Gifting Emotions: Gregory the Great and His Gift-giving to Aristocratic Females—By Paul A. Brazinski

Scholarship on the emotions in the medieval west has proliferated recently. Scholars such as Rubin, Carrera, and Lombardo tackle the question of emotion using different methodologies.[1] For instance, some, like Rubin and Lombardo, investigate the emotions in connection to Christian devotion and theology, while others, like Carrera, research emotions in the sciences, turning to fields such as health and psychology. Although these works are shedding much light on emotions in the medieval period, few works focus on the emotions in Late Antiquity. This article seeks to correct this oversight.

No current primer on late antique emotions exists; this is due to several factors, including how complicated the study of the emotions can be. Emotions, beyond their most basic biological function, are cultural constructions and vary greatly according to context. Case studies focusing on a specific emotion in a certain location have raised the profile of the field. A publication with an integrated and contextualized approach would greatly correct lacunae in the scholarship; Wessel’s future monograph seeks to solve this issue.[2] At the moment, these case studies are our only true glimpses into the emotions of Late Antiquity. For example, Blowers, and others like Wessel, have provided explorations into the emotional culture of compassion in late antique Christianity.[3] Blowers in particular demonstrates that the rhetoric of portraying emotion undertook a transformation from the classical period into the Christian one. Others, like Wessel, provide case studies into certain aspects of late antique emotions.[4] For example, Wessel argues that Gregory Nazianzen (d. 390 CE) elicited compassion in his sermons to connect the suffering of lepers to that of Christ.[5] These scholars argue that early Christian rhetoric sought to kindle emotion within the audience, moving them to act in a way the preachers wanted Christians to act.

As stated earlier, the emotions in Late Antiquity are severely under-researched. The world awaits a primer on this topic, which Wessel’s book looks to accomplish. In the meantime, scholarship on contemporary perspectives on gift-giving sheds light on the emotions associated with the act. Naturally, I do not wish to impose modern perceptions into the medieval world; however, I will show the continuity from this scholarship into research on Late Antiquity. As there is a lack of scholarship on early emotions, I will use contemporary scholarship on gift-giving, happiness, and gratitude to establish my jumping off point into the world of Late Antiquity.

Contemporary research has argued that gift-giving promotes happiness, establishes social connection, and evokes gratitude. Sociologists, such as Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have a different methodology in investigating the emotions involved in giving, and they arrive at similar results. Simpson and Willer suggest that people are motivated by the fact that when they give, they are more likely to get back in return.[6] Simpson and Willer categorize humanity into two groups: altruists and egoists. Altruists will give gifts without thinking of future incentives, while egoists will only act pro-socially when reputational incentives are at stake. Although altruists and egoists greatly differ in their gift-giving policies, in Simpson and Willer’s studies, both types of interactions resulted in rewarded generosity – sometimes from the one that received the gift, at other times by a third party that respects the kind interaction.

Gift-giving evokes gratitude. Social psychologists, such as Nathaniel Lambert, have investigated the human emotions involved in gift-giving, namely gratitude.[7] Nathaniel Lambert has conducted over five studies on gratitude. His 2008 study in particular argues that those who share their positive experiences with others have an increase in happiness and life satisfaction. Lambert expands, saying that those who actively show their enthusiasm, happiness, or gratitude toward someone are far more likely to (a) feel happier themselves and (b) spread their positive experiences to another.

Once again, I do not wish to impose modern perspectives into Late Antiquity, but modern scholarship can help us as a jumping-off point. For example, there are similarities in Late Antiquity and the modern world concerning altruistic and egotistical benefactors. Peter Brown’s latest monograph, Through the Eye of the Needle, discusses the state of fourth-century charity in Christianity and Paganism.[8] Brown juxtaposes the thoughtful but small charitable donations to the needy from Bishop Ambrose (d. 397 CE) to his Milanese congregation to the lavish pagan festival and amphitheater games that the pagan Governor Symmachus of Rome gifted to the Capital. Although Symmachus’ gift held more monetary value, he gifted pro-socially mainly to maintain his reputation. Although the egotistic Symmachus gained popularity in Rome with his festival, the altruist Ambrose gained more in Milan for his minor and individualized gifts. The example of Ambrose and Symmachus is only one of many examples in Late Antiquity when the Church’s charity superseded the government, such as with the Cappadocian Fathers.[9] Gregory the Great (r. 590-604 CE) similarly fits this context. His stock gifts and competitive gift-giving policies adhere more to an egotistical level, trying to adhere to the norm, while his specialized gifts demonstrate his altruistic side.

Finally, before diving into the world of Gregory the Great and his generosity, one must remember the Christian context in which the Pontiff was writing. Early Christianity put an emphasis on the subordination of the body to the soul. In turning to figures such as Plato (d. 424/423 BCE) and Plotinus (d. 270 CE), early Christians assimilated Neoplatonism into their theology, where the emphasis was on achieving the return of the soul to the One.[10] Thus, materiality was sometimes portrayed as evil. Although extremist anti-materiality groups, such as the Gnostics, were deemed heretical, the late antique Church started to emphasize, as Peter and Paul did, the spiritual gifts.[11] Naturally, spiritual gifts and grace are considered God-given gifts; however, the Popes and Church Fathers still used material possessions to convert people to Christianity and to form alliances. These motives of conversion and alliance result in the development of a community based on sharing the happiness of the Christian message. As Pontiff, it was Gregory the Great’s mission to utilize and share his spiritual gifts, which he did in several ways. In what follows, I will argue that Gregory the Great used individualized and thoughtful gifts to convert and align with the Lombards, Britons, and Visigoths. Moreover, he had a particular concern for women, which is seen in the gifts he sent.

This article aims to provide another insight into late antique compassion by investigating Gregory the Great’s gift-giving policies. Gregory the Great is well-known for his missionary work and “competitive generosity.”[12] Indeed, a plethora of scholarship discusses Gregory the Great and his papal gift-giving policies.[13] However, several areas, such as Gregory the Great’s means of cultivating new relationships with women through gift-giving, remain under-researched.[14] In this paper, I will investigate Gregory the Great’s gift-giving practices toward aristocratic women in missionary areas. I will build upon scholarship that argues that Gregory the Great was consistent in his gift-giving policies to males and females.

