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E06411: A letter of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 9.233) of 599, to Decius, bishop of Lilybaeum, asks him to consecrate a female monastery dedicated to *Peter (the Apostle, S00036), *Laurence (deacon and martyr of Rome, S01229), *Hermes (martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S00404), *Pancratius (martyr of Rome, S00307), *Sebastianus (martyr of Rome, S00400), and *Agnes (virgin and martyr of Rome, S00097), inside the city of Lilybaeum (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 9.233

Full text of the letter:

Adeodata gloriosissima femina petitorii nobis insinuatione suggessit, quod habetur in subditis, in domo siquidem iuris sui intra ciuitatem Lillibitanam monasterium ancillarum dei a solo se pro sua deuotione fundasse, quod in honore beati Petri principis apostolorum atque sanctorum christi martyrum Laurentii, Ermetis, Pancratii, Sebastiani et Agnes desiderat consecrari. Et ideo, frater carissime, quippe quia in ciuitatis tuae commemorata constructio iure consistit et, si nullum corpus ibidem constat humatum, percepta primitus donatione legitima, id est in reditu praestantes liberos a tributis fiscalibus solidos x, pueros tres, boues paria tria, mancipia alia, quae seruiant in ipso monasterio numero u, equas numero x, uaccas numero x, hastulas uinearum numero iiii, oues numero xl, et cetera secundum morem.

‘Gregory to Decius, bishop of Lilybaeum
Adeodata, a most glorious woman, has suggested to us with the notification of a declaration, which is held in the appendix, that she has founded a monastery for nuns in a house legally hers, inside the city of Lilybaeum, as proof of her devotion. And she wants it to be consecrated in honour of Saint Peter, prince of the apostles, and of Saints Laurence, Hermes, Pancratius, Sebastianus and Agnes, martyrs of Christ. And for that reason, my very dear brother, [do so]. For the construction just mentioned is subject to the control of your city. Provided it is certain that no human body has been buried there, receive all the donation set out by law, that is for income, gold solidi, free from taxes, ten, and slave-boys, three, oxen of the same age, three, other servants to serve in that convent, five in number, mares, ten in number, cows, ten in number, vine plantations, four in number, sheep, forty in number, and the rest according to what is normal.’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 2, 815-16. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 706-7, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome : S00037 Hermes, martyr of Rome : S00404 Pancratius, martyr of Rome : S00307 Sebastianus, martyr of Rome : S00400 Agnes, virgin and martyr of Rome : S00097

Saint Name in Source

Petrus Laurentius Hermes Pancratius Sebastianus Agnes

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 - monastic

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Women


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. From the context provided by these letters, it seems clear that the sacred relics refer to the saint(s) to whom the foundation is dedicated.


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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