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E00530: The Piacenza Pilgrim records his visit to Antioch (Syria), mentioning the tombs there of *Babylas (bishop and martyr of Antioch, S00061), the *Three Children (his companions, S00319), *Justina/Ioustina (virgin and martyr of Antioch, S01704), *Julianus/Ioulianos (martyr of Cilicia, S00305), and the Maccabean Martyrs (pre-Christian Jewish martyrs of Antioch, S00303); over the latter hang the instruments of their martyrdom or an account thereof. Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 2015-05-19, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 46

First recension
Exeuntes de Apamia uenimus Antiochia maiore, in qua requiescit sanctus Babyllas et tres paruuli, sancta Iustina et sanctus Iulianus et fratres Machabei, hoc est nouem sepulchra, et super uniuscuiusque sepulchrum pendent tormenta ipsorum.

'Leaving Apamea we came to Antioch the Great, the resting-place of saint Babylas and the three children, saint Justina, and saint Julianus and the Maccabean brothers, nine tombs in all, over each of which hangs the instrument of his martyrdom.'

Second recension
Inde exeuntes uenimus Antiochia maiore, in qua requiescit sanctus Byllas episcopus et tres paruuli et sancta Iustina et sanctus Iulianus et fratres Machabei, hoc est septem sepulchra, et super uniuscuiusque sepulchrum scripta sunt passiones illorum.

'Leaving there [i.e. Apamea] we came to Antioch the Great, the resting-place of saint Babylas, the bishop, and the three children, saint Justina, and saint Julianus and the Maccabean brothers, seven tombs in all, over each of which is written the story of his martyrdom.'

Text: Geyer 1898, 190 and 218. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 150.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Babylas, bishop and martyr in Antioch, and his companions, ob. 282-284 : S00061 Maccabean Brothers, 2nd-century BC Jewish martyrs in Antioch : S00303 Kyprianos and Ioustina/Justina, martyrs of Antioch : S01704 Julian, martyr in Cilicia, ob. c. 303

Saint Name in Source

Babyllas Fratres Machabei Iustina Iulianus Tres parvuli

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 Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Piacenza Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Thabbora Thabbora

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


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Contact relic - instrument of saint’s martyrdom


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 graves the pilgrim lists are all of major martyrs, with considerable Christian cult, including the pre-Christian Maccabean brothers (the second recension is correct that there are seven, not nine, brothers in the biblical story). The change in the account of the Maccabean tombs between the first and the second recension is intriguing: the former saying that the instruments of their individual passions hung over their graves, the latter that it was some form of written account of their sufferings. Presumably the author of the second recension had obtained divergent information about these graves.


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). Further reading: Maraval, P., Lieux saints et Pèlerinages d'Orient: Histoire et géographie, des origines à la conquête arabe (Paris: Cerf, 1985), 337-342.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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