Book Series Adnotationes, vol. 1

The Letters of Gelasius I (492-496)

Pastor and Micro-Manager of the Church of Rome

Bronwen Neil, Pauline Allen

  • Pages: xiv + 252 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Language(s):English, Latin
  • Publication Year:2014

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55299-6
  • Paperback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57342-7
  • E-book
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Dr Bronwen Neil is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and a former Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung. She is Burke Senior Lecturer in Ecclesiastical Latin and assistant director of the Centre for Early Christian Studies at Australian Catholic University. Bronwen has published widely on Maximus the Confessor, Pope Martin I, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and Pope Leo I, as well as on poverty and welfare in Late Antiquity.

Professor Pauline Allen is director of the Centre for Early Christian Studies at Australian Catholic University, former Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, and Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She has worked on homiletic literature, Maximus the Confessor, the Council of Chalcedon, Severus of Antioch, John Chrysostom and late-antique letter-writing.


While not completely neglected as a late-antique epistolographer, Gelasius has mainly been considered as a theologian prominent in the Acacian schism and as a forerunner of the mediaeval papacy. This imbalance will be redressed by considering his letters on various problems of his time, such as displaced persons, persecution, ransoming captives, papal property management, social and clerical abuses involving servants, orphans, slaves and slave-owners, the ordination of lower classes, preferential treatment of upper classes, the role of the papal scrinium, violent deaths of bishops, and the celebration of the pagan festival of the Lupercalia. This approach will round out the existing portrait of Gelasius, and make a contribution to a new history of the late-antique papacy, which will revise the view that Gregory the Great was a stand-alone micro-manager without precedent. Comparisons with earlier fifth-century popes like Innocent I and Leo I, and with later popes like Hormisdas and Pelagius I, show the trajectory from Gelasius to Gregory I.



Chapter 1 Life in late fifth-century Rome

An African Pope?
Gelasius’ epistolary corpus
The papal archive
Rome and its bishops

Chapter 2 Pastoral care

Displaced persons
Violent conflict
Failure of the justice system
Breakdown of the structures of dependence

Chapter 3 Persecuting heretics

The Acacian schism
The Lupercalia

Chapter 4 Leading the universal church

Appeals to Rome
Clerical appointments
Management of church patrimonies
Gelasian decretals
The Roman liturgy



Section 1. The preeminence of Rome

The Book of Pontiffs. Gelasius.
To Anastasius Augustus (ep. 12)

Section 2. Acacius and the eponymous schism

To the bishops of the East (ep. 1)
To the magister Faustus (ep. 10)
To the bishops of the East (ep. 27)

Section 3. The papal scrinium at work

Regarding the absolution of Misenus (ep. 30)
Two rental receipts (epp. 31-32)

Section 4. Decretals

Decretal to the bishops of Lucania, Bruttium, and Sicily (ep. 14)
Decretal on canonical books (ep. 42)

Section 5. Clerical and social abuses

To the bishops of Sicily (ep. 17)
To Bishop John of Spoleto (ep. 40)
To Secundinus of Visinum (frg. 16)
To Justus and Probus (ep. 3*)
To Bishop Geruntius of Valva (ep. 7*)
To Bishop Bellator (ep. 14*)
To Bishops Cresconius, John, and Messala (ep. 20)
On the dispute between Faustus and Eucharistus (ep. 22*)

Section 6. Papal intervention in legal cases

To Bishops Justus and Constantine (ep. 5*)
To Mercurius (ep. 16*)
To Bishop Siracusius (ep. 21*)
To Bishops Respectus and Gerontius (ep. 8*)
To the comes (teia) (ep. 9*)

Section 7. Murders of bishops

To Bishop John (ep. 36)
To Bishops Majoricus and John (ep. 37)
To Philip and Cassiodorus (ep. 38)
To Bishops Majoricus, Serenus, and John (ep. 39)

Section 8. Upper and lower classes

To Bishops Martyrius and Justus (ep. 20)
To Bishops Herculentius, Stephen, and Justus (ep. 21)
To Bishops Rufinus and Aprilis (ep. 22)
To Bishops Crispinus and Sabinus (ep. 23)
To the comes (zeja) (ep. 24)
To Bishop Felix (ep. 4*)
To Bishop John of Sora (ep. 33)
To Bishop Senecio (ep. 34)
To Bishop Herculentius of Potentia (ep. 35)
To Queen Heraleuva (frg. 36)

Section 9. Displaced persons

To Bishop Succonius of Africa (ep. 9)
To Bishop Rusticus of Lyon (ep. 13)
To the noblewoman Firmina (frg. 35)
To Bishops Siracusius, Constantius, and Laurence (frg. 43)

Section 10. Against pagan practices

Against the Lupercalia

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