University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E07771: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (6.29), describes how a dying nun at the monastery of Radegund at Poitiers had a vision of *Michael (the Archangel, S00181), whose presence was confirmed by a possessed man, c. 583. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 583/594.

online resource
posted on 2019-09-06, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 6.29


A nun at Radegund's monastery named Disciola, the niece of Bishop Salvius of Albi, was at the point of death from sickness. She suddenly exclaimed, ‘Give me your blessing, holy messenger from God on high. This is the third time today that you have taken the trouble to visit me. Why, holy one, do you take such pains for a poor, feeble woman?’ (Benedic mihi, sanctae ac famulae Dei excelsi; ecce enim iam tertio fatigaris hodiae mei causa! Et cur, sanctae, pro infirma muliercula crebras iniurias sustenis?) She did not tell the other nuns who she was speaking to, but soon laughed and then immediately died.

A man possessed by a demon had come to the convent in the hope of being healed by its relic of the True Cross. Through him, the demon began to exclaim angrily about how Disciola had escaped from 'our power' (de potestate nostra). When the nuns asked what he meant, he replied 'Michael the angel has just received that girl's soul, and he is even now carrying it off to heaven. My own master, whom you call the Devil, has no share in her at all!' (Ecce anima puellae Michahel angelus suscepit, et ipsi eam ad caelos evexit. Princeps vero noster, quem vos diabolum nominatis, nihil in ea participatur).

After this story, Gregory goes on to describe how another nun in the monastery became an anchoress after having a vision of Christ.

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 295-297. Translation: Thorpe 1974, adapted. Summary: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • 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)

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Tours

Cult Activities - Miracles

Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Assumption/otherworldly journey

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Women Demons Angels


Gregory of Tours wrote the Histories (Historiae) during his episcopate in Tours (573–594). They constitute the longest and most detailed historical work of the post-Roman West. Gregory's focus is Gaul under its Frankish kings, above all the territories of Tours and (to a lesser extent) Clermont, where he had been born and brought up. Much of his work tells of the years when, as bishop of an important see, he was himself centrally involved in Frankish politics. The Histories are often wrongly referred to as a History of the Franks. Although the work does contain a history of the rulers of Francia, it also includes much hagiographical material, and Gregory himself gave it the simple title the 'ten books of Histories' (decem libri historiarum), when he produced a list of his own writings (Histories 10.31). The Histories consist of ten books whose scope and contents differ considerably. Book 1 skims rapidly through world history, with biblical and secular material from the Creation to the death in AD 397 of Martin of Tours (Gregory’s hero and predecessor as bishop). It covers 5596 years. In Book 2, which covers 114 years, the focus moves firmly into Gaul, covering the years up to the death of Clovis in 511. Books 3 and 4, which cover 37 and 27 years respectively, then move fairly swiftly on, closing with the death of king Sigibert in 575. With Book 5, through to the final Book 10, the pace slows markedly, and the detail swells, with only between two and four years covered in each of the last six books, breaking off in 591. These books are organised in annual form, based on the regnal years of Childebert II (r. 575-595/6). There continues to be much discussion over when precisely Gregory wrote specific parts of the Histories, though there is general agreement that none of it was written before 575 and, of course, none of it after Gregory's death, which is believed to have occurred in 594. Essentially, scholars are divided over whether Gregory wrote the Histories sequentially as the years from 575 unfolded, with little or no revision thereafter, or whether he composed the whole work over the space of a few years shortly before his death and after 585 (see Murray 2015 for the arguments on both sides). For an understanding of the political history of the time, and Gregory's attitude to it, precisely when the various books were written is of great importance; but for what he wrote about the saints, the precise date of composition is of little significance, because Gregory's attitude to saints, their relics and their miracles did not change significantly during his writing-life. We have therefore chosen to date Gregory's writing of our entries only within the broadest possible parameters: with a terminus post quem of 575 for the early books of the Histories, and thereafter the year of the events described, and a terminus ante quem of 594, set by Gregory's death. (Bryan Ward-Perkins, David Lambert) For general discussions of the Histories see: Goffart, W., The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D. 550–800): Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon (Princeton, 1988), 119–127. Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative," in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden and Boston, 2015), 63–101. Pizarro, J.M., "Gregory of Tours and the Literary Imagination: Genre, Narrative Style, Sources, and Models in the Histories," in: Murray, A Companion to Gregory of Tours, 337–374.


Edition: Krusch, B., and Levison, W., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Libri historiarum X (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.1; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1951). Translation: Thorpe, L., Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks (Penguin Classics; London, 1974). Further reading: Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative", in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston 2015), 63-101. 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