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E02841: In the Life of *Severinus (hermit and monk in Noricum, ob. 482, S00848), the saint obtains relics of *John the Baptist (S00020), and perhaps dedicates a basilica to him, all at Favianis (on the upper Danube), between around 454 and 482. Account by Eugippius, written in Latin near Naples (southern Italy) in 511.

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posted on 2017-05-24, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Eugippius, Life of Severinus 23

Igitur sanctissimus Severinus, dum in monasterio Favianis evangelium legeret, oratione suppleta consurgens scafam sibi iubet ilico praeparari et mirantibus ait: "Sit nomen domini benedictum: sanctuariis beatorum martyrum nos oportet occurrere". Nec mora, transmeato Danuvio inveniunt hominem considentem in ripa ulteriore fluminis ac multis eos precibus postulantem, ut ad servum dei, ad quem fama vulgante olim venire cuperet, duceretur. Mox itaque ei Christi famulo demonstrato suppliciter santi Iohannis Baptistae reliquias optulit multis apud se servatas temporibus. Quas dei servus debita veneratione suscipiens basilicam sancti Iohannis, sicut praedixerat, ultronea benedictione collatas sacravit officio sacerdotum.

‘One day St. Severin, reading the Gospel in his monastery at Favianis, after offering prayer, arose and ordered a boat to be made ready for him; when they wondered he said: “Blessed be the name of the Lord: we must go to meet the relics of the blessed martyrs.” They crossed the Danube without delay and found a man sitting on the opposite bank of the river, who asked them with many entreaties to be led to the servant of God, to whom, on account of his fame with all people, he had long wished to come. The servant of Christ was pointed out to him, and he humbly offered him relics of St. John Baptist, which he had kept with him for a long time. Receiving them with due reverence, brought together by a voluntary blessing, the servant of God consecrated the basilica of St John, as he had promised​, through the sacred service of priests.'

Text: Noll 1981, 88. Translation: Bieler-Krestan 1965, 80 (modified).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Baptista

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint


  • 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

Castellum Lucullanum

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

Castellum Lucullanum Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Miracles

Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics Construction of cult building to contain relics Privately owned relics


For the Life of Severinus see E02347.


The final sentence of the extract is difficult to interpret with confidence; it perhaps suggests that a basilica was consecrated to John the Baptist after the acquisition of his relics, possibly the basilica attached to Severinus’ monastery, where relics of various martyrs were kept (see E02838). As in Severinus' other acquisition of relics (E02838), Eugippius says that the saint is able to obtain them through his power of divination and because their owners wish to give them to him because of his fame. As with other episodes in the Life of Severinus, this incident cannot be precisely dated, but has to be situated between around 454, when Severinus arrived in Noricum, and 482, when he died.


Edition: Noll, R., Eugippius. Das Leben des heiligen Severin, 2nd edition (Passau, 1981), 59-116, at 88. Translation: Bieler, L., and Krestan, L., Eugippius, The Life of St. Severin (Fathers of the Church 55; Washington D.C., 1965), 57-119, at 80.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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