Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1920
Presbyter and hermit Winnocus in Tours (Gaul) starts to drink excessively. As a result, he is possessed by a demon. As he attacks people in violent rages, he is locked in his cell until his death ca 586. Account of Gregory of Tours, "Histories", Tours (Gaul), AD 586–594.
Et quia princeps tenebrarum mille habet artes nocendi, quid de reclausis ac Deo devotis nuper gestum fuerit, pandam. Vennocus Britto praesbiterii honore praeditus, cui in alio libro meminimus, tantae se abstinentiae dedicavit, ut indumentum de pellibus tantum uteretur, cybum de herbis agrestibus incoctis sumeret, vinum vero tantum vas ad os poneret, quod magis putaretur libare osculo quam haurire. Sed cum eidem devotorum largitas frequenter exhiberet vasa hoc plena licore, dedicit, quod peius est, extra modum haurire et in tantum dissolvi potione, ut plerumque ebrius cerneretur. Unde factum est, ut, invalescente temulentia, tempore procidente, a daemonio correptus, per inergiam vexaretur, in tantum ut, accepto cultro vel quodcumque genus teli sive lapidem aut fustem potuisset adrepere, post homines insano furore discurreret. Unde necessitas exigit, ut catenis vinctus costodiretur in cellula. In hac quoque damnatione per duorum annorum spatia debachans, spiritum exalavit.
(ed. Krusch 1937: 403)
Since the Prince of Darkness has a thousand arts of doing harm, I will relate what happened recently to certain recluses devoted to God. In an earlier book, I mentioned Vennocus the Breton, who was awarded with a presbyterial honour. He dedicated himself to abstinence in such great a way that he wore only animal skins as clothing and as food ate only the uncooked herbs of the field. As far as wine was concerned, he would merely lift the cup to his mouth, appearing to touch it with his lip instead of drinking it. However, his devotees were so open-handed in offering him goblets filled to the brim that he fell into the habit, which is a very bad one, of drinking immoderately, and he was often so far gone in liquor that on more than one occasion he was obviously drunk. The result of this was that, as time passed, his intemperance became worse and worse. He was seized by a demon and so violently harassed that he would pick up a knife or whatever weapon he could lay his hands on, sometimes a stone, sometimes a stick, and chase after people in insane fury. There was nothing for it but chain him up and lock him in his cell. Condemned to this fate, he continued to rave for two years, and then he gave up the ghost.
(trans. Thorpe 1974: 467–468, altered by J. Szafranowski)


Presbyter Vennocus is first mentioned by Gregory in V.21 (his name is spelled there as Winnocus), see [1772].
From the place of this passus in Gregory's narrative, it can be assumed that Winnocus probably died ca 586.

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Tours

About the source:

Author: Gregory of Tours
Title: The History of the Franks, Gregorii episcopi Turonensis historiarum libri X, Histories
Origin: Tours (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Gregory of Tours (Gaul) wrote his ten books of Histories (known commonly in English as the History of the Franks) during his episcopal reign in Tours between 573 and 594. The books vary in scope and length. The first book covers 5,596 years from the creation of the world to AD 397, that is the death of Saint Martin of Tours, Gregory`s predecessor in bishopric. The second book deals with the history of Gaul between 397 and 511, the latter being the year of death of King Clovis I. The third and fourth books cover the next 64 years till the death of Austrasian King Sigibert II in 575. Finally, the following six books describe exclusively the sixteen years from 575 to 591. Probably in 594, Gregory added the list of bishops of Tours in the end of the Histories, with brief accounts of their actions.
B. Krusch ed., Gregorii Episcopi Turonensis Historiarum Libri X [in:] Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingiciarum 1.1, Hannover 1884 (repr. 1951): 1­-537.
Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. L. Thorpe, London 1974.


Food/Clothes/Housing - Food and drink
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Monastic or common life - Hermit
Fame of sanctity
Relation with - Townsman
Further ecclesiastical career - None
Non-Latin Origin
Conflict - Violence
Administration of justice - Imprisonment
Devotion - Ascetic practice
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1920,