Gregory of Tours: Life of the Fathers

Gregory of Tours
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The Lord nourishes them with spiritual food, under the yoke of discipline, but they now lack bodily food. This is why we implore Your Potency that you might give us something for our food and clothing. In VP J the visit to Chilperic was made on behalf of poor people who were being oppressed by a palace official. Gregory has no echo of the diatribe which VP J puts into the mouth of Lupicinus; VPJ does not mention the favours which the king bestowed on the Jura monasteries.

Martine dates this visit to Geneva to c.

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This text shows him in court at Geneva where the praetorium building which he must have used has been excavated by L. Gerzeve, ii , pp. A few years later. As Wood has pointed out Wood pp. It is significant that here Gregory, unlike VP J, simply bestows on him the title of king, the constitutional niceties of the fifth century being long forgotten: cf. It does not suit monks to live by worldly riches; they ought rather to find in the humility of their heart the kingdom of God and His justice.

Even now they receive all this, it is said, from the estates of the fisc. Later, when Abbot Lupicinus and Romanus were old men advanced in age, Lupicinus said to his brother, "Tell me, in which monastery do you want your burial place to be prepared, so that we may rest together? As you know, the Lord has given me the grace of bringing cures, although I am unworthy and do not deserve it, and many have been snatched from various illnesses by the imposition of my hands and the power of the Lord's cross.


Thus many people will gather at my tomb when I leave the light of this life. That is why I ask to rest far from the monastery. Many miracles are now accomplished there in the name of God: the blind find the light, the deaf their hearing, the paralysed the use of their limbs. Abbot Lupicinus was buried in the basilica of the monastery, 12 and he thus left to the Lord greatly multiplied the sums which had been lent to him, that is to say, the blessed congregations of monks devoted to His praise.

Of Lauconnum. About St lllidius, a confessor Among the other seeds of perpetual life with which the heavenly Sower has from the fountain of His divinity watered the field of the untutored soul with His precepts and fertilised it with His teaching, He says: "And he that taketh not his cross and followeth me, is not worthy of me" Matthew 1 And that elect vessel, the blessed apostle Paul, has he not said, "Always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in your mortal body" II Corinth. Therefore the confessors of Christ, whom the time of persecution has not provoked to martyrdom, have become their own persecutors, in order to be thought worthy of God.

They have charged themselves with various crosses of abstinence, and in order to live with Jesus Christ they have mortified their flesh, following the words of the Apostle: "It is not I who live, but Christ liveth in me" Galat. For they saw by the eyes of their inner understanding that the Lord of the Heavens came down to earth, not abased by humility, but humiliated by His mercy, for the redemption of the world; they saw hanging from the cross, not the glory of the Divinity, but the pure sacrifice of the body which He had taken on, as St John had foreseen shortly before: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" John 1 They had in them the mark of the nails when, transfixed by fear of Him and filled with terror of the judgements of God, they did not have within the habitation of their heart anything unworthy of His power.

In them shone that bright light of the resurrection, with which the angel glittered when he removed the stone from the tomb; Jesus was thus resplendent when he entered unexpectedly, for the doors were closed into the midst of the assembly of the apostles, and also when, after filling them with the words of life, he was raised up to the celestial heights.

The blessed confessor Illidius so placed all these things in the tabernacle of his heart that he too might deserve to become a temple of the Holy Spirit. As I prepare to write something of his life, I beg the indulgence of my readers. And now, having displayed all the temerity of my rustic ignorance, I am going to tell as well as I can what I have learnt of the blessed Illidius.

The holy Illidius, who recommended himself by perfect sanctity of life and who accumulated in himself the gift of diverse graces bestowed on him by God, merited what until then had not been granted to his already lofty sanctity: he was chosen, by the inspiration of God and the choice of the people, as bishop of the church of Clermont and pastor of the Lord's sheep.

Finally the rum our of his glory came to the ears of the emperor at Trier, whose daughter suffered much, being possessed by a devil; no-one could be found to cast it out. Immediately the emperor sent messengers, who speedily brought the holy old man to Trier by royal authority. He is received 1. Avitus was bishop of Clermont from c. Gregory's intellectual debt to Avitus when the latter was archdeacon is mentioned in Venantius Fortunatus' poem on A vitus' conversion of the Jews in Clermont, addressed to Gregory: Carm.

V 5 "It is not enough for you yourself to praise his virtues; you compel others to praise them too. It was not in vain that he raised you up as a pupil, for your heart has remained faithful to him and you return the love which he showed you. May God grant that for generations to come you give praise to him, and he to you. On Gregory's lack of grammatical knowledge, cf. The holy bishop, trusting in the Lord, prostrates himself in prayer. He passed an entire night singing sacred hymns and songs, and then put his fingers into the mouth of the young girl and chased out the evil spirit which had tormented her body.

