Excerpts from Gregory of Tours' Eight Books of Miracles

I.

In the territory of this city [Tours] at Lingeais, a woman who lived there moistened flour on the Lord's day and shaped a loaf, and drawing the coals aside she covered it over with hot ashes to bake. When she did this her right hand was miraculously set on fire and began to burn. She screamed and wept and hastened to the village church in which relics of the blessed John are kept. And she prayed and made a vow that on this day sacred to the divine name she would do no work, but only pray. The next night she made a candle as tall as herself. Then she spent the whole night in prayer, holding the candle in her hand all the time and the flame went out and she returned home safe and sound.
Book in Honor of the Martyrs: Chap 15

II.

I shall now describe what was brought to pass through the relics which my father carried with him in former times. When Theodobert (534­548) gave orders that sons of men in Auvergne should be taken as hostages, my father, at that time lately married, wished to be protected by relics of the saints, and he asked a certain bishop kindly to give him some, thinking he would be kept safe by such protection when absent on his distant journey. Then he enclosed the holy ashes in a gold case the shape of a pea ­pod and placed them around his neck... He was accustomed to relate that he was saved by them from many dangers; for he bore witness that by their miraculous power he had often escaped attacks of highwaymen and dangers on rivers and the furies of civil war and thrusts of the sword. And I shall not fail to tell what I saw of these with my own eyes. After my father's death my mother always wore these precious things on her person. Now the grain harvest had come and great grain stacks were gathered at the threshing places. And in those days when the threshing was going on, a cold spell came on, and seeing that Limagne has no forests, being all covered with crops, the threshers made themselves fires of straw, since there was nothing else to make a fire of. Meantime all went away to eat. And behold, the fire gradually increased and began to spread slowly straw by straw. Then the piles suddenly caught, with the south wind blowing; it was a great conflagration and there began a shouting of men and shrieking of women and crying of children. Now this was happening on our own land. My mother, who wore these relics hanging on her neck, learned this, and sprang from the table and lifted up the holy relics against the masses of flame, and all the fire went out in a moment so that scarcely a spark of fire could be found among the burnt piles of straw and it did no harm to the grain which it had just caught.

Many years later I received these relics from my mother; and when we were going from Burgundy to Auvergne, a great storm came upon us and the sky flashed with many lightnings and roared with heavy crashes of thunder. Then I drew the blessed relics from my bosom and raised my hand against the cloud; it immediately divided into two parts and passed on the right and left and did no harm to us or any one else thereafter. But being a young man of an ardent temperament I began to be puffed up with vain glory and to think silently that this had been granted not so much to the merits of the saints as to me personally, and I openly boasted to my comrades on the journey that I had merited by my blamelessness what God had bestowed. At once my horse suddenly shied beneath me and dashed me to the ground; and I was so severely shaken up by the fall that I could hardly get up. I perceived that this had come of vanity, and it was enough to put me on guard thenceforth against being moved by the spur of vain glory. For whenever it happened after that that I had the merit to behold any of the miracles of the saints, I loudly proclaimed that they were wrought by God's gift through faith in the saints.
Book in Honor of the Martyrs: Chap 83

III.

Pannichius, a priest of Poitou, when sitting at dinner with some friends he had invited, asked for a drink. When it was served a very troublesome fly kept flying about the cup and trying to soil it. The priest waved it off with his hand a number of times but it would go off a little and then try to get back, and he perceived that it was a crafty device of the enemy. He changed the cup to his left hand and made a cross with his right; then he divided the liquor in the cup into four parts and lifted it up high and poured it on the ground. For it was very plain that it was a device of the enemy.
Book in Honor of the Martyrs: Chap 103

IV.

