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E05925: In the anonymous Life of the Jura Fathers, the author recounts how Syagria, a woman from Lyon (eastern Gaul), was healed through a letter from *Eugendus (ascetic in the Jura mountains, ob. 512/515, S02182); 496/510 in Lyon (central 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 kwojtalik
The Life of the Jura Fathers 145-146 (Life of Saint Eugendus the Abbot)

Materfamilias quondam Siagria nunc quoque ecclesiarum monasteriorumque per eleemosynam mater, cum graui obsessa incommodo iam iamque haberetur a medicis desperata, epistulam beati uiri, quae casu ad eam delata peruenerat, de amariolo sibi vice dexterae beati uiri exosculandam praecepit adtingi. Cumque adprehensam,contactis ex eadem cum oratione oculis, lacrimis quoque haut minime deciduis infecisset, ori dehinc insertam aliquantisper dentibus cum oratione constringens, mox, recuperata sanitate, surrexit. Quo gaudio atque miraculo non solum ipsa suique, uerum etiam civitas maxima Lugdunensium exultatione mira releuata atque laetata est.

'Syagria, formerly mother of a family and now through her almsgiving mother of churches and monasteries, was beset with a serious illness, and the doctors considered her prognosis desperate. Opportunely, she had received from the blessed man a letter which had been delivered to her; she ordered it to be taken from her cupboard so that she could touch and kiss it as though it were the right hand of the blessed man. Taking the letter, she held it to her eyes with a prayer soaking it with a great many fallen tears; then she put the letter in her mouth for a while, gripping it with her teeth while praying; soon she recovered her health and stood up. With what joy and wonder, with what wonderful exultation, what relief did they rejoice, not only she and her household, but even the great city of Lyon!'

Text: Martine 1968, 394 and 396. Translation: Vivian et al. 1999, 169, adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eugendus, ascetic in the Jura mountains in Gaul, ob. AD 510 : S02182

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 - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives


Cult Activities - Relics

Handwriting of a saint Touching and kissing relics


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)


Another instance of a letter from Eugendus having miraculous effects (see E05923, E05924, E05945). The author's account of the healing of Syagria evokes an incident in the Life of Martin by Sulpicius Severus (E00692) in which a girl is healed by a letter which Martin had written to her father (Life of Martin 19): the allusion is clearly deliberate since the author uses language which is almost a direct quotation, referring to Syagria's letter as epistulam beati viri quae casu ad eam delata peruenerat ('the letter of the blessed man, which had opportunely come to her'), while the Life of Martin has epistulam Martini quae casu ad eum delata fuerat ('the letter of Martin which had opportunely been brought to him'). The letter possessed by Syagria may well have been one of those mentioned in § 139 (E05923), which were sought by powerful people for their protective powers.


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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