Gift-giving in Gregory’s time was formulaic.[15] Christian allies would write requests to Gregory the Great for relics and/or objects, and he would respond with a relevant gift, which often asserted his authority in these relationships. However, I will nuance this position, arguing that Gregory the Great gifted special, thoughtful gifts to aristocratic women for his missionary program. Instead of kindling the fire of Christendom within these women with doctrinal proofs and stock gifts, such as golden keys (representing Saint Peter), crosses that contained the filings from the chains of Saints Peter and Paul, brandeum, and land grants, Gregory the Great sought to cultivate a caring and compassionate relationship by sending thoughtful and heartfelt gifts that would build an emotional connection between himself and the recipient.[16] Here, the Pontiff broke his consistent tendencies and gave unique gifts without being asked for them beforehand. By sending sentimental and thoughtful gifts, Gregory the Great targeted aristocratic women’s emotions by demonstrating his special concern for them. Gregory sought to build a lasting connection that would result in them converting their people. Methodologically, I will turn to Gregory the Great’s Register of Letters, which showcases his material and rhetorical gifts.

Gregory the Great on Gift-giving
Before further investigating Gregory the Great on the emotions, I will contextualize his stance on gift-giving. Research concerning Gregory the Great and his gift-giving policies has generally turned to Gregory the Great’s Dialogues and Register of Letters.[17] For instance, McCulloh cites Gregory’s Register of Letters to demonstrate successfully that Gregory the Great was consistent in his gift-giving policies.[18] For instance, he wanted to keep the “competitive generosity” ideal that was already established by his predecessors; however, he also wanted to honor Roman customs of respecting the dead.[19] For example, on several occasions, people asked Gregory the Great for bodily relics. In opposition to these requests, Roman practices indicated that the living should not disturb a buried body.[20] Therefore, he preferred to send secondary relics, such as shavings from the chains of Saint Peter.[21] Gregory also heavily promoted touch relics, such as brandeum – cloths that touched the saints directly – which followed Roman protocol.[22] Through contact with a relic, a brandeum would gain its spiritual authority from the saint without disturbing the whole body, as if the latter diffused its power onto the former.[23] Gregory the Great tried to fulfill most relic requests, but he also wanted to follow Roman customs.[24] As a native to Rome, he felt obligated to adhere to his heritage. His Roman stance on burials conflicted with the Greek custom that allowed re-interment, which caused issues as displayed later in the case of Empress Constantina’s request. Thus, he quickly turned to the touch relic as his standard gift in place of bodily relics.

Other scholars, such as Leyser, also utilize Gregory the Great’s Homilies on the Gospels, which includes several of the sermons the Pontiff gave at the local martyr shrines in Rome.[25] These works emphasize the Roman authority that Gregory promoted with his gift-giving policies.[26] Leyser demonstrates that Gregory the Great preferred to send touch relics of sixteen Roman martyrs rather than those of any other saint, especially non-Roman ones.[27] Indeed, he sent relics from these sixteen martyrs to multiple patrons, while the relics of some foreign saints never left the capital.[28] Thus, the Pontiff was promoting his authority and power by sending relics from Rome, his holy city.[29]

Leyser agrees with McCulloh and others concerning Gregory the Great’s desire to follow Roman customs about the dead. Gregory did not just send bodily relics for any request. Indeed, a saint would only undergo a translatio (translation/transportation) if the saint demanded it. For example, 9th-century Venetian merchants claimed that Mark the Evangelist demanded a translatio since his tomb was too worthy to be in a hostile Muslim territory.[30] Therefore, the Venetian merchants stole the body of St. Mark, since the Evangelist would be better praised in Christian Venice than Muslim Alexandria. Most translations occurred when congregations built a more elaborate shrine for the saint and needed to move him/her to the new location. Leyser also demonstrates the more passionate side of Gregory the Great’s gift-giving policies. When Gregory the Great sent relics, he expected that the recipient would contemplate the moral achievements of the martyrs. He worked to inspire martyr devotion as opposed to having the recipient focus on the saint’s death.[31] Therefore, one sees the more compassionate side of Gregory the Great in the stock gifts he gave, as he fully took into account the human aspect of all parties involved, both living and deceased.[32]

Before discussing the main argument concerning gifting emotion to non-Catholic female aristocrats, I will demonstrate Gregory the Great’s consistency in gift-giving to Christian females through the examples of Empress Constantina of Byzantium (d. 605 CE), who serves as an example of a life-long Catholic ally, and Queen Brunhilda of Austrasia (d. 613 CE), who converted from Arianism to Catholicism.[33] The following section will discuss Queens Theodelinda of the Lombards and Bertha of Kent, both of whom were non-Catholic when they first met Gregory the Great. By comparing and contrasting Gregory the Great’s interactions among these women, I will flesh out where the Pontiff breaks his consistency and gifts emotions instead, as opposed to sending stock gifts as he did with Constantina.

Empress Constantina and Queen Brunhilda
Gregory the Great met Empress Constantina during his tenure as nuncio (the papal legate, c. 579-585 CE) in Constantinople.[34] While there, Gregory the Great not only won the friendship of Emperor Maurice (r. 582-602 CE); he also won the helpful ear of Constantina, the Emperor’s wife, and of Theoctista (d. c. e. 7th-c. CE), the emperor’s sister.[35] His relationship with the Emperor’s family was close, as he on occasion stayed in the Imperial palace and prayed daily with them.[36] These imperial relationships were intimate and lasting ones: after the Lombardic sack in 598 CE Constantina and Theoctista sent large sums of money to help Gregory repair Rome. They felt sympathy for their old friend, since Maurice could not send troops to aid Gregory as he was busy with his own military affairs against Islamic forces.[37]

Before 598 CE, Empress Constantina wrote to Gregory the Great for the head of Saint Paul.[38] Her demand was a pious one, since she was building a Church to Saint Paul in Constantinople and wanted to consecrate the structure properly.[39] In the letter, Gregory the Great regrettably rejects her request. As his apology, he turned directly to the Roman custom of not disturbing the dead. First, he explained how destructive the process of locating relics was, as prior monks dug all over Rome in an attempt to locate the lost location of St Lawrence’s remains.[40] Then, he explained the power of touching relics. According to Gregory the Great, all the monks who touched St Lawrence’s relics died within ten days.[41] Relics have very strong powers and should not be handled by humans, he explained. Finally, he defined what brandea are and stated that they are the best alternative. As he prepared one for Empress Constantina, he sent her filings from the chains of Saint Peter.