The emperor sees this miracle, and offers the holy bishop great heaps of gold and silver. He vehemently refused this gift, but he asked for and obtained that the city of the Auvergne, which paid tribute in kind, in wheat and wine, should pay it in gold, for it was only with great trouble that the tribute in kind could be transported to the imperial treasury. Since people are very accustomed to criticise, someone will perhaps foolishly say, "It is not possible for a man to be ranked among the saints just for this one miracle. Assuredly He means that the virtue which comes from the tomb is much more worthy of praise than those things which a living person has worked in this world, because the latter could be blemished by the continual difficulties of worldly occupations, while the former were certainly free from all blemish.

And since, as we believe, the deeds done by St Illidius before his death have been forgotten and have not come to our knowledge, we will tell what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have experienced, or what we have learnt from 4. Tax-commutation of this kind was common from the late fourth century onwards: see Jones p. Perhaps the story came about in order to explain why the Auvergne paid taxes in this manner.

He died in either or , since Nepotianus was bishop of Clermont at the synod of Trier in His death was celebrated on June 5; his tomb had a basilica built over it, probably in the fifth century, which was enlarged by Avitus in the s or s and survived until its burning by Pippin in For some sculptural survivals from the church of St-Allyre, see V-T, no.

Gregory of Tours

At the time when Gallus governed the church of Clermont, the author of these words, still a boy, was seriously ill; and he was often visited by the bishop, who loved him much, and was indeed his uncle. Then there came to the child a desire which, I believe, came from God, that he might be carried to the church of the blessed Illidius. He was carried by servants to the tomb of the saint, and, mingling prayers with his tears, he felt much more at ease than he had before.

But when he returned home he was again taken by the fever. Then, one day when he found himself even more ill and when the fever was stronger than usual, to the point that it was thought that he would never recover, his mother came to him and said, "Today, my sweet son, I will be full of sadness, for you are so ill. And so he was taken to the tomb of the saint, and he addressed a pmyer to the Lord, freely promising that if he were delivered of his sickness by the intercession of the bishop, he would at once become a cleric. Hardly had he spoken when he felt his fever begin to leave him; he called his servant and asked to be taken home.

There he was put to bed, and while the house was at table, he had a great nose-bleed, and as the blood flowed the fever left him. This was certainly obtained by the merits of the blessed confessor. As for what has happened with his relics, this is what the same writer has seen with his own eyes. He had dedicated an oratory in the bishop's house at Tours, in the first year of his episcopate, in which 6.

Gallus was bishop from c. He was Gregory's uncle, the brother of Gregory's father Aorentius. The count of Clermont, possibly the successor to Firminus: see Selle-Horsbach , p. He did indeed find them to be damp, and so he took them from the altar and began to dry them at a fire. And he wrapped them each up in turn, and then came to the relics of the blessed bishop Illidius, and held them to the fire. The string which bound them was too long, and fell onto the burning coals: like copper or iron it began to redden in the heart of the fire. Not worrying much about the string as long as the sacred relics were dried properly, he thought that it would have been burnt up in the flames; nevertheless when he draws it out the string is unharmed.

Seeing this he is astonished, and marvels at the power of this truly blessed bishop. And it was not without great fear that he brought away news of this deed, and revealed his glory to all. The string in question was made of wool. This child was afflicted by a very grave illness. The mother wept, not so much for the death of the child as for the fact that he had not yet been anointed by the sacrament of baptism.

Finally, having taken advice, she went to the tomb of the blessed confessor, laid the sick child, who barely breathed, on the ground, and kept watch with vigils and prayers in front of the saint's tomb. Then, as the bird which announces the coming of day sang loudly and beat its wings, the child, who had been stretched out unconscious, awoke and shows by a laugh the joy of his heart; he opened his mouth and calls his mother, saying, "Come here! The child drank the water which was given to him 8. See V-T, no. The text of this chapter is found intact only in manuscript 4.

Then he returned to the first wailings of infancy, and never spoke again until he reached that age at which children are accustomed to loosen their tongues in speech. I do not think that I should be silent about what happened once when a furnace was lit to heat the lime for the church. The lintel which strengthened the opening of the furnace broke, while all those who were there, including the abbot of the place, were asleep. At that moment the abbot saw in a dream a bishop who said to him, "Hasten to awake those who sleep, in case the imminent collapse harms anyone.

The lintel which holds up the mass of stones is about to fall into the fire. Then the abbot, after having prayed at the tomb of the saint, had the supports repaired and the stones replaced, and the work of the furnace could begin again, thanks to the bishop.

The blessed body of the confessor had formerly been buried in a crypt, but, as the building was narrow and difficult of access, St Avitus, bishop of the town, had built an apse of circular shape and admirable workmanship, and sought for the blessed bones, fmding them in a coffin made of wooden planks.

He took them up, wrapped them up in a suitable linen cloth, and, according to custom, enclosed them in a sarcophagus; he filled up the crypt and placed the sarcophagus at a higher level. In this place also Justus lies, a man just in both name and deed, who is said to have been the archdeacon of this glorious pontiff. There are many other miracles reported of this same saint, which I thought would be too long to relate; I think that what I have said will suffice for a perfect faith, since the man for whom little things are not enough will not be convinced by great things.

