From the Patriarch of Rome to the Pope
A centuries-old and most influential institution, the Roman bishopric had at its disposal a far-reaching network of contacts in the late antique and medieval Euromediterranean. The papacy’s Mediterranean engagement was reflected in Arabic-Islamic sources that accorded increasing attention to the bishop of Rome over the centuries.
EARLY LACK OF RECORDS (8TH-9TH CENTURIES)
Papal letters show that the bishop of Rome already maintained sporadic relations with Christians in the pre-Islamic Arab world’s immediate surroundings. At the beginning of the sixth century, pope Hormisdas (sed. 514-23) wrote to the ‘archi- mandritae’ of Syria.  In the year 600, pope Gregory the Great made an effort to alleviate the punishment of a certain Anamundarus’, possibly the Ghassanid ruler al-Mundhir exiled to Sicily by the Byzantine emperor.2 His correspondence with the bishop Marianus of Arabia entailed the donation of Roman relics to this Middle Eastern bishopric.