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E00997: Quodvultdeus tells a story of a man in Naples, in the 440s, who claimed to have the merits and power of *Sossius (martyr of Pozzuoli, S00621) and was arrested by local clerics. Account in the Book of Promises written in Latin, most probably in Naples in 440/454.

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posted on 2015-12-16, 00:00 authored by robert
Quodvultdeus, Book of Promises (Liber promissionum), Dimidium temporis 6.81

In Italia quoque, nobis apud Campaniam constitutis, dum uenerabilis et apostolico honore nominandus papa Leo manichaeos subuerteret et contereret pelagianos et maxime Iulianum ambientem, quidam Florus nomine, spiritu seductionis adreptus, uirtutem et meritum sibi sancti Sossi martiris adsignans, haud procul a Neapolitana ciuitate in subuersionem animarum quaedam promitteret faceretque inlicita, a germano uenerabilis Nostriani episcopi Etherio presbytero simul cum clericis praedictae ecclesiae detentus et coercitus, digne a praefatae prouinciae liminibus pulsus est.

'Also in Italy, when we had already settled in Campania, and when the venerable pope Leo, worthy to be spoken of with apostolic honour, destroyed the Manicheans and crushed the Pelagians, and especially the sinful Julian [of Eclanum], a man named Florus, seized by the spirit of seduction, not far from the city of Naples, claimed to have the merits and power of St Sossius the martyr, and was promising and doing illicit things for the destruction of souls. He was arrested and punished by the presbyter Etherius, brother of the venerable bishop Nostrianus, and by clerics from the named church, and justly expelled from the limits of the aforementioned province.'

Text: Braun 1976. Translation: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sossius, martyr from Misenum, ob. c. 303 in Puteoli (Puzzoli) : S00621

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy south of Rome and Sicily

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Naples Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Condemnation of other activity associated with cult

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures


The Book of Promises collects biblical prophecies, some of which are already fulfilled, others concerning the future to come. The author is not named in any manuscript, but the text suggests that he was a bishop of Carthage and then settled in Campania. All this points to Quodvultdeus, who started his episcopate between 429 and 439, and was exiled in the latter year from his see by the Vandals. He settled in Naples where he died most probably in 454, because in this year his successor in Carthage was chosen. The Book of Promises was written almost certainly some time after 439, for in Book of Promises 5.6 (E00997) the author claims that he is already settled in Campania.


For the author this episode proves that the devil operates in the world and his false prophets try to mislead the people. Quodvultdeus' description is quite vague, but he almost certainly considers Florus to be possessed by a demon who claimed to be the martyr Sossius. A similar story, of a man who was possessed but claimed to be 'the power of God' and another who considered himself to be the prophet Elijah can be found in Sulpicius Severus' Life of Martin 23-24.


Edition: Braun, R., Quodvultdeus Carthaginensis, Opera Tributa (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 60; Turnhout: Brepols, 1976). French translation: Braun, R., Livre des promesses et des prédictions de Dieu, 2 vols. (Sources Chrétiennes 101-102; Paris: Cerf, 1964).

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