In fact, at the This information about Justus is repeated in LH I It is clear from the tenth-century Libellus de ecclesiis Claromontanis ed. ILLIDIUS 17 tomb of the saint the blind are given light, demons are chased away, the deaf receive hearing and the lame the use of their limbs, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who promises to believers that He will give to those who ask and who do not doubt the success of their prayers. About St Abraham, an abbot I do not believe that there is a catholic who does not know that the Lord says in the Gospel: "Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith and doubt not, and if you say to this mountain, Be thou removed; it shall be done" Matthew And "All that you ask in my name, believe that you will receive it and it will come to you" Mark 11 There is no reason to doubt that the saints can obtain from the Lord whatever they ask, because the faith which is in them is solid and cannot be shaken by the waves of hesitation.

And in this faith not only have they been banned from their own country because they desired to lead a celestial life, but they have even gone to foreign countries beyond the sea, in order more to please Him to whom they have committed their lives. Such was the case in our days with the blessed abbot Abraham, who after many temptations of the world made his way to the Auvergne. And it is not without good reason that he is compared in the greatness of his faith to that old man Abraham, to whom God had said, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, unto a land that I will shew thee" Genesis And he left not only his own country, but also the life of the Old Man, and he put on the New Man, formed according to God in justice, holiness and truth.

This is why, when he saw himself perfect in the work of God, he did not hesitate in his faith to search for what he was confident of obtaining by a holy life, and through him the Author of Heaven, of the sea and of earth deigned to work miracles - not numerous indeed, but worthy of admiration. This Abraham, then, was born on the banks of the river Euphrates, where, advanced in the work of God, he conceived the desire to go into the wilderness of Egypt to visit the hermits. He languished there for five years, until he was delivered by an angel. Desiring then to visit western shores, he came to the Auvergne, and established a III.

Then, when the feast of this church had come, he told the prior to prepare a jar of wine, as usual, in the forecourt of the church, for the refreshment of the people who were at the ceremonies. The monk complained, saying, "Look, you've invited the bishop, the duke and the citizens, and there are scarcely four jars of wine left. Where are we going to get enough wine for all those people? The conscientious prior had previously measured the jar, which was a size to contain 50 measures, and had found that it contained only four hands; seeing what had happened he measured it again the following day, and found that there was as much wine in the jar as before.

The power of the saint was thus made manifest to all. He fmally died, at a great age, in the monastery, and he was buried there with honour. At that time Sidonius was bishop and the duke was Victorius, who had received the principality of seven cities by the will of Euric, king of the Goths. He was abbot in Clennont at the time of Duke Victorius and Bishop Sidonius, thus between and , Gregory mentions him in this context in Uf II 21, where he refers to "the book of his life which I have written" i.

VP Ill. St Cirgues is some m from the walls of Clennont, near the baptistery: see V-T no. A reference to the miracle perfonned by Elijah, I Kings ff. An echo of Matthew He was given the seven cities in the 14th year of Euric's reign, according to Uf II 20, therefore in on the other hand, Gregory's chronology is not too trustworthy, for in the same chapter he credits Euric with 27 years of reign. Gregory gives Victorius credit for his church-building see below, n.

Abraham died before that, as Sidonius Apollinaris says that Victorius was at Abraham's death-bed Epist. VII 17 : therefore his death was before His feastday is June The church of St Cirgues see above n. See Sidonius Apollinaris, Epist. VII He has insisted on taking the funeral almost entirely upon himself and defraying all the expenses required for the due obsequies of a priest". The epitaph itself gives a brief biography which conforms to Gregory's picture. From the cruel King of Susa [the pagan referred to by Gregory is thus the Persian ruler] thou didst fly, escaping alone to the distant land of the West.

Marvels born of his holiness followed the steps of the confessor; thyself a fugitive thou didst put to flight the spirit of evil. Wherever thy footsteps passed, the throng of lemures [kinless ghosts] cried surrender; the exile's voice bade the demons go forth into banishment. All sought thee, yet didst thou yield to no vain ambition; the honours acceptable in thy sight were those that brought the heaviest burdens In return Sidonius requested that the bishop place Abraham's monks, "now cast adrift without a leader", under a monastic rule drawn from the monasteries of Lerins or Grigny: he also suggests that Auxanius should be their abbot.

I quote from the translation of O. Dalton [Oxford, ], II pp. In fact Volusianus may have become abbot of St Cirgues after Abraham, and may be the same Vo1usianus who succeeded Perpetuus as bishop of Tours in see A. About St Quintianus Every man who knows that he possesses a body made of terrestrial matter must be careful that terrestrial and fleshly things do not become dear to him, because, as St Paul said, "the works of the flesh are manifest" Galat.

