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E06391: Two letters of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 9.67 and 9.83) of 598/599, to Domitius, abbot of Lucuscanum, relate to a monastery dedicated to *Maximus (just possibly the martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S00173) and *Agatha (virgin and martyr of Catania, S00794) in Palermo (Sicily). 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 9.67 (to Domitius, abbot of the monastery of Lucuscanum)

Extract from a long letter dealing with a dispute over property in Sicily:

Et ideo quia de possessionibus Faiano, Nasoniano et Libiniano positis in prouincia Sicilia territorio Panormitano, de quibus inter praepositos monasterii sanctorum Maximi et Agathae quod Lucuscanum dicitur et e diuerso
administratores xenodochii in hac urbe Roma constituti quod Valerii nuncupatur longa se traxit contention.

‘Thus with regard to the possessions of Faianum, Nasonianum and Libinianum, located in the province of Sicily and the territory of Palermo, there has been a long drawn-out dispute over them between those in charge of the monastery of Saints Maximus and Agatha, called Lucuscanum, and on the other side, the administrators of a hostel built in this city of Rome, that is called of Valerius.’

Pope Gregory the Great, Register of Letters 9.83 (to the same Domitius, and to Antonius, subdeacon in charge of the Roman xenodochium):

Gregory replicates verbatim the text from 9.67.

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 2, 622-3 and 637. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 584 and 593, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Agatha, virgin and martyr of Catania : S00794 Maximus, presbyter and martyr of Rome : S00173

Saint Name in Source

Agatha Maximus

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 - monastic


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).


That the monastery of Saints Maximus and Agatha (also known as the Lusculanum) was in Palermo is evident from Gregory, Register 9.20. We are, however, very unsure as to the identity of this Saint Maximus: the martyr of Rome (S00173) is a possibility, but he is not a prominent saint outside Rome, and there is no obvious reason why he might appear paired with Agatha of Catania, probably the best-known of all the martyrs of Sicily.


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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