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E07039: 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 Germanus restored the ability of a farmer's cocks to crow by giving them corn he had blessed.

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posted on 2018-11-02, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Constantius of Lyon, Life of Germanus of Auxerre 11

For a full account of Constantius' Life of Germanus, see $E05841. This passage follows the one discussed in $E07552.

Neque illud omittendum uidetur, quod in eodem itinere, post dies aliquot, noctis caecitate conpulsus, mediocrium personarum successit hospitio; nam id maxime, ambitum refugiens, requirebat. Cumque in diuino opere solito pernoctasset officio, lux orta est nullis gallorum cantibus nuntiata, cum earum auium copia in hisdem domibus non deesset. Causam nouitatis explorat; agnoscit multum esse iam tempus, quo tristis taciturnitas naturale gallicinium damnauisset. Ab omnibus exoratus, mercedem mansionis exsoluit. Acceptum enim triticum benedictione condiuit, quo pastae auiculae auditus habitantium usque ad molestiam frequentatis cantibus fatigabant. Ita uirtus diuina etiam in rebus minimis maxima praeeminebat.

'Another incident deserves to be recounted that took place some days later on the same journey. Oncoming darkness had compelled the Bishop to seek hospitality, and his hosts were quite humble people, a thing which he greatly preferred, as he shunned ostentation. When he had spent the night according to his custom in the recitation of the divine office, the sun rose, but no crowing of cocks heralded it, although there were numbers of these birds about the place. He enquired the cause of this novelty and was told that for a long time now, the natural habits of the cocks had given way to a melancholy silence. Everybody asked for his help, so he made return for their hospitality. He took some corn and seasoned it with a blessing and when the birds had eaten it they wearied the ears of the household almost to distraction by their constant crowing. Thus the power of God reveals its greatness even in the smallest things.'

This passage concludes Constantius' narrative of miracles local to Arles. It is followed by his account of Germanus' first visit to Britain (§§ 12-18), in which the first miraculous event occurs during Germanus' crossing of the Channel: E06024.

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 Miracle with animals and plants

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Peasants


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.


This incident is narrated during part of the Life (§§ 7-11) in which Constantius narrates miracles which took place in Germanus' see of Auxerre (most of the Life is devoted to events that take place elsewhere). This follows on immediately from the story of the haunted house (E07552), and is said by Constantius to have taken place on the same journey.


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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