The fruit of the Spirit is all that profits and shines in God, all that here below exalts the soul by the mortification of the flesh and assures it of eternal joy in the future. Thus we who are now placed in the body must watch what God has accomplished in His saints, dwelling in whom as in a splendid, white and smooth tabernacle garlanded with the flowers of their diverse merits He has stretched out the majesty of His right hand and has deigned in His mercy to accomplish through them what they ask for.

We see this in the blessed Quintianus, of whom we shall speak, a person remarkable by his generosity and nobility of spirit, in whom the Lord has fulfilled the work of His justice. Therefore let not a striving after the things of the flesh submerge and lower us like beasts, but rather, following the saints and understanding wisely the things of God, may He lift us towards celestial and heavenly things; and may our mind not wallow in sin, conquered by shameful deeds, but let wisdom reign victorious, defending her throne for the benefits of eternity.

The blessed Quintianus, an African and, as some say, the nephew of Bishop Faustus who, it is reported, had raised his mother from the dead , 1 was a person endowed with sanctity, resplendent with virtue, heated by the fire of charity, and adorned with the flower of chastity: he was chosen bishop of Rodez, he was sought for, he was consecrated. As bishop of Rodez he attended the Visigothic council of Agde in and the Frankish Council of Orleans in this proves that Gregory's dating of his expulsion to the period before 5fJ7 in Ul II 36 is false: see n. Amantius appeared to Quintianus in a dream and said "Since you have rashly taken my bones from where they rested in peace, I shall force you from this town and you will go into exile in another land; but nevertheless you will not be deprived of the honour which you enjoy.

There the holy bishop Eufrasius, who had succeeded Bishop Aprunculus, received him and gave him houses as well as fields and vineyards. He was treated with the greatest respect by that bishop and by the bishop of Lyons. He was indeed a venerable old man and a true servant of God. Then St be suspect in Visigothic eyes. There is a Carolingian Life of St Amantius, who appears to have been bishop of Rodez not long before Quintianus himself. In Ui Gregory makes the events part of the build-up to Clovis' conquest of the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse in , with Quintianus' explusion an example of the Arian persecution of Catholics.

But a conspiracy between the bishop of Rodez and the Franks makes no sense before , when they are separated by several hundred kilometres, the border between Frank and Visigoth being until then marked roughly by the Loire. VP makes it clear that in fact Quintianus was suspected of conspiracy after , and indeed after Clovis' death in As we have seen above, n.

After that Rodez was on the northern frontiers of the Visigothic kingdom, and the Franks were keen to push further south into the kingdom. A conspiracy at this time seems perfectly plausible. Quintianus flees north into territory that has recently failed under Frankish control, the Auvergne. It looks as if Gregory in Ui has deliberately moved the event eight years or so further back, for propaganda purposes.

See I. But Quintianus pleaded with the wiser of the citizens, and all his authority was restored and he was able to protect himself from further attacks. Nevertheless, remembering the injuries which he had received, he spoke as the apostle Paul did after injuries from Alexander, saying "Proculus the publican has done us much ill; the Lord will deal with him according to his deeds.

The blessed man was assiduous in prayer, and he loved his people so much that when Theuderic came to besiege the town, 9 the 5.

Gregory as bishop

Four years after Clovis' death in Uf Ill 2: therefore in , following the traditional date of for Clovis' death. In Uf Ill 2 Gregory says that the people wanted Quintianus as bishop in , but that Alcima and Placidina, the sister and wife of Apollinaris, persuaded Quintianus to cede his place to Apollinaris since he had already been bishop once. The two women sent Apollinaris to King Theuderic, with many presents, and he received the bishopric. There is no hint of these irregularities in VP. Another indication that Gregory's version in Uf II 36 is wrong.

Gregory repons Theuderic's words also in Uf Ill 2. Although discreet about Apollinaris see previous note Gregory is happy to record in VP that Quintianus had received his bishopric at the will of the king, hence uncanonically, as Wood p. II Timothy The event is traditionally dated to , but this passage shows very clearly that Quintianus was still bishop: that is, it was or 24 LIFE OF THE FATHERS holy man of God toured the walls all night singing psalms; and so that the Lord would promptly help the country and the people he prayed constantly, while fasting and keeping a vigil.

Then King Theuderic, at the very moment when he thought that he would breach the walls of the town, was softened by the mercy of the Lord and the prayers of this bishop whom he had thought to send into exile. In fact during the night he was seized with terror, leapt from his bed and on his own tried to flee down the main road. He had lost his senses and did not know what he was doing.

His men tried to restrain him, not without trouble, exhorting him to protect himself with the sign of the cross. Then Hilping, his duke, 10 came close to the king and said "Listen, glorious king, to the advice of this humble person. The walls of this town are very strong, and it is defended by great fortifications. And in order that your magnificence might recognise this, he has only to consider the saints, whose churches surround the walls of this town, and the bishop of this place, who is great in the eyes of God.

