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E00343: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Fabianus (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00147), recounts how he established in the Roman church subdeacons and notaries to collect the acts of martyrs; it then tells of Fabianus' own martyrdom, and his burial in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia outside Rome, on 21 (or 20) January [AD 250].

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posted on 17.03.2015, 00:00 by robert
Liber Pontificalis 21

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Fabianus, natione Romanus, ex patre Fabio, sedit ann. XIIII m. I d. XI. Martyrio coronatur. Fuit autem temporibus Maximi et Africani usque ad Decio II et Quadrato et passus est XIIII kal. feb. Hic regiones dividit diaconibus et fecit VII subdiaconos qui septem notariis inminerent ut gestas martyrum fideliter colligerent, et multas fabricas per cimiteria fieri precepit. Post passionem eius Moyses et Maximinus presbiteri et Nicostratus diaconus comprehensi sunt [et in carcerem missi sunt]. Eodem tempore [supervenit Novatus ex Africa et separavit de ecclesia Novatianum et quosdam confessores postquam] Moyses in carcere defunctus est, gui fuit ibi menses XI; et sic multi christiani fugierunt. … Qui [etiam] sepultus est in cimiterio Calisti, via Appia, XIII kl. feb.

'Fabianus, born in Rome, son of Fabius, held the see 14 years 1 month 11 days. He was crowned with martyrdom. He was bishop in the time of [the consulship of] Maximus [Maximinus] and Africanus [AD 236] to the 2nd [consulship]of Decius and that of Quadratus [Gratus, AD 250]; he suffered on the fourteenth day before the Kalends of February [19 January]. He divided the regions among the deacons and created 7 subdeacons who were to watch over the 7 notaries so they would faithfully collect the acts of the martyrs (gestae martyrum). He ordered many works to be carried out in the cemeteries. After his passion the priests Moyses and Maximus and the deacon Nicostratus were arrested [and put in prison]. Then [Novatus came over from Africa and separated Novatian and some of the confessors from the church after] Moyses died in prison—he was there 11 months; so it was that many Christians fled... He was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia on the thirteenth day before the Kalends of February [20 January].'


Second edition

Fabianus, natione Romanus, ex patre Fabio, sedit ann. XIIII m. I d. XI. Martyrio coronatur. Fuit autem temporibus Maximi et Africani usque ad Decio II et Quadrato et passus est XIIII kal. febr. Hic regiones dividit diaconibus et fecit VII subdiaconos qui VII notariis inminerent ut gestas martyrum in integro fideliter colligerent, et multas fabricas per cymiteria fieri precepit. Et post passionem eius Moyses et Maximinus presbiteri et Nicostratus diaconus comprehensi sunt et in carcerem missi sunt. Eodem tempore supervenit Novatus ex Africa et separavit de ecclesia Novatianum et quosdam confessores postquam Moyses in carcere defunctus est, gui fuit ibi menses XI; et sic multi christiani fugierunt … Qui etiam sepultus est in cymiterio Calisti, via Appia, XIIII kal. febr.


'Fabianus, born in Rome, son of Fabius, held the see 14 years 1 month 11 days. He was crowned with martyrdom. He was bishop in the time of Maximus [Maximinus] and Africanus [236] to the 2nd [consulship] of Decius and that of Quadratus [Gratus, AD 250]; he suffered on the fourteenth day before the Kalends of February [19 January]. He divided the regions among the deacons and created 7 subdeacons who were to watch over the 7 notaries so they would faithfully collect the acts of the martyrs. He ordered many works to be carried out in the cemeteries. After his passion the priests Moyses and Maximus and the deacon Nicostratus were arrested and put in prison. Then Novatus came over from Africa and separated Novatian and some of the confessors from the church after Moyses had died in prison—he was there 11 months; so it was that many Christians fled . ... He was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia on 20 January.'


Text: Duchesne 1886, 65 and 148. Translation: Davis 2010, 8, lightly modified.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E00343

Saint Name

Fabianus, martyred bishop of Rome, ob. 250 : S00147 Anonymous Martyrs : S00060

Saint Name in Source

Fabianus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

546

Activity not before

230

Activity not after

255

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

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

The martyrdom of Fabianus is widely and reliably attested - see, in our database, E00276, E01052 and E04743. The information that the Liber Pontificalis offers about his martyrdom and the persecution of his presbyters and deacon derives from the mid-fourth century 'Liberian Catalogue' (a text we have not entered in our database). There is no evidence, however, that a Martyrdom of Fabianus was ever written; nor that he attracted significant levels of cult. The care taken by the bishops of Rome, through the centuries of persecution, to record and preserve the acts of the Roman martyrs, is a recurrent theme in the sixth-century Liber Pontificalis, presumably in order to bolster the authenticity of the many Martyrdoms that were circulating at the time: see also E00268, E00342.

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).

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports