Key to Umbria

Imaginary portrait (ca. 1610) of Pope Gregory I  by Carlo Saraceni

Galleria Nazionale d' Arte Antica, Rome (Wikimedia)

Pope Gregory I (590-604) wrote the Dialogues in 593.  Their subject is “the life and miracles of the Italian fathers” and these are recounted by means of a (somewhat one-sided) dialogue between Gregory I and his deacon, Peter.  His intent was to extol the deeds of those who had protected the Catholic Church from the barbarian onslaught in the 6th century, primarily as a boost to morale as the Lombards increased their grip on Italy. 

The Dialogues are arranged in four books, the second of which is devoted exclusively to St Benedict of Norcia.  The text of the Dialogues transcribed by Roger Pearse is available on the web.

Spoleto in the Dialogues

Book III, Chapter 14        St Isaac and the foundation of San Giuliano, Spoleto

Book III, Chapters 21      Eleutherius, Abbot of San Marco, Spoleto and a pious nun

Book III, Chapter 29       How an Arian bishop was blinded at San Paolo inter Vineas, Spoleto

Book III, Chapter 33       Eleutherius, Abbot of San Marco, Spoleto

Norcia in the Dialogues

Book III, Chapter 15        SS Eutychius and Florentius of Norcia

Book III, Chapter 37       St Sanctulus, a priest at Norcia

Book IV, Chapter 10       St Spes of Norcia

Book IV, Chapter 11        Ursinus, a priest at Norcia

Narni in the Dialogues

Book III, Chapter 6          St Cassius of Narni

Book IV, Chapter 12        the martyr St Juvenal, who appears in this account to the dying

Bishop Probus, Rieti, could be St Juvenal of Narni, although no
other source suggests that this early bishop was martyred

Book IV, Chapter 56        St Cassius of Narni

Orvieto in the Dialogues

Book I, Chapters 11-2      SS Severus and Martirius of Orvieto

Book III, Chapter 5          St Sabinus of Canosa, whose relics were venerated at Orvieto

Other Umbrian Cities in the Dialogues

Book I, Chapter 10           St Fortunatus of Todi (see also the Martyrology of Usuard)           

Book III, Chapter 12        St Fulgentius of Otricoli

Book III, Chapter 13        St Herculanus of Perugia (see also the Martyrology of Florus)

  1. who was buried in “Ecclesia beati Petri apostoli”, assumed to be

  2. a church on the later site of the Abbazia di San Pietro, Perugia

Book III, Chapter 35       St Floridus of Città di Castello (“Tivoli”), who was the source for

  1. the accounts of:

  2. St Herculanus (above); and

  3. St Amantius of Città di Castello

Book III, Chapter 38       St Eutychius of Ferentium

Legend of the Twelve Syrians

Three saints (all mentioned above) from consecutive paragraphs in the Dialogues seem to appear in the Legend of the Twelve Syrians:

Book III, Chapter 13        St Herculanus of Perugia

Book III, Chapter 14        St Isaac of Spoleto

Book III, Chapter 15        St Eutychius of Norcia

All were monks, although St Herculanus subsequently became a bishop.  However, only St Isaac is identified in the Dialogues as having come from Syria. 

The Dialogues also contain two references to saints who were venerated in Ferentium, each of which might have been the inspiration for one of the saints in the Legend of the Twelve Syrians:

  1. Bishop Boniface of Ferenti is reported as celebrating mass feast-day of St Proculus the martyr in the diocese in the 6th century (Book I, Chapter 9).

  2. Bishop Redemptus of Ferenti had a vision of St Eutychius in ca. 568 in the church in the diocese in which St Eutychius of Ferentium was buried (Book III, Chapter 38)

“Ferenti” was probably the city of Ferentium, east of modern Viterbo.  Soldiers from Viterbo destroyed it in 1172 and what survived became part of the diocese of Viterbo.

Finally, the Dialogues refer to St Abundius (Book III, Chapter 25), a sacristan of St Peter’s Rome, who might be connected with the deacon of this name in the Legend of the Twelve Syrians.

Return to the page on Saints Venerated in Umbria. 

Dialogues of Pope Gregory I

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