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E02762: A letter of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 1.8) of 590, to bishop Bacauda of Formia, mentions the grave of the martyr *Erasmus (bishop of Antioch and martyr of Formia, S00867) in Formia (southern Italy). Written in Latin in Rome.

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posted on 05.05.2017, 00:00 by mpignot
Pope Gregory the Great, Register of Letters 1.8

Complete text of the letter:

Et temporis necessitas nos perurget et imminutio exigit personarum ut destitutis ecclesiis salubri ac prouida debeamus dispositione succurrere. Et ideo, quoniam ecclesiam Minturnensem funditus tam clerus quam plebis destitutam desolatione cognouimus, tuamque pro ea petitionem quatenus Formianae ecclesiae, in qua corpus beati Erasmi martyris requiescit, cuique fraternitas tua praesidet, adiungi debeat piam esse ac iustissimam praeuidentes, necessarium duximus, consulentes tam desolationi loci illius quam tuae ecclesiae paupertati, reditus supradictae ecclesiae Minturnensis uel quicquid ei antiquo modernoque iure uel priuilegio potuit potestque qualibet ratione competere, ad tuae ecclesiae ius potestatemque hac praecepti nostri auctoritate migramus, ut a praesenti tempore sicuti de propria quippe ecclesia debeas cogitare eique competentia tua prouisione disponere, quatenus deinceps quod perire nuncusque potuit pauperum ecclesiae tuae utilitatibus clerique proficiat.

'Gregory to Bacauda, bishop of Formia
The necessity of time urges us, and the diminution of the population demands, that we should assist destitute churches with a helpful and provident disposition. We have learnt that through abandonment, the church of Minturno is as totally destitute of its clergy as it is of its people, and we can see how pious and extremely just your petition is on its behalf, namely that it ought to be joined to the church of Formiae (wherein lies the body of Saint Erasmus the Martyr), over which your Fraternity presides. We have thought it necessary, therefore, in considering the abandonment of the place as much as the poverty of your church, that by the authority of this injunction of ours, we transfer to the right and power of your church the revenues of the above-mentioned church of Minturno, or whatever could and can for whatever reason belong to it, by ancient and modern right or privilege. Thus from now onwards you should think of it as if it were in fact your own church and should dispose of its belongings with foresight, so that thereafter what might have been wasted until now, might benefit the interests of the poor of your church and of your clergy.'

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 1, 10. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 1, 127.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Erasmus, martyr and bishop of Formia (Italy), ob. c. 303 : S00867

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters



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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory the Great (pope)

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


Gregory's Register is a collection of some 854 of his letters as pope, collected into 14 books of varied length and deriving from the file-copies that were made in Rome and kept in the papal archive. The original copies survived into the ninth century, but were subsequently lost; from the late eighth century onwards, however, because of the exceptional stature that Gregory had by then attained, various collections of his letters were assembled from the original copies, and these constitute the Register as we have it today. The Register does not contain all the letters that Gregory despatched as pope, since in some of those whose text survives there are references to other letters, wholly lost; but the collection we have is unique from the late antique period, and only matched in quantity and range of subjects by the registers of high-medieval popes. Recipients range from papal administrators, through prominent churchmen and aristocrats, to kings and the imperial family, and treat a wide variety of topics, from mundane administrative affairs of the papal patrimony to deep theological and moral considerations. For the cult of saints, there is much that is of interest in the letters, but two particular concentrations of evidence stand out. The first is a clutch of around a dozen letters that mention requests for relics from Rome, or that accompanied small personal relics as gifts to influential correspondents. The second concentration of evidence relates to the dedications of churches and other ecclesiastical institutions in southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. Because the papacy owned extensive estates in these regions, and exercised particular authority there, many of Gregory's letters mention churches and other ecclesiastical institutions, by the name of the saint to whom they were dedicated, thereby providing us with a rich panorama of the spread of both local and imported saintly cults.


Edition: Norberg, D., S. Gregorii Magni, Registrum epistularum. 2 vols. (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 140-140A; Turnhout: Brepols, 1982). English translation: Martyn, J.R.C., The Letters of Gregory the Great, 3 vols. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2004).

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