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E00679: The Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae, a guide to saints' graves around Rome, lists those on the via Tiburtina, east of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 625/649.

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posted on 03.09.2015, 00:00 by Philip, Bryan
Catalogue of the Churches of the City of Rome (Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae) 14-15
 
Postea peruenies ad ecclesiam sancti Laurentii; ibi sunt magnae basilicae duae in quarum quae speciosior est et pausat. Et est paruum cubiculum extra ecclesiam in occidente; ibi pausat sanctus Habundius et Herenius martir, uia Tiburtina. Et ibi est ille lapis quem tollent digito multi homines nescientes quid faciunt.

Et in altera ecclesia sursum multi martires pausant: prima est Cyriaca sancta uidua et martir, et in altero loco sanctus Iustinus, et iuxta eum sanctus Crescentius martir et multitudo sanctorum, longe in spelunca deorsum sanctus Romanus martir.

Postea ascendes ad ecclesiam sancti Agapati martiris et diaconi sancti Systi papae.


'Then [from the burial place of Hippolytus, between the Nomentana and the Tiburtina] you come to the church of saint Laurence. There stand two large basilicas and he rests in the more beautiful one. And there is a small chamber outside the church, on its western side; there rests saint Habundius and the martyr Herenius, on the via Tiburtina. And in this place there is also that stone which many people touch with their finger without knowing what they are doing.

And in another church, above ground, many martyrs rest. First there is Cyriaca, holy widow and martyr, and in another place saint Justinus, and close to him saint Crescentius, the martyr, and a multitude of saints. Further away, in a crypt below, saint Romanus, the martyr.

Then you ascend to the church of saint Agapitus, martyr and deacon of saint Sixtus, the pope.'

Text: Glorie 1965, 307. Translation: R. Wiśniewski, P. Polcar

[*Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037; *Abundius/Habundius, Irenaeus/Herennius and Romanus, martyrs of Rome associated with Xystus/Sixtus, Laurence and Hippolytus, S00213; *Cyriaca, widow and martyr of Rome, buried on the Via Tiburtina, S00567; *Iustinus and Crescentius, two of the seven sons of Symphorosa S01165; *Agapitus, deacon of Xystus II and martyr of Rome, S00202]

History

Evidence ID

E00679

Saint Name

Lawrence, martyr of Rome, ob. 258 : S00037 Felicissimus and Agapitus, and four other deacons of Xystus II, all martyrs of Rome : S00202 Cyriaca, widow and martyr at Rome, buried on the Via Tiburtina, ob. ??? : S00567 Symphorosa and her seven sons,

Saint Name in Source

Laurentius Agapitus Cyriaca Iustinus, Crescentius Herenius, Habundius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

625

Evidence not after

649

Activity not before

625

Activity not after

649

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

Lists of Shrines in Rome

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Pilgrimage

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - instrument of saint’s martyrdom Touching and kissing relics

