File(s) not publicly available

E00399: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Marcellus (bishop and martyr of Rome, ob. c. 307, S00529) attributes to him the establishment of 26 tituli (or 'parochial' churches) in Rome, for the administration of baptism, penitence, and the burial of martyrs, and his burial in the cemetery of Priscilla on the via Salaria outside the city, on 16 January. The second edition adds an account of the foundation and dedication of Marcellus' titulus church in the city, and of his suffering and death under persecution.

online resource
posted on 22.04.2015, 00:00 by robert
Liber Pontificalis 31

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Marcellus, natione Romanus, ex patre Marcello, sedit ann. V. m. VII d. XXI. Fuit autem temporibus Maxenti a consulatu Maxentio IIII et Maximo usque post consulatu. Hic fecit cimiterio via Salaria et XXV titulos in [urbe] Roma constituit, quasi diocesis propter baptismum et penitentiam et sepulturas martyrum... Qui etiam sepultus est in cimiterio Priscillae, via Salaria, XVII kal. febr.

'Marcellus, born in Rome, son of Marcellus, held the see 5 years 7 months 21 days. He was bishop in the time of Maxentius from the 4th consulship of Maxentius and that of Maximus until the post-consulship [AD 309]. 2. He built a cemetery on the via Salaria, and organised the 25 tituli within Rome as dioceses for the baptism and repentance of many converts from paganism, and for the burial of martyrs... He is buried in the cemetery of Priscilla on the via Salaria on 16 January.'


Second edition

Marcellus, natione Romanus, ex patre Benedicto, de regione Via Lata, sedit ann. V. m. VII d. XXI. Fuit autem temporibus Maxenti a consulatu Maxentio IIII et Maximo usque post consulatum. Hic fecit cymiterium via Salaria et XXV titulos in [urbe] Roma constituit, quasi diocesis propter baptismum et penitentiam multorum qui convertebantur ex paganis et sepulturas martyrum.

'Marcellus, born in Rome, son of Benedict, from the region of the via Lata, held the see 5 years 7 months 21 days. He was bishop in the time of Maxentius from the 4th consulship of Maxentius and that of Maximus until the post-consulship [309]. 2. He built the cemetery on the via Salaria, and organised the 25 tituli within Rome as dioceses for the baptism and repentance of many converts from paganism, and for the burial of martyrs.

There follows an account of his arrest and imprisonment at the orders of Maxentius, and then of his temporary deliverance.

Matrona quaedam, nomine Lucina, vidua, quae fecerat cum viro suo Marco annos XV et in viduitate sua habuit annos XVIIII, suscepit beatum virum; quae domum suam nomine beati Marcelli titulum dedicavit, ubi die noctuque hymnis et orationibus domino Iesu Christo confitebatur. Hoc audito Maxentius misit et tenuit iterum beatum Marcellum et iussit ut in eadem ecclesia plancas externi et ibidem animalia catabuli congregata starent et ipsis beatus Marcellus deserviret. Qui tamen in servitio animalium nudus amicto cilicio defunctus est. Cuius corpus collegit beata Lucina et sepelivit in cymiterio Priscillae, via Salaria, XVII kal. febr.

'A certain lady named Lucina, a widow, who had lived with her husband Marcus 15 years and had been 19 years in her widowhood, received the blessed man; she dedicated her house as a titulus in the name of blessed Marcellus and there she confessed the Lord Jesus Christ by day and night with hymns and prayers. Hearing this, Maxentius sent and rearrested the blessed Marcellus, and ordered boards to be relaid in that church, the animals of the Catabulum [= the public transport system] to be gathered there, and blessed Marcellus to be at their service. Naked but for a hairshirt, he died in servitude to animals. The blessed Lucina collected his body and buried it in the cemetery of Priscilla on the via Salaria on 16 January.'


Text: Duchesne 1886, 73/75 and 164. Translation: Davis 2010, 12-13, lightly modified. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E00399

Saint Name

Marcellus, bishop of Rome, ob. 309 : S00529

Saint Name in Source

Marcellus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

546

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 Women

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 network of titulus churches across the city of Rome, serving the function of parish churches, is believed to have evolved over many decades, so the account here, of Marcellus instituting them as a single act is a very considerable simplification of history. The story of Marcellus' suffering under persecution appears to have been wholly absent from the first edition of the Liber Pontificalis. The author of the second edition almost certainly derived it directly from the Martyrdom of Marcellus and Companions (E02501), in reality a text focused mainly on other martyrs, in which Marcellus dies as a 'confessor' (one who suffered for his faith), rather than as a martyr. The accounts in the Liber Pontificalis and in the Martyrdom have many details in common: for instance the pious widow Lucina, a figure who features in several Roman martyrdom accounts (including that in the Liber Pontificalis of Pope Cornelius (E00344), despite the fact that Cornelius died a full fifty years earlier than Marcellus). One aspect of the story is particularly interesting in relation to the evolving cult of saints: Lucina's founding of a titulus in her house, dedicating it in the name of our Marcellus. This is the titulus Marcelli on the via Lata (on the site of the present-day San Marcello al Corso). For the author of the Liber Pontificalis this titulus was from the start named after our saint Marcellus. In reality the name 'of Marcellus' will originally have been that of a secular owner/founder, also named Marcellus, and as late as 499 it is listed as the titulus Marcelli, not the titulus sancti Marcelli (E02744). But by the time of the second edition of the Liber Pontificalis, it had very definitely become the titulus of saint Marcellus, with an elaborate story to explain its link to the saint. As well as gaining a church in the centre of Rome, Marcellus features prominently in our evidence through his grave on the via Salaria. In the later fourth century Damasus wrote and inscribed a poem for it (E07191); in 555 Pope Vigilius was buried close to it (perhaps through choice); in around 600 oil from the grave was collected for Queen Theodolinda (E06788); and it features in two of the seventh-century pilgrim itineraries (E00637, E06998).

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.

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports