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E06878: Pope Pelagius I, in a letter of 556/561 to a bishop Eleutherius, authorises the consecration of an oratory in honour of a 'martyr Cantiana' (just possibly *Cantianilla, martyr of Aquileia, S01552), on an estate named 'Pancellus', probably in southern Italy. Written in Latin in Rome.

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posted on 2018-10-15, 00:00 authored by frances
Pelagius I, Letter to Eleutherius


Maximus diaconus Ecclesiae dilectionis tuae nobis suggessit, in fundo qui appellatur Pancellus, oratorium se pro sua devotione fundasse, quod in honore beatae Cantianae martyris desiderat consecrare. Et ideo, frater charissime, si in tua dioecesi memorata constructio jure consistit, et nullum corpus ibidem constat humatum, percepta prius donatione legitima vel possessione illa et illa, praesetantes liberos a fiscalibus titulis solidos tot, gestisque municipalibus allegatis, praedictum oratorium absque missis publicis solemniter consecrabis;

‘Maximus, deacon of the Church of your affection, has informed us of his desire that an oratory he has founded for his devotion, on the estate which is called Pancellus, be consecrated in honour of the blessed martyr Cantiana. And so, dearest brother, if the aforementioned building rightly belongs in your diocese, and it is clear that no body is buried there, first receive the legitimate donation or possessions, from today, a number of gold coins free of imperial tribute, pledged by municipal act. And then you will solemnly consecrate the aforesaid oratory without public masses.’

Text: Patrologia Latina 69. Translation and summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Cantius, Cantianus and Cantianilla, martyrs of Aquileia : S01552

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

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 Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Letter from the letter collection of Pope Pelagius I (556-561).


This is one of a number of surviving papal letters - two from Pelagius I (556-561) and four from Gregory the Great (590-604) - permitting, while also carefully regulating, the consecration and dedication to saints of private oratories, either on aristocratic estates or in monasteries, by the use of a set form of wording: E06878 and E06880 (both from Pelagius); E06377, E06390, E06399, E06403 (all from Gregory). Although no further details are given about the estate ‘Pancellus’, it is likely it was in the lands of southern Italy and Sicily that are the subject of most papal administrative letters. The identity of the martyr 'Cantiana' is problematic. She may be an otherwise undocumented local martyr, or she could just possibly be Cantianilla, a martyr of Aquileia (S01552). However, Cantianilla otherwise never appears without her siblings and comanion martyrs, Cantius and Cantianus, and is very unlikely to have been venerated at 'Pancellus', if this was in southern Italy.


Edition: Patrologia Latina 69.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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