Here, Gregory the Great remains consistent in his gift-giving policy. He understood, however, that some of his predecessors gifted bodily relics to Byzantium, which required an explanation from him. Gregory the Great explains to Constantina the differences between Greek and Roman traditions concerning the dead, which led to his definition of brandeum, the best alternative.[42] Although this is only one example from Constantina, it is representative of their gift-giving interactions and of Gregory’s consistency with Catholic aristocratic allies, both male and female. Gregory’s interaction with Brunhilda was slightly different.

Brunhilda had an impressive political career from her first marriage to King Sigebert I of Austrasia in 567 CE until her death in 613 CE. She was first queen of Austrasia and Burgundy, and subsequently, regent to her son’s and grandson’s reigns. She was an influential figure during Gregory the Great’s papacy.[43] Although she was raised as an Arian in Visigothic Spain, she converted to Catholicism upon marrying King Sigebert I (r. 561-575 CE). Brunhilda was the Queen of a transitional people; most were Catholic, but some were still Arian, whom she sought to convert. Overall, Gregory sent ten letters to Brunhilda, at times seeking her aid and at others sending her gifts.[44] These gifts varied in terms of theme and monetary value.

The first type of gift Gregory sent was monetary. In letters 6.5 and 6.60, Gregory sent patrimonioli, special land grants, to Brunhilda for her help. The patrimoniolum he sent with letter 6.60 was intended to help Augustine travel through Gaul safely. These gifts were sent to maintain his good relationship with Brunhilda. They were already allies, working together in his missionary program, even if her role was minimal in protecting Augustine in Gaul and converting the remaining Austrasians slowly. These gifts were stock presents, simply to maintain their relationship and appease the influential Queen. Gregory’s Letter 9.11 also provides another example of the Pontiff’s formulaic gift-giving tendencies.

In letter 9.11, Gregory the Great once again wrote to Brunhilda, asking that she allow Augustine and his monks to travel safely through Gaul.[45] Between Gregory’s first letter to her in July 596 CE and his second letter on the same topic in September 597 CE, Augustine and his monks had travelled safely to Gaul’s coast; however, for reasons unknown to us, the entourage turned around and headed back to Rome. Thus, Gregory the Great’s letter 9.11 reflects Augustine’s second attempted travel to Britain. In this letter, Gregory the Great sent a manuscript copy of the New Testament about which Brunhilda seems to have been inquiring.[46] Once again, to maintain their Catholic relationship, Gregory the Great used the opportunity to thank Brunhilda by sending a codex, something she had requested earlier. We see this tendency equally among the Pontiff and his male and female Catholic allies, such as Maurice. Thus, his land grants and codex were consistent with his gift-giving policies. But it is Letter 6.50 that I am most interested in here.

In Letter 6.50, Gregory the Great responded to Queen Brunhilda’s request for saintly relics. The Pope sent relics of Sts Peter and Paul to adorn the thirteen new altars that were consecrated in her region.[47] This move was a major shift from his usual practice of following Roman customs, especially when compared to Constantina’s request for Saint Paul’s relics earlier. Here, he sent actual bodily relics to Brunhilda, who was still working to convert some of her people. A Catholic Bishop would bless the church and altar as Catholic, and Gregory the Great was willing to break Roman customs to promote Catholicism globally. Thus, bodily relics could be sent to convert large groups of people. But notice that Gregory sent the relics with stipulations:

But, that laudable and religious devotion may be more and more conspicuous among you, you must see that these benefits of the saints be deposited with reverence and due honor, and that those who serve in attendance on them be vexed with no burdens or molestations, lest perchance, under the pressure of outward necessity, they be rendered unprofitable and slow in the service of God, and (which God forbid) the benefits of the saints that have been bestowed sustain injury and neglect.  Let, then, your Excellency see to their quiet, to the end that, while they are guarded by your bounty from all disquietude, they may render praises to our God with minds undisturbed, and that reward may also accrue to you in the life eternal.[48]

Gregory did not say that he was making an exception for Brunhilda. He did not say that he was giving these relics to Brunhilda only upon special circumstances. The Pontiff did not portray an emotional side in sending these gifts. Instead, Gregory used the relics to assert his authority, and that of the Catholic Church, over Brunhilda and her people. Gregory the Great’s stipulations act as translatio requirements, making sure the saints would be properly venerated, again, directing contemplation. For the betterment and promotion of Catholicism, the Pontiff would gift bodily relics, so long as his authority was respected and spread.

None of these actions among Gregory the Great and his Catholic allies demonstrate his compassion. His gift-giving simply followed protocol. The Pontiff was simply adhering to a formula in responding to their requests. In the case of Constantina, a life-long Catholic ally, Gregory the Great followed the formula perfectly, sending her brandea as he did with other male and female allies. In the case of Brunhilda, Gregory also simply responded to her requests for a codex and relics. However, he was willing to be inconsistent and send primary relics for missionary purposes. Since his relationships and alliances with Constantina and Brunhilda were solidified, he did not need to send compassionate gifts to cultivate their respective relationships. Instead, here he asserted his authority and promoted contemplation by sending Roman relics.

