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E00345: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Cornelius (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00172), tells how, at the request of a certain Lucina, he removed at night the bodies of the Apostles *Peter and *Paul (S00036 and S00008) from the 'Catacumbas' cemetery on the via Appia outside Rome; how Lucina reburied Paul on her estate on the via Ostiensis, near where he had been beheaded; and how Cornelius reburied Peter on the Vatican hill, near where he had been crucified, amongst the bodies of the holy bishops of Rome, on 29 June [AD 251/253].

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posted on 17.03.2015, 00:00 by Bryan
Liber Pontificalis 22

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

... Hic temporibus suis rogatus a quodam matrona corpora apostolorum beati Petri et Pauli de Catacumbas levavit noctu. Primum quidem corpus beati Pauli accepto beata Lucina posuit in predio suo, via Ostense, iuxta locum ubi decollatus est; beati Petri accepit corpus beatus Cornelius episcopus et posuit iuxta locum ubi crucifixus est, inter corpora sanctorum episcoporum, in templo Apollonis, in monte Aureo, in Vaticanum palatii Neroniani, III kal. iul.

'... In his [pope Cornelius'] time, at the request of a certain lady, he took up the bodies of the apostles Saints Peter and Paul from the Catacumbas [cemetery] at night; in fact first of all the blessed Lucina took the body of saint Paul and put it on her estate on the via Ostiensis close to the place where he was beheaded; the blessed bishop Cornelius took the body of saint Peter and put it close to the place where he was crucified, among the bodies of the holy bishops at the temple of Apollo on the Mons Aureus, on the Vatican at Nero’s palace, on the third day before the Kalends of July [29 June].'


Second edition

... Hic temporibus suis, rogatus a quodam matrona Lucina, corpora apostolorum beati Petri et Pauli de Catacumbas levavit noctu: primum quidem corpus beati Pauli accepto beata Lucina posuit in praedio suo, via Ostense, iuxta locum ubi decollatus est; beati Petri accepit corpus beatus Cornelius episcopus et posuit iuxta locum ubi crucifixus est, inter corpora sanctorum episcoporum, in templo Apollinis, in monte Aureum, in Vaticanum palatii Neroniani, III kal. iul.

'... In his [pope Cornelius'] time, at the request of a certain lady Lucina, he took up the bodies of the apostles Saints Peter and Paul from the Catacumbas [cemetery] at night; in fact first of all the blessed Lucina took the body of saint Paul and put it on her estate on the via Ostiensis close to the place where he was beheaded; the blessed bishop Cornelius took the body of saint Peter and put it close to the place where he was crucified, among the bodies of the holy bishops at the temple of Apollo on the Mons Aureus, on the Vatican at Nero’s palace, on the third day before the Kalends of July [29 June].'


Text: Duchesne 1886, 65/67 and 150. Translation: Davis 2010, 8-9, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00345

Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Cornelius, bishop and martyr of Rome, and companion martyrs : S00172

Saint Name in Source

Petrus Paulus Cornelius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

546

Activity not before

250

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 - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Appropriation of older cult sites

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Women Aristocrats

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics

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

If and why the bodies of the Apostles were (for a while at least) at the Catacumbas cemetery, before being transferred to their final resting places on the Vatican hill and on the via Ostiensis, is the most obscure and most debated topic in the very early history of the cult of the saints of Rome. For a brief introduction, see Wiśniewski (2019), 14-17. The figure of the pious Lucina appears in a number of Roman martyrdom accounts (later, in this same section of the Liber Pontificalis, she buries the martyred body of Cornelius himself, E00344). For the belief by the author of the Liber Pontificalis 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). Further reading: Cooper, K., "The martyr, the matrona and the bishop: the matron Lucina and the politics of martyr cult in fifth- and sixth-century Rome," Early Medieval Europe 8 (1999), 297-317. Wiśniewski, R., The Beginnings of the Cult of Relics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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