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E06884: Three letters of Pope Vitalian I (657-72), of disputed authenticity, condemn the removal of relics of *Benedict (of Nursia, monk, ob. 547, S01727) from Montecassino, central Italy, and their translation to Fleury (central Gaul), in c. 660. Written in Latin in Rome.

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posted on 2018-10-15, 00:00 authored by frances
Vitalian I, Letter 6


Audivimus, quod sine gravi dolore loqui non possumus, quemdam vestri coenobii gyrovagum, Augulfum nomine, suggestione diabolica Casinum venisse, et effracto beati Benedicti sepulcro, ejus reliquias diminuisse.

We have heard, and we cannot say this without grave sorrow, that a certain wandering monk of yours called Augulf, at the suggestion of the devil, came to Montecassino, smashed open the tomb of Benedict and took some of [lit: diminished] his relics.

Vitalian continues to condemn this violation and insists that the relics be returned to Montecassino.

Vitalian I, Letter 7

Addressed to Clovis, king of the Franks. This letter condemns the theft in the same terms as the previous letter and informs Clovis of the papal decision to excommunicate both Augulf and his ‘false’ abbot Mommulus.

Vitalian I, Letter 9

Addressed to the bishops of Spain and Gaul. This letter also condemns the theft and informs these bishops of the excommunication of Augulf and Mommulus.

Text: Patrologia Latina 87. Translation and Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Benedict (of Nursia, monk, ob. 547) : S01727

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 - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Theft/appropriation of relics


Letter from the letter collection of Pope Vitalian I (657-672). The authenticity of these letters has been contested because they were transmitted as part of a fictitious account stating that the relics were returned to Montecassino in the eighth century. However Constant Mews has argued that they were in fact authentic and provide a valuable insight into both this theft and the development of monasticism in Gaul.


Edition: Patrologia Latina 87. Further Reading: Mews, Constant, 'Gregory the Great, the Rule of Benedict and Roman Liturgy: the Evolution of a Legend', Journal of Medieval History, 37 (2011) 125-144.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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