“There was a great mortality in Rome, more serious than is recalled in the time of any other pontiff”. Plagues and diseases in the "Liber Pontificalis"

Michal Jan Ludewicz

KUL


Abstract

The aim of this article was to describe how were plagues and illnesses perceived by the authors of the Liber Pontificalis. In the first part circumstances in which the first draft of the Liber Pontificalis was composed were analysed. Attention was given particularly to disadvantages that affected the population of Italy in the 6th century. The second part was devoted to plagues recorded in the Liber Pontificalis. When dealing with the plague the authors of the Liber Pontificalis used several terms like: pestilentia, clades, mors. Usually plagues were presented as caused by natural factors, but there was also a fragment attributing the eruption of the pestilence to divine disfavor. The third part was concerned with diseases that had affected individuals. The majority of cases where  diseases were mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis referred to the health of the popes. In the collection of papal biographies there were also descriptions of diseases that had affected other people: an emperor, bishop, soldier, clerk. Some of the illnesses appeared terminal but all of them affected the person`s life.

Keywords:

Liber Pontificalis, plague, pestilence, illness, Rome, papacy

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Published
2021-06-15


Ludewicz, M. J. (2021). “There was a great mortality in Rome, more serious than is recalled in the time of any other pontiff”. Plagues and diseases in the "Liber Pontificalis". Vox Patrum, 78, 347–364. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.12190

Michal Jan Ludewicz 
KUL



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