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E00455: The Piacenza Pilgrim describes the spring of *Elisha (Old Testament prophet, S00239) near Jericho (Palestine). Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 2015-04-29, 00:00 authored by robert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 14

First recension
Fons aquae, quam indulcauit Helisaeus, inrigat omnem Hiericho. Ibi nascitur uinum potiston, qui febrientibus datur. Ibi nascitur dactalum de libra, ex quibus me cum adduxi in prouincia, ex quibus unum domino paterio patricio dedi.

'The spring which Elisha made sweet supplies water for the whole of Jericho. Grapes grow there for the wine potiston, which they give to the fevered, and also dates which weigh a pound. I brought some back home with me and gave one to lord Paterius, the patrician.'

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

Text: Geyer 1898, 169 and 202. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 137, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Elisha, Old Testament prophet : S00239

Saint Name in Source


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

Holy spring/well/river

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money)


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 story of how Elisha turned an unusable spring at Jericho into sweet water is told in 2 Kings 2: 19-22. Whether our pilgrim believed that the curative power of the grapes grown at Jericho derived in part from Elisha is unclear, though we should note that the prophet's tomb at Samaria/Sebaste may have attracted Christian veneration (E00449). This passage is also interesting because it shows that the author wrote (or at least edited) his Itinerary after his return to Piacenza.


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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