University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E00804: Letter to Bishop Nicetius of Trier (eastern Gaul) from an Abbot Florianus, asking him to pray that the deceased *Ennodius (bishop of Pavia, northern Italy, ob. 521, S00492), *Caesarius (bishop of Arles, southern Gaul, ob. 542, S00491), and *Theodatus, Florianus' predecessor as abbot (S00563), will become patrons of the author in heaven, and that through their intercession he will gain the patronage of *Ambrose (bishop of Milan, northern Italy, ob. 397, S00490). Also contains an allusion to *Maximinus (bishop of Trier, ob. c. 347, S00465) and *Paulinus (bishop of Trier, ob. 358, S00427). Written in Latin, probably in northern Italy, 548/552.

online resource
posted on 2015-10-20, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Florianus, letter to Nicetius of Trier (Epistolae Austrasicae 5)

(3.) Quia igitur tanta Sanctimoniae Vestrae praerogativa suffultat, quaeso ut pro me, qui inpetrastis, oretis: quoniam Deus praescius futurorum, qui fecit quae ventura sunt, sciens me sanctorum solacia indigere vivorum, ut bonus dominus praeparavit auxilia. (4.) Vide ergo quantis adiutoribus uteris, cum me coeperis obsecrare sanctae memoriae domnum Ennodium, pontificem Ticinensis ecclesiae, qui generosi sanguinis nobilitatem humilitate praevexit ad gloriam, ut in caelestis patriae senato[r] fieret et ibi senator, cuius inconparabilem doctrinae facundiam non solum testatur Occidens, sed et Oriens instructa miratur: Nestoriae fulmen, Euticis extinctor, gloriosam Dominam meam inviolabilemque Mariam christocon et theotocon apostolica auctoritate perdocuit; ipse ergo meus est pater ex lavacro, quem credo apud eternum Patrem per Filium intervenire pro filio.

(5.) Sed et Coronae Vestrae socium, beatae memoriae domnum Caesarium Arelatensem episcopum, qui vixit inter barbaros pius, inter bella pacatus, pater orfanorum, pastor egentium, qui tanti census effusionie nil perdidit, catholicae regulam disciplinae dictis factisque demonstrans – ipse igitur mihi Latinis elementis inposuit alfabetum – sed et hunc pro famulo discipuloque suo inpetrare confido.

(6.) Addo et tertium inparem quidem dignitate, sed meritis coaequalem, sanctae memoriae Theodatum abbatem meum et archimandritam, saeculi huius inimicum, cui crucifixus est mundus, templum vere dignissimum Trinitatis, plenum reverentiae christianitatis, ex placida bonitate mitissimum, ieiuniis castigatum, orationibus refectum, puritate mundissimum, qui mihi sacras exposuit Scripturas et flores tenerę lanuginis ipse suscepit, qui pro filio et discipulo successoreque suo, licet indigno, non ambigo, quod laus exoret.

(7.) Vincunt ergo, domine mi, tanti iusti [o]rationem peccatorum. Igitur quia conversatio vestra in caelis est - sicut dicit apostolus: 'Vestra autem conversatio in caelis est' - orate cum his et rogate illum meum sacratissimum confessorem Ambrosium, quatenus me ut peculiarem famulum tueatur, ut proprium civem foveat, ut familiarem alumnum eruat, quoniam apud Dominum Iesum, quod oraverit, exorabit.

(8.) Quocirca salutationis obsequium famulanter insinuans, praecor ut pro beatissimo viro, domino meo Datio episcopo, fratre vestro, semper oretis. Aequum est enim, ut pro eo, quem monasterii saepta sacrarunt successorem, etiam confessorum successor egregius beatorum exorare non desinas. Et hoc, si dignum ducitis, supplicamus, ut Beatitudinis Vestrae sospitatem parvitatem nostram faciatis, sicut petimus, certiorem.

'(3.) Because such a great prerogative supports Your Sanctity, I ask that you, who have obtained [what you prayed for], pray for me; because God, knowing the future, who has made what is to come, knowing that I lack the comfort of living saints, has, as a good lord, prepared assistance. (4.) See therefore what great helpers you employ when you begin to beseech on my behalf the lord Ennodius of holy memory, prelate of church of Ticinum [Pavia], who, through humility, raised up to glory the nobility of his illustrious blood, so that he joined the senate of the heavenly fatherland, and became a senator there, to whose incomparable eloquence in teaching not only does the West bear witness, but the East, instructed [by him], also marvels: the thunderbolt against Nestorius, the extinguisher of Eutyches, he taught with apostolic authority that my glorious and inviolable lady, Mary, was Christotocos and Theotocos. He himself is my father from the font, whom I believe intercedes with the eternal Father, through the Son, for his son.

