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E06028: Pope Pelagius II, in a letter written in Latin at Rome in 586, sends contact relics (sanctuaria) probably of the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008), to Bishop Aunacharius of Auxerre (northern Gaul).

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posted on 2018-07-19, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Letter of Pope Pelagius II to Aunacharius, bishop of Auxerre ('Quantum Deo', JK 1057/JH 2051).

This passage comes from Pelagius' reply to a letter from Aunacharius which does not survive, but in which Aunacharius had evidently expressed his reverence for the See of Rome, and made a request for relics. Pelagius' letter is dated 31 October 586.

Nec aliter unam solamque Dei confitemur aecclesiam, nisi omnes ad petram super quam fundata est fides catholica construamur. Propter quod dilectionis tue desideriis successit effectus et celer et facilis, quia eorum sanctuaria queruntur, a quibus principibus sumpsit predicatio ueriatis exordium.

'We confess nothing other than the one and unique church of God, as long as we are all built upon the rock on which the catholic faith is founded. Because of this, fulfilment of the wishes of Your Kindness follows both quickly and easily, because you sought contact relics (sanctuaria) of those from whom as founders the preaching of the truth received its beginning.'

Text: Sot et al. 2002, 69. Translation: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • 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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - Popes

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - cloth


This letter is preserved in the 9th century historical compilation, The Deeds of the Bishops of Auxerre (Gesta episcoporum Autissiodorensium), in its entry for Aunacharius (bishop 561-605). The Deeds of the Bishops of Auxerre was compiled at Auxerre around 872, the year of the death of the last bishop included in the original version (Sot et al. 2002, viii). Like its presumed model, the Liber pontificalis, it consists of entries for each bishop from the founder of the see down to the time of composition. A number of documents are reproduced in the Deeds of the Bishops of Auxerre, including letters, administrative documents, wills, and acts of church councils: presumably they were found by the compilers in the archives of the see or of local institutions such as the monastery of St Germanus.


The use of the term sanctuaria implies that the relics sent by Pelagius to Aunarius were cloth contact relics, made by touching the tombs of Peter and Paul. For more detail about the process, see E00615 and E00617, and on the word, McCulloh 1976, 158-165.


Edition: Sot, M., Lobrichon, G., and Goullet, M., Les gestes des évêques d'Auxerre, vol. 1 (Paris, 2002), with French translation. Further reading: McCulloh, J.M., "The Cult of Relics in the Letters and 'Dialogues' of Gregory the Great: A Lexicographical Study," Traditio 32 (1976), 145-184.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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