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E06862: Constantius of Lyon, in his Life of *Germanus (bishop of Auxerre, ob. c. 448, S00455), written in Latin at Lyon (central Gaul) between c. 460 and c. 480, describes how during Germanus' visit to Britain in 429, a fire miraculously avoided the house where he was staying.

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posted on 2018-10-13, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Constantius of Lyon, Life of Germanus of Auxerre 16

For a full account of Constantius' Life of Germanus, see $E05841.

This incident takes place in Britain, during Germanus' visit in 429, after he and his colleague Lupus of Troyes have defeated the British Pelagians and visited the shrine of St Alban at Verulamium (E05846).

Vnde dum redeunt insidiator inimicus, casualibus laqueis praeparatis, Germani pedem lapsus occasione contriuit, ignorans merita illius sicut lob beatissimi adflictione corporis propaganda. Et dum aliquamdiu uno in loco infirmitatis necessitate constringitur in uicinia qua manebat casuale exarsit incendium. Quod consumptis domibus, quae illic palustri arundine tegebantur, ad illud tabernaculum in quo idem iacebat flabris stimulantibus ferebatur. Concursus omnium ad antistitem conuolauit ut, eleuatis manibus, periculum quod imminebat, euaderet; qui, omnibus increpatis, moueri se fidei praesumptione non passus est. Multitudo omnis, desperatione perterrita obuiam occurrit incendio. Sed ut Dei potentia manifestior appareret, quicquid custodire temptauerat turba igne consumitur; quod uero iacens et infirmus defenderat, reseruatur. Hospitium sancti uiri expauescens flamma transiliuit, ultra citraque desaeuiens, et inter globos flammantis incendii incolome tabernaculum, quod habitator inclusus seruabat, emicuit. Exultat turba miraculo et uictam se diuinis uirtutibus gratulatur.

'As they were returning [from Verulamium], a demon, lying in wait, contrived an accident that caused Germanus to fall and injure his foot. Little did it realise that this bodily misfortune, like those of the blessed Job, would advance him in holiness. The Bishop was detained by his injury in one place for a considerable period, in the course of which a fire accidentally broke out close to where he was staying. It had burnt several houses, which in those parts are roofed with reeds, and was being carried by the wind to the one in which he was himself lying. Everybody rushed to the prelate to carry him out of danger. But he rebuked them and, strong in faith, refused to be moved. The crowd in desperation ran to meet the flames. But, the better to display the power of God, everything the crowd tried to save was burnt and what the injured man on his bed guarded was preserved. Shrinking from the house where he was a guest, the flames leaped over it and, although they raged on either side of it, there glittered unharmed amid the furnaces a tabernacle intact, preserved by the occupant within. The people were overjoyed at the miracle and thankful that their intentions had been defeated by God's power.'

This incident is followed by the one discussed in $E07553.

Text: Borius 1965. Translation: Hoare 1954.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, ob. c. 448 : S00455

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)

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

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Crowds


Germanus of Auxerre (PCBE 4, 'Germanus 1', pp. 878-883) was the most important and revered episcopal saint of 5th century Gaul. The Life of Germanus was written at an uncertain date, some years after Germanus' death, which is traditionally dated to 448 (but some scholars would place up to twelve years earlier). The Life was probably written at some point between about 465 and 480. The author was Constantius (PCBE 4, 'Constantius 3', pp. 521-522), a literary figure, possibly a cleric, attested as active in Lyon in the 460s and 470s. For full discussion of the issues relating to the authorship and date of the Life of Germanus, see E05841.


Editions: Borius, R., Constance de Lyon, Vie de saint Germain d'Auxerre (Sources chrétiennes 112; Paris, 1965), with French translation. Levison, W., Vita Germani episcopi Autissiodorensis auctore Constantio, in: Passiones vitaeque sanctorum aevi Merovingici V (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 7; Hannover and Leipzig, 1919), 246-283. English translation: Hoare, F.R., The Western Fathers (London, 1954), 283-320. Reprinted in T.F.X. Noble and T. Head (eds.), Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints' Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (University Park PA, 1995), 75-106.

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