The Disgusting Miracles of Gregory

04 Oct

Well, a couple of them anyway. To be honest, this post is inspired by one by Jonathan Jarrett from a few months ago. In this story a girl is healed when her mother runs to a manse where St. Marcel of Die has been staying, scrapes some of his saliva off the walls, and cleans the girl’s nose and mouth with it. 1

Gregory has a fondness for saliva himself. I was reading the Life of the Fathers (Vita Patrum) last night and came up with two spit stories. Neither is quite as good as Jonathan’s but hey, you gotta do what you can to contribute to the conversation.

One of Gregory’s subjects is Leobardus. Leobardus was a recluse and contemporary of Gregory’s who, “. . . obtained so much grace from God that with his saliva alone he could banish the poison from malignant pustules.” (Gregory, Vita Patrum 20.3 in James, 1991 p. 129) 2

Better, though still not quite up to the standard of the mother washing her daughter’s mouth out is St. Lupicinus. Lupicinus had this self-mortification thing going on where, “And he wore on his neck, all through the day, while he sang the praises of God in his cell, a large stone, which two men could hardly lift. . . . Towards the end of his life his chest was so crushed by the weight of the stone he wore that blood began to come from his mouth; he used to spit this out against the walls.” (Gregory, Vita Patrum 13.1 in James, 1991 pp. 86-7)

This blood-spit was valuable enough to fight over after his death. With his body still lying in his cell, ” . . . others collect from the walls the blessed blood that he had spat out. And indeed scuffles break out among them . . . The wall today still witnesses to what we have just said, for it has as many little holes as it had merited drops of spittle from the mouth of the blessed man. . . . I have indeed myself seen many who had scraped from the wall the spit which had come from that sanctified mouth, who have had the honor of relief from several illnesses.” (Gregory, Vita Patrum 13.2 in James, 1991 p. 88)

Not quite the detail of what was done as with Marcel’s, er, fluid, but still interesting, I guess. I’m going through Gregory’s The Miracles of the Bishop St. Martin right now and I think I might have something on bloody pus to offer in the near future.

1 It would be interesting to know if Marcel’s story was inspired by either of Gregory’s. More likely that all of these originated with John 9:1-12 where Jesus spits on the ground, mixes the dirt and spit into clay and puts it on a blind man’s eyes to restore his sight.

2 I know – incorrect method of attribution but since this blog is geared toward amateurs – I hope – I didn’t want to just reference Gregory or add a bunch of footnotes.

James, Edward, trans., Gregory of Tours: Life of the Fathers. 2nd ed. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press (1991). ISBN: 9-780853-233275.

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Posted by on October 4, 2010 in Hagiography, Literature


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