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E00328: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Urbanus (bishop and confessor/martyr of Rome, S00538), attributes the conversion of Valerianus, the husband of *Caecilia (virgin and martyr of Rome, S00146), and a number of other conversions and martyrdoms, to his teaching, and records his burial in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the via Appia outside Rome, on 19 May.

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posted on 04.03.2015, 00:00 by Bryan
Liber Pontificalis 18

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Urbanus, natione Romanus, ex patre Pontiano, sedit ann. IIII mens. X dies XII ... Qui etiam clare confessor temporibus Dioclitiani. Hic sua traditione multos converit ad baptismum, etiam Valerianum, sponsum sanctae Caeciliae, et multi martyrium coronati sunt per eius doctrinam ... Qui sepultus est cimiterio Praetextati, via Appia, quem sepelivit beatus Tiburtius XIIII kal. iun.

'Urbanus, born in Rome, son of Pontianus, held the see 4 years 10 months 12 days. ... He was a distinguished confessor in the time of Diocletian. By the teaching he passed on he converted many to baptism, including Valerianus, husband of saint Caecilia; and through his teaching many were crowned with martyrdom. ... He was buried in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the via Appia—saint Tiburtius buried him—on the fourteenth day before the Kalends of June [19 May].'


Second edition

Urbanus, natione Romanus, ex patre Pontiano, sedit ann. IIII m. X d. XII ... Qui etiam clare confesor temporibus Dioclitiani. Hic sua traditione multos converit ad baptismum et credulitatem, etiam et Valerianum, nobilissimum virum, sponsum sanctae Ceciliae, quos etiam usque ad martyrii palmam perduxit; et per eius monita multi martyrio coronati sunt ... Qui etiam sepultus est in cymiterio Praetextati, via Appia, quem sepelivit beatus Tiburtius, XIIII kal. iun.

'Urbanus, born in Rome, son of Pontianus, held the see 4 years 10 months 12 days. ... He was a distinguished confessor in the time of Diocletian. By the teaching he passed on he converted many to baptism and the faith, including the most noble Valerianus, husband of saint Caecilia, and he also led them to the palm of martyrdom; and through his encouragement many were crowned with martyrdom ... He was buried in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the via Appia—saint Tiburtius buried him—on the fourteenth day before the Kalends of June [19 May].'


Text: Duchesne 1886, 63 and 143. Translation: Davis 2010, 7, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00328

Saint Name

Anonymous Martyrs : S00060 Caecilia, virgin and martyr of Rome : S00146 Urban, bishop of Rome, ob. c. 230 : S00538

Saint Name in Source

Caecilia, Valerianus, Tiburtius Urbanus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

546

Activity not before

220

Activity not after

240

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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Relatives of the saint

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

Urbanus was one of the papal saints who acquired significant cult, since he was believed to be the Urbanus who features prominently as the leader of the Christians of Rome in the Martyrdom of Caecilia (E02519), a popular text that survives in over 200 manuscripts. In that text, and here in the Liber Pontificalis, he is presented as a 'confessor' (one who suffered for, but did not die, for his faith); in time, however, he also acquired his own Martyrdom (E02416). His grave on the via Appia is mentioned in all three of the seventh-century pilgrim itineraries (E00683, E06992, E07896), and, in around AD 600, oil from it was collected for Queen Theodolinda (E06788). The account of Urbanus' life given here in the Liber Pontificalis and that which appears in the Martyrdom of Caecilia are certainly closely related, but not precisely the same: Valerianus (Caecilia's husband) is in the Martyrdom, as here, converted by Urbanus; but in the Martyrdom Urbanus outlives Tiburtius (Valerianus' brother), whereas here Tiburtius lives long enough to bury Urbanus.

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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