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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 9.210) of 599, to Romanus, defensor of the papal patrimony in Sicily, writes about a slave of a church dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) in Saponara (Sicily). 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 9.210

Extract from a letter concerning the slave Luminosus:

Vnde quia seruum sanctae Mariae, quod est parrochiae ecclesiae grumentinae, se esse asserit, necesse est ut ecclesiastica tuitione ualletur.

‘Therefore, because he asserts that he is a slave of the church of Saint Mary, which is in the parish of the church of Saponara, it is necessary that he should be defended by the church’s protection.’

Text: Norberg 1982, vol. 2, 769. Translation: Martyn 2004, vol. 2, 674.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Slaves/ servants


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, E06409 -