Compassion in Late Antiquity: Queen Theodelinda of Lombardy
Originally, the Lombards were a pagan and barbarian tribe.[49] In the fourth and fifth centuries CE, the majority of the Lombards converted to Christianity, mostly to Arianism.[50] But by the sixth century, the majority of the Lombards had converted to Catholicism, excluding the aristocrats, which were a minority group (although wielding tremendous influence). Queen Theodelinda (d. 628 CE) was Catholic by birth. Although her first husband, King Authari (d. 590 CE), was a Christian, he promoted anti-Catholic policies. Therefore, for our study, Queen Theodelinda provides an excellent example of a Catholic female aristocrat who was married to an Arianizing King.[51]

King Authari suppressed Catholicism in Lombardy for several years. For example, King Authari decreed that no Lombardic Catholics could have their children baptized.[52] Gregory the Great, in disdain of such an edict, wrote to all the bishops in Italy, urging them not to follow Authari’s decree and to condemn his grievous immorality.[53] When Authari died in 590 CE, Queen Theodelinda married Agilulf (d. 616 CE), who had an unofficial policy of Catholic toleration.[54] Agilulf’s tolerance policy changed around 602 CE when their son Adaloald was born near Monza. As a result of their son’s birth, Agilulf converted to Christianity. It is at this point, around 602 CE, when Gregory the Great wrote to Queen Theodelinda praising her son’s Catholic baptism in Letter 14.12.[55] Gregory opens the letter saying that the news of Adaloald’s baptism has made Gregory the Great “partakers of your joy” (gaudii vestri nos fecere participes). Right away, the Pontiff states his enthusiasm for the child and his approval of Theodelinda’s guidance.

To help Theodelinda raise her new Catholic son properly, Gregory sent a copy of the synods that Justinian approved in his time (325 CE, Nicaea; 380 CE, Constantinople; 431 CE, Ephesus; 451 CE, Chalcedon) and the Tome of Leo the Great.[56] Gregory hoped that the young Adaloald would read them so that he would know all the false things said against the Catholic Church.[57] The synodal documents would act like catechetical materials for the young boy.[58] These documents were crucial materials for any convert to Catholicism, especially an aristocratic one. Later in the letter, Gregory lists some liturgical gifts that he sent: some phylacteries (a cross with wood of the holy cross of the Lord) and a lectio of the holy Gospel enclosed in a Persian case. He also gave other gifts such as three rings to Adaloald’s sister (two with hyacinths and one with albula).[59] Gregory also targets the emotions here, saying that they are to show his charity (caritas), which also translates as love, to the young girls. Gregory’s is materializing his emotions, using them to mirror his joy and love toward Theodelinda’s family.

At first glance some of the objects might seem like glittering prizes; however, through the lens of the medieval Church, they are not. The synodal documents and the Tome of Leo would establish the boy’s Catholic doctrine with theologies counteracting Arianism.[60] The texts were not sent to mesmerize the prince with theological proofs, only to steer him onto the right path. The lectio would act like his gospel, or the gospel of his cathedral. Major Catholic churches in Late Antiquity, such as cathedrals, had one main decorative gospel that was used for service. Indeed, this decorative book, although lavish on the surface, would serve an important liturgical role. And finally, the phylacteries could act as his church’s cross or, at the very least, could consecrate the Arian churches into Catholic ones.

Gregory the Great sent gifts to Adaloald and his sisters as a type of conversion kit. Given the situation, Gregory could have responded with rich gifts of embroidered gold and silver. Instead, Gregory sent gifts to forge a personal connection with Queen Theodelinda’s children. By showing that he had a special concern for her children’s upbringing, the Pontiff attempted to connect with and elicit emotions from Theodelinda. His gifts were thoughtful and compassionate. By showing his enthusiasm for Adaloald’s baptism in his letter, Gregory displayed his support and kindness toward the Lombards, which he hoped would result in their kindness toward the Church as well. As his gifts accompany his letter, so too do the letter’s emotions accompany the gifts. Thus, by showing his enthusiasm, Gregory the Great gifted his approval and happiness toward Theodelinda; he gifted emotions. Although he did not send bodily relics, as he did with Brunhilda, he piously provided a piece of the True Cross in the phylacteries. Thus, he stayed consistent in not disturbing the dead, but still sent one of the most valued relics in Christendom. As part of Gregory the Great’s missionary program, he sent compassionate gifts, taking into account the context and his audience.

Queen Bertha of Kent: Rhetorical Praises
Britain was primarily pagan during Gregory the Great’s pontificate. When the Romans left Britain in the fifth century to defend Roman territories closer to the capital, mainstream Catholicism also left with them.[61] Therefore, Gregory the Great made it his mission to convert the Britons. He sent Augustine, the prior from Gregory the Great’s monastery, whom he trusted, to undertake this mission in 595 CE. Augustine landed in Kent in 597 CE. Most likely, Gregory the Great chose Kent as Augustine’s missionary location because Bertha of Kent was a Christian princess from France, who could influence her husband given the proper tools.

Once Augustine and his monks finally arrived in Britain, they travelled to King Æthelberht (r. 590-616 CE) and Queen Bertha (d. 612 CE) in Kent. In letters 11.34 and 11.41 written to Augustine, Gregory tells his famous missionary to use the holy relics and precious liturgical gifts he gave him to convert the British people.[62] Gregory also wrote to Bertha in letter 11.29, thanking her for her charity to Augustine.[63][63] Although Gregory does not discuss any specific gifts that accompanied this letter, notice what rhetorical devices he employs to win Bertha’s favour.

Gregory compares Bertha to Helena (d. c. 330 CE) of illustrious memory, Constantine the Great’s mother, in terms of converting pagans.[64] He says that Helena kindled the hearts of Romans into the Christian faith, which Bertha could do given the opportunity with Augustine there. Rhetorically, Gregory directly connects Queen Bertha to Helena, saying that she too could kindle the fire of Christianity within her husband, the King. His use of Helena in this example works on several levels.

First, one of the main things for which Helena was known was finding the wood of the True Cross and other relics in Jerusalem around 324 CE.[65] The relics kindled the hearts of those in Jerusalem, which resulted in the mainstream veneration of relics in Byzantium. Before Helena, Christian spirituality was fairly limited to a spiritual worship. Helena’s discoveries promoted pilgrimages and relic veneration into mainstream practices.[66] Now, people throughout the empire started looking for relics and establishing other pilgrimages, as in Ephesus and Abu Mina. Moreover, women were predominately illiterate in Helena’s time. Thus, these popular religious practices gave women a tangible element to connect to Christianity; practices that did not necessitate an extensive academic background. Her role in the formation of early Christianity was tremendous: Helena gave people something tangible in which to believe.

