File(s) not publicly available

E00687: The Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae, a guide to saints' graves around Rome, lists those on the via Ostiensis, south-west of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 625/649.

online resource
posted on 03.09.2015, 00:00 by Bryan
Catalogue of the Churches of the City of Rome (Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae) 27-28

Et sic uadis ad occidentem et inuenies sanctum Felicem episcopum et martirem, et discendis per gradus ad corpus eius. Et sic uadis ad sanctum Paulum uia Ostensi. Et in australi parte cerne ecclesiam sanctae Teclae supra montem positam, in qua corpus eius quiescit in spelunca in aquilone parte.

'And so you go westward [from the via Ardeatina] and find saint Felix, bishop and martyr, and descend by stairs to his body. And then you go to saint Paul on the via Ostiensis. Also observe the church of saint Thecla in the southern part, built on a hill, in which her body rests in a crypt in the northern part.'

Text: Glorie 1965, 309. Translation: R. Wiśniewski, P. Polcar

[*Felix, martyr of Rome, companion of Adauctus, S00421; *Paul, the Apostle, S00008; *Thecla, follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092]

History

Evidence ID

E00687

Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Thekla, follower of Apostle Paul : S00092 Felix and Adauctus, martyrs of Rome, buried on the via Ostiensis : S00421

Saint Name in Source

Paulus Tecla Felix

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

625

Evidence not after

642

Activity not before

625

Activity not after

642

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

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Source

Although described in its title as a catalogue, or list, of the churches of the city of Rome, the Notitia ecclesiarum Urbis Romae is in reality a list of saints' graves, and, with one single exception ($E00259), these were located outside the city-walls, in the catacombs and churches that ringed Rome. The list is arranged by the major roads leaving the city, starting in the north, with the via Flaminia, and working round clockwise, to end on the via Cornelia; this arrangement was almost certainly intentional, in order to close the list with Rome's greatest shrine, the church and grave of Peter on the Vatican hill. The Notitia was composed during, or shortly after, the pontificate of Pope Honorius I (625-638), several of whose constructions and works of repair are noted; it was certainly written before the end of the pontificate of Theodore I (642-649), since, when it describes the church of St Valentinus on the Via Flaminia ($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 (set at AD 700), we have included it for completeness' sake - see $E00690. The author of the Notitia is unknown, and could have been either a Roman or a foreign visitor; it survives in a single manuscript, written in Salzburg in the 790s (Vienna National Library, Ms 795).. The Notitia is based on a thorough knowledge of the extramural shrines of Rome (whether at first or second hand); 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 obvious errors (for instance, several popes who are known to have died a peaceful death are here described as martyrs). It is generally impossible to tell which of these uncertainties and errors were already established at the shrines and which were introduced by our author. For a useful discussion of the text: Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 67-71.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 Felix described here as buried on the via Ostiensis is the martyr Felix who, with his companion martyr Adauctus, was buried on this road, though he is generally named with his companion and not on his own (as here), and is not usually considered to have been a bishop. The compiler of the Notitia may well have confused him with one of the bishops of Rome named Felix. The church and grave of Paul, are of course a reference to S. Paolo fuori le mura. The mention here of a church of Thecla, in which her body rested, reflects a Roman tradition that she had miraculously travelled from Seleucia (in Asia Minor) to Rome, a tradition which, unsurprisingly, was not upheld at her great shrine outside Seleucia. The claim that her body rested here is repeated in the roughly contemporary De Locis Sanctis (E06989).

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.]

Usage metrics

Categories

Licence

Exports