Hilary of Poitiers [a]

Saint and Dragon Date of Text Citation Text/edition Language Translation
Hilary of Poitiers [a] and the Serpents of Gallinaria late vi AD Venantius Fortunatus Vita S. Hilarii [Pictavensis] 35–8 MGH Auctores Antiquissimi iv.2, pp.1-7; BHL no. 3885 Latin DSS no.152



It would not be right for us to pass over this distinguished miracle. When he was in the region of the island of Gallinaria [off the Italian coast, near Andora], he learned from the locals that it was infested with unnumbered and enormous coiling snakes [ serpentes ]. Because of this, even though they could see the island nearby, they considered it remoter than Africa because of its inaccessibility. When he heard this, the man of God saw that victory was coming to him in a fight against the beasts. He disembarked onto the island invoking God’s name and with the succour of the cross before him. Upon seeing him the snakes were turned to flight, because they were unable to tolerate the sight of him. Then he fixed his staff into the ground to serve as a boundary marker by which he designated, by the power of his virtue, the point up to which they were to be permitted to roam. They were no longer allowed to occupy the part he forbade. The island had a sea inlet. Since they ever feared to touch the forbidden part, it was easier for them to cross over the sea than to cross the place at which the saint had spoken: such was the immovable boundary fixed in place by his speech.