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E04456: Gregory the Great, in his Dialogues (2.8 and 2.37), describes the foundation of the monastery of Monte Cassino (central Italy) by *Benedict (of Nursia, monk, ob. 547 S01727), with its two chapels: one dedicated to *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050), in a former temple of Apollo; the other to *John (the Baptist, S00020), on the site of its altar, where Benedict was eventually buried. Written in Latin in Rome, c. 593.

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posted on 12.12.2017, 00:00 by frances
Gregory the Great, Dialogues 2.8

Ibi itaque uir Dei perueniens, contriuit idolum, subuertit aram, succidit lucos, atque in ipso templo Apollinis oraculum beati Martini, ubi uero ara eiusdem Apollinis fuit, oraculum sancti construxit Iohannis

‘When the man of God arrived at this spot, he destroyed the idol, overturned the altar and cut down the trees in the sacred groves. Then he turned the temple of Apollo into a chapel dedicated to St Martin, and where Apollo’s altar had stood, he built a chapel in honour of St John.’

Gregory the Great, Dialogues 2.37

Sepultus uero est in oratorio beati baptistae Iohannis, quod, destructa ara Apollinis, ipse construxit.

‘He was buried in the chapel of St John the Baptist, which he had built to replace the altar of Apollo.’

Text: de Vogüé 1978. Translation: Zimmerman 1959, modified.

History

Evidence ID

E04456

Saint Name

Benedict (of Nursia, monk, ob. 547) : S01727 Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050 John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Benedictus Martinus Iohannes Baptista

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

590

Evidence not after

604

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

550

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Rome

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 - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Appropriation of older cult sites

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Pagans

Source

Gregory the Great (Pope, 590-604) wrote his Dialogues on the Lives and Miracles of the Italian Fathers (Dialogi de vita et miraculis patrum italicorum) in Rome around 593. Organised into four books, the first three are a collection of lives and miracles of various Italian saints. The longest is the Life of Benedict of Nursia, which comprises the entirety of book 2. The final book consists of an essay on the immortality of souls after death. As a whole, the work documents and explains the presence of the miraculous in the contemporary world and the ability of saints to effect miracles both before and after death. The attribution of the Dialogues to Gregory has been disputed, most recently by Francis Clark who argued that the work was created in the 680s in Rome. Others - such as Adalbert de Vogüé, Paul Meyvaert and Matthew dal Santo - have, however, strongly argued for Gregory's authorship and it is broadly accepted that Gregory was responsible for the Dialogues. For a discussion of Gregory's devotion in writing the Dialogues, see E04383, and for the role of the Dialogues as a tract justifying the nature of miracles and theorising on the immortality of souls, see E04506. Gregory's principal aim in collecting the miracle stories of the holy men and a very few women of sixth-century Italy was to show the presence of God's power on earth as manifested through them, rather than to encourage the cult of these individuals. Indeed, though posthumous miracles at the graves of a few individuals are recorded (and also a few miracles aided by contact relics of dead saints), there is very little emphasis in the Dialogues on posthumous cult; some of the miraculous events that Gregory records (e.g. E04429) are not even attributed to named individuals. Although very few of the holy persons in the Dialogues are 'proper' saints, with long-term cult, we have included them all in our database, for the sake of completeness and as an illustration of the impossibility of dividing 'proper' saints from more 'ordinary' holy individuals.

Discussion

For a fuller account of the Life of Benedict, see E04450.

Bibliography

Edition: Vogüé, A. de, Grégoire le Grand, Dialogues, Sources chrétiennes 260 (Paris: Cerf, 1979). Translation: Zimmerman, O.J., Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great, Fathers of the Church 39 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1959). Further Reading: Clark, F.,The 'Gregorian' Dialogues and the Origins of Benedictine Monasticism (Leiden: Brill, 2003). Dal Santo, M., "The Shadow of A Doubt? A Note on the Dialogues and Registrum Epistolarum of Pope Gregory the Great (590–604)," Journal of Ecclesiatical History, 61.1, (2010), 3-17. Meyvaert, P., "The Enigma of Gregory the Great’s Dialogues: A Reply to Francis Clark," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 39 (1988), 335–81. Vogüé, A. de, "Grégoire le Grand et ses Dialogues d’après deux ouvrages récents," Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 83 (1988), 281–348.

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