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E00362: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Xystus/Sixtus II (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00201), lists the martyrdoms and burials of the following saints (here as recorded in the second edition): Xystus himself, and his six deacons, *Felicissimus, Agapitus, Ianuarius, Magnus, Vincentius and Stephanus, (all S00202) on 6 August; his archdeacon *Laurence (S00037), with four lesser martyrs (S00213) on 10 August; Xystus is recorded as buried in the cemetery of Callixtus, on the via Appia, the six deacons in the cemetery of Praetextatus, also on the via Appia, and Laurence in a crypt in the ager Veranus on the via Tiburtina, all outside Rome.

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posted on 02.04.2015, 00:00 by dlambert, Bryan
Liber Pontificalis 25

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Xystus, natione Grecus, ex philosopho, sedit ann. I m. X d. XXIIII. Martyrio coronatur. Fuit autem temporibus Valeriani et Decii... (Truncati sunt de capite cum beato Xysto) VI diaconi, Felicissimus, Agapitus, Ianuarius, Magnus, Vincentius et Stephanus, VI id. aug. ... Et post passionem beati Xysti, post dies III, passus est Laurentius eius archidiaconus et Claudius Severus presbiter et Romanus ostiarius et Crescentius lector ... Qui etiam sepultus est in cimiterio Calisti, via Appia; nam VI diaconi eius in cymiterio Pretextati, via Appia, VIII id. aug.; beatus vero Laurentius sepultus est via Tiburtina in crypta, in agro Verano, IIII id. aug.

'Xystus, born in Greece, formerly a philosopher, held the see 1 year 10 months 24 days. He was crowned with martyrdom. He was bishop in the time of Valerian and Decius. ... (Together there were beheaded with Xystus) six deacons: Felicissimus and Agapitus, Ianuarius, Magnus, Vincentius, and Stephanus, on the 6th day before the Ides of August [8 August] ... After the passion of blessed Xystus, three days later his archdeacon Laurence suffered, and Claudius Severus the priest, and Romanus the doorkeeper, and Crescentius the reader ... He [Xystus] was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia, while his six deacons were buried in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the via Appia on the 8th day before the Ides of August [6 August]; whereas the blessed Laurence was buried on the via Tiburtina in a crypt in the ager Veranus on the 4th day before the Ides of August [10 August].'


Second edition

'Xystus, natione Graecus, ex philosopho, sedit ann. I m.. X d. XXIII. Martyrio coronatur. Fuit autem temporibus Valeriani et Decii, quo tempore fuit maxima persecutio. Eodem tempore hic comprehensus a Valeriano et ductus ut sacrificaret demoniis. Qui contempsit praecepta Valeriani; capite truncatus est et cum eo alii sex diaconi, Felicissimus et Agapitus, Ianuarius, Magnus, Vincentius et Stephanus, sub die VIII id. aug. ... Et post passionem beati Xysti, post tertia die, passus est beatus Laurentius eius archidiaconus IIII id. aug. et subdiaconus Claudius et Severus presbiter et Crescentius lector et Romanus ostiarius ... Qui vero sepultus est in cymiterio Calisti, via Appia; nam VI diacones supradicti sepulti sunt in cymiterio Praetextati, via Appia; supradictus autem beatus Laurentius in cymiterio Cyriaces, in agrum Veranum, in crypta, cum aliis multis martyribus.

'Xystus, born in Greece, formerly a philosopher, held the see 1 year 10 months 23 days. He was crowned with martyrdom. He was bishop in the time of Valerian and Decius, when there was a very great persecution. Then he was arrested by Valerian and taken to sacrifice to demons. He spurned Valerian’s instructions. He was beheaded, and with him six others, the deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus, Ianuarius, Magnus, Vincentius, and Stephanus, on the 8th day before the Ides of August [6 August] ... After the passion of the blessed Xystus, three days later his archdeacon the blessed Laurence suffered on the 4th day before the Ides of August [10 August], with Claudius the subdeacon, Severus the priest, Crescentius the reader, and Romanus the doorkeeper. ... He was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia, while the six above-named deacons were buried in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the via Appia; whereas the blessed Laurence was buried in the cemetery of Cyriaces in the ager Veranus in a crypt with many other martyrs.'


Text: Duchesne 1886, 69 and 155. Translation: Davis 2010, 10, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00362

Saint Name

Xystus II, martyr and bishop of Rome, ob. c. 258 : S00201 Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome : S00037 Felicissimus and Agapitus, and four other deacons of Xystus II, all martyrs of Rome : S00202 Roman martyrs associated with Xystus/Six

Saint Name in Source

Xystus Laurentius Felicissimus, Agapitus, Ianuarius, Magnus, Vincentius, Stephanus Claudius, Severus, Crescentius, Romanus

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 - crypt/ crypt with relics

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

Xystus II is the martyred bishop of Rome after Peter who attracted most cult, probably because of his close association with his archdeacon Laurence (S00037), one of the most successful saints of the Latin West. Xystus' burial in the cemetery of Callixtus is recorded in the Depositio martyrum of around 354 (E01052), and by the sixth/seventh century he had given his name to this cemetery, as the most prominent martyr buried there (E06912). The account of Xystus' martyrdom given in the Liber Pontificalis, which includes reference to the subsequent martyrdom of Laurence, essentially follows the fully evolved Martyrdom of Xystus and Laurence (E02504), but with two interesting differences, for which there is no ready explanation: in the Martyrdom, Xystus is accompanied to his death by just two deacons, Agapitus and Felicissimus (who themselves attracted considerable cult, S00202), while in the Liber Pontificalis these are joined by four more (Ianuarius, Magnus, Vincentius and Stephanus) mentioned in no other source; and, similarly, Laurence is accompanied to his death by the priest Claudius Severus, the doorkeeper Romanus and the reader Crescentius, who again feature in no other source.

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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