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E05839: In two letters written in Latin in the late 5th century at Limoges (central Gaul), Ruricius of Limoges refers to rites or festivals (sollemnitates) of *unnamed saints (S00518).

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posted on 2018-06-20, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Ruricius of Limoges, Letters 1.7 and 1.14

Letter 1.7 in Ruricius' collection is addressed to a bishop named Bassulus, accompanying the return of a book he had lent to Ruricius. It concludes:

... simulque, si propitio deo ad sollemnitatem sanctorum Gurdone uenturi sitis, me recurrentibus scire faciatis.

'... at the same time, if (God willing) you are going to come to the feast of the saints at Gurdo, let me know by return.'

Letter 1.14 is addressed to Celsus, a layman. It is mostly concerned with a horse that Ruricius is sending him. It concludes:

His itaque, sicut oportuit, intimatis, salutatione praelata, pollicitatione dispensa, promissa deposcimus, ut ad sollemnitatem sanctorum ad nos deo propitio una cum sorore uestra uenire dignemini, honorem patronis, fratribus affectum, gratiam populis praestituri.

'Having communicated these things, therefore, just as was fitting, with my greeting offered and my promise dispensed, I demand what you promised: that you deign to come to us (God willing) for the feast of the saints, together with your sister, to offer honour to your patrons, love to your brothers [or 'the brothers'], and good will to the people.'

Text: Demeulenaere 1985, 321, 327. Translation and summary: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Saints, unnamed : S00518

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Limoges Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Other lay individuals/ people


Ruricius of Limoges (c. 440-c. 510) was a member of the Gallic senatorial aristocracy and bishop of Limoges from about 485 (Mathisen 1999, 19; Demeulenaere 1985, 306). A collection of his correspondence survives (CPL 985), consisting of about eighty letters by Ruricius himself and fifteen to Ruricius from others. This is transmitted in a single manuscript, dating from c. 800 (Codex Sangallensis 190, the sole source for a number of late antique and early medieval Gallic letter collections). Ruricius' letters contain no references to the cult of saints other than the two discussed here. It is known from the verse Epitaph of the Ruricii by Venantius Fortunatus (E05690) that he founded a church at Limoges dedicated to St Augustine, but there is no reference to it in his letters. The letters in Ruricius' collection are undated. Those discussed here are dated by Mathisen, to c. 475/485 (Mathisen 1999, 113 and 125; see also 56-7), implying that they were probably written before Ruricius became a bishop, but when he may already have been a cleric.


Each of these two letters refers to a sollemnitas sanctorum (feast of the saints), which the correspondent was invited to attend. The letters do not necessarily refer to the same occasion. Mathisen suggests that the feast was that of Peter and Paul on 29 June, since this was the only feast for more than one saint that was regularly celebrated in Gaul at this period (Mathisen 1999, 34-5; 114, n. 6). In both cases the invitations are extended at the end of letters which are otherwise entirely concerned with secular matters. One of the letters is addressed to a bishop named Bassulus, whose see is unknown but is conjecturally identified by Mathisen as Cahors (Mathisen 1999, 113). This mentions that the sollemnitas is at Gurdo, probably Gourdon (Lot), between Limoges and Cahors (Mathisen 1999, 20, 113). The other letter is addressed to a layman named Celsus; in this case the location of the sollemnitas is not specified. Mathisen suggests that the 'patrons' who Ruricius suggests Celsus would honour by attending could refer to the saints.


Editions: Demeulenaere, R., Ruricii Lemovacensis epistularum libri duo, in: Foebadius, Victricius, Leporius, Vincentius Lerinensis, Evagrius, Ruricius (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 64; Turnhout 1985), 313-394. Engelbrecht, A., Ruricii Epistulae libri duo, in: Fausti Reiensis praeter sermones pseudo-eusebianos opera, accedunt Ruricii Epistulae (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 21; Vienna, 1891), 351-442. Krusch, B., Ruricii Epistulae, in: Gai Sollii Apollinaris Sidonii epistulae et carmina, accedunt Fausti aliorumque epistulae ad Ruricium aliosque Ruricii epistulae (Monumenta Germania Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi 8; Berlin 1887), 299-350. Translation: Mathisen, R.W., Ruricius of Limoges and Friends: A Collection of Letters from Visigothic Gaul (Translated Texts for Historians 30; Liverpool, 1999).

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