Bari Sailors - 1087

St Nicholas
Parchement, dated ca 1175, is in the St Nicholas Muiseum at the Basilica di San Nicola, Bari, Itlay. It is by the administrator who kept accounts of the Basilica. The sailors' names are on the left; their heirs listed on the right. The ones with a red cross renounced their payments in favor of the church.
Photo: Centro Studi Nicolaiani

The Barian sailors who brought the relics from Myra to Bari in 1087—the Translation—have been named in several listings. There are sixty-three names in the contemporary (1087) account by Nicephorus and sixty-two names on the parchment written by the accounts administrator around 1175. However, they aren't all the same.

  • Albertus Nauclerius • N
  • Iohannacius de Caro
  • Elias nauclerii
  • CristaniIdelmannus de Poliniano
  • Sifandus f(ilius) Iohannis W
  • Benedictus Manicella
  • Nicolaus de Poliniano
  • Stephanus Tarantinus E
  • Faracus
  • Romano Sancte Pelagie
  • Mele de Caloiohanne E (?)
  • Meliacca Boccalata
  • Symeon Dentica
  • Iohannes de Poliniano
  • Bisantius Monopolitanus
  • Kirizzius de Urania
  • Barda de Gisilfo
  • Miro de Poliniano
  • Topatius N
  • Elephantus
  • Mele de presbitero Basilio
  • Disigius de Alberto • N
  • Summus
  • Urso de presbitero
  • Melis de presbitero Germano
  • Lupus presbiter •
  • Melis de Germano
  • Stephanus Bos W
  • Matheus •
  • Romoaldus Bulpannha •
  • Bonus Homo
  • Gittanhus
  • Summissimus W
  • Maraldizzius Monopolitanus
  • Iohannoccarus Nauclerius W
  • Sire Azzo Caballo •
  • Petracca Caperrone
  • Demetrius Bazzus
  • Leo de Guisanda
  • Iohannes de Poliniano
  • Iohannoccarus Mancus
  • Petracca Pelillus
  • Leo Pelillus W
  • Maio de Poliniano
  • Leo de Lado N
  • Petracca de Rossemanno E (?)
  • Lupus de Chiunata
  • Grimoaldus Presbiter •
  • Michahel de Zizula S (?)
  • Nicolaus de Alba (de Alberto ?) •
  • Petrus de Sikinolfo
  • Stasius Scannoria (Eustasius Tranensis ?) • (?)
  • Maio de Adelfo
  • Leo Sapatici N
  • Pandolfus de Poliniano
  • Stephanus de Cretazariis N
  • Bisantius Bucconus
  • Petronus Nasus
  • Dalfius Monopolitanus
  • Leo de Iacono Disigio
  • Meliciacca Corbario S
  • Bisantius Saragolla • N

    Nauclerius = ship captain; • = active participation in the expedition;
    N S E W = burial on North, South, East or West side of the Basilica

    These are listed by Nicephorus, but not on the parchment: Nycolaus, Spararus, Lupus, and 8 people from Trani (Mundus, Maraldus, Iohannes, Anastasius, Eustasius, Iohannes sclavus, Petrus sclavus and Andreas sclavus.

    The parchment includes these that aren't in Nicephorus list: Romano Sancte Pelagie, Bisantius Monopolitanus, Elephantus, Melis de presbitero Romano, Melis de Germano, Sire Azzo Caballo, Petracca de Rossemanno, Michahel de Zizula, Leo Sapatici, Petronus Nasus, Leo de iacono Disigio.

    In addition there were two pilgrims who boarded at Antioch. One was Greek and the other French, Alexander from Auvergne. Eight sailors from Trani were also part of the expedition and were paid in one payment.

    The total was most likely 73 (62 + 11). The sixty-two have been categorized as 4 naucleri (naval cptains), 13 nobles, 5 priests and clerics, 4 sons of clerics, 10 merchants, and 26 sailors.

    The expedition had three ships. The expedition captain and co-owner of one ship was Iohannoccarus and he's buried next to one of the oxen at the portal to the Basilica. The other two ship captains were Albertus and Summissimus.

    On their return the sailors received a number of concessions for giving up the relics. They received the right to be buried along the wall of the Basilica. Seventeen epigraphs remain, with their names inscribed in the stone above their burial site. There were probably more, as restoration interventions most likely erased some of the epigraphs, though there are traces still on some stones. Excavations have shown that there are simple graves all around the Basilica perimeter.

    The sailors and their heirs were each entitled to their due percentage from the Church income. The amount varied from one half, one third, or one fourth, of the share. This was to be paid at the Feast of the Translation, May 9th. The parchment shows an entire red cross for the sixteen who renounced the payment on behalf of the Church, or a partial cross showing the amounts for the others.

    The six concessions as described in Leo Pilillus' parchment:

    • A chair in the Basilica for the sailor and his wife;
    • A grave around the outside wall of the Basilica;
    • A percentage from the income of the church at the Feast of the Translation;
    • Help from the Basilica if the sailor fell into extreme poverty;
    • Possible entrance into clerical life without payment;
    • If accepted into clerical life, the St Nicholas clergy should give him a "benefice" (a guaranteed payment in exchange for fixed prayers).

    Basilica grave marker
    Grave inscription for the captain, Iohannoccarus, next to the ox adjacent to the Basilica portal
    Photo: Marco Ravasini, Behance


    • Cioffari, Gerardo, op., "The Sailors Who Brought the Relics of St Nicholas from Myra to Bari," St Nicholas News, Centro Studi Nicolaiani / Bari, April 30, 2011
    • Cioffari, Gerardo, op., "Where are buried the sailors who in 1087 brought St Nicholas to Bari?" St Nicholas News, Centro Studi Nicolaiani,  Bari, October 30, 2016

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