Prelate already very prominent in 536 – he was at that time in charge of leading a legation in Constantinople -, this bishop was so old under the reign of Totila that he had completely lost his sight. It is Gregory himself who teaches us this, in a further account of the Dialogues that we are surprised not to see mentioned either by Chapman or by Manning. Sabino’s meeting with the Gothic king may have occurred in 542 or 547. Supposing his death in 566 is like giving another twenty years of life to a man who has reached an extreme old age. It is rather around 550 that his death must have occurred.
Moreover, this date of Sabino’s death matters little, since that of his meeting with Benedict is known to us with certainty. The conversation of the abbot and the bishop on the fate of Rome takes place in the last days of 546, or rather in March 547. It is therefore before the middle of the century that the two men met and appreciated each other. If nothing forces us to think that Benedict was as old as his friend, however, his relations with the latter take us back to the time of the Gothic War, thirty years before he was supposed to have died.
The date of 570, assigned by Manning to the death of Constantius, is still a loan taken by Chapman. Gregory only says that the bishop of Aquino died “recently” (nuper), under the pontificate of a Pope John who can only be John III (561 – 574). Based on this nuper, Chapman considers it probable that Constantius died at the end of the pontificate rather than at the beginning. But the term seems to qualify the time of John III taken as a totality, so that it is by no means possible to draw the precision deduced by the English author.
On the other hand, Constantius too will have two successors before the devastation of his city by the Lombards, which must have occurred almost simultaneously with that of Montecassino.
The subdeacon Fiorenzio was not the nephew (uncle’s) of the priest of Subiaco, as Manning says, but he was his “grandfather’s grandson”. His presence in Rome in 593 does not oblige us to lower the date of Benedict’s departure for Montecassino. If Fiorenzio was born around 550, his father could have been born in the first quarter of a century, before his grandfather became a priest and came into conflict with Benedict. Far from inviting us to rejuvenate him, the case of the two Fiorentius would allow, in Chapman’s opinion, to locate the foundation of Montecassino well before 530.
We conclude this review of Benedict’s relations with the exiled puer. Is this conuersus of the Dialogues the family member that Gregory wants to send to Constantinople in 594, the secundicerius who will return from the East in 597, the bishop of Sicily censored in 603? If this identification is accepted, it seems that Exhilarated could not have known Benedict at all before the decade 550-560, when he was in his early twenties. In all the cases examined so far, he is the only one who assigns a fairly low terminus post quem to Benedict’s death, without however the need to go down to the seventh or eighth decade of the century, as Manning believes.
His latest arguments revolve around the destruction of Monte Cassino, which can be dated to 577. Does Benedict’s prediction suppose, as suggested by Manning, the approach of the Lombards, who advanced in central Italy starting in 571? According to the Gregorian tale, the saint’s prophecy does not mention the Lombards, but more vaguely “of the barbarians” (gentibus). According to Gregory, therefore, Benedict does not seem to have heard of people who will destroy his monastery.