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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

The will of Caesarius, bishop of Arles, makes provisions for ecclesiastical foundations dedicated to *John (the Baptist, S00020), *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030), and *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) at Arles (southern Gaul). Written in Latin at Arles, 512/42.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Will

Documentary texts - Donation document

Major author/Major anonymous work

Caesarius of Arles

Testament of Caesarius


[1] Pax ecclesiae Arelatensi. Caesarius episcopus presbiteris et diaconibus, sanctae ac venerabili Caesariae abbatissae,quam dominus per meam parvitatem in monasterio nostro praeposuit, ac universae congregationi, quam ibi dominus sua gratia collocaverit, in domino deo aeternam salutem. [...]

[3] Ego Caesarius peccator dum debitum humane carnis reddidero, cunctum monasterium Arelatense sancti Iohannis, quod ego condidi, sub potestate Arelatensis pontificis canonice sit, heredemque meum esse volo ac iubeo; ceteri ceteraeve exheredes sint totae. Quod cuique aut per hoc testamentum meum dedero, legavero, darive iussero, ut detur fiat. Ceterum autem Arelatensi episcopo coheredem meum monasterium relinquo; quos quasque liberos liberasve esse iussero, liberi liberaeve sint totae. [...]

[5] [...] Ea vero quae monasterio ante per donationem contulimus ☩ affirmo; et si cui aliquid per epistolam aut per pitacium aut verbo pietatis intuitu contuli, valere volo. Hoc etiam assuete precor, quatenus cellam, quam bonae memoriae Augustus subdiaconus in atrio sancti Stephani euntibus parte dextra habuit, provisoribus monasterii propter custodiendam illorum famam domnus episcopus perpetuo dignetur iure concedere, ita ut eam sibi succedentes monasterii provisores habeant. Et hoc specialiter volo, et ita domne episcope precor, ut sive provisorem ad monasterium sive presbiterum ad basilicam sanctae Mariae nullum alium habeat congregatio sancta, nisi quem sibi ipsa elegerit vel petierit ordinari. [...]

'1. Peace to the church of Arles. Bishop Caesarius to the priests and deacons; to the holy and venerable abbess Caesaria [the Younger], whom the Lord, through my humble self, has put in charge of our monastery; and to the whole congregation which the Lord will have gathered there by his grace: eternal salvation in the Lord God! [...]

3. When I Caesarius, a sinner, will have repaid the debt owed by human flesh, let the whole monastery of St John in Arles, which I founded, be under the authority of the bishop of Arles, as the canons stipulate. And I wish and order that it be my heir. In addition, I designate the bishop of Arles as co-heir with my monastery. Let all other heirs or heiresses be disinherited. Anything I have given to anyone before or through this will of mine or have bequeathed or have ordered to be given, let it be given. Any men or women I have ordered to be free, let them all be free [...]

5. [...] I confirm the gifts that I previously conveyed to the monastery. And if I have bestowed anything on anyone by a motive of piety, either by letter, written conveyance or orally, I wish it to be valid. Regarding the cell in the atrium of St Stephen, on the right as you enter, which the subdeacon Augustus of blessed memory occupied, I ask the lord bishop to deign to grant it by perpetual title to the stewards of the monastery in order to protect their reputation, so that the stewards of the monastery who succeed them might have it. And I particularly wish and so ask the lord bishop that the holy congregation have no one as steward for the monastery or as a priest for the church of St Mary except whom it has chosen for itself and has sought to have appointed [...]'

Text: Morin 1942, 279-89. Translation: Klingshirn 1994, 71-3, lightly adapted.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)
Cult building - monastic
Cult building - secondary installation (fountain, pilgrims’ hostel)

Places Named after Saint


Non Liturgical Activity

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Construction of cult buildings
Awarding privileges to cult centres

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
Ecclesiastics - abbots
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


The will (testamentum) of Caesarius, bishop of Arles 502-542 (S00491) survived into the middle ages through its full-length quotation in a confirmatory charter of Count William (I) of Provence in 992. Although Bruno Krusch questioned the text’s authenticity in 1896, both its content and diplomatic were soon effectively defended by its editor German Morin, and Krusch himself eventually retracted his criticisms; the will’s authenticity has not seriously been doubted since. It appears that the testamentum, which has now lost its consular dating clause, underwent several revisions during Caesarius’ long episcopate: it was probably initially drawn up in anticipation of the foundation of Caesarius’ monastery for nuns in 512, before undergoing further revisions across the following three decades (see further Klingshirn 1994a, 67-70).


The foundations dedicated to John, Mary and Stephen also appear in the Life of Caesarius (E06283). Between the two texts it appears that the dedications to John (part of his monastery for women) and Mary (a ‘triple basilica in a single enlosure’) were Caesarius’ own projects; the church of Stephen predated his episcopate.


Morin, G., S. Caesarii opera omnia, 2 vols (Maredsous, 1942), II. 279-89.

Klingshirn, W.E.,
Caesarius of Arles: Life, Testament, Letters (Translated Texts for Historians 19; Liverpool, 1994), 71-6.

Further reading:
Février, P.-A., "Arles," in: N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 3: Provinces ecclésiastique de Vienne et d'Arles (Viennensis et Alpes Graiae et Poeninae) (Paris: Boccard, 1986), 73-84.

Klingshirn, W.E.,
Caesarius of Arles: the Making of a Christian Community in Late Antique Gaul (Cambridge, 1994).

Record Created By

Benjamin Savill

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00020John the BaptistIohannesCertain
S00030Stephen, the First MartyrStephanusCertain
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristMariaCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Benjamin Savill, Cult of Saints, E06932 -