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E06392: A letter of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 9.72) of 598, to Passivus, bishop of Fermo, refers to the foundation and consecration of an oratory dedicated to *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) in Teramo (central Italy), and the reception of relics there. 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 9.72

Full text of the letter:

Anio comes castri Aprutiensis petitoria nobis insinuatione suggessit, quod habetur in subditis, in superscripto castro oratorium se sumptu proprio pro sua deuotione fundasse, quod in honore beati Petri apostolorum principis desiderat consecrari. Et ideo, frater carissime, si in tuae dioceseos, in qua uisitationis impendis officium, memorata constructio iure consistit et nullum corpus ibidem constat humatum, percepta primitus donatione legitima, id est fundos campulos cum conduma una, boues domitos parium unum, uaccas duas, argenti libras quattuor, lectum stratum unum, in peculio capita quindecim, aeramenta capita duo, ferramenta numero quinque, praestantes liberos a tributis fiscalibus solidos sex, gestis que municipalibus allegata, praedictum oratorium sollemniter consecrabis. Presbyterum quoque te illic constituere uolumus cardinalem, ut, quotiens praefatus conditor fieri sibi missas fortasse uoluerit uel fidelium concursus exegerit, nihil sit quod ad sacra missarum exhibenda sollemnia ualeat impedire. Sanctuaria uero suscepta sui cum reuerentia collocabis.

‘Gregory to Passivus, bishop of Fermo
Anio, the count of the castle of Teramo, has informed us in a petition of recommendation, included as an appendix, that he has founded an oratory in the fortress mentioned above, at his own expense, to show his devotion, and he wants it to be consecrated in honour of Saint Peter, the prince of the apostles. And so, my dearest brother, if the construction mentioned above is situated in the jurisdiction of your diocese, in which you fulfil the office of visitor, and it is certain that no human body has been buried there, after first receiving the donation, as set by law, you will solemnly consecrate the aforesaid oratory. The donation is as follows: farms and small estates, with one manor house, one pair of tamed oxen, two cows, four pounds of silver, one bed with bedding, fifteen head of livestock, two copper vessels, five iron implements, six gold coins, of good quality and free from imperial tribute, all of them listed in the municipal records. We also want you to establish its own priest there, so that whenever the aforesaid founder might perhaps want masses said for him, or an assembly of the faithful might require it, there should be nothing that might prevent performing the sacred solemnities of the mass. Also you will locate reverently his received relics. ’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 2, 627-8. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 587-8, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036

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 - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Aristocrats

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 description of the process required for consecration and provision of the monastery is formulaic and appears in several other letters (E06366 and E06390). This provides a clear account of the procedure for consecrating a foundation dedicated to a saint. The relics mentioned in the last sentence, apparently of Peter, might well have been supplied from Rome by Gregory (though it is perhaps surprising that he does not state this).


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: 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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