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E02846: The Life of *Severinus (hermit and monk in Noricum, ob. 482, S00848) tells how monks of a place called Boiotro (on the upper Danube) desired relics of martyrs, and how Severinus deterred them, telling them that relics of *John (the Baptist, S00020) would arrive of their own accord. Account by Eugippius, written in Latin near Naples (southern Italy) in 511.

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posted on 2017-05-26, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Eugippius, Life of Severinus 22

Basilicae extra muros oppidi Batavini in loco nomine Boiotro trans Aenum fluvium constitutae, ubi cellulam paucis monachis ipse construxerat, martyrum reliquiae quaerebantur. Ingerentibus ergo se presbyteris, ut mitterentur ad sanctuaria deferenda, haec beatus Severinus monita proferebat: "Quamvis cuncta mortalium opere constructa praetereant, haec tamen aedificia prae ceteris celerrime relinquenda sunt": et ideo pro reliquiis sanctorum nullum laborem debere suscipere, quia ultro eis sancti Iohannis benedictio deferretur.

‘For the basilica outside the walls of Batavis, in a place called Boiotro, across the river Inn, where he had built a small abode for a few monks, relics of martyrs were sought. Priests volunteered to be sent in search of holy relics; but blessed Severin uttered these words of warning: “Although everything built by the hands of mortals will pass away, these buildings will have to be abandoned more quickly than others”; and, therefore, he said, they should not take any trouble in procuring the relics of saints, because the blessed relics of St. John would come to them by themselves”.'

Text: Noll 1981, 86. Translation: Bieler-Krestan 1965, 79.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source


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 - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

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

Cult Activities - Relics

Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics


For the Life of Severinus see E02347.


Eugippius’ reference to the search for relics anticipates the finding of the relics of John the Baptist narrated soon after in the Life (see E02841), thus it can be assumed that the John here named is John the Baptist. Eugippius’ story shows Severinus’ power of prophecy and his authority prevailing over the priests seeking for relics, the saint being the only one able to find relics by divine revelation. This hints at a context of competition for the finding and owning of relics. The prominent role of Severinus in the finding of relics here implied is underlined in other episodes of the Life (E02838 and E02841). The episode described by Eugippius cannot be dated with precision; however it must have taken place between Severinus' arrival in the region around 454 and his death in 482.


Edition: Noll, R., Eugippius. Das Leben des heiligen Severin, 2nd edition (Passau, 1981), 59-116, at 86. Translation: Bieler, L., and Krestan, L., Eugippius, The Life of St. Severin (Fathers of the Church 55; Washington D.C., 1965), 57-119, at 79.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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