(5.) But also the associate of Your Crown, the lord Caesarius of blessed memory, bishop of Arles, who lived piously among barbarians, peacefully among wars, father to orphans, pastor to the needy, who lost nothing through expenditure of such great wealth, demonstrating the rule of catholic discipline in words and deeds – he himself taught me the alphabet with the rudiments of Latin – but I also trust in you to intercede with him for his servant and disciple.

(6.) I add also a third person, unequal indeed in dignity, but equal in merits, Theodatus of holy memory, my abbot and archimandrite, an enemy of this world, unto whom the world was crucified [Galatians 6:14], truly a most worthy temple of the Trinity, full of the reverence of Christianity, most gentle from his placid good will, severe in fasting, filled with prayers, untainted in purity, who taught me the sacred scriptures and received the flowers of tender youth, who for his son and disciple and successor, even though unworthy, I do not doubt that he will joyfully pray.

(7.) Such great just men, my lord, defeat the total of sinners. Therefore, because your way if life is in heaven, as the Apostle says: Your way of life is in heaven [Philippians 3:20], pray with them and ask that man, my most sacred confessor Ambrose, that he may protect me as his particular servant, that he may cherish me as his own citizen, that he may save me as his close disciple, because what he prays for with the lord Jesus, he will obtain.

(8.) Hence, humbly conveying the duty of greeting, I implore that you always pray for that most blessed man, my lord Bishop Datius, your brother. It is right that for him, whom the precincts of the monastery sanctified as [your] successor, you, the outstanding successor of blessed confessors, should not cease to pray. And we beg this, if you consider it worthy: that you make, as we request, our humbleness more certain of Your Holiness's well-being.'

Text: Malaspina 2001, 74-78. Translation: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Ambrose, bishop of Milan (ob. 397) : S00490 Caesarius, bishop of Arles (ob. 542) : S00491 Ennodius, bishop of Pavia (ob. 521) : S00492 Maximinus, bishop of Trier, ob. c. 347 : S00465 Paulinus, bishop of Trier, ob. 358 : S00427 Theodatus : S00563

Saint Name in Source

Ambrosius Caesarius Ennodius Theodatus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • 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 Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

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

Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


Epistolae Austrasicae 5 is one of two letters from an abbot named Florianus to Nicetius, bishop of Trier c. 525-566/9, preserved in the letter collection from early Frankish Gaul known as the Epistolae Austrasicae (Austrasian Letters). The letter dates from the period between the death of Caesarius of Arles in 542 and that of Datius of Milan in 552. It appears to be later than Epistolae Austrasicae 6 ($E00755), which dates from no earlier than 548, in which case it would date from the period 548-552. The superscription to the letter names Florianus' monastery as the Monasterium Romenum. This has sometimes been identified on the basis of its name as the monastery of Romainmôtier in the Jura (for references, see Malaspina 2001, 234, n. 89). However, the content of Florianus' letters seems to imply a location in northern Italy: in the present letter he refers to himself as a fellow citizen of Ambrose of Milan, and to Datius of Milan as his bishop, while in Epistolae Austrasicae 6 he is concerned about a place usually identified as an island in Lake Como (see $E00755). It is likely that the Monasterium Romenum was a monastery in the region of Milan and Pavia which is otherwise unidentified (or whose name is corruptly transmitted). However, the issue, and therefore Florianus' location, has not been decisively resolved. (For a summary of the evidence on Florianus, see: Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire 2, 'Florianus 2'.)