Do not do what you are planning; do not do evil to the bishop and do not destroy the town. Nobody doubted that this was due to the prayers of the holy bishop. Then indeed, when the castle of Vollore was taken, the priest Proculus fled in vain from the invading troops to the altar of the church, and was hacked to pieces by the blows of their swords. And the Lord thus dealt with him according to his works, as the holy bishop used to repeat. After this massacre and destruction of the Auvergne, earlier, for his successor Gallus became bishop around see VP VI 5. Wood , p. Not otherwise mentioned by Gregory: see Selle-Hosbach p. Quintianus was immediately informed of this. He had his friends ask the count to give him a hearing and to order him freed, but he obtained nothing.

Then the blessed old man had himself carried to the place where Honoratus was held, and begged the soldiers to let him go, but they were afraid and did not dare to obey the bishop. His servants carried him to the house of Hortensius, and he shook against it the dust from his shoes, 13 saying "Cursed be this house, cursed also be those who live in it, until eternity, and may it become deserted, so that no-one may live in it. After three days, when Hortensius had seen all his servants succumb and feared that he would perish himself, he threw himself in distress at the feet of the saint, asking with tears for his pardon.

The saint gave it to him willingly, and sent holy water to the house, and when it had been sprinkled against the walls immediately the illness disappeared, and it was a great miracle: those who had been ill were cured, and those who had not been touched did not succumb to the illness. This holy bishop was very well instructed in ecclesiastical writings, and magnificent in his alms. Indeed, when he heard poor men cry out, he used to say, "Run, I beg you, run to this poor man and give him the food that he needs.

Why are you so indifferent? How do you Matthew This curse is mentioned in LH, not in the context of Quintianus' life, but as an explanation of why the priest Eufrasius, son of Evodius "of senatorial family" did not succeed in winning the bishopric after Cautinus' death despite his heavy bribing: LH IV Archdeacon Avitus was elected instead. On all this see Wood Having come to the monastery of Cambidobrensis, 16 he found a demoniac there in the midst of horrible convulsions, and he sent priests to lay hands on him.

But their exorcisms did not drive out the demon, and the saint of God approached him closely, put his fmgers in the man's mouth, and delivered him. The blessed man did many other miracles, and his prayers often obtained what he had asked of the Lord. Thus, one day a great drought desolated the countryside of the Auvergne, and the grass dried up so that there was no pasture for the animals.

Then the saint of God piously celebrated the Rogations, which are done before Ascension. Then he got up, and, as far as his strength allowed him, he intoned the antiphon which they had asked for. Its words were taken from Solomon, as follows: "When the heaven is shut up and there is no rain, because of the sins of the people, yet if they pray towards this place, then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and send rain upon the land which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance" II Chron.

And when they devoutly began to sing, the humble prayer of the confessor penetrated to the ear of Almighty God, and behold, the sky A reference to Matthew Location unknown; see above VP V 3. The Rogations, days of prayer and fasting, usually involving processions and prayers for good harvest, were instituted by Bishop Mamertus of Vienne c. The "Major Rogation" was on April 25; these are the "Minor Rogations" held on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the Thursday of Ascension itself although in some churches they were held on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, possibly in the week before or after Ascension: see Beck pp.

The Council of Orleans in had decreed that the rogationes, id est laetanias from the Greek word also meaning "beseeching": in mod. And before they arrived at the gate of the town, a heavy rain fell upon the whole land, so that they were lost in admiration, and said that it was due to the prayers of his holy man. At length the priest of God grew old, until he no longer had the strength to spit on the ground, and he always had to have a small bowl at his lips to take away the saliva from his mouth.

But his eyes were not obscured, nor did his heart abandon the ways of God. He never lost his regard for the poor; he never feared the person of the powerful man; but he always had in everything a holy liberty, and received in his house the mantle of a poor man with as much respect as the toga of an illustrious senator. Then he died perfect in sanctity, and was buried in the basilica of St Stephen, to the left of the altar.

He died in ; his death is celebrated on November The church of St Stephen was built by the wife of Bishop Narnatius: "she used to hold in her lap a book from which she would read stories of events which happened long ago, and tell the workmen what she wanted painted on the walls" Thorpe pp. About St Portianus, an abbot How much Almighty God gives to those dedicated to His name, and how generously He rewards them for their faithful service. He promises that He will give them great things in heaven, but often He makes it clear in this world what they will receive in the future.

Frequently He renders free those who are in servitude, and those who are free He renders glorious, as the Psalmist said, "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of His people" Ps. Of this Hannah, wife of Elkanah, said "They that were full have hired themselves out for bread, and the servants have plenty to eat" I Sam.

And on this subject the Virgin Mary, mother of Our Redeemer, said "He hath put down the mighty from their seat and exalted them of low degree" Luke 1 And the Lord Himself in the Gospel said "The first will be last and the last shall be first" Matthew May divine mercy then shine with its love upon the poor, so that the small shall become great and the weak shall become coheirs with the One Son. For He has appointed the poverty of this world to heaven, where the empire of this world cannot reach, so that the poor peasant can go there when he that is dressed in the purple cannot.

