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E00325: The first edition of the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, in its account of *Anicetus (bishop of Rome, S00143), states that he was buried in Rome close to the body of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036), on 20 April [AD 153]. The second edition, written not long before 546, adds that he died a martyr, and places his burial in the cemetery of Callixtus, also on 20 April.

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posted on 04.03.2015, 00:00 by robert
Liber Pontificalis 12

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Anicitus, natione Syrus, ex patre Iohanne, de vico Amisa, sedit ann. XI m. IIII d. III. Fuit autem temporibus Severi et Marci, a consulatu Gallicani et Veteris usque ad Presente et Rufino ... Qui etiam sepultus est iuxta corpus beati Petri in Vaticano XII kal. mai.

'Anicitus, born in Syria, son of John, from the village of Amisa [Emesa?], held the see 11 years 4 months 3 days. He was bishop in the time of Severus [= Verus] and Marcus from the consulship of Gallicanus and Vetus [AD 150] to that of Praesens and Rufinus [AD 153]. ... He was buried close to the blessed Peter's body on the twelfth day before the Kalends of May [20 April].'


Second edition

Anicitus, natione Syrus, ex patre Iohanne, de vico Humisa, sedit ann. XI m. IIII d. III. Fuit autem temporibus Severi et Marci, a consulatu Gallicani et Veteris usque ad Praesente et Rufino ... Qui etiam obiit martyr et sepultus est in cymiterio Calisti XII kal. mai.

'Anicitus, born in Syria, son of John, from the village of Umisa [Emesa?], held the see 11 years 4 months 3 days. He was bishop in the time of Severus [= Verus] and Marcus from the consulship of Gallicanus and Vetus [AD 150] to that of Praesens and Rufinus [AD 153]. ... He died a martyr and was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on 20 April. '


Text: Duchesne 1886, 59 and 134. Translation: Davis 2010, 5, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00325

Saint Name

Anicetus, martyr and bishop of Rome, ob. in the 160s : S00143

Saint Name in Source

Anicetus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

546

Activity not before

150

Activity not after

170

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Rome

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Liber Pontificalis

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - cemetery/catacomb

Source

The Liber Pontificalis consists of a series of short lives of popes. The preface attributes it to pope Damasus (366-384), but this attribution is obviously false. According to Louis Duchesne, the first modern editor of the Liber Pontificalis, the original series of lives was written in Rome by an anonymous author, probably a member of the lesser clergy, in the 530s, and contained the lives from *Peter the Apostle to Felix IV (ob. 530). Shortly after, before 546, the text was re-edited by another anonymous author and only this edition survives. The first edition, however, can be reconstituted on the basis of its two epitomes (and the second edition). The second edition started to be continued systematically from the time of pope Honorius (625–638). It should be noted that Theodor Mommsen dated both editions of the Liber Pontificalis to the 7th century, but his opinion is widely rejected and the commonly accepted dating is that of Duchesne. For the pre-Constantinian period (before 312), the credibility of the Liber Pontificalis is very low. The chronology is confused, and details concerning the personal lives, decisions, and ordinations of the bishops of Rome at best reflect what people in the 6th century trusted to be true, at worst are a pure invention of the author. The situation changes with the later lives. Already the information of 4th century papal foundations and offerings are generally trustworthy. The early 6th century evidence, based on the author's first hand knowledge is even better, though still imperfect.

Discussion

There is no other evidence to suggest that Anicetus died a martyr, and no obvious reason why this story had emerged in the short period between the first and the second editions of the Liber Pontificalis. Likewise, according to the first edition Anicetus was buried on the Vatican hill, and according to the second edition, in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia, and again there is no obvious reason for this change between the two editions. For the claim by the author of the Liber Pontificalis (normally in both editions, but here just in the first) that almost all the early bishops of Rome were buried at the Vatican close to St Peter, see E00265.

Bibliography

Edition: Duchesne, L., Le Liber pontificalis. 2 vols (Paris: E. Thorin, 1886-1892). (With substantial introduction and commentary.) Translation: Davis, R., The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Translated Texts for Historians 6; 3rd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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