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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world

Gregory the Great in a papal letter (Register 2.12) of 592, to Bishop Importunus (probably a bishop in Campania, southern Italy), mentions a church dedicated to *Mary (the Mother of Christ, S00033) in Importunus' diocese. Written in Latin in Rome.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory the Great (pope)

Pope Gregory the Great, Register of Letters 2.12

Extract from the middle of the letter:

Et quia ecclesiam sanctae Mariae quae appellatur Pisonis, in tua positam parroechia, presbytero uacare cognouimus, praesentium portitorem Dominicum presbyterum in eadem ecclesia ut praeesse debeat nos certum est deputasse.

‘And because we know that the church of Saint Mary, which is called Piso’s, lying in your diocese, is without a priest, we have certainly appointed the bearer of this letter, Dominicus, to be in charge as the priest in that same church.’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 1 99. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 1, 200, lightly modified.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


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).


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:

Neil, B., and Dal Santo, M. (eds.),
A Companion to Gregory the Great (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

Record Created By

Frances Trzeciak

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristMariaCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Frances Trzeciak, Cult of Saints, E06331 -