Sources for the Life of St.Gerald of Aurillac
Gerald's life is known solely through the saints' life written by
Odo of Cluny
942). Although a contemporary of Gerald, Odo did not know him, an the book appears
to have been written as an investigation of Gerald's claim to sainthood. In his preface,
Odo states that he visited Aurillac, and interviewed four men who knew Gerald -- two
laymen, and two clergymen, one monk and one priest. He then gathered further
information, checked it out and came to the conclusion that Gerald had indeed been a
saint. The arrangement of the book represents the presentation of the evidence upon
which Odo based this conclusion.
: Gerald's birth, youth and education, secular and political actions.
: His religious avocation, and miracles attributed to him while alive.
: His death and interment.
: Miracles at his tomb.
The care shown in assembling the case shows that there was much room for doubt of
Gerald's sanctity. Odo betrays the reasons for this doubt:
A: Gerald, as a layman, ignored many of the normal paraphernalia of saint hood, such
as fasting, retirement, mortification of the flesh. The question of the value of the
ascetic ideal -- at least in its letter -- was being called into question. It was Odo's
contention that Gerald fulfilled as many of the ascetic ideals as possible.
B: As Odo says, Gerald was one of "the Great". It says something about the general
tenor of the times that there was some dispute as to whether a noble could be good.
C: For Odo, at least, a great difficulty lay in the basic quality of the age. Odo's favorite
source of quotations in the Life was the book of Job. For Odo, the times were so hard,
that he was convinced that the age of the AntiChrist had come, and in' this age, the
saints will cease to work their wonders. Thus, if Gerald were a saint, he represented a
sign from God that the end of time was not yet near, and society would regenerate
II: The Times
It is important in this regard to consider the times which were the source of such
A: The Carolingian system of empire had steadily decayed after the reign of Louis the
Pious. The old empire faced three external dangers: Vikings, Magyars, and Saracens.
The Germanies had mainly to face only the Magyars, and the Dukes of the various
buffer states were quite able to do so. Northern France had to face primarily the
menace of the Vikings, and there was no well-developed system of Duchies to do so.
Instead, the major officials were the counts, whose powers and duties had been
The South of France was in the worst position of all: it was exposed to the the Vikings
along the Loire and Garonne, the Magyars through Burgundy (Apparently one group
made it all the way into Spain), and the Saracens along the coast (one group