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E07855: In the anonymous Life of the Jura Fathers, the author describes the death of *Romanus (ascetic and monastic founder of the Jura, ob. 455/460, S00003), stating that his approaching death was revealed to Romanus by God, and that miracles take place at his tomb. Written in Latin at Condat in the Jura mountains (modern Saint-Claude in eastern Gaul), 512/525.

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posted on 2020-02-12, 00:00 authored by dlambert
The Life of the Jura Fathers 60-61 (Life of Saint Romanus the Abbot)

Cumque igitur heroam Christi, inminente transitu, longaeuitate praelata, corporea urgueret infirmitas, germanam quoque suam, quam in cingulo illo uel Balma – Gallico, ut reor, sermone sic uocitant – monasterio praefecerant puellari, de transitu, reuelatione Domino, iam securus, ad uale dicendum expetiit. Illic quoque uehementi inaequalitate pulsatus, uocatis ad se fratribus, pacem Christi, quam puro ac mansueto semper seruauit adfectu, cunctis osculo inpertito, in magna hereditate distribuit.

Vltimum quoque, germanum suum Lupicinum, data oratione, deosculans, fraternitatem cunctam pastorali amore regendam commendauit adtentius et, purus a noxa sicut liber a crimine, mortem laetus adspiciens, exhalauit. Cuius sublato corpusculo, illic in basilica supra collis uerticem, ut narratione praecurrente digessimus, filioli ex utroque monasterio condiderunt. Qui uenerabilis locus, meritorum ipsius testimonio, signorum quoque uirtutumque florente successu, diebus momentisque singulis comptius pro filiorum gloria decoratur.

'When, therefore, with death approaching him at a protracted age, bodily infirmity beset the hero of Christ and he sought out his sister in order to say good-bye to her, since he was now assured by a revelation of the Lord of his coming departure. (They had appointed her head of the monastery for women in that area of the stone arch or 'Balma' – I believe this is what they call it in the Gallic language.) Stricken there by a violent illness, Romanus summoned the brothers to him, and he passed on to them as a great legacy the peace of Christ that he had always preserved through a pure and clement devotion, imparting it to each one with a kiss.

Having given his valedictory blessing, and kissing his brother Lupicinus last, he earnestly commended to him the entire community of brothers to be ruled with pastoral love. Pure of any offense as well as free from any accusation, and contemplating death with joy, he expired. His poor body was borne to the basilica, and there, at the top of the hill (as I related in the previous narrative), his dear sons from both monasteries buried him. This venerable place, witness to the merits of this man, blooms with a succession of signs and powerful acts. It is adorned more and more abundantly each day, at every moment, to the glory of Romanus' children.'

Text: Martine 1968, 305, 307. Translation: Vivian et al. 1999, 130-131.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Romanus and Lupicinus, brothers and founders of the Jura monasteries, mid 5th c. : S00003

Saint Name in Source


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 - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Unspecified miracle Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots


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)


For the foundation of the church in which Romanus was buried see E05904, and for an account of miracles which later took place at his tomb see E05901. The date of Romanus' death is not attested directly, but it is assumed to have been at some point in the mid to late 450s. Romanus was still abbot of Condat when Eugendus joined the community as a child in the mid 450s (see E05921), but was apparently dead by the time of the trial of Count Agrippinus (see E05919), which took place at an uncertain point during the reign of the emperor Majorian (457-461).


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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