File(s) not publicly available

E06367: A letter of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 6.31) of 596, to his notary Castor in Ravenna (northern Italy), seeks sworn testimony over the relics of *Apollinaris (bishop and martyr of Ravenna, S00331) regarding the earlier practice of bishops of Ravenna in the wearing of the pallium. Written in Latin in Rome.

online resource
posted on 11.09.2018, 00:00 by frances
Pope Gregory the Great, Register of Letters 6.31

This letter continues a long-standing dispute with Ravenna over its bishop's excessive (in Rome's eyes) use of the pallium (see E06354 and E06353). Gregory instructs Castor to find older priests and laymen who can testify how bishops of Ravenna had used the pallium in times gone by:

Et ueniant ante corpus sancti Apollinaris et tacto eius sepulcro iurent, quae consuetudo ante Iohannis episcopi tempora fuerit.

‘And let them come before the body of Saint Apollinaris, and touching his sepulchre, swear as to what the custom was before the time of Bishop John.’

Gregory then provides the oath which must be sworn:

IURAMENTUM. Iuro ego per Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum, inseparabilis diuinae potentiae trinitatem, et hoc corpus beati Apollinaris martyris me pro nullius fauore personae neque commodo aliquo interueniente testari. Sed hoc scio et per memetipsum cognoui quia ante tempora Iohannis quondam episcopi Rauennas episcopus praesente apocrisiario sedis apostolicae illo atque illo et illis diebus consuetudinem utendi pallio habuit; et non cognoui quia hoc latenter uel absente apocrisiario usurpasset.

‘The oath: I swear by the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the indivisible Trinity of divine power, and by this body of Saint Apollinaris the martyr, that I give my testimony without favouring any person or allowing any advantage to intervene. But this I know, and learned myself, that before the time of John, late bishop of Ravenna, the bishop, in the presence of the emissary of the apostolic see, on this, and that, and these days was accustomed to using the pallium. And I have not found that he usurped this privilege secretly or in the absence of an emissary.’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 1, 404. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 425-6, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Apollinaris, bishop and martyr of Ravenna : S00331

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

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


A letter transmitted as part of Gregory the Great’s Register of Letters. This letter collection, organised into fourteen books, is large and contains letters to a variety of recipients, including prominent aristocrats, members of the clergy and royalty. The issues touched on in the letters are equally varied, ranging from theological considerations to mundane administrative matters. This collection of letters, which was possibly curated by Gregory, was originally much larger. The surviving Register comprises several groups of letters which were extracted at several later moments in history, the largest of which took place in the papacy of Hadrian I (772-795).


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). Further Reading: Dal Santo, M., Debating the Saints' Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great (Oxford: OUP, 2012). McCulloch, J., "The Cult of Relics in the Letters and Dialogues of Gregory the Great," Traditio 32 (1976), 145-184. Neil, B., and Dal Santo, M. (eds.), A Companion to Gregory the Great (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

Usage metrics