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E07691: The Frankish courtier Gogo, in a letter to Peter, bishop of Metz, praises an unnamed man, possibly Peter himself, for constantly visiting the shrines of the saints. Austrasian Letter 22, written in Latin in northern Gaul, c. 565/581.

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posted on 2019-07-09, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Gogo, letter to Peter, bishop of Metz (Epistolae Austrasicae 22)

Gogo writes to Peter, bishop of Metz, to inform him that he has acquired property in his diocese, and to seek his good will. He includes greetings to several named individuals among Peter's clergy, and then adds the following:

Sed nec illum insalutatum relinquo, cuius gressibus indesinenter sanctorum limina visitantur et nunc super Musellae litoribus praecelsa templi cernitur construxisse iam culmina, et de cuius doctrina regum sunt ornata palatia. Per te enim, beatissime papa, saluto universam plebem pastorali vobis sollicitudine commendatam, qui, orationibus vestris obtinentibus, inlaesa erit, divinis obtutibus praesentanda.

'But I do not leave him ungreeted, whose steps constantly visit the shrines (limina) of the saints, and is now seen to have built the high towers of a church over the banks of the Moselle, and whose teaching has adorned the palaces of kings. For through you, most blessed bishop, I greet the entire people entrusted to you with pastoral care, who, by gaining your prayers, will be presented unharmed to the sight of God.'


Text: Gundlach 1892, 135, lines 5-10. Translation: David Lambert.

History

Evidence ID

E07691

Saint Name

Saints, unnamed : S00518

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

  • Latin

Evidence not before

565

Evidence not after

581

Activity not before

560

Activity not after

581

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

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

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

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 – unspecified

Source

Gogo (PLRE IIIA, 'Gogo', pp. 541-2) was a powerful figure in the courts of the Merovingian kings Sigibert I (r. 561-575) and until Gogo's death in 581, Sigibert's son Childebert II (r. 575-595). In this letter Gogo effusively greets and praises Peter, the bishop of Metz (PCBE 4, 'Petrus 14', p. 1481), while mentioning that he has acquired an estate in Peter's diocese; evidently the unspoken message is that he expects Peter to treat him with favour. The letter is preserved in the letter collection from early Frankish Gaul known as the Epistolae Austrasicae (Austrasian Letters). The letter must date from between Gogo's rise to power in the early 560s and his death in 581.

Discussion

The identity of the unnamed figure who constantly visited the shrines of the saints (limina sanctorum), as well as building an architecturally impressive church on the banks of the Moselle, is uncertain. His church-building activities and teaching imply that he was a bishop. He has sometimes been identified as the celebrated Nicetius of Trier (e.g. by Gundlach, in the MGH edition of the text), but this seems to be impossible on chronological grounds, since the admittedly fragmentary evidence suggests that when Nicetius died (c. 568), the bishop of Metz was still Peter's predecessor Vilicus (see PCBE 4, 'Vilicus 3', pp. 1975-6). Malaspina, however (p. 269, n. 508), has pointed out that if that Gogo's words are taken together with the sentence that follows (beginning with the words Per te enim ...) they can be read perfectly naturally as referring to Peter himself.

Bibliography

Editions: Gundlach, W., Epistolae Austrasicae, in: Epistolae Merowingici et Karolini Aevi (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Epistolae 3; Berlin, 1892), 134-5. Malaspina, E., Il "Liber epistolarum" della cancellaria austrasica (sec. V-VI) (Biblioteca di cultura romanobarbarica 4; Rome, 2001), 142-5, with Italian translation and commentary.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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