Saint and Dragon Date of Text Citation Text/edition Language Translation
Caluppan and the Dragon of the Cantal AD 581-94 Gregory of Tours Liber vitae patrium 11.1 MGH Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum i.2, 259-60; BHL no. 1535 Latin DSS no. 150



Caluppan noticed a valley not far from his monastery [of Méallet in Cantal] from the middle of which nature had raised a pinnacle of rock to the height of some fifty feet or more, completely separated from the mountains surrounding it. The centre of the valley was watered by a river that divided itself, gently lapping this pinnacle. So the sainted hermit entered into the cleft of this rock, which in former times had offered shelter to passing strangers, and, excavating the stone, established a home, which even now one can get to only by climbing up a very tricky ascent. Indeed that place was so hard to get up to that it was an effort even for wild beasts to reach it. In this place he somehow made a tiny chapel. When he prayed there, as he used to tell us with tears, snakes [ serpentes ] frequently used to fall down on his head and, wrapping themselves around his neck, inflict not the smallest terror upon him. But because the Devil was known to take the form of a cunning snake, he did not doubt that it was the Devil that was launching these attacks upon him. He used to stand absolutely still and would not move in response to any of the strikes of the snakes. But one day two snakes of immense size entered the chapel to confront him initially holding back. One of these, the instigator of all temptation himself, as I think, was stronger than the other. It raised its breast and lifted its face up against the saint’s as if it were about to whisper something to him. Caluppan was absolutely terrified and froze, just as if he were cast from bronze. He could not even move a limb, nor could he lift his hand in order to make the sign of the blessed cross against his opponent. When saint and snake had stood there in silence for a considerable time, it occurred to him pray to the lord in his spirit and to shout out to him with his heart, even if he could not move his lips. As he silently spoke, his limbs, which had been bound by the craft of the foe, gradually began to be loosened. Sensing that he now had his right hand free, he made the sign of the blessed cross before his own face, and then, turning to the snake, he drew the sign of the cross of Christ again, against it, saying: ‘Are you not the one who cast forth the first-made man from his home in Paradise? Who bloodied the right hand of a brother with family-murder, who armed Pharaoh so that he could attack the people of God? Who ultimately incited the Hebrew people to attack the Lord, inflamed with envy? Depart from the servants of God, from whom you have often departed overcome and confounded. For you were cast forth in the form of Cain, tripped in the form of Esau, thrown to the ground in the form of Goliath and hanged in the form of the traitor Judas. And you were triumphed over and ground down, together with all your powers and empires, in that very cross of the Lord’s virtue. Enemy of god, hide your head and abase yourself before the sign of the divine cross, because you have nothing to do with servants of God, whose inheritance is the kingdom of Christ.’ As the saint said these and similar things, making the sign of the cross with each assertion, the dragon [ draco ] was confounded by the virtuous power of this sign and in response abased itself and sank to the earth. And while this was happening, that other dragon began to wind itself around the feet and shins of the saint to trap him. And when the saintly hermit saw this snake pouring itself around his feet he made a prayer and ordered it to go away, saying: ‘Go back, Satan! You could do me no further harm, in the name of my Christ.’ But the snake, after retreating as far as the threshold of the little chamber, emitted a loud noise through its lower part and filled the room up with such a stench that it could be believed to be nothing other than the Devil. But thenceforth neither snake nor dragon manifested itself before the Saint.