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E05924: In the anonymous The Life of the Jura Fathers, written in Latin, the author recounts how a demon was expelled from a girl through a letter from *Eugendus (ascetic in the Jura mountains, ob. 512/515, S02182); 495/515 in Gaul. Written in Latin at Condat in the Jura mountains (modern Saint-Claude in eastern Gaul), c. 515/520.

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posted on 2018-07-08, 00:00 authored by dlambert
The Life of the Jura Fathers 141-144 (Life of Saint Eugendus the Abbot)


141. A girl in a district called Secundiacum was seized by a demon (daemonius), which was so violent that she had to be bound by iron chains. As is customary (ut solet) people tried to heal her by tying written formulas of exorcism around her neck (exorcismorum scripta nexae cervicibus necterentur), but the demon calumniated the persons who had written the formulas of exorcism by giving their names and their vices. Someone present addressed the possessed girl (inerguminam).

142. He warned the demon that he would expel it by tying around the girl's neck a written exorcism in the name of all the saints (cunctorum quoque, si potuero, scripta sanctorum). The demon replied as follows:

'Tu mihi', inquit diabolus, 'Alexandrina, si placet, cartarum onera exarata inponas, numquam tamen ex obtento vasculo poteris propulsare, dummodo solius Eugendi Iurensis monachi ex hoc non adferas iussionem'.

'"You may if you like," said the demon "place on me a heavy weight of inscribed Alexandrian papyri, but you will never be able to drive me out of this vessel I have obtained if you do not bring the order of Eugendus alone, the Jura monk".'

143. Then some of these people went to Eugendus and asked for his help. He wrote a brief letter, together with a long prayer, as the great Gregory [Gregory Thaumaturgus] once did with Apollo.

144. In the letter, Eugendus ordered the demon to leave the girl in the name of Jesus Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Praying and folding the letter, he gave it to the suppliants to be taken to the girl, but when they had not yet gone half away, the girl was healed.

Text: Martine 1968, 388, 390, 392 and 394. Summary: Katarzyna Wojtalik/David Lambert. Translation: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eugendus, ascetic in the Jura mountains in Gaul, ob. AD 510 : S02182 Gregory the Miracle-Worker (Taumatourgos), bishop and missionary in Pontus, ob. c. 270 : S00687 All Saints : S01151

Saint Name in Source

Eugendus Gregorius Magnus

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Other lay individuals/ people Demons

Cult Activities - Relics

Handwriting of a saint


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)


This is one of a number of passages in the Life of Eugendus which relate how letters which he wrote had miraculous powers of protection, healing, or exorcism (see also E05923, E05925, E05945). The depiction of Eugendus' letters as having these powers echoes an incident in the Life of Martin in which a girl is healed by a letter from Martin: for full discussion, see E05925. The passage also describes how people attempted to exorcise the possessed girl at Secundiacum (the location of which is unknown, but which must have been in the general region of the Jura) by attaching what the author calls 'exorcism texts' (exorcismorum scripta) to her neck, at least one of which was to have been in the name of 'all the saints' (cunctorum scripta sanctorum). Contrary to the author's claim that this practice was customary, it is actually difficult to find precise parallels for it: the letters evidently functioned as a kind of amulet, but one that would actively expel a demon, not just provide protection. It is notable that the demon describes such documents as 'Alexandrian', implying that when the kind of written amulets and magical texts known from Egypt circulated in the West, they were seen as being characteristically Egyptian. In the passage the author mentions a similar story, in which Gregory the Miracle-Worker (S00687) spent the night in a temple of Apollo and wrote a letter to the god. His source is Rufinus, Historia ecclesiastica 5.25.


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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