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.[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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