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E07865: Gregory of Tours, in the prologue to his Miracles of the Blessed Apostle Andrew, explains his reasons for editing and rewriting an existing account of miracles carried out by *Andrew (the Apostle, S00288). Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 585/594.

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posted on 2020-03-23, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Gregory of Tours, Miracles of the Blessed Apostle Andrew (Liber de miraculis beati Andreae apostoli, BHL 430)

Inclita sanctorum apostolorum trophea nulli credo latere fidelium, quia quaedam exinde euangelica dogmata docent, quaedam apostolici actus narrant, de quibusdam vero extant libri, in quibus propriae actiones eorum denotantur. De plerisque enim nihil aliud nisi passionum scripta suscipimus. Nam repperi librum de virtutibus sancti Andreae apostoli, qui propter nimiam verbositatem a nonnullis apocrifus dicebatur; de quo placuit, ut, retractis enucleatisque tantum virtutibus, praetermissis his quae fastidium generabant, uno tantum parvo volumine admiranda miracula clauderentur, quod et legentibus praestaret gratiam et detrahentium auferret invidiam, quia inviolatam fidem non exegit multitudo verbositatis, sed integritas rationis et puritas mentis.

'The illustrious victories of the holy apostles, I believe, go unnoticed by none of the faithful, because the evangelical teachings [i.e. the Gospels] impart some of them, the Acts of the Apostles narrate others, while about some there exist books in which the individual acts of these men are written down. While about many we have received nothing except the accounts of their martyrdoms, I have discovered a book about the miracles of the holy apostle Andrew, which was said by many, because of its excessive verbosity, to be apocryphal. From this it has pleased me, that, having reviewed and summarised so many miracles, and omitted those things which were causing disquiet, the wonderful miracles should be included in one rather small volume, which should both offer benefit to readers and remove ill-feeling from detractors, for it is not a multitude of verbosity that drives inviolate faith, but rather integrity of thought and purity of mind.'

For a summary of the Miracles of Andrew as a whole, see $E07877.

Text: Bonnet 1969. Translation: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Andrew, the Apostle : S00288

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles


  • 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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of specific texts


Gregory does not mention the Miracles of Andrew in the list of his works at the end of his Histories (10.31), and virtually none of the very large number of manuscripts attributes it to him. It is, however, generally accepted as Gregory's, primarily on the basis of the cross-reference at Miracles of Andrew 37 to Gregory's Glory of the Martyrs 30. Stylistic differences between the Miracles and Gregory's other works can be explained by the fact that Gregory was adapting an existing text. (For full discussion of the various issues, see Zelzer 1977; Rose 2013, 65-68.) Gregory's reference to the Glory of the Martyrs implies that the Miracles of Andrew was the later of the two works. Since Glory of the Martyrs seems to have been written between about 585 and 588, this suggests that Gregory produced the Miracles of Andrew in the late 580s or early 590s. The Miracles of Andrew was one of the most widely copied of Gregory's works: 74 manuscripts are listed in the non-exhaustive list provided by BHLms (, dating from the 9th century onwards. However, its manuscript tradition is peculiar, and differs from that of Gregory's other writings. It is almost always transmitted anonymously, usually as part of a collection known as the Virtutes apostolorum: a cycle of texts about the lives and miracles of the twelve apostles (also often referred to as the collection of Pseudo-Abdias, a non-existent author to whom it was attributed in the 16th century). The texts in the collection were of disparate origin, but seem to have been brought together by the 8th century, and thereafter the collection was regularly copied as a whole (on the collection, see Rose 2013). The Miracles of Andrew is frequently accompanied in the collection by one of the two Latin Martyrdoms of Andrew (E07881). The only modern critical edition of Gregory's text was produced in 1883 by Max Bonnet, based on ten manuscripts and an early printed edition.


The 'book about the miracles of the holy apostle Andrew' which Gregory had discovered was a Latin version of the Acts of Andrew (E07879), a work originally composed in Greek in the 2nd/3rd century. The precise changes which Gregory made are not always clear, since the Latin version of the Acts which was his immediate source does not survive, while the Greek text survives only in multiple, fragmentary recensions. It is clear, however, that the original contained elements which by the standards of Gregory's time were distinctly dubious, if not actually heretical (primarily, the original Acts of Andrew put forward a view known as 'encratite', totally rejecting marriage and reproduction). Gregory notes that the work had been condemned as apocryphal 'by many' (a nonnullis). This is confirmed by, for example, the Decretum Gelasianum (E03338), which condemns the 'Acts in the name of the Apostle Andrew' (though Gregory need not have had this particular instance in mind). Gregory's remarks show that he considered it necessary to acknowledge that he may have seemed to be promoting an unacceptable text, and to pre-empt criticism by explaining that he had removed anything objectionable. It is notable that he does not directly acknowledge that the work was doctrinally dubious, referring only to its 'excessive verbosity'. Gregory evidently considered that Andrew's miracles were unimpeachable, and the work could be rescued from its suspect status by reducing it to the narrative which related them. For further discussion of Gregory's treatment of the Acts of Andrew, see E07877.


Edition: Bonnet, M., Liber de miraculis beati Andreae apostoli, in: Gregorii episcopi Turonensis miracula et opera minora (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum 1.2; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1969), 376-396. English versions: There is no published English translation of the entire text of the Miracles of Andrew. However: MacDonald, D.R., The Acts of Andrew and the Acts of Andrew and Matthias in the City of Cannibals (SBL Texts and Translations 33; Atlanta: Scholars' Press, 1990), translates parts of Gregory's text. James, M.R., The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), 337-349, provides a very full summary of Gregory's text. Further reading: Elliott, J.K., The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993). Roig Lanzillotta, L., Acta Andreae Apocrypha: A New Perspective on the Nature, Intention and Significance of the Primitive Text (Geneva: Patrick Cramer, 2007). Rose, E., "Virtutes Apostolorum: Origin, Aim, and Use," Traditio 68 (2013), 57-96. Zelzer, K., "Zur Frage des Autors der «Miracula b. Andreae apostoli» und zur Sprache des Gregors von Tours," Grazer Beiträge 6 (1977), 217-241.

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