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E00361: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Stephanus (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00205), tells of his martyrdom and of his burial in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia outside Rome, on 2 August

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posted on 02.04.2015, 00:00 by robert
Liber Pontificalis 24

irst edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Stephanus, natione Romanus, ex patre Iobio, sedit ann. VI m. V d. II. Martyrio coronatur. Fuit autem temporibus
Valeriani et Gallicani et Maximi usque ad Valeriano III et Gallicano II ... [Qui etiam] sepultus est in cimiterio Calisti, via Appia, IIII non. aug.

'Stephen, born in Rome, son of Jovius, held the see 6 years 5 months 2 days. He was crowned with martyrdom. He was bishop in the time of Valerian and Gallicanus [Gallienus], and Maximus [AD 253], to the 3rd [consulship] of Valerian and 2nd of Gallicanus [Gallienus, AD 255]. ... He was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia on the 4th day before the Nones of August [2 August].'


Second edition

Stephanus, natione Romanus, ex patre Iobio, sedit ann. VII m. V d. II. Martyrio coronatur. Fuit autem temporibus Valeriani et Gallicani et Maximi usque ad Valeriano III et Gallicano II ... Qui etiam sepultus est in cymiterio Calisti, via Appia, IIII non. aug.

'Stephen, born in Rome, son of Jovius, held the see 6 years 5 months 2 days. He was crowned with martyrdom. He was bishop in the time of Valerian and Gallicanus [Gallienus], and Maximus [AD 253 AD], to the 3rd [consulship] of Valerian and 2nd of Gallicanus [Gallienus, AD 255]. ... He was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia on 2 August.'


Text: Duchesne 1886, 69 and 154. Translation: Davis 2010, 9-10, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00361

Saint Name

Stephen, martyr and bishop of Rome, ob. c. 257 : S00205

Saint Name in Source

Stephanus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

546

Activity not before

255

Activity not after

260

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 - 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

There is no evidence earlier than the Liber Pontificalis that Stephanus was considered to have been a martyr; indeed in the Chronography of 354 his burial is listed amongst those of bishops of Rome (E01051), not amongst those of martyrs ($01052). In time, though perhaps at a comparatively late date, he did acquire his own Martyrdom of Stephanus (E02514): this may well be later than the writing of the Liber Pontificalis, since unlike in the case of other martyred popes, there is no evidence that our author took information from an extant Martyrdom. Some uncertainty over where Stephanus was buried appears to have developed: the Depositio episcoporum (E01051), the Liber Pontificalis, and the Martyrdom of Stephanus all locate his grave in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia; but two of the seventh-century pilgrim itineraries, written independently of each other, both say he was buried (in both cases cum clero suo 'with his clergy') on the via Latina (E06993, E07891).

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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