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E00484: The Piacenza Pilgrim records, in his account of the grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem (Palestine), the grave there of *Jerome (Church Father, ob. 420, S00267). Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 09.05.2015, 00:00 by robert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 29

First recension
Hieronymus presbyter in ipso ore speluncae ipsam petram sculpiuit et monumentum sibi fecit, ubi et positus est.

'The presbyter Jerome hewed out the rock at the very mouth of the cave, and made himself a tomb, where indeed he is buried.'

Second recension
Hieronimus presbiter in loquendo peritus, interpretatione clarus, inter omnes relator conspicuus, in ipso ore speluncae petra sculpiuit et ob deuotionem Saluatoris ibidem sibi monumentum fecit.

'The presbyter Jerome, skilled in rhetoric, clever in translation, the most distinguished narrator among all, hewed out the rock at the very mouth of the cave, and made himself a tomb because of his devotion to the Saviour.'

Text: Geyer 1898, 177 and 209. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 142, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Jerome, monk and writer, ob. c. 420 : S00267

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Piacenza Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Pilgrim of Piacenza

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


This Itinerary was written by an anonymous pilgrim to Palestine who started and finished his journey in Placentia. He visited the East probably not long after the earthquake in 551, since he presents the destruction of Berytus (modern Beirut) in this year as a relatively recent event. He certainly visited Palestine before the Persian invasion in 614, since in his account Jerusalem is under Roman administration. The Itinerary is extant in two recensions. The first one is shorter and generally closer to the original, but sometimes it is the second recension which preserves the original text. Moreover, the additions that can be found in the second recension, unfortunately difficult to date, bear an interesting witness to the development of the cult of saints. The Itinerary can be compared with an earlier pilgrim's diary written in the 380s by another western pilgrim, Egeria. The Piacenza Pilgrim's itinerary is less detailed than her account, but shows the development of the cultic practices and infrastructure which had taken place in the course of two hundred years: there are more places to visit, more objects to see, and more saints to venerate.


This passage can hardly be considered to be a testimony of the cult of Jerome. His name is not preceded by an adjective 'saint' and the author visited his tomb only because Jerome was buried in the grotto of the Nativity. Yet the fact that this particular grave is mentioned in an account otherwise focused on the tombs of saints and Old Testament heroes is interesting and important evidence for the special status of Jerome in the 6th-century western Church, which is visible particularly in the second recension.


Edition: Geyer, P. (ed.), Antonini Placentini Itinerarium, in Itineraria et alia geographica (Corpus Chistianorum, series Latina 175; Turnholti: Typographi Brepols editores pontificii, 1965), 129-174. [Essentially a reprinting of Geyer's edition for the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 39, Wien 1898.] English translations: Stewart, A., Of the Holy Places Visited by Antoninus Martyr (London: Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, 1887). Wilkinson, J., Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades (2nd ed.; Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 2002).

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