Here, Gregory is using the motif of Helena’s use of relics to convert pagans. Augustine had the means to do so, given the amount of relics Gregory gave him for his mission to Britain. Gregory might also hope that, by referencing Helena, Bertha would transform the local landscape into a Christian one, which was the ultimate result of the mission. Moreover, the legends of Helena’s later reception in Britain and Wales further supports that Helena’s fame was far reaching even in Bertha’s time. This exchange demonstrates that Greogry the Great carefully crafted his letter for his audience, since he utilized a local reference to win over Bertha.[67]

Second, Gregory uses Helena, an influential female Christian, to attempt to convince Bertha to convert her husband. Helena represented the perfect example of a female ruler.[68] Constantine the Great made Helena an empress. Although the title was only honorary, her legacy as a powerful and influential woman was well known.[69] She also helped transform the Christian landscape into a female-friendly one, as convents were being built to accommodate female pilgrims to the Holy Land. Thus, Gregory implied that Bertha could be as famous as Helena if she did the same. He was showing Bertha the opportunity she has to become renowned through the conversion of her people. Gregory was also showing Bertha that she could leave an influential mark on her country, since the Christianization of the Kentish landscape would provide ample opportunities to have buildings cement her legacy. Gregory could have used Mary or another figure to persuade Bertha, but instead he chose Helena, an active and influential female political ruler.[70]

The rhetoric Gregory used in this letter shows his compassion, as do his other dealings with relics in Britain. By connecting Bertha to Helena, Gregory was trying to incite compassion in the Queen of Kent. He clearly understood his audience here as he took special care in writing a thoughtful letter. He was not trying to win over Bertha with glittering prizes or theological proofs, but rather by engaging with her emotions.

Gregory did more than merely use rhetoric to persuade Bertha. Augustine’s use of relics also demonstrates Gregory’s compassionate side, in that it depicts the Catholic people’s veneration and respect for the dead. This act would clear up some uncertainty about the transformation from paganism to Catholicism, as seen in other conversion areas that were violently reluctant to neglect their past.[71] Moreover, in channelling the achievements of the martyrs, Gregory the Great promoted a humane connection with Bertha as well. One cannot forget that Gregory the Great sent a collection of liturgical gifts with Augustine to Kent, which would provide a sort of “start-up kit” if indeed they converted. Therefore, given Gregory’s rhetoric, displays of respect for the past, and relevant liturgical gifts, we see the Pontiff’s well thought out and compassionate gifts to connect with the non-Catholic Queen of Kent. Gregory the Great clearly knew his audience in Bertha and acted compassionately to win her over.

I have argued that Gregory the Great demonstrated a special concern for aristocratic women and their children. My work adds to previous scholarship on Gregory the Great and late antique compassion, providing a case study in Gregory’s gift-giving policies. By exploring the Pontiff’s interactions with Constantina, Brunhilda, Bertha, and Theodelinda, I have demonstrated that Gregory gifted authority in his long-standing friendships and compassion in his missionary regions, especially to aristocratic women. For women in missionary areas, such as Theodelinda and Bertha, he took particular care in selecting his gifts, engaging the emotions of these women, and demonstrating his caring concern for them and their families. He did not simply send stock gifts to female aristocrats that he was trying to convert, as with brandeum, nor did he try to win them over with doctrinal proofs. Instead, he was thoughtful and kind to aristocratic women in missionary regions, fully understanding his recipients and the context. Moreover, as contemplation and love of God was the goal of a good Christian life, so too would Gregory the Great experience happiness in setting these women and kingdoms on the path toward salvation. It was the Holy Pontiff’s mission to spread his love of God to others, which also materialized in his gifts as well. He talks about his joy/excitement (gaudium) in Adaloald’s conversion, the love/care (caritas) that he wants Adaloald’s sisters to feel as well, and the joys of heaven (in coelestibus gaudiis) that Bertha can achieve in converting her people. Gregory the Great engages several emotions in his Letters to these aristocratic women.

These findings have greater implications beyond this article. For instance, if Gregory did have a special concern for women and was careful in his gift collection, then research on the Pontiff’s compassion could re-open scholarship on some of his questionable gifts. For example, I turn to the Monza and Bobbio ampullae.[72] Scholarship has hotly debated the patronage of these pewter pilgrimage souvenirs [see figures 1-3]. Some argue Gregory the Great gifted them, while others say Theodelinda received them from elsewhere. If Gregory the Great was known for sentimental gifts, could we group these with the collections given for Adaloald’s baptism? The situation could have required additional baptismal waters for the potential “surge” from aristocratic Arian Lombards, acting like a domino effect. Moreover, as scholars demonstrate, Gregory the Great edited and defined his final Register of Letters to the 850 we have currently; however, over 20,000 existed, which makes one wonder how much information concerning gift-giving he discarded. More research on late antique compassion, especially on Gregory the Great, could help us better understand his other gifts and his interactions with others.

Paul A. Brazinski

Paul A. Brazinski is a PhD student in Church History at The Catholic University of America, where he specializes in the late antique Church. His research interests include pilgrimage, the cult of the saints, and women in the Christian tradition.


fig 1

Figure 1: Bobbio Ampullae, Bobbio Museum, Italy, 6th century CE (Common-Domain Image)

fig 2

Figure 2: Monza Ampulla # 6, Museo e Tesoro del Duomo di Monza, 6th century CE (Source: Grabar, Ampoules de Terre Sainte, plate 12)

fig 3

Figure 3: The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 6th century CE (Open-Domain Image)


[1] Elena Carrera, Emotions and Health, 1200-1700 (Leiden: Brill, 2013); Miri Rubin, Emotion and Devotion: The Meaning of Mary in Medieval Religious Cultures (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2009); Nicholas Lombardo, The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2010).

[2] Susan Wessel, Emotions in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2015).

[3] Paul Blowers, “Pity, Empathy, and the Tragic Spectacle of Human Suffering: Exploring the Emotional Culture of Compassion in Late Ancient Christianity,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 18.1 (2010): 1-27. The field of late antique compassion eagerly awaits Susan Wessel’s current project on late antique emotions. Also, see Barbara H. Rosenwein, Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006).

[4] Susan Wessel, “The Suffering Christ in Gregory Nazianzen,” Scottish Journal of Theology (forthcoming).

[5] Martha Nussbaum, Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (New York: Penguin Books, 2009).

[6] Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, “Altruism and Indirect Reciprocity: The Interaction of Person and Situation in Prosocial Behavior,” Social Psychology Quarterly 71 (2008): 37-52.

