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E06403: Two letters of Pope Gregory the Great (Register 9.181 and 182) of 599 relate, firstly, to the foundation and consecration of an oratory in the diocese of Tyndari (Sicily) dedicated to *Severinus (hermit and monk of Noricum, S00848) and *Iuliana (martyr of Nicomedia, buried at Pozzuoli/Cumae, S01162); and, secondly, to the granting, by the bishop of Naples, of relics of these saints for this oratory. Written in Latin in Rome.

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posted on 11.09.2018, 00:00 by frances
Pope Gregory the Great, Register of Letters 9.181

Full text of the letter:

Ianuaria religiosa femina petitorii nobis insinuatione suggessit, quod habetur in subditis, in massa Furiana iuris sui oratorium se pro sua deuotione fundasse, quod in honore sanctorum Seuerini confessoris et Iulianae martyris desiderat consecrari. Et ideo, frater carissime, si in tuae parrochiae memorata constructio iure consistit et nullum corpus ibidem constat humatum, percepta primitus donatione legitima, id est in reditu praestantes liberos a tributis fiscalibus solidos decem, gestis que municipalibus allegata, praedictum oratorium absque missas publicas sollemniter consecrabis, ita ut in eodem loco nec futuris temporibus baptisterium construatur nec presbyterum constituas cardinalem. Sed si missas sibi fieri suprascripta conditrix forte maluerit, a dilectione tua presbyterum nouerit postulandum, quatenus nihil tale a quolibet alio sacerdote ullatenus praesumatur. Sanctuaria uero suscepta sui cum reuerentia collocabis.

‘Gregory to Benenatus, bishop of Tyndari
Ianuaria, a nun, has reported to us, while notifying us of the claim included below, that she has founded an oratory on the Furianum estate, her legal property, for her devotion. She wants it to be consecrated in honour of the Saints Severinus the confessor and Iuliana the martyr. And for that reason, dearest brother, if the building mentioned is under the jurisdiction of your parish, and it is certain that no human body has been buried there, you will solemnly consecrate the aforesaid oratory without a public mass. But first receive the legal payment, that is ten gold coins, which will guarantee some income, and will be tax exempt, as mentioned in the municipal statutes. Do so in such a way that a baptistry [neither now] nor in the future is constructed there, and that you do not consecrate its own priest there. But if the founder mentioned above should wish masses to be held for her, she will know that a priest must be requested from your Beloved, so that nothing of that sort is ever presumed by any other priest. Once you have received their relics, you will place them therein with due reverence.’

Pope Gregory the Great, Register of Letters 9.182

Full text of the letter:

Ianuaria religiosa femina sanctuaria beatorum Seuerini confessoris et Iulianae martyris oblata petitione sibi postulat debere concedi, quatenus in eius nomine oratorium propriis constructum sumptibus possit sollemniter consecrari. Et ideo, frater carissime, praefatis desideriis ex nostra te praeceptione conuenit oboedire, ut deuotionis suae in consecratione quam postulat potiatur effectu.

‘Gregory to Fortunatus, bishop of Naples
Ianuaria, a nun, made a petition requesting that relics of Saints Severinus the confessor and Iuliana the martyr ought to be granted her, so that an oratory might be solemnly consecrated in their name, built at her own expense. And for that reason, dearest brother, it is right for you to respond to the aforesaid desires according to our injunction, so that she may obtain an outcome for her devotion in the consecration that she requests.’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 2, 738-9. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 656, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Iuliana, martyr in Nicomedia, buried near Pozzuoli : S01162 Severinus, hermit and monk in Noricum, ob. 482 : S00848

Saint Name in Source

Iuliana Seuerinus

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 - Liturgical Activity

  • Ceremony of dedication

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Women


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).


The first letter is one of a number of surviving papal letters - two from Pelagius I (556-561) and four from Gregory the Great (590-604) - permitting, while also carefully regulating, the consecration and dedication to saints of private oratories, either on aristocratic estates or in monasteries, by the use of a set form of wording: E06878 and E06880 (both from Pelagius); E06377, E06390, E06399, E06403 (all from Gregory). The second letter, seeking sanctuaria, a term which Gregory often uses for relics, seeks relics of the specific saints to whom the oratory is dedicated: Severinus, buried at the castellum Lucullanum just outside Naples; and Iuliana in the area of Pozzuoli/Cumae; both within Fortunatus' diocese.


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: 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).

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