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E06387: A letter of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 9.45) of 598, to Bishops Iohannes of Sorrento, Agnellus of Terracina, Felix of Portua, Fortunatus of Naples, Primen of Nocera, Gloriosus of Ostia and Albinus of Formia (all near Rome or in Campania, southern Italy), encourages the building of sanctuaries for the relics of martyrs. 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 9.45

Full text of the letter (omitting only the long list of addressees):

Gloriosus filius noster Gregorius expraefectus sanctuaria beatorum martyrum in diocesis uestrae locis quiescentium sibi postulat debere concedi, in quorum honorem basilicam propriis sumptibus aedificari desiderat. Et ideo, fratres carissimi, praefati desideriis ex nostra uos praeceptione conuenit oboedire, ut deuotionis suae in consecratione quam postulat potiatur effectum.

‘Our glorious son, Gregory, the ex-prefect, asks that sanctuaries should be built for the relics of the blessed martyrs, which are resting in places of your diocese, and he wants you to fund [for each] the building of a church in their honour. And for that reason, my very dear brethren, I should direct you to obey the desires of the aforesaid ex-prefect, as is appropriate, so that his demand for the consecration of his devotions might be brought to fruition.’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 2, 604. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 573.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

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 - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Officials Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic


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).


The reasoning behind this generic instruction, to a long list of bishops of the region around Rome and of Campania, is obscure.


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: Dal Santo, M., Debating the Saints' Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great (Oxford: OUP, 2012). McCulloch, J., "The Cult of Relics in the Letters and Dialogues of Gregory the Great," Traditio 32 (1976), 145-184. 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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