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E03251: The Life of *Dalmatius (martyr of Pedona in Northwest Italy, S01530) is written in Latin, presumably in Pedona, at an uncertain date, perhaps in the 7th or 8th c. It narrates the many miracles performed by Dalmatius before and after his death (the martyrdom is only evoked), leading many to convert to Christianity.

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posted on 2017-07-11, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Life of Dalmatius (BHL 2082)


§§ 1-2: Prologue praising saints and their good works. Dalmatius is among them: he operated in all regions but especially in the place called Pedona, in urbe Castri Auriatensium.

§ 3: Dalmatius is instructed in the Scriptures by the most Christian teacher Doctrinius. He is well learned and remembering the deeds of the saints he wants to follow their example. His parents are from a city in the province of Germany (Germania), near Rome that is now called Italy (italia). At that same time Cornelius, bishop of Rome, lives in Germany and builds castra across valleys and mountains. The Cornelius converted of the Gospel (Acts 10:3) is from the same family. Cornelius is related to Dalmatius.

§§ 4-7: Dalmatius, son of a rich and most powerful senator, is of astonishingly good temperament and appearance. He lives in a time of persecutions but does not fear them: he is ready to renounce this world and die as a martyr (quotations from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke).

§ 8: As Dalmatius preaches to the people near Alba (civitas Albensium), his fame reaches the whole of Italy through Romania and the cities of the Ravennates. A magister militum comes to Dalmatius asking him to help his gravely ill daughter. Dalmatius sees from his appearance that he is a pagan and tells him that if he believes in Christ the Son of God and becomes Christian his daughter will be cured. Thus his heart is touched and he is baptised by the priest (presbyter) Iohannes.

§ 9: Dalmatius has a vision of angels chanting psalms and sees that a holy man named Antonius, living in Ravenna, has just died. When the magister militum comes home, he finds his daughter healed and learns about Antonius’ death as predicted by Dalmatius. Hearing about this from the magister militum, his household, relatives and friends, as well as many others, convert to Christianity: in total 2508 individuals.

§ 10: The man, named Valentinus, is arrested by his emperor and martyred together with 32 companions, earning the eternal kingdom and becoming friend of God. In Milan, a woman asks Dalmatius to cure her son. He realises that the boy is possessed, and exorcises him with a prayer and a sign of the cross on the forehead.

§§ 12-14: As he walks to Pavia (civitas Papia) an angel of the Lord joins him. Dalmatius recognizes immediately that he is an angel and when they arrive at the port of the Ticino river, they cross it miraculously after a prayer. Although most are Christians, there are still pagans in the city. Their priests worship in secret in a temple offering sacrifices to Diana and Satan. Following advice of the angel, Dalmatius summons the governor and tells him about hidden pagans. To convince him, he shows him the angel glowing with extraordinary light, unbearable to all except Dalmatius. As all are astonished, the angel seeks isolation with Dalmatius and tells him where the idols are hidden and what will happen to him, then leaves. Dalmatius returns to the city, the idols are found and burnt, all are baptised and the city of Pavia becomes fully Christian.

§§ 15-17: The author then evokes the saint’s martyrdom but states that the narrative will focus instead on the miracles performed by Dalmatius after his death. An illustrissima femina named Deinopia is gravely ill and a crowd mourns her. One of the servants of Dalmatius suggests bringing her to Dalmatius’ church. Her household, relatives and friends bring her to church and place the lifeless body on the ground, her head on Dalmatius’ tomb (sepulcrum). Everyone is thrown outside the church, the doors are closed and the body is left there from the third to the eighth hour. Then the man taking care of the church enters and she tells him of a vision. She saw two horrible men taking her to dark hell, then a young bright man appeared, touched her with his rod (baculus) and she was freed. The young man told her that he was Dalmatius and that she should drink water used to clean his altar. This is done and all return home praising God and Dalmatius. On hearing the news about her illness, her husband leaves in a hurry the Lateran palace in Rome where he serves the emperor. He finds her cured and praises the people of Pedona and the many miracles performed by Dalmatius.

§ 18: A man belonging to the service of the church of Dalmatius leaves it and travels around. He immediately becomes blind and cannot go anywhere. He is brought back to his cell at the church, repents and is healed. Epilogue praising the countless miracles of Dalmatius.

Text: Riberi 1929, 369-380. Summary: M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Dalmatius, martyr of Pedona in Northwest Italy : S01530

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • 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

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Pedona Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle after death Miracles causing conversion Punishing miracle Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Healing diseases and disabilities Miraculous sound, smell, light Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Exorcism Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Invisibility, bilocation, miraculous travels

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Ecclesiastics - bishops Pagans Relatives of the saint Monarchs and their family Aristocrats Soldiers Officials Slaves/ servants Crowds Angels Family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


There are a number of versions of the Life: the earliest and most widespread is BHL 2082, our focus here. The database Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta ( records 5 manuscripts for BHL 2082, known as “Passio ambrosiana” because the earliest known manuscript, from the 9th-10th centuries, is preserved in Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, P. 113 Sup., f. 1r-6r.


It should be noted that although the Life refers to Dalmatius’ martyrdom, it does not describe it in detail but rather focusses on the saint’s youth and the miracles performed before and after death at his shrine. An alternative version (discussed and published in Riberi), not summarised here, called the Passio pedonensis and only attested in later manuscripts, describes the martyrdom in more detail. For Riberi, both versions would ultimately go back to an earlier lost version that was known to Valerian of Cimiez, whose sermons in honour of a martyr would point to Dalmatius. However, there is no proof in the sermons to suggest that the martyr venerated in Cimiez is Dalmatius (see E03604, E03607, E03608). The Life is of uncertain date of composition, but should have been written by the 9th-10th centuries at the latest when it is found in manuscripts. It is possible but uncertain that it was known to Florus of Lyon and Ado in their martyrologies which record Dalmatius’ feast on 5 December, but do not provide any further detail. While some scholars suggest dating to the 5th-6th centuries (Riberi; Tosco; Clavis Patrum Latinorum 2181; Gryson, R., Répertoire général des auteurs ecclésiastiques Latins de l’Antiquité et du Haut moyen âge, 2 vols. (Freiburg, 2007), I, 60), there is more consensus to situate the Life in the Lombard period, in the 7th or 8th centuries, when cult of Dalmatius is known to have developed (Lanzoni, Everett). Focusing on a detailed analysis of the author's political concerns, Everett suggests that it might be more precisely dated in the early 8th century, at around the same time as the Life of Sirus (E03242).


Edition (BHL 2082): Riberi, A. M., San Dalmazzo di Pedona e la sua abbazia (Turin, 1929), 369-380. Further reading: Everett, N., “The Hagiography of Lombard Italy,” Hagiographica 7 (2000), 49-126, at 74-79. Lanzoni, F., Le diocesi d’Italia dalle origini al principio del secolo vii, 2 vols. (1927), 732-733, 823-824, 1045. Riberi, A. M., San Dalmazzo di Pedona e la sua abbazia (Turin, 1929), 81-108. Tosco, C., San Dalmazzo di Pedona. Un’abbazia nella formazione storica del territorio dalla fondazione paleocristiana ai restauri settecenteschi (Cuneo, 1996).

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