Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Ferreol, Martyr


Saint Ferreol was a tribune or colonel, lived at Vienne in Gaul, and was secretly a Christian. Saint Julian of Brioude, a native of that city, and a person of high birth, lodged in his house, and made public profession of the Christian faith. When the persecution began to rage, Saint Julian withdrew into Auvergne, and lay some time concealed in the house of a widow at Vinicelle near the town of Brioude, upon the banks of the Allier. Certain pursuivants having got information about him, the servant of Christ discovered himself to them, that the widow who had concealed him might not be brought into danger. The soldiers cut off his head upon the spot, and carried it back with them to Vienne that his execution might strike a terror into the rest of the Christians. Crispin, governor of that part of Gaul, caused Saint Ferreol to be apprehended upon suspicion. Finding him refuse to offer sacrifice, he told him, that as he had the honour to serve his country in so eminent a station, it became him to set to others an example of obedience. The martyr answered: “I do not so much overrate the honours and riches which I enjoy. If I may be allowed to live and to serve God, I am well satisfied; if even this seem too much, I am willing to resign my life itself rather than to abandon my religion.” The judge commanded that he should be scourged, and then laid in the dungeon loaded with chains. On the third day after this, his chains fell off his hands and legs, and seeing the door of the prison open, and his guards asleep, he made his escape, and went out of the city by the gate which led to Lyons. He swam over the river Rhone, and was got as far as the river Geres which falls into the Rhone two leagues above Vienne, when he fell again into the hands of the persecutors, who tied his hands behind his back, and led him part of the way with them, till being seized with a sudden fit of savage cruelty, they cut off his head near the banks of the Rhone, about the year 304. The Christians of Vienne interred his body with great veneration near the same river, and the citizens experience his protection by frequent benefits which they receive from God, through the prayers which they put up at his tomb, says the author of his acts. The relics of Saint Ferreol are kept in the great church which is built in his honour near the river, at Vienne: those of Saint Julian are preserved in the stately church which bears his name at Brioude, in the diocess of Clermont in Auvergne. Saint Julian is commemorated on the 28th of August. Saint Mamertus, bishop of Vienne, discovered the head of Saint Julian, about the year 474; and the first church of Saint Ferreol, which was built over his tomb, out of the city, being in a ruinous condition, he about the same time translated his relics into a new church which he built within the walls, where it now stands. See the acts of Saint Julian of Brioude, which were read in the church in the time of Saint Gregory of Tours, whose second book, On the Glory of Martyrs, contains nothing but a history of miracles wrought by the merits of this glorious martyr. Their acts are published by Bosquet. The acts of Saint Ferreol, though not original, are nevertheless authentic, and conformable to the relation given by Saint Gregory of Tours. These acts of Saint Ferreol and those of Saint Julian were written before Saint Mamertus discovered Saint Julian’s head, or had translated the relics of Saint Ferreol into the city. The larger acts of Saint Ferreol, which place his martyrdom at Brioude, published by Du Sausay, are of no authority.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Ferreol, Martyr”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 September 2013. Web. 23 September 2020. <>