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.


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.[1] [2] 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.[3]

  • [1] Hormisdas, ep. 40, ed. Thiel, pp. 820—30.
  • [2] Gregorius Magnus, Registrum, ed. Norberg (CCL 140a), lib. X, cap. 16 (a. 600), p. 845;cf. Shahid, Byzantium [Sixth Century], vol. I,1 (1995), pp. 602—5.
  • [3] Gregorius Magnus, Registrum, ed. Norberg (CCL 140a), lib. XI, cap. 20 (a. 601), p. 889.
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