[7] Nathaniel M. Lambert, A. Marlea Gwinn, et. al., “A Boost of Positive Affect: The Perks of Sharing Positive Experiences,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 30 (2013): 24-43. Also see, Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, eds., The Psychology of Gratitude, Series in Affective Science (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[8] Peter Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2012).

[9] Susan Holman, The Hungry are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 64-68.

[10] Plato, Republic IV in Christopher Emlyn-Jones and William Preddy, trans., Plato: Republic: Books 1-5 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013). Also see, Plotinus, Ennead II.9 in A. H. Armstrong, trans., Plotinus II: Ennead II (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966).

[11] See 1 Cor 12:1-11, Rom 12:6-8, Eph 4: 11-16, and 1 Pet 4:10-11 in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3rd ed., new rev. with the Apocrypha, ed. Michael D. Coogan, Marc Zvi Brettler, et. al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[12] Conrad Leyser, “The Temptations of Cult: Roman Martyr piety in the Age of Gregory the Great,” Early Medieval Europe 9.3 (2000): 289-307, here 289. By “competitive generosity,” Leyser and others mean that Gregory the Great felt compelled to keep his gifts comparable with others. Moreover, he was an active gift giver. Also, see Conrad Leyser, Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great (Oxford: Oxford University Press; Clarendon Press, 2000).

[13] David Hipshon, “Gregory the Great’s Political Thought,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 53.3 (2002): 439-53. Also, Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: the Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation, 2nd ed., rev. and updated (New York: Harper One, 2010), 285-89.

[14] John R.C. Martyn, From Queens to Slaves: Pope Gregory’s Special Concern for Women (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2011), 3-7.

[15] Barbara H. Rosenwein, Negotiating Space: Power, Restraint, and Privileges of Immunity in Early Medieval Europe (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 5-13.

[16] For examples, see Gregory I, Epistulae, I.25, 29, 30; III.33, 47; IV.27; VII.23, 25, 27, 37; VIII.33; IX.37, 43; XII.2, 12 in The Letters of Gregory the Great, 3 vol., trans. John Martyn (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2004). In this paper, I will use Martyn’s translations in the footnotes.

[17] Connected to this, there is also a wealth of scholarship on Gregory the Great’s role concerning the cult of the saints, such as Matthew Dal Santo, Debating the Saints’ Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), and Joan M. Petersen, The Dialogues of Gregory the Great in Their Late Antique Cultural Background (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1984).

[18] John McCulloh, “The Cult of Relics in the Letters and ‘Dialogues’ of Gregory the Great: a Lexicographical Study,” Traditio 32 (1976): 145-84. See also John McCulloh, “From Antiquity to the Middle Ages: Continuity and Change in Papal Relic Policy from the 6th to the 8th Century,” in Pietas: Festschrift für Bernhard Kötting, ed. Ernst Dassmann and Karl Suso Frank, Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum: Ergänzungsband 8 (Münster Westfalen: Aschendorff, 1980), 313-24, here 323.

[19] McCulloh, “From Antiquity to the Middle Ages,” 315.

[20] James Kyriakakis, “Byzantine Burial Customs: Care of the Deceased from Death to the Prosthesis,” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 19.1 (1974): 37-72, here 39.

[21] McCulloh, “The Cult of Relics,” 157.

[22] McCulloh, “The Cult of Relics,” 165-69.

[23] Cynthia Hahn, Strange Beauty: Issues in the Making and Meaning of Reliquaries, 400-circa 1204 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012), 73.

[24] People on occasion would also petition for liturgical objects, such as a new silk aer or chalice. Gregory the Great also provided these objects to his Catholic allies.

[25] Leyser, “The Temptations of Cult,” 289-90. See also David Hurst, Forty Gospel Homilies: Gregory the Great (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1990), 73.

[26] Leyser, “The Temptations of Cult,” 306-7; Leyser, Authority and Asceticism, 255.

[27] Leyser, “The Temptations of Cult,” 306.

[28] Leyser, “The Temptations of Cult,” 307.

[29] Charles Freeman, Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011), 31.

[30] Patrick J. Geary, Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 88-89.

[31] Gregory I, Epistulae, XII.6; Gregory I, Homilia Evangelica, II.27.7, in Hurst, trans. Leyser, “The Temptations of Cult,” 306-7.

[32] For the primer on the cult of the saints, see Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), esp. 1-8.

[33] As Peter Brown demonstrates in his works, The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000 (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996) and The World of Late Antiquity: AD 150-750 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), the Christianization of Europe was a slow and unsystematic process. The conversion of pagans generally consisted of a Christian baptism. The Christianization of a pagan city generally consisted in converting pagan temples into Christian ones. But the Christianization of Arians, who considered themselves Christians and worshiped in comparable structure to Catholicism, consisted of baptism. Moreover, the city’s Arian church would be blessed and converted into a Catholic one. Thus, although the physical setting remained similar, beliefs and theologies were changed. After a region converted, the local custom slowly crept back into their liturgy and practices.

[34] R.A. Markus, Gregory the Great and His World (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 22. Timothy E. Gregory, A History of Byzantium (Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), 148-55.

[35] Martyn, From Queens to Slaves, 2. Also, John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions: the Church 450-680 AD, new ed. (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2011), 310-13.

[36] Martyn, From Queens to Slaves, 4.

[37] Martyn, From Queens to Slaves, 17-20, 192. Gregory, A History of Byzantium, 150-55.

[38] Gregory I, Epistulae, 4.30.

[39] McCulloh, “The Cult of Relics,” 147.

[40] Gregory I, Epistulae, 4.30: “Praeter haec autem sanctae memoriae decessor meus, itidem ad corpus sancti Laurentii martyris quaedam meliorare desiderans, dum nescitur ubi venerabile corpus esset collocatum, effoditur exquirendo, et subito sepulcrum ipsius ignoranter apertum est; et ii qui praesentes erant atque laborabant, monachi et mansionarii, qui corpus ejusdem martyris viderunt, quod quidem minime tangere praesumpserunt, omnes intra decem dies defuncti sunt, ita ut nullus vitae superesse potuisset, qui sanctum justi corpus illius viderat.” Translation: Besides all this, when my predecessor, of holy memory, was desiring in like manner to make some improvements not far from the body of Saint Laurence the martyr, it not being known where the venerable body was laid, diggings were made in the course of search, and suddenly his sepulchre was unawares disclosed; and those who were present and working, monks and mansionarii , who saw the body of the same martyr, which they did not indeed presume to touch, all died within ten days, so that none might survive who had seen the holy body of that righteous man.

