, E00004). (David Lambert)


The healing of the two lepers recalls a scene from Sulpicius Severus Life of Martin 18.3-4 (E00692), where *Martin (S00050) kissed the face of a leper and healed him. The comparison of Romanus with Martin is strongly and explicitly emphasised by the author. Geneva is about halfway between Condat and Agaune, so it would have been a natural point for Romanus and Palladius to make for on each leg of their journey. This story is also related (with some notable differences in detail) by Gregory of Tours in his Life of the Fathers (E00003).


Edition: Martine, F., Vie des pères du Jura (Sources Chrétiennes 142; Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1968). English translation: Vivian, T., Vivian, K., and Russell, J.B. The Life of the Jura Fathers (Cistercian Studies Series 178; Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1999). Further reading: Massai, F., "‘La «Vita patrum iurensium» et les débuts du monachisme à Saint-Maurice d’Agaune," in: J. Autenrieth and F. Brunhölzl (eds.), Festschrift Bernard Bischoff zu seinem 65. Geburtstag (Stuttgart, 1971), 43-69. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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