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E06397: A letter of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 9.148) of 599, to Secundinus, an anchorite monk, includes a gift of incense, aloes, storax and balsam, to be offered to the martyrs by the recipient, and asks for the intercession of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) on behalf of the monk. 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 9.148

Two extracts from a long letter, dealing with moral and theological issues:

Aloa uero, thymiama, storacem et balsamum sanctorum martyrum corporibus offerenda latore praesentium deferente transmisimus.
Rogo autem omnipotentem Deum ut sua te gratia protegat et beati Petri apostolorum principis intercessione a malis omnibus illaesum seruet, quatenus feruor caelestis desiderii in tua mente cotidie ardentius excrescat, ut semper nouus et semper se ipso robustior ad caelestia praemia multiplicius percipienda pertingat.

‘By the way, we have sent you presents, brought by the bearer of this letter, namely aloes, incense, storax and balsam, to be offered to the bodies of holy martyrs.
I ask almighty God to protect you with his grace and keep you unharmed by all evil things through the intercession of Peter, prince of the apostles, so that the fervour of heavenly desire may grow each day more ardently in your mind, and thus, ever new and ever more robust in yourself, you might obtain manifold rewards in Heaven.’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 2, 702 and 704. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 633-4 and 635, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

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

  • Sacrifice/libation

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


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).


It is not clear from the letter where Secundinus (described in the address as servus Dei inclauso) was based. It is possible that he is the 'abbot Secundus' of a letter from Gregory to the Lombard queen, Theodelinda (Register 14.12); if so, he was presumably somewhere in northern Italy.


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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