Gregory the Great in a papal letter (Register 9.49) of 598, to Bishop Chrysantus of Rieti, asks him to consecrate contact relics (sanctuaria) of *Hermes (martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S00404), *Hyacinthus (companion of Protus, and martyr of Rome, S01556) and *Maximus (martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S00173) at a font in a church dedicated to Christ and to *Mary (the mother of Christ, S00033) in Rieti (central Italy). Written in Latin in Rome.
Literary - Letters
Gregory the Great (pope)
Pope Gregory the Great, Register of Letters 9.49
Full text of the letter:
GREGORIVS CHRYSANTO EPISCOPO
Paulus ecclesiae Reatinae diaconus petitoria nobis insinuatione poposcit ut ad fontes in basilica beatae Mariae semper uirginis genetricis Dei et domini nostri Iesu Christi, quae est intra ciuitatem Reatinam posita, reliquiae beatorum martyrum Hermes, Hyacinthi et Maximi debeant collocari. Et ideo, frater carissime, si in eodem loco nullum corpus constat humatum, sanctuaria praedictorum martyrum cum reuerentia sine ambiguitate suscepta diligenter consecrabis.
‘GREGORY TO BISHOP CHRYSANTUS
Paul, deacon of the church of Rieti, requested in a petition to us that relics (reliquiae) of the blessed martyrs Hermes, Hyacinthus and Maximus should be located at the font of the church of Saint Mary, ever virgin and mother of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, which lies inside the city of Rieti. And so, dearest brother, if it is established that no human body has been buried in the same place, you will diligently consecrate the contact relics (sanctuaria) of the aforesaid martyrs with reverence and without any equivocation.’
Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 2, 608. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 575, lightly modified.
Ceremony of dedicationCult Places
Cult building - secondary installation (fountain, pilgrims’ hostel)Relics
Contact relic - clothProtagonists in Cult and Narratives
Transfer, translation and deposition of relics
Ecclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceA 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).
DiscussionHermes, Maximus/Maximilianus and Hyacinthus were all martyrs buried in the same cemetery of the via Salaria (see, for instance, E06999).
The use of the term sanctuaria strongly suggests that the relics mentioned here were contact relics, made by placing a piece of cloth in close contact with the grave of the saint. For more detail about the process, see E00615 and E00617, and on the word, McCulloh 1976, 158-165.
Norberg, D., S. Gregorii Magni, Registrum epistularum. 2 vols. (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 140-140A; Turnhout: Brepols, 1982).
Martyn, J.R.C., The Letters of Gregory the Great, 3 vols. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2004).
McCulloh, 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).
|ID||Name||Name in Source||Identity||S00033||Mary, Mother of Christ||Maria||Certain||S00173||Maximus/Maximilianus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus||Maximus||Certain||S00404||Hermes, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus||Hermes||Certain||S00464||Protus and Hyacinthus, eunuchs and martyrs of Rome||Certain||S02341||310 martyrs of Persia||Certain|
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Frances Trzeciak, Cult of Saints, E06388 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E06388