Source

The graves of the martyrs of Rome are quite exceptional in two respects: for the overwhelming number of saints whose names are recorded; and for the level of detail we have on where their bodies were venerated - in the many Martyrdoms surviving from Rome (incomparably more than from any other city), in uniquely rich epigraphic evidence, and in a narrative history, the Liber Pontificalis, that records in loving detail papal improvements to the saintly graves and churches of the city. From the century between circa 590 and 690, we even have four long lists of venerated graves, which were compiled entirely independently of each other: one (the Monza papyrus, $E06788) is a catalogue of holy oil collected at these graves, but the other three, the Notitia Ecclesiarum ($E07900), the De Locis Sanctis ($E07901) and the Itinerarium Malmesburiense ($E07883), are 'itineraries' - in other words texts that introduce their readers to the graves by taking them on a journey through the burial churches and cemeteries that ringed the city. They are often described as pilgrim-guides, which was certainly one of their functions, though they could also serve to introduced the saints of Rome to distant readers. The Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae is the earliest of these three itineraries. Though it bears the deceptive title 'A catalogue of the churches of the city of Rome', in reality it is an itinerary through the cemeteries outside the city. The itinerary is arranged by the major roads leaving the city, starting in the north, with the via Flaminia, and working round clockwise, to end on the via Cornelia; this arrangement was certainly intentional, in order to close the list with Rome's greatest shrine, the church and grave of Peter on the Vatican hill. Of the three itineraries we have, the Notitia is the closest we have in style to a modern guidebook and the text that it is easiest to imagine in a pilgrim's hands, rather than being pored over in a distant monastic library. In particular, it is the richest in topographical detail, and the only one that directly addresses its reader - 'Then you leave the via Appia ...', 'You descend into the catacomb and find there ...', etc. - whereas the other two itineraries are expressed in the impersonal third person - 'By the via Salaria is the church of ...', etc. The Notitia was certainly composed during, or shortly after, the pontificate of Pope Honorius I (625-638), because several of his constructions or works of repair are noted, and it is equally certain that it was written before the end of the pontificate of Theodore I (642-649), since, when it describes the church of Valentinus on the Via Flaminia ($E00633), it mentions a repair by Honorius but fails to mention a major rebuilding by Theodore (for which, see $E01629). A description of the basilica of St Peter (primarily a list of its altars) was subsequently appended to the original text, around the middle of the 8th century. Although this addition falls outside the chronological limits of our database (which we set at AD 700), we have included it for completeness' sake (and because it is an interesting text!) - see $E00690. The author of the Notitia had a thorough knowledge of the extramural shrines of Rome; but inevitably, with so many Roman martyrs (many with similar or identical names) and with the accretion of different traditions over the centuries, many of the names of martyrs given in the text are of uncertain identification, and it also contains some statements that we can confidently identify as 'errors' (for instance, several popes who are known to have died a peaceful death are here described as martyrs). It is, however, impossible to tell which of these uncertainties and errors were already firmly established at the shrines and which were introduced by our author. The Notitia survives in a single manuscript, written in Salzburg in the late 790s (Vienna, National Library Ms 795). For a useful discussion of the text: Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 67-71. (Philip Polcar and Bryan Ward-Perkins)

Discussion

The two churches of St Laurence mentioned here are presumably the Constantinian basilica and the extant church of San Lorenzo fuori le mura built by Pelagius II (579-590) and later incorporated into the basilica constructed by Honorius III, though Pelagius' church (described here as 'large') is considerably smaller than the Constantinian church (known from excavation). The martyrs Abundius, Irenaeus, Romanus and Agapitus all feature in the complex martyrdom accounts that grew up around the martyrdoms of Laurence, Xystus II and Hippolytus - see E02504. The church of Agapitus was that built near San Lorenzo by Pope Agapitus (pope 483-492, E01315), as a celebration of an eponymous saint, not as a funerary shrine. Agapitus' body was venerated in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the via Appia. The 'stone which many people touch with their finger without knowing what they are doing' is presumably the same stone which the De Locis Sanctis says was 'the stone which once hung on the neck of Abundus, the one who was thrown into the sewer' (see E06996 for this account in the De Locis Sanctis, and E02504 for the story of how Abundius was martyred by being thrown into a sewer). Cyriaca is a shadowy figure, though her burial here is also mentioned in the De Locis Sanctis. The Iustinus and Crescentius mentioned here are probably two of the seven sons martyred with their mother Symphorosa, all martyrs of Tivoli (E02095), since the De Locis Sanctis (E06996) records the burial of all the sons, and their mother, near S. Lorenzo; there is, however, no obvious reason why these two brothers alone should here be singled out. Other possibilities are a priest Iustinus, who features prominently in the martyrdom accounts associated with Laurence, Xystus and Hippolytus (E02504), and a lector and martyr Crescentius also associated with Xystus (for whom, see E00362); Crescentius, however, is a very minor figure. It is, of course, always possible that saints with the same name have become confused or conflated.

Bibliography

Edition: Glorie, F. (ed.), Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae, in Itineraria et alia geographica (Corpus Christianorum, series Latina 175; Turnhout: Brepols, 1965), 305-311. [Reproduces Valentini and Zucchetti, with a few emendations.] Valentini, R. and Zucchetti, G. (ed.), Codice topografico della città di Roma (Istituto storico italiano - Fonti per la storia d'Italia; Roma 1942), vol. 2, 72-94. (Partial) Translation: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford Early Christian Studies; Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018), 660-662. [Translates most of the text, but omits parts less relevant to those martyrdom accounts that he includes in his collection.]

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