This is what happened with the blessed abbot Portianus, whom the Lord not only saved from the burden of worldly toil, but whom He also ennobled with great virtues and established in eternal rest after the agitations and afflictions of the world, placing him in the midst of the choirs of angels, from which the prince of this world has been excluded. The blessed Portianus strove always, from the start of his life, to seek the God of Heaven, even among earthly servitude. For he is said to have been the slave of a certain barbarian. He fled several times into a monastery, so that the abbot had to obtain a pardon for him and return him to his master.

In the end he fled yet again; his master followed his tracks, and began to insult the abbot, accusing him of enticing his slave away from his service. And when, as was the custom, he rudely pressed the abbot to surrender him the abbot says to Portianus, "What do you want me to do? But he becomes so blind V. In great pain he calls the abbot to him and says, "Plead to the Lord on my behalf, I beg you, and take this slave into His service: perhaps I will then deserve to recover the light which I have lost.

Eventually the blessed Portianus became a cleric, and he was so famous for his great virtues that when the abbot died he succeeded him. And although he thereby refreshed his dry palate, nevertheless he brought greater torment to himself by increasing his thirst. Indeed, as everyone knows, salt rather excites the ardour of thirst than extinguishes it; but, by God's grace, this did not happen to him.

At that time Theuderic had entered the Auvergne and was exterminating and laying waste everything. And he entered the camp in the morning, while the king still slept in his tent, and came to the tent of Sigivald, who was then the king's chief man. The monastery received his name, and the place is now called Saint-Poun;:ain arr. Gannat, dep. See note 9 to VP IV, above. Vicus Arthonensis, cant. Aigueperse, arr. Riom, dep. See Selle-Hosbach pp. But the saint excused himself in various ways, saying that it was not possible, because it was not yet time for a meal, because he ought first to greet the king, and, which was the most important thing, because he had not yet sung the psalms which he owed to the Lord.

But Sigivald ignored all these excuses, and forced him to drink; he brought him a full cup and demanded that the saint take it and bless it. The holy man lifted his right hand to make the sign of the cross, and immediately the cup split down the middle, and the wine which was inside spilt onto the ground, together with a huge serpent.

Those who were present were terrified, and threw themselves at the feet of the saint, touching the marks of his footsteps and kissing his feet. All admired the power of the old man, and were amazed that they had been divinely saved from the venom of the serpent. The whole anny ran up to see this miracle, and a great multitude surrounded the holy man, each person wishing only to touch the fringe of his robe with his hand, if he were not allowed the honour of kissing it.

The king leapt from his bed and ran to the blessed confessor, and without waiting for him to say a word, he freed all the captives that he had asked for, and thereafter he did what the saint requested.

And thus, by the grace of God, Portianus received a double benefit. I believe truly, and it has been confirmed by others, that those saved from this danger were as if brought back from the dead. I do not want to pass over the way in which the devil tried to deceive him by various machinations; seeing that he could not hann him, he began to wage open war. One night, when he had given himself to sleep, suddenly he awoke and saw his cell all in flames; frightened, he made for the door. He was not able to open it.

He made the saving sign of the cross in front and around him, and suddenly the phantom of flames which he had seen vanished, and he knew that it had been a trick of the devil. And this was immediately revealed to the blessed Protasius, who was then a recluse in the V. He always strives to assault the servants of God by temptations of this kind. This is all we have learnt of this holy man, and we will not criticise others who have more information about him if they wish to write something in his praise.

See above VP IV. His feast day is November 24; the year of his death is presumably not long after the invasion of Theuderic, dated after Wood see above n. About St Gallus, a bishop He who is at the summit of worldly nobility always longs for what can satisfy his desires. He rejoices over honours, he is puffed up by attentions, he disturbs the forum with his law-cases, he feeds on plunder, he delights in calumnies, he desires rusty gold, and when he seems to possess a few things he is the more enflamed with a desire to amass many: the more he accumulates the more his thirst grows, for, as Prudentius said, "with amassed gold the hunger for gold increases".

But there are those who, like birds fleeing from a snare and flying up to the skies, 2 have escaped their bonds with the help of a lively spirit and, leaving the terrestrial possessions which they despise, they have turned all their attention towards celestial matters. Such was St Gallus, a man of the Auvergne, whom neither the greatness of his birth nor the elevation of the senatorial order nor his immense riches were able to turn awlly from the worship of God; neither the affection of his father nor the caresses of his mother nor the love of his nurses nor the obedience of his servants 3 could separate him from the love of God.

He regarded all possessions as nothing and disdained them as dung; he consecrated himself to the love and service of God and submitted himself to the rule of a monastery. For he knew that the flames of ardent youth could only be quenched by submission to canonical 1. Prudentius,Hamartigenia v. Thomson vol 1, as "The Origin of Sin", p. Prudentius, the first great Christian Latin poet, was born in Spain in and died c. Psalm I have translated obsecundatio baiolarum in very general terms, since this seems to fit the sense of the passage.

