Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Perpetuus, Bishop and Confessor

Saint Perpetuus of ToursArticle

He was the eighth bishop of Tours from Saint Gatian, and governed that see above thirty years, from 461 to 491, when he died on the 8th of April. During all which time he laboured by zealous sermons, many synods, and wholesome regulations, to lead souls to virtue. Saint Gregory of Tours mentions his prudent ordinances, prescribing the manner of celebrating vigils before great festivals in the different churches in the city. All Fridays and Wednesdays he commanded to be observed fasts of precept, except during Easter time, from Christmas to Saint Hilary’s day, that is, the 14th day of January, and from Saint John Baptist’s day to the end of August. He added a third fast day every week, probably Monday, from Saint Martin’s to Christmas, which proves the antiquity of Advent. These regulations were all religiously observed one hundred and twenty years after, when Saint Gregory of Tours wrote his history. Saint Perpetuus had a great veneration for the saints, and respect for their relics; adorned their shrines, and enriched their churches. As there was a continual succession of miracles at the tomb of Saint Martin, Perpetuus finding the church built by Saint Bricius too small for the concourse of people that resorted thither, directed its enlargement, causing it to be built one hundred and fifty-five feet in length, sixty broad, and forty-five in height. When the building was finished, the good bishop solemnized the dedication of this new church, and performed the translation of the body of Saint Martin, on the 4th of July, in 473. Our saint was of a senatorian family, and possessed very large estates in several provinces; but consecrated the revenues to the service of the church, and the relief of the necessitous. He made and signed his last will, which is still extant, on the 1st of March, 475, fifteen years before his death. By it he remits all debts that were owing to him; and having bequeathed to his church his library and several farms, and settled a fund for the maintenance of lamps, and the purchase of sacred vessels, as occasion might require, he declares the poor his heirs. It begins thus: “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. I, Perpetuus, a sinner, priest of the church of Tours, would not depart without a last will and testament, lest the poor should be neglected * * * You, my bowels, my most beloved brethren, my crown, my joy, my lords, my children, O poor of Christ, needy, beggars, sick, widows, orphans; you I declare, name, and make my heirs. Excepting what is above disposed of, whatever I am possessed of in goods, in fields, in pasturage, in meadows, in groves, in vineyards, in dwellings, in gardens, in waters, in mills, or in gold, silver, and garments, and other things, I appoint you my heirs. It is my will that as soon as possible, after my departure, they be sold, and the money divided into three parts; of which two shall be distributed among poor, men, at the discretion of the priest Agrarius and Count Agilo: and the third among widows and poor women, at the discretion of the virgin Dadolena,” etc. He adds most pathetic exhortations to concord and piety; and bequeaths to his sister, Fidia Julia Perpetua, a little gold cross, with relics; he leaves legacies to several other friends and priests, to one a silver case of relics of saints, to others gold or silver crosses or chalices, begging of each a remembrance of him in their prayers. His ancient epitaph equals him to the great Saint Martin: Saint Apollinaris Sidonius calls him the true copy of the virtues of that wonderful saint. Saint Perpetuus died either on the 30th of December, in 490, or on the 8th of April, 491. In the martyrologies of Florus, and some others, his festival is placed on the first of these days: but in that of Usuard, and in the Roman, on the second.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Perpetuus, Bishop and Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 9 April 2013. Web. 29 July 2014. <>