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E00945: Prudentius, in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), written c. 400 in Calahorra (northern Spain) in a poem on the martyrdom of *Cassianus (teacher and martyr of Imola, ob. 361/363, S00309) tells of his prayer at the tomb of Cassianus.

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posted on 07.12.2015, 00:00 by mszada
Liber Peristephanon, Poem IX.93-106

haec sunt, quae liquidis expressa coloribus, hospes,
miraris, ista est Cassiani gloria,
95 suggere si quod habes iustum vel amabile votum,
spes si qua tibi est, si quid intus aestuas.
audit, crede, preces martyr prosperrimus omnes,
ratasque reddit quas videt probabiles.’
pareo, conplector tumulum, lacrimas quoque fundo,
100 altar tepescit ore, saxum pectore.
tunc arcana mei percenseo cuncta laboris,
tunc quod petebam, quod timebam murmuro,
et post terga domum dubia sub sorte relictam
105 et spem futuri forte nutantem boni.
audior, urbem adeo, dextris successibus utor:
domum revertor, Cassianum praedico.

'"This, stranger, is the story you wonder to see represented in liquid colours, this is the glory of Cassianus. Declare now any upright and worthy wish you have, any hope, any desire that burns in your heart. The martyr, you may be sure, hears with all favour every prayer, and fulfils those that he finds acceptable."

I obeyed, clasping the tomb and shedding tears, warming the altar with my lips, the stone with my breast. Then I reviewed all my private distresses, and murmured my desires and fears, with a prayer for the home I had left behind me in the uncertainty of fortune, and my hope, now faltering, of happiness to come. I was heard. I visited Rome, and found all things issue happily, I returned home and now proclaim the praise of Cassianus.'

Text: Cunningham 1966: 329. Translation: Thomson 1953, 226-229.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Cassianus, teacher and martyr of Imola, bishop of Brescia (Italy) : S00309

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Calahorra Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405) was a Christian aristocrat from Calahorra in the Spanish province of Tarraconensis. He was a high official in the imperial bureaucracy in Rome, but withdrew from public life, returned to Calahorra, and dedicated himself to the service and celebration of God. Most of what we know about his biography comes from the preface to the ensemble of his works, which can be reliably dated to 404 (Cunningham 1966, 1-2), and other autobiographical remarks scattered throughout his works (for a detailed discussion, see Palmer 1989, 6-31). He composed several poetical works, amongst them the Peristephanon (literally, On the Crowns [of the Martyrs]), a collection of fourteen poems of different length describing martyrdoms of saints. We do not know exactly at which point in his literary career Prudentius wrote the preface (possibly at the very end, just before publication); for attempts at a precise dating of the Peristephanon, see Fux 2013, 9, n. 1. The poems in the Peristephanon, written in elegant classical metres, deal mainly with martyrs from Spain, but some of them are dedicated to saints of Rome, Africa and the East. The poems were widely read in the late antique and medieval West, and had a considerable influence on the diffusion of cult of the saints included. In later periods they were sometimes used as hymns in liturgical celebrations and had an impact on the development of the Spanish hymnody. Some indications in the poems suggest that they were written to commemorate the saints on their feast days, but Prudentius probably did not compose them for the liturgy of his time. Rather, they probably provided 'devotional reading matter for a cultured audience outside a church context' (Palmer 1989, 3; see also Chapter 3 in her book).


Editions of the Peristephanon: Cunningham, M.P., Prudentii Carmina (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 126; Turnhout: Brepols, 1966), 251-389. Bergman, J., Prudentius, Carmina (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 61; Vienna, 1926), 291-431. Translations of the Peristephanon: Eagan, C., Prudentius, Poems (Fathers of the Church 43; Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1962), 95-280. English translation. Thomson, H.J., Prudentius, vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; London Cambridge, Mass: W. Heinemann; Harvard University Press, 1953), 98-345. Edition and English translation. Further reading: Fux, P.-Y., Prudence et les martyrs: hymnes et tragédie. Peristephanon 1. 3-4. 6-8. 10. Commentaire, (Fribourg: Academic Press, 2013). Malamud, M.A., A Poetics of Transformation: Prudentius and Classical Mythology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989). Palmer, A.-M., Prudentius on the Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). Roberts, M., Poetry and the Cult of the Martyrs: The "Liber Peristephanon" of Prudentius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).

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