Florianus requests Nicetius to obtain for him the intercession of three deceased individuals, the bishops Ennodius of Pavia (ob. 521) and Caesarius of Arles (ob. 542), and the former abbot of his own monastery, Theodatus, who he hopes will obtain for him the protection and patronage of Ambrose of Milan (ob. 397). After exclaiming to Nicetius, 'See therefore what great helpers you employ when you begin to beseech on my behalf ...' (Vide ergo quantis adiutoribus uteris, cum me coeperis obsecrare ...), Florianus asks him to call upon Ennodius of Pavia, emphasising Ennodius' role in opposing the heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches in the East. This is a reference to Ennodius' participation, in 515 and 517, in embassies from Pope Hormisdas to the emperor Anastasius. These were intended to end the Acacian schism, which had divided Rome and Constantinople since 484, but were unsuccessful (the schism eventually ended in 519, after Anastasius was succeeded by Justin: cf. E00615). Florianus' remarks on this topic are ill-informed: neither Nestorianism nor Eutychianism were at issue in the schism, nor is it clear that Florianus knew the difference between these (diametrically opposed) heresies. However, his claims probably reflect the reputation which Ennodius gained in his home region through his participation in the papal missions. Florianus concludes by stating that Ennodius was his 'father from the font' (pater ex lavacro), i.e. his godfather. His expression of trust that Ennodius 'intercedes with the eternal Father, through the Son, for his son' (i.e. godson) is a particularly strong early example of belief in the spiritual importance of godparents (Jussen 2000, 131). Florianus then moves on to Caesarius of Arles, who had died in 542, mentioning that Caesarius had taught him to read. He concludes this first group of requests by asking Nicetius to seek the intercession of Theodatus, who was his predecessor as abbot of the Monasterium Romenum and who trained him as a monk, describing him as 'unequal in dignity [i.e. not a bishop], but equal in merits' to Ennodius and Caesarius. This letter is the only surviving reference to Theodatus, and there is no evidence that he ever attracted cult as a saint. Florianus claims personal ties with all three of these individuals: Ennodius as his godfather, Caesarius, who educated him, and Theodatus, his former abbot. It is striking for someone to have had close links with two such celebrated bishops as Ennodius and Caesarius, especially as it subsequently emerges that he himself came from Milan: our prosopographical information about Florianus supports his claims, however. An Abbot Florianus was one of the dedicatees of the poet Arator's Historia Apostolica: Arator came from Milan, his poem is roughly contemporary with the letter, and he too was part of the circle of Ennodius (Orbán 2006, 1-5), all suggesting that his dedicatee was the same person as Nicetius' correspondent. There are two extant letters from Ennodius to a Florianus, dating from the year 503 (Ennodius, Letters 1.15-16). This Florianus, who was related to Ennodius (Letter 1.15.1), was a layman and a rhetor. He can hardly be Nicetius' correspondent: the gap between them of nearly fifty years is sufficient in itself to make such an identification very unlikely, but – decisively – Florianus the abbot says that he was taught the alphabet and the basics of Latin by Caesarius of Arles, while Ennodius' correspondent was already a trained rhetor in 503, only a year after Caesarius became a bishop. There is, however, every likelihood that Ennodius' correspondent and Nicetius' were related to each other, and thus that Abbot Florianus was a relative of Ennodius. Since Ennodius came originally from Arles, this provides a context for Florianus' presence there as a child, when he was educated by Caesarius. Having requested Nicetius to enlist the support of Ennodius, Caesarius, and Theodatus, Florianus then asks for him to pray with them for him to gain the protection and patronage of Ambrose of Milan. Unlike the others, Ambrose (ob. 397) was a figure from the historic past, though Florianus' request that Ambrose should cherish him 'as his own citizen' (ut proprium civem foveat), together with his subsequent reference to Bishop Datius of Milan, imply that he came from Milan, Ambrose's city. Florianus declares that he wishes for Ambrose's patronage because 'what he prays for with the lord Jesus, he will obtain' (quoniam apud Dominum Iesum, quod oraverit, exorabit). Florianus' letter suggests that he saw saints and holy men as a hierarchy: he asks the living holy man Nicetius to intercede for him with three figures who were relatively recently deceased and whom he had known, but who (in the cases of Ennodius and Caesarius) already had considerable reputations. He wishes these four to intercede with Ambrose, a saint long-established and revered throughout the church, who would, in turn, intercede on Florianus' behalf with Christ. Florianus concludes the letter by asking Nicetius to pray for the living Datius, bishop of Milan from the early 530s to 552 (himself later a saint, see e.g. E00846), noting that he had succeeded Nicetius as abbot of a monastery. It is known from Gregory of Tours, Life of the Fathers 17.1 (E05466) that Nicetius had been an abbot before becoming bishop of Trier, but the location of his monastery is unknown. In making this request, Florianus mentions that Nicetius was 'the successor of blessed confessors' (confessorum successor ... beatorum). Given the explicit reference in Florianus' other letter (E00755) to Nicetius' 4th century predecessors Maximinus and Paulinus ('confessors' because of their resistance to the 'Arian' emperor Constantius, and in Paulinus' case his death in exile), there can be little doubt that he is alluding to them here.


Editions: Malaspina, E., Il "Liber epistolarum" della cancellaria austrasica (sec. V-VI) (Biblioteca di cultura romanobarbarica 4; Rome: Herder, 2001), 74-79, with Italian translation and commentary. Gundlach, W., Epistolae Austrasicae, in: Epistolae Merowingici et Karolini Aevi (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Epistolae 3; Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1892), 116-117. Further reading: Jussen, B., Spiritual Kinship as Social Practice: Godparenthood and Adoption in the Early Middle Ages, trans. P. Selwyn (Newark and London: Associated University Presses, 2000). Orbán, A.P., “Einführung,” in: A.P. Orbán, Aratoris Subdiaconi Historia Apostolica (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 130; Turnhout: Brepols, 2006), 1-204.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager