Saint NameFelicitas, martyr of Rome with her seven sons : S00525
Felicissimus and Agapitus, and four other deacons of Xystus II, all martyrs of Rome : S00202
Ianuarius, eldest son of Felicitas and martyr of Rome, buried on the via Appia : S02863
Saint Name in SourceIanuarius
Felicissimus, Agatopus, Ianuarius
Image Caption 1From: de Rossi 1863, 3.
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)
Evidence not before300
Evidence not after400
Activity not before300
Activity not after400
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSuburban catacombs and cemeteries
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Suburban catacombs and cemeteries
Cult activities - PlacesBurial site of a saint - tomb/grave
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
SourceThe inscription was executed with a stylus in the plaster on the frame of a burial niche (locus). Parts of the inscription are lost, but it is probable that the text began in the lower left-hand corner of the frame and ran around it to the lower right-hand corner. Letter height 0.06 m.
The burial niche is sited in a wall in cubiculum Ax in the cemetery of Praetextatus, where the Damasan inscription for the martyr *Ianuarius was also found (E05128). This saint was, however, probably buried elsewhere, in cubiculum Ag’.
The niche was found by Giovanni-Battista de Rossi in 1857, and first published by him in 1863, with a drawing of the entire wall. The inscription was later republished by a number of scholars, see our bibliography. For a complete list of editions up to 1971, see the lemma by Antonio Ferrua in the ICVR series, where Ferrua himself also offers an edition.
Already in 1933 Théophile Roller was alarmed that the text copied by de Rossi was almost completely lost, except for the name Ianuarius. When Ferrua revisited the text, he managed to read the name Ianuarius, and saw faint traces of AGAT, VS, CISSI.
DiscussionThe inscription, probably composed on behalf of the deceased buried in the crypt, mentions three martyrs: Ianuarius, Agapitus (whose name is here curiously spelt Agatopus), and Felicissimus. The identity of Agapitus was not recognised by Diehl in his edition of the inscription.
Agapitus and Felicissimus are certainly two of the four or six deacons martyred together with pope Xystus/Sixtus II. Ianuarius is probably, given the presence of Agapitus and Felicissimus, the third deacon of Xystus/Sixtus (as suggested by the Liber Pontificalis, E00362); but he could be Ianuarius, one of the sons of Felicitas, a martyr of Rome buried in the same cemetery.
The find-spot of the inscription, in the same cemetery which housed the bodies of the martyrs invoked, may suggest that the burial was considered by the family of the deceased as a burial ad sanctos.
For further comments on Ianuarius, Felicissimus, and Agapitus, see E05128, E05129.
Dating: Carlo Carletti in the EDB dates the inscription to the 4th c.
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB6370, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/6370
De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 5: Coemeteria reliqua Viae Appiae (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1971), no. 13877 (with further bibliography).
Styger, P., Die römischen Katakomben: Archäologische Forschungen über den Ursprung und die Bedeutung der altchristlichen Grabstätten (Berlin: Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 1933), 158.
Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 2318.
Roller, Th., Les catacombes de Rome, histoire de l'art et des croyances religieuses pendant les premiers siècles du christianisme, vol. 1 (Paris: , 1881), 83.
Marucchi, O., Epigrafia cristiana. Trattato elementare con una silloge di antiche iscrizioni cristiane principalmente di Roma (Milan: U. Hoepli, 1910), 158, no. 127.
Armellini, M., Scoperta d'un graffito storico nel Cemeterio di Pretestato sulla Via Appia (Rome: Guerra e Mirri, 1874), 7.
de Rossi, G.-B., "Le cripte storiche del cimitero: di Pretestato", Bulletino di archeologia Cristiana 2 Ser. 3 (1872), 70-71.
de Rossi, G.-B., "Scoperta d'una cripta istorica nel cemetero di Pretestato", Bulletino di archeologia Cristiana 1 (1863), 1-6.
Amore, A., I martiri di Roma (Ricerche di archeologia e antichità cristiane 4, Todi: Antonianum, 2013, 2nd ed. revised by A. Bonfiglio), 182-183.
Borg, B., Crisis and Ambition: Tombs and Burial Customs in third-century CE Rome (Oxford: OUP, 2013), 83.
De Santis, P., Sanctorum Monumenta: "Aree sacre" del suburbio di Roma nella documentazione epigrafica (IV-VII secolo) (Bari: Edipuglia, 2010), 22 note 18, 35-36, 37 note 110.
Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford: OUP, 2018), chapter XVI.
Trout, D., Damasus of Rome: The Epigraphic Poetry: Introduction, Texts, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 44, 12-122.