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E00509: The Piacenza Pilgrim records his visit to oratories of *Moses (Old Testament prophet and lawgiver, S00241) and of *Elijah (Old Testament prophet, S00217), marking the places where the Israelites entered and left the Red Sea. Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 2015-05-16, 00:00 authored by robert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 41

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

First recension
Et inde uenimus ad locum ad ripam, ubi transierunt filii Israhel. Ubi exierunt de mare, est oratorium Heliae, et transcendentes in locum, ubi intrauerunt in mare, ibi est oratorium Moysi.

'And there we came to the point on the shore where the children of Israel made their crossing. At the place where they came out of the sea is the oratory of Elijah, and, travelling on, we came to the place where they entered the sea. There is the oratory of Moses.'

Second recension
Inde uenimus ad locum, ubi filii Israhel transeuntes mare rubro castra metati sunt, et ibi similiter castellum cum synodochio. Et in loco, quo exierunt de mare, est oratorium Heliae. Et transcendentes uenimus in loco, ubi intrarunt in mare, ubi est oratorium Moysi.

'There we came to the point where the children of Israel, having made their crossing of the Red Sea, measured out a camp. There is a fort and a hospice there. At the place where they came out of the sea is the oratory of Elijah, and, travelling on, we came to the place where they entered the sea, and the oratory of Moses.'

Text: Geyer 1898, 187 and 215. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 148, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Elijah, Old Testament prophet : S00217 Moses, Old Testament prophet and lawgiver : S00241

Saint Name in Source

Helias Moyses

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 Egypt and Cyrenaica

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 Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Pilgrim of Piacenza

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



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 obvious why Moses would be commemorated at the site of the crossing of the Red Sea (as recounted in Exodus 13 and 14); but less clear why Elijah should be.


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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