Having related the miracles performed for others, I shall tell what the miraculous power of this protector has done for my unworthy self. In the hundred and sixtieth year after that holy and praiseworthy man, the blessed bishop Martin, was taken up to heaven, when the holy bishop Eufronius was governing the church of Tours in his seventh year, and in the second year of the glorious king Sigibert, I became ill with malignant pimples and fever, and being unable to eat or drink I was reduced to such a state that I lost all hope of the present life and thought of nothing but of the details of my burial. For death was constantly raging at me, eager to separate my soul from my body. Then when I was almost dead I called on the name of the blessed champion Martin and made some improvement, and began slowly and painfully to prepare for my journey; for I had made my mind up that I ought to visit his venerable tomb. And my desire was so great that I did not even wish to live if I was to be delayed in going. Although I had scarcely escaped from a dangerous fever, I began to be on fire again with the fever of desire. And so, although not yet strong, I hastened to go with my people. After two or three stages, on entering the forest, I fell ill of the fever again, and was in such a serious condition that they all said I was dying. Then my friends came to me and saw I was very weak, and said: "Let us return home and if God wishes to call you, you will die in your own home; and if you recover, you will make the journey you have vowed more easily. For it is better to return home than to die in the wilderness." On hearing this I wept bitterly and bewailed my ill­ luck, and said: "I adjure you by all­ powerful God and the day of judgment which all fear who have to make answer there, that you agree to my request. Don't give up the journey we have begun, and if I have merit to see the holy Martin's church, I shall thank God; but if not, carry my dead body there and bury it because I am determined not to return home, if I have not the merit to appear at his tomb." Then we all wept together and went on, and, guarded by the glorious master, we arrived at his church….. The third night after arriving at the holy church we planned to keep watch and did so. In the morning when the bell for matins rang, we returned to our lodging and going to bed we slept until nearly the second hour. Then I woke up and found that all weakness and pain were gone and I had recovered my former health, and I gladly called my usual attendant to wait on me….And I shall not forget to say that after forty days that one was the first on which I took pleasure in drinking wine, since because of my illness I detested it until then.
The Four Books of the Miracles of St. Martin: Book 1; Chap 32,33

V.

.... Whenever headache comes on or a throbbing in the temples or a dullness of hearing or a dimness of sight or a pain attacks some other part, I am cured at once when I have touched the affected part on the tomb or the curtain hanging before it and I wonder within myself that at the very touch the pain is immediately gone.

I shall place first in this book a miracle that I experienced recently. We were sitting at dinner after a fast and eating, when a fish was served. The sign of the cross of the Lord was made over it, but as we ate, a bone from this very fish stuck in my throat most painfully. It caused me great distress, for the point was fastened in my throat and its length blocked the passage. It prevented my speaking and kept the saliva which comes frequently from the palate, from passing. On the third day, when I could get rid of it neither by coughing or hawking, I resorted to my usual resource. I went to the tomb and prostrated myself on the pavement and wept abundantly and groaned and begged the confessor's aid. Then I rose and touched the full length of my throat and all my head with the curtain. I was immediately cured and before leaving the holy threshold I was rid of all uneasiness. What became of the unlucky bone I do not know. I did not cough it up nor feel it go down into my stomach. One thing only I know, that I so quickly perceived that I was cured that I thought that some one had put in his hand and pulled out the bone that hurt my throat.
The Four Books of the Miracles of St. Martin: Book 3; Preface & Chapter 1

VI.

The facts that I relate ought not to seem to any one unworthy of belief because the names of individuals are not mentioned in the account. The cause of it is this: when they are restored to health by the saint of God, they leave immediately, and they sometimes go so secretly that, so to speak, they are noticed by no one. And when the report has spread that a miracle has been done by the blessed bishop, I summon those who have charge of the church and inquire into what has happened; but I do not always learn the names from them. I generally tell by name of those I have been able to see or examine personally.
The Four Books of the Miracles of St. Martin: Book 3; Chap 45

Source: Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, trans. Ernest Reheat (extended selections), Records of Civilization 2, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1916), 249-260.

This document is excerpted from the Internet Medieval Source Book, Gregory of Tours: Eight Books of Miracles

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