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E00508: The Piacenza Pilgrim records his visit to an oratory at Pharan (Sinai), built where *Moses (Old Testament prophet and lawgiver, S00241) prevailed against the Amalekites. Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 2015-05-15, 00:00 authored by robert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 40

Extract from the pilgrim's account of his journey from Mount Sinai to Egypt.

First recension
Nobis autem uisum est per Aegyptum reuerti et uenientes in Fara ciuitatem, ubi pugnauit Moyses cum Amalec, ubi est oratorium, cuius altare positum est super petras illas, quas subposuerunt Moysi oranti.

'But we preferred to return through Egypt, and went to the city of Paran, where Moses did battle with Amalek. In that place is an oratory with its altar built over the stones with which they supported Moses while he prayed.'

Second recension
Visum est nobis per Aegyptum reuerti. Et uenimus in ciuitatem, in qua pugnauit Moyses cum Amalech. Ubi est oratorium, cuius altare positus est super lapides illos, quos posuerunt Moysi orante.

'But we preferred to return through Egypt, and went to the city where Moses did battle with Amalek. In that place is an oratory with its altar built over the stones with which they supported Moses while he prayed.'

Text: Geyer 1898, 185 and 214. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 147 lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Moses, Old Testament prophet and lawgiver : S00241

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

Cult building - oratory

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - dust/sand/earth


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.


This oratory commemorated a battle (described in Exodus 17:8-16) where the Israelites, led by Joshua, defeated the Amalekites. During the battle Moses watched from a hill: when his hand and staff were raised, the Israelites prevailed; when they were lowered, they began to lose. Tired by his labours, Moses was seated on a rock and assistants helped him to keep his hand raised. For the epigraphical evidence from Pharan, see E04400 and E04401.


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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