The primary meaning is "porter" or "bearer", and Ian Wood has taken it in the more specialised meaning of "letter-bearer", as found in Jerome or the Theodosian Code. He too takes the feminine baiulfyum to be an error. He comments: "Gregory of Tours regarded porters as a vital element in secular society; their obsequiousness could prevent a man from forgetting worldly things": D.

He knew also that he had to raise himself from the baseness of the world to more elevated things, and to come by the patience of humility to the glory of the greatest heights. And this indeed is what happened. St Gallus was devoted to God from his childhood; he loved the Lord with all his soul and he held dear in his heart everything that he knew to be dear to God. His father was called Georgius and his mother was Leucadia, 4 of the family of Vettius Epagatus, who suffered martyrdom at Lyons, as Eusebius testifies in his history.

But when his father wanted him to marry the daughter of a noble senator, he went with a young slave to the monastery of Cournon, 6 six miles from the town of Clermont, asking the abbot in all humility to shave the hair of his head. The abbot, seeing the wisdom and breeding of the boy, asked his name, family and country. He replied that he was Gallus, a citizen of the Auvergne, the son of the senator Georgius.

When the abbot learnt that he belonged to the first family of the city, he said "My son, you have good intentions, but it is necessary first to tell your father: if your father consents, I will do as you wish. And he was saddened, and said, "He is my first-born son, and for that reason I wanted him to marry, but if the Lord wishes to call him to His service, His will shall be done rather than mine. Georgi us and Leucadia were the paternal grandparents of Gregory himself: Gregory's father was F1orentius, the brother of Gallus. Before Gregory entered the church he was called Georgius Florentinus.

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, V i. Gregory would have used the Latin translation and up-dating by Rulinus. Monasterium Crononense, dep. That is six Roman miles, about 10 km. See V-T no. Venantius Fortunatus relates the same episode in his epitaph for Gallus Carm. IV 4 : "He fled the embraces of his father, and he left his mother; an abbot was sought as a parent, to rule him as a monk". And when the abbot had heard what the father had said, he made the boy a cleric. He was perfectly chaste, and when he grew older he never had any wicked thoughts; he abstained from youthful games; his voice was always marvellously sweet and agreeable in song; he always applied himself continually to his studies, delighted in fasting, and would often abstain from food.

The blessed bishop Quintianus came to the monastery and heard him sing, and did not allow him to stay there long: he brought him back to the town with him and brought him up, as a heavenly father, in the sweetness of the spiritual life. When his father died, and his voice was becoming more and more perfect with each day, and he was held in great love by the people, King Theuderic was told about him: he summoned him forthwith and took such an affection for him that he loved him more than his own son.

He was greatly loved also by the queen, not only because of his beautiful voice but also because of his chastity. Thus it happened that when the king went to Cologne he brought the boy with him. There was a temple there filled with various adornments, where the barbarians of the area used to make offerings and gorge themselves with meat and wine until they vomited; they adored idols there as if they were gods, and placed there wooden models of parts of the human body whenever some part of their body was touched by pain.

They saw the smoke of the temple going up into the sky, and looked for the one who had lit the blaze; they found him and ran after him, their 8. A practice condemned by the late sixth-century synod of Auxerre, c. The acts of this synod have been translated in Hillgarth pp. And it has survived in Mediterranean areas to this day, which suggests that these pagans in Cologne, if they are barbarians as Gregory says, may be adopting Roman customs.

Gregory as a historian

The first translation into English of Life of the Fathers, a collection of twenty lives and are a counterpart to the secular society described in Gregory's History of. The first translation into English of Life of the Fathers, a collection of a counterpart to the secular society described in Gregory's History of the.

He took to his heels, and hid in the royal house. The king learned from the threats of the pagans what had happened, and he pacified them with sweet words, calming their impudent anger. The blessed man used to tell this often, with tears, adding "Woe is me for not having stood my ground, so that I might have ended my life in this cause. At last the blessed bishop Quintianus passed from this life into another, by the will of the Lord. St Gallus was staying at that time in Clermont.

The inhabitants of the town went to the dwelling of the priest Impetratus, the uncle of Gallus, 10 bewailing the death of the pontiff and asking who would be worthy to take his place. They discussed this matter for a long time among themselves, and then each went home. After they had gone, St Gallus called one of his clerics, and, being filled by the Holy Spirit, he says, "Why do they grumble?

Why do they run about? Why do they debate so? They are wasting their time, for I shall be bishop: the Lord will deign to grant me this honour. As for you, when you hear that I have returned from my audience with the king, take my predecessor's horse, saddle it, meet me, and offer it to me. And if you disdain to listen to me, take care lest you have to repent later.

The cleric was very angry with him: he made many reproaches, he pushed him against the frame of the bed, injuring his side, and then left, still furious. A moment after his departure, the priest Impetratus said to St Gallus, "My son, listen to my counsel. Do not delay, but go straight to the king, and tell him what has happened here.

