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E01656: The short Life of *Donus (bishop of Rome, ob. 678, 00869) in the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome, soon after his death, lists his work in suburban churches of Rome: paving of the atrium of the basilica of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036); restoration of a church of the Apostles, probably Peter and *Paul (S00008), on the via Ostiensis; the dedication of a church of *Euphemia (martyr of Chalcedon, S00017) on the via Appia; as well as Donus' burial at St Peter's on 11 April.

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posted on 24.06.2016, 00:00 by robert, Bryan
Liber Pontificalis 80

Donus, natione Romanus, ex patre Mauricio, sedit ann. I mens. V dies X. Hic atrium beati Petri apostoli superiore, qui est ante ecclesiam in quadriporticum, magnis marmoribus stravit. Sed et ecclesiam apostolorum sita via Ostense, ut decuit, restauravit atque dedicavit. Item ecclesiam sanctae Eufimiae posita via Appia similiter dedicavit. Clerum videlicet diversis ordinibus honoribus ampliavit.

'Donus, born in Rome, son of Maurice, held the see 1 year 5 months 10 days. He paved the upper atrium of the blessed Peter the apostle, in the square colonnade in front of the church, with large marble slabs. He suitably repaired and restored the church of the Apostles on the via Ostiensis. He also dedicated the church of saint Euphemia on the via Appia.'


Qui etiam sepultus est ad beatum Petrum apostolum sub die IIII id. April.

'He was buried at the blessed Peter the apostle on 11 April.'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 348. Translation: Davis 2010, 71-72, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Euphemia, martyr in Chalcedon, ob. 303 : S00017 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Donus, bishop of Rome, ob. 678 : S00869 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The Liber Pontificalis consists of a series of very 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.


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: Krautheimer, R., Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae: The early Christian Basilicas of Rome (IV–IX Centuries), Vatican City 1937–1977 Brandenburg, H., Ancient churches of Rome from the fourth to the seventh century: the dawn of Christian architecture in the West, Turnhout 2005.

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