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E00513: The Piacenza Pilgrim, in his account of Alexandria (Lower Egypt), lists the graves there of *Athanasios (bishop of Alexandria, ob. 373, S00294), *Phaustos/Faustus (martyr of Alexandria, S00299).*Epymachos (martyr of Egypt, S00222), 'Antoninus' (either *Antony 'the Great', monk of Egypt, ob. 356, S00098, or *Antoninus, martyr of Alexandria, S00327) and *Mark (the Evangelist, S00293). 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 Bryan
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 45

First recension
Alexandria ciuitas splendida, populus leuissimus, sed amatores peregrinorum; haereses multae. Ibi enim requiescit sanctus Athanasius, sanctus Faustus, sanctus Epimachius, sanctus Antoninus, sanctus Marcus uel alia multa corpora sanctorum.

'Alexandria is a renowned city, but its people is very reckless, though they welcome travellers. It is full of heresies. Saint Athanasius lies buried there, and also saint Faustus, saint Epimachius, saint Antoninus, saint Mark, and many other saints.'

Second recension
Alexandria, ciuitas pulchra, populus leuis, sed amatores peregrinorum, haereses multae; ibi enim requiescit Athanasius ipsius ciuitatis episcopus, qui contra Arrium presbyterum ipsius ciuitatis haereticum pro fide Christi certando multa pericula mortis sustinuit temporibus constans imperatoris Constantini Helenae filio. Ibidem requiescit sanctus Faustus et sanctus Epymachius et sanctus Antonius uel sanctus Maurus et alia multa sanctorum corpora.

'Alexandria is a beautiful city, but its people is reckless, though they welcome travellers. It is full of heresies. Saint Athanasius lies buried there, the bishop of this city who, in the times of the emperor Constantine son of Helena, steadfastly endured many dangers of death, when fighting for the faith of Christ against Arius, a heretic presbyter of the same city. There lies saint Faustus and saint Epimachius, and saint Antony, saint Maurus, and many other saints.'

Text: Geyer 1898, 190 and 217. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 149-150, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mark the Evangelist : S00293 Athanasios, bishop of Alexandria, ob. 373 : S00294 Epimachos, martyr in Egypt, ob. 250/1 : S00222 Faustus, deacon and martyr in Alexandria, ob. s. 257 : S00299 Antoninus, martyr in Alexandria (?) : S00327 Antoninus,

Saint Name in Source

Marcus Athanasius Epimachius/Epymachius Faustus Antonius/Antoninus Antonius/Antoninus Antonius/Antoninus

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 Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Piacenza Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Pilgrim of Piacenza

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

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.


The second recension differs from the first by its discussion of Athanasius' role combating Arianism, and by a slightly different list of saints named as buried in Alexandria. Maurus (replacing Marcus) is, however, certainly an error (whether of the author or of a subsequent scribe), though a curious one since Mark the Evangelist was Alexandria's greatest saint, and no saintly Maurus is known from the city. It is less obvious whether the pilgrim writes of the grave of 'Antonius' (and, if so, the great ascetic of the 4th century), as transmitted by the second recension, or 'Antoninus' (a martyr of Alexandria), as transmitted by the first. According to his Life by Athanasius, Antony the Great was originally buried in an unmarked grave in the desert (see E00669). However, in 562 his body was discovered and transferred to Alexandria (see E00712). Thus the Piacenza pilgrim certainly could have visited his tomb here; indeed, given his interest in ascetics (he had already written of the grave of *Hilarion near Gaza [E00506], and visited the cave of the anchorite *Paul [E00510] in the eastern desert), it is quite likely that our pilgrim would seek out, and mention, the grave of perhaps the greatest anchorite of them all, whose body had quite recently arrived in Alexandria, presumably with considerable fanfare. Antoninus of Alexandria was, by contrast, a comparatively minor figure, though we should note that neither Faustus/Phaustos nor Epimachus, whose identities here are not in doubt, were major saints. But it could be argued that our pilgrim included him in his list of Alexandrian saints because he associated him in some way with *Antoninus (martyr of Piacenza, S00328), who was his special protector (see E00578).


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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