[41] Gregory I, Epistulae, 4.30: “qui corpus ejusdem martyris viderunt, quod quidem minime tangere praesumpserunt, omnes intra decem dies defuncti sunt, ita ut nullus vitae superesse potuisset, qui sanctum justi corpus illius viderat.” Translation: “who saw the body of the same martyr, which they did not indeed presume to touch, all died within ten days, so that none might survive who had seen the holy body of that righteous man.”

[42] Traditionally, the Greeks were more open to moving the remains of famous deceased peoples. As I stated above, the Romans did not want to disturb the dead once they were buried, which resulted in conflicting ideologies. Brandea and touch relics were favorable compromises. Helen Saradi, “Late Paganism and Christianisation of Greece,” in The Archaeology of Late Antique ‘Paganism’, ed. Luke Lavan and Michael Mulryan (Brill: Leiden, 2011), 263-310.

[43] Markus, Gregory the Great and His World, 215.

[44] Philip Schaff, et. al., ed., Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series II, Volume 12 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), letter VI.4.

[45] Gregory I, Epistulae, 9.11.

[46] Gregory I, Epistulae, 9.11: “Codicem vero, sicut scripsistis, praedicto dilectissimo filio nostro Candido presbytero vobis offerendum transmittimus, quia boni vestri studii esse participes festinamus” (emphasis added). Translation: “We have sent the codex/volume, as you desired us by letter, to our aforesaid most beloved son Candidus the presbyter, to be offered to you, being in haste to be sharers in your good purpose.”

[47] Gregory I, Epistulae, 6.50: “Atque ideo congruo honore vestram excellentiam salutantes, indicamus latori praesentium Leuparico, quem vos esse presbyterum scripsistis, per quem eloquia vestrarum suscepimus litterarum, reliquias nos beatorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli, juxta excellentiae vestrae petitionem, cum ea veneratione qua dignum est praebuisse. Sed ut in vobis magis magisque laudabilis et religiosa possit clarere devotio, providendum vobis est ut sanctorum beneficia cum reverentia et debito honore condantur, et servientes ibidem nullis oneribus nullisque molestiis affligantur, ne forsitan, necessitate exterius imminente, in Dei servitio inutiles segnesque reddantur, et injuriam, quod absit, neglectumque beneficia sanctorum collata sustineant” (emphasis added). Translation: “Accordingly, greeting your Excellency with befitting honour, we inform you that to Leuparic, the bearer of these presents, through whom we received your communication, and whom you described as a presbyter, we have handed over, according to your Excellency’s request, with the reverence due to them, certain relics of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. But, that laudable and religious devotion may be more and more conspicuous among you, you must see that these benefits of the saints be deposited with reverence and due honour, and that those who serve in attendance on them be vexed with no burdens or molestations, lest perchance, under the pressure of outward necessity, they be rendered unprofitable and slow in the service of God, and (which God forbid) the benefits of the saints that have been bestowed sustain injury and neglect.”

[48] Gregory I, Epistulae, 6.50.

[49] Neil Christie, The Lombards: the Ancient Longobards, repr. (Oxford; Cambridge: Blackwell, 1998), 15.

[50] Arianism was an early heresy that was condemned at the 325 ecumenical council at Nicaea. See Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, 181-92.

[51] Steven Fanning, “Lombard Arianism Reconsidered,” Speculum 56.2 (1981) 241-58, here 246.

[52] Fanning, “Lombard Arianism,” 252; Gregory I, Epistulae, 1.17.

[53] Gregory I, Epistulae, I.17.

[54] Martyn, From Queens to Slaves, 16; Gregory I, Epistulae, I.17.

[55] Gregory I, Epistulae, 14.12: “Scripta quae ad nos dudum a Genuensibus partibus transmisistis gaudii vestri nos fecere participes, propterea quod omnipotentis Dei gratia, et filium vobis donatum, et, quod valde excellentiae vestrae est laudabile, catholicae eum fidei novimus sociatum” (emphasis added). Translation: “The letters which you sent us a little time ago from the Genoese parts have made us partakers of your joy on account of our learning that by the favour of Almighty God a son has been given you, and, as is greatly to your Excellency’s credit, has been received into the fellowship of the Catholic faith.”

[56] Gregory I, Epistulae, 14.12: “Eam tamen synodum quae piae memoriae Justiniani tempore facta est per latores praesentium transmisi, ut praedictus filius meus dilectissimus ipsam legens agnoscat quia falsa sunt omnia quae contra sedem apostolicam vel catholicam Ecclesiam audierat. Absit enim nos cujuslibet sensum haeretici recipere, vel a tomo sanctae memoriae Leonis praedecessoris nostri, in aliquo deviare; sed quaecunque a sanctis quatuor synodis sunt definita recipimus, et quaecunque reprobata sunt condemnamus” (emphasis added). Translation: “I have, however, sent by the bearers of these presents the Synod that was held in the time of Justinian of pious memory, that my aforesaid most-beloved son may acknowledge on reading it that all that he had heard against the Apostolic See or the Catholic Church was false. For far be it from us to accept the views of any heretic whatever, or to deviate in any respect from the tome of our predecessor Leo, of holy memory; but we receive whatever has been defined by the four holy synods, and condemn whatever has been rejected by them.”

[57] Gregory I, Epistulae, 14.12: “ut praedictus filius meus dilectissimus ipsam legens agnoscat quia falsa sunt omnia quae contra sedem apostolicam vel catholicam Ecclesiam audierat.” Translation: “that my aforesaid most-beloved son may acknowledge on reading it that all that he had heard against the Apostolic See or the Catholic Church was false.”

[58] Catechism is a summary of doctrine that served as a learning introduction to the Sacraments. It was used to teach children, adults, and possible converts the basic teachings of the Church before taking Baptism. See, Robert Bradley, The Roman Catechism in the Catechetical Tradition of the Church: The Structure of the Roman Catechism as Illustrative of the ‘Classic Catechesis’ (Lanham, M.D.: University Press of America, 1990).

