University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E05919: In the anonymous Life of the Jura Fathers, the author describes how Agrippinus, Count of Gaul, was released from prison with the help of *Lupicinus (late 5th-century ascetic of the Jura, S00003); in Gaul and Rome in 460/480. Written in Latin at Condat in the Jura mountains (modern Saint-Claude in eastern Gaul), about 512/520.

online resource
posted on 2018-07-08, 00:00 authored by dlambert
The Life of the Jura Fathers 96-110 (Life of Saint Lupicinus the Abbot)


96. Lupicinus once brought it about through prayer in his monastery that a friend was released from imprisonment in Rome. Many older people remember this (quod longevos forsitan meminisses non ambigo). Count Agrippinus was accused before the emperor by Aegidius, the military commander (magister militum) in Gaul, of secretly trying to hand over provinces to the barbarians.

97-9. Agrippinus became aware of the plot against him. Aegidius gave him deceitful assurances that all would be well. Agrippinus told Aegidius that if this was true then Aegidius should accept Lupicinus as guarantor (fideiussor) of his promise, which Aegidius did.

100. Agrippinus travelled to Rome, where, without having the chance to defend himself, he was sentenced to death by the emperor and thrown into prison to await execution.

101. Lupicinus was immediately aware of Agrippinus' imprisonment:

Ad vero sanctum Lupicinum confestim facinus omne non latuit, nam et memoratus Agripinus iugi suggestione fideiussorem suum conveniebat in spiritum.

'Lupicinus knew right away all about the villainy because the above-mentioned Agrippinus was by constant petition through the Spirit asking for his pledge and surety.'

102-4. Lupicinus prayed unceasingly and imposed constant penance on himself, eating only uncooked cabbage-hearts and turnips. One night he came to the imprisoned Agrippinus in a vision (per visionem), and pointed to the corner of his cell, telling him to loosen the stone there and crawl out. Agrippinus woke and loosened the stone, revealing a way out through which he crawled. He wished to take refuge in the shrine of Saint Peter (ad refugium apostolica limina expeteret) but did not know how to get there, and sought directions (§ 104):

Cocullo ergo capiti obducto, quo iret, poenitus ignorabat. Interea ad dextram prospiciens, veteranum quendam religiosum monachum, se mentiens peregrinum, qualiter ad basilicam apostolici culminis recte possit pergere, percontatus est. At ille: 'Per Vaticanum', quo nunc famosissimo in publicis porticibus loco cellulae debilium ex uno sunt latere contignate [...]

'With his head covered by a cowl, he had no idea where he was going. Meanwhile, looking to the right, he saw a certain venerable and God-fearing monk; pretending to be a pilgrim, he asked how he could get directly to the basilica of the chief of the Apostles. The monk responded: "By way of the Vatican", that most famous place, where on one side of the public porticos small shelters have now been pieced together for the sick [...]'

105. He entered St Peter's basilica (sancti Petri basilicam), where he prostrated himself, praying for forgiveness for his sins, and release from his current plight. During the night, Lupicinus again appeared to him in a vision (per visionem). Agrippinus rejoiced at his escape, but admitted that he was very hungry. Lupicinus promised that he would send food to him at daybreak.

106. At dawn, a senator's wife (senatrix) turned from the tomb of the Apostle after praying (a confessione apostoli post orationem verteret) and noticed Agrippinus. Judging him to be a pilgrim, and also someone of no humble family (non exigue familae), she told her servant to give him two solidi and promised to come back with more.

107-110. Agrippinus bought some food at the market, then returned to the outer courtyard (atrium exterius) of St Peter's. There he heard some men from the palace discussing his case, and joined the conversation without revealing his identity. They said that following his escape, everyone regretted the unjust way he had been treated and was afraid of what he might do if he returned to Gaul: if he were now found he would be treated with the greatest honour. Agrippinus then revealed who he was. The emperor and the people rejoiced at the news; Agrippinus was showered with gifts and acquitted of all the charges.

[...] Nec mora praesentatus Augusto est, publicata accusatione, suspicione solutus est, atque ad Gallias repedans, haec quae retulimus auditu, Christi servo prostratus gratias referens, quoram omnibus retulit.

'He was presented to the emperor without delay; the charges were publicly presented and he was cleared of suspicion. He returned to Gaul and, prostrate before the servant of Christ, he gave thanks, and related before everyone the events I have recounted here.'

Text: Martine 1968, 342-354. Translations: Vivian et al. 1999, 148-150, 152 (adapted). Summary: David Lambert/Katarzyna Wojtalik.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Romanus and Lupicinus, brothers and founders of the Jura monasteries, mid 5th c. : S00003 Peter the Apostle : S00036

Saint Name in Source

Lupicinus Peter

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


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money) Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Freeing prisoners, exiles, captives, slaves

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots Aristocrats Officials Women Other lay individuals/ people


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)


Agrippinus and Aegidius, military commanders in Gaul in the 450s and 460s, are both well-attested in multiple sources (see PLRE II, 'Aegidius' and 'Agrippinus'), but the events presented here – not just the miraculous elements, but the entire story of Agrippinus' accusation, trial, and escape – are unique to the Life of Lupicinus. The depiction of Aegidius as someone with influence over the emperor implies that it must have taken place during the reign of Majorian (457-461), since Aegidius is known to have been close to him but hostile to his successor. (This also forms the basis of the conjectural but generally accepted supposition that Lupicinus' elder brother Romanus died no later than c. 460, on the assumption that the lack of any reference to him in the narrative implies that he had died by the time these events took place.) It is interesting to consider the author's source for the story. He mentions that old people (longaevos) would still remember it, which is just about possible: the events would have occurred some fifty to sixty years before the probable date of the Life's composition. However, the considerable detail in the author's narrative (not all of which is given in this summary) seems to suggest that it was based on a written account of some kind, rather than merely the reminiscences of older monks. Apart from its account of Lupicinus' miraculous intervention in high politics, the passage is notable for its references to St Peter's basilica at Rome and its surroundings, including features of cult such as prayer at the Apostle's tomb, and the presence in the porticoes around St Peter's basilica of cells or huts for the sick (cellulae debilium).


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).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity