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E06742: In his Letter 7.1 to Mamertus, written in Latin, Sidonius Apollinaris recounts how Mamertus, bishop of Vienne (south-east Gaul), translated the body of *Ferreolus (soldier and martyr of Vienne, S01893) and the head of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035). Written in Clermont (central Gaul), AD 474/489.

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posted on 2018-10-07, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Sidonius Apollinaris, Letters 7.1.7

In this letter, Sidonius recounts the incursions of the Visigoths and the deeds of Mamertus, especially his introduction of the Rogations (which were afterwards adopted by Sidonius at Clermont). Also, he mentions the translations of martyrs' relics:

Et quia tibi soli concessa est, post avorum memoriam vel confessorem Ambrosium, duorum martyrum repertorem, in partibus orbis occidui martyris Ferreoli solida translatio adiecto nostri capite Iuliani, quod istine turbulento quondam persecutori manus rettulit cruenta carnificis.

‘Moreover, you have been granted a privilege unique in the western world within the memory of our grandfathers, or in other words, since the time of the Confessor Ambrose, discoverer of two martyrs: for you have translated the complete body of Ferreolus together with the head of our Julianus, which in bygone days the bloody hand of the executioner brought away to the brutal persecutor.’

Text and translation: Anderson 1965, 290-293.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Ferreolus, soldier and martyr of Vienne, ob. 303/304 : S01893 Julian, martyr of Brioude : S00035 Gervasius and Protasius, martyrs of Milan : S00313

Saint Name in Source

Ferreolus Iulianus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Clermont Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Bodily relic - head Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics Transfer, translation and deposition of relics


Sidonius Apollinaris was born at Lyons about 430, into a senatorial family. He witnessed the decay of the Roman Empire in the West and met or corresponded with many important people of his times. He passed through the regular courses in grammar, literature, rhetoric, philosophy and law in his native city, and his works – Poems and Letters – reflect his academic training. He wrote poetry from his early years. Until his election as bishop of Clermont in 469 or 470, Sidonius had a career in secular politics. He resided in Clermont till his death, perhaps in 489. Sidonius' Letters consist of nine books, containing 149 letters addressed to about a hundred correspondents, including officials and bishops. He started preparing his Letters for publication probably about 469, though this date is hypothetical. Books 1-7 were published in about 477, Book 8 in about 480, and Book 9 in about 482. The collection starts with an introductory letter, in which Sidonius dedicated the work to his friend Constantius (PCBE 4, 'Constantius 3'), a priest of Lyon who was also a writer, notably of the Life of *Germanus of Auxerre (E05841). Originally, Book 7 was the intended end, as its last letter, also dedicated to Constantius, states. However more of Sidonius’ friends wished to be represented in the collection. Book 8 was compiled at the instance of Petronius, a jurisconsult of Arles and lover of letters (PCBE 4, 'Petronius 3'), and Book 9 was requested by Firminus, a learned man of Arles (PCBE 4, 'Firminus 1). Sidonius revised his letters before publication and added several specially composed on this occasion. His chief model was Pliny, who also wrote nine books of letters. They are not arranged in chronological order, though in broad terms those in the earlier books are earlier than those in the later ones, with the letters in Books 1 and 2 dating from before Sidonius’ election as bishop in 469/470. The Letters are a major source of information about many aspects of the civil and ecclesiastical life of Sidonius’ time. For more on Sidonius' biography, his works, and their dating see PCBE 4, 'Sidonius 1', as well as works below, such as Harries 1994, and Mathisen 2013.


Letter 7.1 was written in 474 (Dalton 1915) to Mamertus, bishop of Vienne (for whom, see PCBE 4: 'Mamertus', p. 1231-1233). A much fuller description of the event that Sidonius mentions is given by Gregory of Tours in his Miracles of Julian (E05137). In this letter, Sidonius also refers to the discovery by Ambrose, bishop of Milan, of the bodies of the martyrs *Gervasius and Protasius (S00313), probably in AD 386. For more details about this revelation see E00904.


Editions and translations: Anderson, W.B., Sidonius, Poems. Letters. 2 vols (Loeb Classical Library 296, 420; Cambridge MA/London, 1936, 1965). Loyen, A., Sidoine Apollinaire, Poèmes (Paris, 1960); Lettres. 2 vols. (Paris, 1970). Further reading: Dalton. O.M., The Letters of Sidonius. 2 vols. (Oxford, 1915). Harries, J., Sidonius Apollinaris and the Fall of Rome (Oxford, 1994). Mathisen, R.W., "Dating the Letters of Sidonius," in: J. van Waarden and G. Kelly (eds.), New Approaches to Sidonius Apollinaris (Leuven, 2013), 221-248. Pietri, L., and Heijmans, M. (eds.), Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire, 4: Prosopographie de la Gaule chrétienne (314-614). 2 vols. (Paris, 2013). (= PCBE)

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