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E00450: The Piacenza Pilgrim records his visit to the place from which the prophet *Elijah (Old Testament prophet, S00217) was taken into heaven, and mentions a miraculous cloud which travels from the river Jordan to sit over the basilica of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), and of *Sophia (personified Holy Wisdom, S00705) in Jerusalem. Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 2015-04-26, 00:00 authored by robert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 9

First recension
Ex hoc uenimus in loco, ubi baptizatus est Dominus noster. In ipso loco transierunt filii Israhel; ibi et filii prophetarum perdiderunt securem et ex ipso loco adsumptus est Helias. In ipso loco est mons Hermon modicus, qui legitur in psalmo. A pede montis ipsius de fluuio ascendit nubes hora prima et exeunte sole uenit super Hierusolimam super basilicam, quae est in Sion, et super basilicam ad monumentum Domini et super basilicam sanctae Mariae et sanctae Sofiae, quae fuit praetorium, ubi auditus est Dominus.

'From there we arrived at the place where the Lord was baptised. This is the place where the children of Israel made their crossing, and also where the sons of prophets lost their axe-head, and where Elijah was taken up. In that place is the "little hill of Hermon" mentioned in the psalm. At the foot of the mountain itself, at the first hour after sunrise, a cloud forms over the river, and it arrives over Jerusalem at sunset, above the basilica on Sion and the basilica at the Lord's Tomb, the basilica of saint Mary and saint Sophia (once the praetorium where Lord was tried).'

The second recension follows the text of the first without important modifications.

Text: Geyer 1898, 165 and 199. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 135, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Elijah, Old Testament prophet : S00217 Sophia, personified Holy Wisdom : S00705

Saint Name in Source

Maria Helias Sofia

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Piacenza Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Pilgrim of Piacenza

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather)


This Itinerary was written by an anonymous pilgrim to Palestine who started and finished his journey in Placentia. He visited the East probably not long after the earthquake in 551, since he presents the destruction of Berytus (modern Beirut) in this year as a relatively recent event. He certainly visited Palestine before the Persian invasion in 614, since in his account Jerusalem is under Roman administration. The Itinerary is extant in two recensions. The first one is shorter and generally closer to the original, but sometimes it is the second recension which preserves the original text. Moreover, the additions that can be found in the second recension, unfortunately difficult to date, bear an interesting witness to the development of the cult of saints. The Itinerary can be compared with an earlier pilgrim's diary written in the 380s by another western pilgrim, Egeria. The Piacenza Pilgrim's itinerary is less detailed than her account, but shows the development of the cultic practices and infrastructure which had taken place in the course of two hundred years: there are more places to visit, more objects to see, and more saints to venerate.


The same two churches are mentioned also in chapter 19 of the Itinerary, see E00467.


Edition: Geyer, P. (ed.), Antonini Placentini Itinerarium, in Itineraria et alia geographica (Corpus Chistianorum, series Latina 175; Turnholti: Typographi Brepols editores pontificii, 1965), 129-174. [Essentially a reprinting of Geyer's edition for the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 39, Wien 1898.] English translations: Stewart, A., Of the Holy Places Visited by Antoninus Martyr (London: Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, 1887). Wilkinson, J., Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades (2nd ed.; Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 2002).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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