If the Lord inspires him to grant you the bishopric, we shall render great thanks to the Lord. If it happens otherwise, you will at least be recommended to him who will become bishop. At that time also died Aprunculus, bishop of Trier. The clerics of that town assembled, and went to King Theuderic to ask for St Gallus as their bishop.

The king said, "Go and search for another, for I have destined the deacon Gallus for another place. The brother of Gallus' mother Leucadia. At that time, like a pernicious weed, that custom by which sacred offices were sold by kings and bought by clerics had already started to grow. He was ordained priest, and then the king commanded him to give a feast for the citizens, at the expense of the public purse, so that they would be able to rejoice in honour of Gallus, their future bishop. This was done. Gallus was fond of saying, indeed, that for his bishopric he had only given one third of a solidus, no more, and he gave that coin to the cook who had prepared the meal.

As for the cleric Viventius, who had wounded him in the side on the bed, he hastened to come before the pontiff, as he had ordered, but not without great embarrassment; and he presented himself Nicetius was bishop of Trier by , when he attended the Council of Clermont. The legislation against the purchase of office in the Gallic church at Orleans in , at Clermont in , at Orleans in etc was clear enough. But its recognition in practice may have been problematical due to the difficulty of distinguishing simony from the customary gifts to kings and perhaps other dignitaries upon receipt of high church office.

This may explain the apparent discrepancy between the reticence of Gregory in making accusations of simony this passage in VP is the only one which suggests he is worried about widespread simony and the letters of Pope Gregory the Great see in the English translation by J. Gregory the Great follows usual custom in referring to simony as a "heresy", because of its supposed origins with the proto-heretic Simon Magus. In a letter to Gregory the Great the Irish abbot Columbanus says that he has heard the confession of Gallic clerics who were worried about the simony they had committed: see G.

Walker's translation in Walker, ed. Quite a generous payment, unless the cook has to pay all wages and materials from it. The gold triens or tremissis, a third of a solidus, was the standard hard currency in sixth-century Europe. Some measure of its value might be reached by comparing it with the 4 solidi which could feed a fifth-century Roman soldier for a year, the solidus which a child reputedly cost per year in seventh-century Spain, or an Alexandrian bath attendant in the early seventh century who was "alleged to have kept himself, his wife and two children on a salary of 3 solidi, and moreover to have given freely to beggers' Jones p.

GALLUS 37 before him, not only in his own person, but also with the horse he had been commanded to bring. The bishop and he both went into the bath, and St Gallus gently reproached him for the pain in his side that had been given through the violence of his pride, and so he caused him great shame, since he did not greet him with anger, but only with a spiritual joke. Then Gallus entered the town, where he was welcomed by choirs of singers, and he was consecrated bishop in his own church. When he was in possession of his bishopric, he conducted himself with so much humility and charity that all loved him.

He had a superhuman patience, so that, if it is permitted to say such things, he could be compared to Moses for his sufferance of all injuries. Once he was hit on the head by his priest during a meal, but he was so calm that he did not reply with a single sharp word. He bore all that happened to him with patience, declaring that it was the will of God, by Whom he wished to be supported. Once a certain priest call Evodius, 15 who belonged to a senatorial family, attacked him during a gathering of churchmen with many calumnies and insults.

The bishop got up and walked around the holy basilicas. Evodius was told of this, and ran rapidly after him, throwing himself at his feet in the middle of the road, asking his pardon and begging that the bishop should not blacken his name in his prayers to the Almighty Judge. The bishop raised him up kindly and excused him generously from all the things he had said, charging him only that he should in future not dare to assail the bishops of the Lord, because he himself would never merit the rank of bishop.

This indeed was afterwards confirmed. In fact, having been elected bishop of Javols, and while he was already sitting in his episcopal chair and all was ready for the consecration, suddenly all the people rose against him, so that he was barely able to escape with his life. This was canonically required, e. The son of Hortensius, on whom see above IV 3 and note This must have happened between , when Hilarius attended the Council of Clermont as Bishop of Javols, and On the ecclesiastical politics of Clermont, see Wood In the city of Orleans a great assembly of bishops came together by order of King Childebert, because Bishop Marcus of Orleans had been accused by wicked men and sent into exile.

The fourth-century saint inspired a popular cult during the early medieval period that made the city of Tours an important site for pilgrims. Gregory was an accomplished scholar, and produced important works of hagiography, particularly his Life of the Fathers , which features twenty accounts of the lives of important religious figures from the period.

Nevertheless, Gregory is best known for his Historia Francorum History of the Franks , a history of the Frankish people from Creation up to the end of the 6th century, written in ten books. The work chronicles the conquest of Gaul and the conversion of the Franks under Clovis, the first king to unite the Frankish tribes d. Throughout human history, one of the main functions of story-telling has been to create and strengthen shared identities that hold communities together. Jaakko Tahkokallio explores the historical works of leading medieval writers.

Gregory of Tours. Biography Gregory of Tours was the author of a collection of historical and hagiographical works that constitute some of the most important sources for the history of the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled the Franks between the 5th and 8th centuries. This person is featured in: Medieval England and France, —