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E00485: The Piacenza Pilgrim mentions, in his account of Bethlehem (Palestine), the basilica of *David (Old Testament king of Israel, S00269), with the tombs of David and his son, King *Solomon (S00270); also the tomb of the Holy *Innocents (the children killed on the orders of Herod, S00268), whose bones can be seen together in one place. Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 2015-05-09, 00:00 authored by robert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 29

First recension
Continuo medium miliarium a Bethlem in suburbio Dauid ibi iacet in corpore, simul et Salomon filius ipsius, duo monumenta. Quae basilica ad sanctum Dauid appellatur. Nam et infantes, quos occidit Herodes, in ipso loco habent monumentum et omnes in unum requiescunt et aperitur et uidentur ossa ipsorum.

'Half a mile from Bethlehem, in the suburb, David's body lies buried with his son, Solomon, and they have separate tombs. The basilica is called At Saint David. The children slaughtered by Herod also have their tomb there, and they all lie buried together. When their tomb is opened you can look at their bones.'

Second recension
Miliario semis de Bethleem in suburbi Dauid iacet Dauid et Salomon filius eius, et appellatur locus ille basilica sancti Dauid. Sed et infantes, quos occidit Herodes, ipso in loco habent sepulchra, et in uno omnes requiescunt domo, et aperiuntur eorum monumenta et uidentur illorum sancta ossa.

'Half a mile from Bethlehem, in the suburb, David's body lies buried with his son, Solomon. And this place is called the basilica of saint David. The children slaughtered by Herod also have their tomb there, and they all lie in one house. When their tomb is opened you can look at their holy bones.'

Text: Geyer 1898, 178 and 209. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 142-143, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Innocents, children killed at the order of Herod : S00268 David, Old Testament king of Israel : S00269 Solomon, Old Testament king of Israel : S00270

Saint Name in Source

Infantes quos occidit Herodes David Salomon

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

Palestine with Sinai Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Pilgrim of Piacenza

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Bodily relic - bones and teeth Public display of relics


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.


It is difficult to say how much one can build on the adjective sanctus preceding David's name, but since the basilica was dedicated to him, it seems that we are dealing here with a full cult. Solomon whose later years are presented in the Bible in a not entirely favourable light seems to be here less important than David (who was, of course, also considered the author of all of Psalms) In the first recension, the Innocent children's bones may be interpreted as just a curiosity or a New Testament souvenir, in the second recension, with its reference to their holy bones, they are quite obviously an object of cult. It is not clear whether the Piacenza pilgrim himself saw their bones, but evident that their relics were on occasion put on view.


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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