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E04428: Gregory the Great, in his Dialogues (1.2), describes three miracles effected by *Libertinus (6th c. abbot of Fondi, S01708) in Funda/Fondi, southern Italy ;one of these, the raising from the dead of a boy, was aided by a sandal of *Honoratus (6th c. founder and abbot of Fondi, S01662), which Libertinus carried with him. Written in Latin in Rome, c. 593.

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posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by frances
Gregory the Great, Dialogues 1.2

When Libertinus was travelling through Samnium, he was stopped by Darida, a Gothic commander. Darida stole Libertinus’ horse, and Libertinus knelt to pray. The Goths were unable to drive Libertinus’ horse, or their own horses, across the Volturno river. Once the horse was returned, all the horses readily crossed the river.

During the campaign of Buccelin in Campania, his troops raided the monastery of Funda. Libertinus remained undetected whilst praying prostrate in the chapel even as the troops stumbled over his body.

Gregory recounts how Libertinus carried the sandal of Honoratus everywhere with him. One time, when travelling to Ravenna, a woman presented Libertinus with her dead child and refused to let him pass until he had brought him back to life.

Itaque descendit, genu flexit, ad caelum manus tetendit, caligulam de sinu protulit, super extincti pueri pectus posuit. Quo orante anima pueri ad corpus rediit.

‘So, he dismounted, knelt down, and raised his hands to heaven. Then, taking the sandal from the folds of his garment, he placed it on the breast of the dead child and, as he continued praying, the boy came back to life.’

Gregory describes how this miracle was effective because of the virtue of both Libertinus and Honoratus. Gregory then praises Libertinus’ humility.

Text: de Vogüé 1978. Translation: Zimmerman 1959. Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Libertinus (abbot of Funda) : S01708 Honoratus, sixth-century abbot of Funda : S01662

Saint Name in Source

Libertinus Honoratus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory the Great (pope)

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Power over life and death Punishing miracle Miraculous behaviour of relics/images Miracle after death Miracle with animals and plants Invisibility, bilocation, miraculous travels

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Foreigners (including Barbarians) Soldiers Animals

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes


Gregory the Great (Pope, 590-604) wrote his Dialogues on the Lives and Miracles of the Italian Fathers (Dialogi de vita et miraculis patrum italicorum) in Rome around 593. Organised into four books, the first three are a collection of lives and miracles of various Italian saints. The longest is the Life of Benedict of Nursia, which comprises the entirety of book 2. The final book consists of an essay on the immortality of souls after death. As a whole, the work documents and explains the presence of the miraculous in the contemporary world and the ability of saints to effect miracles both before and after death. The attribution of the Dialogues to Gregory has been disputed, most recently by Francis Clark who argued that the work was created in the 680s in Rome. Others - such as Adalbert de Vogüé, Paul Meyvaert and Matthew dal Santo - have, however, strongly argued for Gregory's authorship and it is broadly accepted that Gregory was responsible for the Dialogues. For a discussion of Gregory's devotion in writing the Dialogues, see E04383, and for the role of the Dialogues as a tract justifying the nature of miracles and theorising on the immortality of souls, see E04506. Gregory's principal aim in collecting the miracle stories of the holy men and a very few women of sixth-century Italy was to show the presence of God's power on earth as manifested through them, rather than to encourage the cult of these individuals. Indeed, though posthumous miracles at the graves of a few individuals are recorded (and also a few miracles aided by contact relics of dead saints), there is very little emphasis in the Dialogues on posthumous cult; some of the miraculous events that Gregory records (e.g. E04429) are not even attributed to named individuals. Although very few of the holy persons in the Dialogues are 'proper' saints, with long-term cult, we have included them all in our database, for the sake of completeness and as an illustration of the impossibility of dividing 'proper' saints from more 'ordinary' holy individuals.


'Buccelin' refers to Butilin, the leader of the Alamanni who attacked Italy in 554 (PLRE IIIA, 'Butilinus 1'). For a discussion of Gregory's treatment of Honoratus see E04384.


Edition: Vogüé, A. de, Grégoire le Grand, Dialogues, Sources chrétiennes 260 (Paris: Cerf, 1979). Translation: Zimmerman, O.J., Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great, Fathers of the Church 39 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1959). Further Reading: Clark, F.,The 'Gregorian' Dialogues and the Origins of Benedictine Monasticism (Leiden: Brill, 2003). Dal Santo, M., "The Shadow of A Doubt? A Note on the Dialogues and Registrum Epistolarum of Pope Gregory the Great (590–604)," Journal of Ecclesiatical History, 61.1, (2010), 3-17. Meyvaert, P., "The Enigma of Gregory the Great’s Dialogues: A Reply to Francis Clark," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 39 (1988), 335–81. Vogüé, A. de, "Grégoire le Grand et ses Dialogues d’après deux ouvrages récents," Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 83 (1988), 281–348.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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