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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

A church council is held at Arles in 524 at the dedication of a basilica to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), built by Caesarius of Arles. Recorded in Latin at Arles (southern Gaul).

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Canonical and legal texts

Council of Arles (AD 524)

Opening of the canons of the council:

Cum in uoluntate Dei ad dedicationem basilicae sanctae Mariae in Arelatensi ciuitate sacerdotes domini conuenissent, congruum eis et rationabile uisum est, ut primum de obseruandis canonibus attentissima sollicitudine pertractantes, qualiter ab ipsis ecclesiastica regula seruaretur, salubri consilio definirent.

'Since the bishops of the Lord have come together in the will of God to the dedication of the basilica of St Mary in the city of Arles, it has seemed fitting and reasonable to them that first, considering the observation of the canons with the most attentive scrutiny, they should define with salutary counsel how the rule of the church should be preserved by them.'

Text:: Gaudemet 1989. Translation: David Lambert.

Liturgical Activities

Ceremony of dedication

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Activities accompanying Cult

Meetings and gatherings of the clergy


The council is dated 6 June 524, and was attended by seventeen bishops or their representatives, all from southern Gaul.


In the Life of Caesarius (1.57-8; E06283), it is stated that he founded a triple basilica with a central nave dedicated to Mary, and side aisles dedicated to John the Baptist and Martin of Tours, a description which is confirmed by the later Constitutum (E07999). Though doubts have sometimes been expressed, given the reference here exclusively to Mary (e.g. Février 1986, 83), the evidence across multiple sources leaves little reasonable doubt that this is the church in question. In particular, while the Life of Caesarius gives no date for the foundation of the church, its position in the narrative implies a date in the mid 520s (Heijmans 2004, 266). The consecration of the triple basilica can therefore be dated to 6 June 524, as recorded in the record of the church council which Caesarius took the opportunity to hold at the same time.


Gaudemet, J., Les canons des conciles Mérovingiennes (VIe-VIIe siècles) (Sources Chrétiennes 353; Paris, 1989), 138-143.

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.

Heijmans, M., Arles durant l'Antiquité tardive: De la duplex Arelas à l'Urbs Genesii (Rome: École Françiase de Rome, 2004).

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

Record Created By

David Lambert

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:
David Lambert, Cult of Saints, E07998 -