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E05815: Agnellus of Ravenna, in his Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, written in Latin, refers to the reconciliation to Orthodoxy by Bishop Agnellus (557-570) of several previously Arian churches, located in and around Ravenna (northern Italy). The new dedications are recorded as being to *Eusebius (bishop of Vercelli, ob. 371, S01219), *George (soldier and martyr, S00259), and *Theodore (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), all in Ravenna; to *Sergius (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023) in Classe; and to *Zeno (bishop of Verona, ob. 371, S01558) in Caesarea. Account written in Ravenna in 830/846.

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posted on 2018-06-19, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 86

Igitur iste beatissimus omnes Gothorum ecclesias reconciliauit, quae Gothorum temporibus uel regis Theodorici constructae sunt, quae Ariana perfidia et haereticorum secta doctrina et credulitate tenebantur. Reconciliauit ecclesiam sancti Eusebii sacerdotis et martiris quae sita est non longe a campo Coriandri extra urbem, Idus Nouembris, quam aedificauit Vnimundus episcopus anno .xxiiii. Theodorici regis a fundamentis. Similiter et ecclesiam beati Georgii reconciliauit temporibus Basilii iunioris, sicut in ipso relegitur tribunali. Reconciliauit ecclesiam beati Sergii quae sita est in ciuitate Classis iuxta uiridiarium, et beati Zenonis in Caesarea. Infra urbem uero Rauennam ecclesiam sancti Theodori non longe a domo Drocdonis, quae domus una cum balneo et sancti Apolenaris monasterio, quod in superiora domus structum, episcopium ipsius ecclesiae fuit. Et ubi nunc est monasterium sanctae et semper uirginis intemeratae Mariae, fontes praedictae martiris ecclesiae fuerunt.

‘Therefore the most blessed one [Agnellus, Bishop of Ravenna, 557-570] reconciled all the churches of the Goths, which were built in the times of the Goths or of King Theoderic, which were held by Arian falsehood and the sect, doctrine and credulity of the heretics. He reconciled the church of St Eusebius priest and martyr which is located not far from the Coriandrian field outside the city on November 13, which Bishop Unimundis built from its foundations in the twenty-fourth year of King Theoderic [517/518], And likewise he reconciled the church of St George in the time of Basilius the Younger [508/533], as is told in its apse. He reconciled the church of St Sergius, which is located in the city of Classe next to the viridiarium and that of St Zeno in Caesarea. Indeed, in the city of Ravenna the church of St Theodore, not far from the house of Drocdo, which house together with a bath and a monasterium to St Apollinaris, which was built in the upper floor of the house, was the episcopal palace of that church. And where there is now a monasterium to the holy and always inviolate virgin Mary, there was the baptistry of the church of the said martyr [Apollinaris].’

Text: Deliyannis 2006. Translation: Deliyannis 2004.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eusebius, bishop of Vercelli (north Italy), ob. AD 371 : S01219 George, soldier and martyr : S00259 Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa : S00023 Zeno, bishop of Verona, ob. 371 : S01558 Apollinaris, bishop and martyr of Ravenna : S00331 Mary,

Saint Name in Source

Eusebius Georgius Sergius Zenon Apollinaris Maria

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • 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)

Ravenna Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Agnellus of Ravenna

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Monarchs and their family Heretics


Agnellus of Ravenna (ob. c. 846) was a deacon of the cathedral in Ravenna and – by hereditary right – abbot of two monasteries in Ravenna. He wrote his Liber Pontificalis Ecclessiae Ravennatis between 830 and 846, following the model of the Roman Liber Pontificalis. This work provides biographies of all the bishops of Ravenna from the legendary founder bishop Apollinaris to those active in Agnellus’ own day, and was originally composed to be delivered orally, most likely to clerics of Ravenna. This text is preserved in two manuscripts: one from the 15th c. (Bibliotec Estense Cod. Lat. 371 X.P.4.9.) and a fragmentary manuscript from the 16th c. (MS Vat. Lat. 5834). Agnellus bases his account of the lives of late antique bishops on documents preserved in Ravenna, stories which had been transmitted orally, and his own experience of the architectural landscape of 9th c. Ravenna. Agnellus' work contains invaluable architectural and art historical information about Ravenna: Agnellus refers to several religious buildings in Ravenna and the neighbouring settlements of Caeserea and Classe. He describes their decoration and preserves several inscriptions, many of which are now lost to us. It must be remembered this is a 9th c. work. Agnellus’ descriptions of buildings and their fixtures is based on his 9th c. experience, and not late antique reality. Indeed, his accounts of the events of earlier years are often riddled with inaccuracies. Yet it is likely that his descriptions of the churches of Ravenna are more trustworthy. As Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis argues, a comparison of surviving late antique mosaics with Agnellus’ account suggests that his descriptions were largely accurate. This is limited to what he does tell us – for example Arian foundations are often ignored whilst orthodox foundations are emphasised. Yet, overall, this text provides invaluable information about the cult of saints in late antique Ravenna.


This passage provides valuable information about the Arian foundations in Ravenna under Theoderic the Great. Details of such foundations are only rarely given by Agnellus. Agnellus most likely learned about these events from inscriptions in the churches in question and an imperial decree which gave Ravenna’s bishop all the property of the Arian Gothic churches in Ravenna. Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis suggests that the saints to whom these churches were rededicated were chosen deliberately. Eusebius opposed the Arians in the later fourth century and became a symbol of orthodoxy (although in reality, despite Arian persecution, Eusebius died peacefully in 371, he gradually acquired the reputation of a martyr). Similarly, by the 550s, Martin of Tours was viewed in a similar way. The choice of churches dedicated to several soldier saints – including Sergius, Theodore, George and Martin – may reflect a similar sentiment. Perhaps Bishop Agnellus chose these figures to make a statement about the heavenly army facing down the Arians. Or perhaps it even reflected the Bishop's own personal preferences: Agnellus was a soldier before he was a bishop. J. M. Stansterre and E. Morini have both argued convincingly that, throughout Agnellus’ account, monasterium can used to mean any foundation – for example a chapel or church – dedicated to a saint. It does not necessarily refer to a monastery. As such, the original Latin is preserved in this record. Maps showing the likely locations of the foundations in Classe and Ravenna are attached to this record.


Text: Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Agnelli Ravennatis Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis (Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 199; Turnhout, 2006). Translation: Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, The Book of Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna (Washington D.C., 2004). Further Reading: Deichmann, Friedrich Wilhelm, Ravenna, Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes, vol. 1-3, (Wiesbaden, 1958-89). Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Ravenna in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2010). Mackie, Gillian, Early Christian Chapels in the West: Decoration, Function and Patronage (Toronto, 2003). Moffat, Ann, "Sixth Century Ravenna from the Perspective of Abbot Agnellus," in: P. Allen and E.M. Jeffreys (eds,), The Sixth Century – End or Beginning? (Brisbane, 1996), 236-246. Morini, E., "Le strutture monastische a Ravenna," in: Storia di Ravenna, 2.2, Dall’età bizantia all’ età ottania, ed. A. Carile (Ravenna, 1992), 305-312. Schoolman, Edward, Rediscovering Sainthood in Italy: Hagiography and the Late Antique Past in Medieval Ravenna (Basingstoke, 2016). Stansterre, J. M., "Monaci e monastery greci a Ravenna," in: Storia di Ravenna, 2.1, Dall’età bizantia all’ età ottania, ed. A. Carile (Ravenna, 1992), 323-329. Verhoeven, Mariëtte, The Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna: Transformations and Memory (Turnhout, 2011).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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