[59] Gregory I, Epistulae, 14.12: “Excellentissimo autem filio nostro Adulouvaldo regi transmitter phylacteria curavimus, id est crucem cum ligno sanctae crucis Domini, et lectionem sancti Evangelii theca Persica inclusam. Filiae quoque meae sorori ejus tres annulos transmisi, duos cum hyacinthis, et unum cum albula, quae eis per vos peto dari, ut apud eos nostra charitas ex vestra excellentia condiatur” (emphasis added). Translation: “Further, to our son the King Adaloald we have taken thought to send some phylacteries; that is, a cross with wood of the Holy Cross of the Lord, and a lection of the Holy Gospel enclosed in a Persian case. Also to my daughter, his sister, I send three rings, two of them with hyacinths, and one with an albula, which I request may be given them through you, that our charity towards them may be seasoned by your Excellency.”

[60] Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, 184-90.

[61] The religious environment in Britain and Ireland was rather complex. Rural Irish monasticism continued in Ireland after the Roman occupation; however, local British customs started to assimilate into their practices, creating a much divergent form of Catholicism than followed in Rome and elsewhere on the continent. Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom, 130-133. Also see, John Ryan, Irish Monasticism: Origins and Early Development, 2nd ed. with new introduction and bibliography (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1992).

[62] Gregory I, Epistulae, 11.34 and 11.41. Bede corroborates this stance in Bede the Venerable, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, I.23-27 in Bede: Ecclesiastical History of the English People, trans. D.H. Farmer (New York: Penguin Classics, 1991).

[63] Gregory I, Epistulae, 11.29: “Remeantes igitur dilectissimus filius noster Laurentius presbyter et Petrus monachus, qualis erga reverendissimum fratrem et coepiscopum nostrum Augustinum gloria vestra exstiterit, quantaque illi solatia vel qualem charitatem impenderit, retulerunt. Et omnipotentem Deum benediximus, qui conversionem gentis Anglorum mercedi vestrae dignatus est propitius reservare” (emphasis added). Translation: “For indeed our most beloved son Laurentius the presbyter, and Peter the monk, have brought us word on their return to us how your Glory has exhibited itself towards our most reverend brother and fellow bishop Augustine, and how great succour and what charity you have bestowed upon him. And we bless Almighty God, who has been mercifully pleased to reserve the conversion of the nation of the Angli for your reward.”

[64] Gregory I, Epistulae, 11.29: “Nam sicut per recordandae memoriae Helenam, matrem piissimi Constantini imperatoris, ad Christianam fidem corda Romanorum accendit, ita et per gloriae vestrae studium in Anglorum gente ejus misericordiam confidimus operari. Et quidem jamdudum gloriosi filii nostri conjugis vestri animos prudentiae vestrae bono, sicut revera Christianae, debuistis inflectere, ut pro regni et animae suae salute fidem quam colitis sequeretur, quatenus et de eo et per eum de totius gentis conversione digna vobis in coelestibus gaudiis retributio nasceretur” (emphasis added). Translation: “For, as through Helena of illustrious memory, the mother of the most pious Emperor Constantine, He kindled the hearts of the Romans into Christian faith, so we trust that He works in the nation of the Angli through the zeal of your Glory. And indeed you ought before now, as being truly a Christian, to have inclined the heart of our glorious son, your husband, by the good influence of your prudence, to follow, for the good of his kingdom and of his own soul, the faith which you profess, to the end that for him, and for the conversion of the whole nation through him, fit retribution might accrue to you in the joys of heaven.”

[65] Eusebius, Vita Constantini, 3.41-3.47, in Life of Constantine, trans. Averil Cameron and Stuart Hall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

[66] Barbara J. MacHaffie, Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006), 30.

[67] The legends state that Queen Helena was a Welsh Princess. See Jan Willem Drijvers, “Helena Augusta: Exemplary Christian Empress,” Studia Patristica 24 (1993): 85-90 and Drijvers, “Helena Augusta, the Cross and the Myth: Some New Reflections,” Millennium 8 (2011): 125-74.

[68] Drijvers, “Helena Augusta: Exemplary Christian Empress,” 85.

[69] Drijvers, “Helena Augusta, the Cross and the Myth,” 128.

[70] Jan Willem Drijvers, Helena Augusta: The Mother of Constantine the Great and the Legend of Her Finding the True Cross (Leiden: Brill, 1992), 1-6. MacHaffie, Her Story, 30. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, 144-45.

[71] Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom, 95-96.

[72] Graziano Alfredo Vergani, Museum and Treasury of Monza Cathedral: A Brief Guide (Milan: Silvana, 2008), 14f. For a historical introduction to Bobbio’s monastery, see Michael Richter, Bobbio in the Middle Ages: the Abiding Legacy of Columbanus (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2008), esp. 13-20. Andre Grabar, Les Ampoules de Terre Sainte: Monza and Bobbio (Paris: C. Klincksieck, 1958). See also, Jules Leroy, “A. Grabar Les Ampoules de Terre Sainte,” Syria Année 36.3 (1959): 320-23; C. Lambert and Pedemonte Demeglio, “Ampolle devozionali ed itinerari di pellegrinaggio tra VI e VII secolo,” Antiquite Tardive 2 (1994): 205-31; Dan Barag and John Wilkinson, “The Monza-Bobbio Flasks and the Holy Sepulchre,” Levant 6 (1974): 179-89; Dan Barag, “Glass Pilgrim Vessels from Jerusalem: Parts II and III,” Journal of Glass Studies 13 (1971): 45-63; Annabel Jane Wharton, Selling Jerusalem: Relics, Replicas, Theme Parks (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 26f; Carole Billod, “Les encensoirs Syro-Palestiniens de Bale,” Antike Kunst 30.1 (1987): 39-56; H. Hunter-Crawley, “Pilgrimage Made Portable: A Sensory Archaeology of the Monza-Bobbio Ampullae,” Herom 1 (2012): 135-56; J. Leroy, “Objectifs des recherches sur la peinture religieuse ethiopienne,” Annales d’Ethiopie 1 (1955): 127-36; and Gary Vikan, Early Byzantine Pilgrimage Art (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Press, 2010), 25.

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