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E06545: A wandering monk named Mauricius writes to a Spanish bishop named Agapius defending his wandering lifestyle, and declares his intention of visiting the shrines of 'the holy martyrs of God Martin and Vincent', a reference to *Vincent (martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, S00290), and probably to *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050), but just possibly to *Martin (bishop of Braga, ob. 580, S01176). Letter written in Latin in Spain, early 7th c.

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posted on 2018-09-19, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Epistolae Wisigoticae 18 (letter from Mauricius the monk to Bishop Agapius)

In the greater part of the letter Mauricius justifies his wandering lifestyle to Agapius by citing the example of figures from the Old and New Testaments. He concludes the letter as follows:

Hos namque et alios quam plurimos Dei notatos electione multum sacra narrat historia, quos nec tempori nec loci coarctat necessitas per ordinem replicare; sed confidimus in potentiam Dei et illius quotidie exoramus clementiam, ut suum nobis non deneget auxilium et iter nobis agentibus angelum suum praeire concedat, ut sospetes sanctorum Dei martirum Martini et Vincenti praesentemur liminibus.

'Sacred history relates much about them and the very many others known through being chosen by God, whom the constraint of neither time nor place prevents from repeating in order; but we trust in the power of God and daily pray for his mercy, so that he does not deny us his help and grants that his angel goes before us on our way, so that we may be present unharmed at the shrines of the holy martyrs of God, Martin and Vincent.'

Text: Gundlach 1892, 687. Translation: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050 Vincent/Vincentius, deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia : S00290 Martin, bishop of Braga, ob. 580 AD : S01176

Saint Name in Source

Martinus Vincentius Martinus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


The Epistolae Wisigoticae (Visigothic Letters) is a collection of twenty letters from late 6th and early 7th c. Spain. It was preserved in a single manuscript from the late 11th or early 12th c., discovered in the 16th c. at Oviedo in northern Spain (Gundlach 1892, 658).


Mauricius gives only the names of the two 'holy martyrs' he mentions, but there can hardly be any doubt that Vincentius is Vincent of Saragossa (S00290). His reference to a Martinus is slightly more uncertain, since there was no martyr named Martin with any known cult when the letter was written in the early 7th c. Presumably Mauricius was using language loosely and did not mean to imply that both the saints he mentioned were martyrs. Assuming this is so, then he is most likely referring to Martin of Tours (S00050), but given his Spanish location it is not impossible that he meant Martin of Braga (S01176). Since Martin of Braga's basilica was dedicated to Martin of Tours, if Mauricius had in mind this precise place, there is hardly any distinction. Bishop Agapius is a rather elusive person, and his see is not known for certain. His correspondence in the Epistolae Wisigoticae with Bulgar, count of Septimania, could point to a bishopric there, but Epistolae Wisigoticae 14 seems to suggest that Agapius was a metropolitan bishop and the same letter says explicitly that the bishop of Narbonne and metropolitan of Septimania was Sergius. In fact, the only metropolitan see whose bishop is unknown in this period is Braga (there is a hiatus between Pantardus attested in 589 and Julian attested in 633 and 638). It is probable then that Agapius was from Braga. If Agapius was bishop of Braga, Mauricius could have purposefully made a reference to Martin (of Tours or of Braga, or both), as the saint(s) specially venerated in Braga, to soften the bishop.


Edition: Gundlach, W., Epistolae Wisigoticae, in: Epistolae Merowingici et Karolini Aevi (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Epistolae 3; Berlin, 1892), 661-690.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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