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E06350: A letter of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 4.19) of 593, to Leo, an acolyte, orders him to care for the rents of a church, once a 'den of heretical depravity', now dedicated to orthodoxy and to *Agatha (virgin and martyr of Catania, S00794) in the Suburra, Rome; the church's property is the same as that held 'in the time of the Goths'. Written in Latin in Rome.

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posted on 2018-09-11, 00:00 authored by frances
Pope Gregory the Great, Register of Letters 4.19

Full text of the letter:

Locorum venerabilium cura nos admonet de eorum utilitate per omnia cogitare. Quia ergo ecclesia sanctae Agathae sita in Subura, quae spelunca fuit aliquando prauitatis haereticae, ad catholicae fidei culturam deo propitiante reducta est, ideoque huius auctoritatis tenore communitus pensiones omnium domorum in hac urbe constitutarum, quas praedicta ecclesia temporibus habuisse Gothorum constiterit, annis singulis congregare non desinas, et quantum in sarta tecta vel luminaribus aliaque reparatione eiusdem ecclesiae necessarium fuerit, erogare modis omnibus studebis. Quicquid vero exuberare potuerit, fideliter rationibus te ecclesiasticis praecipimus.

‘Gregory to Leo the acolyte
Our concern for venerable places reminds us to think about their usefulness in all ways. Thus, the church of Saint Agatha, situated in the Suburra, that was once a den of heretical depravity, has been brought back to the worship of the Catholic faith. For that reason, armed with the direction of this authority, continue to collect each year the rents on all the houses built in this city that the aforesaid church is agreed to have had in the time of the Goths. However much is needed for repairing the roof or for the lamps, you must strive to pay in full. But whatever might be left over, we order you to credit honestly to the church accounts.’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol.1, 237. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 1, 301-2, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Agatha, virgin and martyr of Catania : S00794

Saint Name in Source


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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory the Great (pope)

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Ceremony of dedication

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Appropriation of older cult sites

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles


A letter transmitted as part of Gregory the Great’s Register of Letters. This letter collection, organised into fourteen books, is large and contains letters to a variety of recipients, including prominent aristocrats, members of the clergy and royalty. The issues touched on in the letters are equally varied, ranging from theological considerations to mundane administrative matters. This collection of letters, which was possibly curated by Gregory, was originally much larger. The surviving Register comprises several groups of letters which were extracted at several later moments in history, the largest of which took place in the papacy of Hadrian I (772-795).


This is the church of Sant'Agata dei Goti, whose rededication to orthodoxy is also mentioned in Gregory's Dialogues (E04501) and in his short Life in the Liber Pontificalis (E01419).


Edition: Norberg, D., S. Gregorii Magni, Registrum epistularum. 2 vols. (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 140-140A; Turnhout: Brepols, 1982). English translation: Martyn, J.R.C., The Letters of Gregory the Great, 3 vols. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2004). Further Reading: Neil, B., and Dal Santo, M. (eds.), A Companion to Gregory the Great (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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