Saint NameMartyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060
Saint Name in Sourcemartures
Image Caption 1From: Perret 1851, Tab. X.
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)
Evidence not before350
Evidence not after400
Activity not before350
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 - Liturgical Activity
Cult activities - PlacesAltar
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsConsecrating a child, or oneself, to a saint
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesChildren
SourceMarble plaque. H. 0.295 m; W. 1.045 m; Th. 0.05 m. Letter height 3-4 cm. Decorated with a carving of a dove holding a branch, and christograms. Found in the part of the cemetery which is called 'of Saint Helena'.
The plaque was first recorded by Danzetta in 1740, and a transcription features in one of his manuscripts. Later the stone was stored in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. Gaetano Marini and Giovanni Battista de Rossi report that they saw it in the Vatican Library. Now in the Lateran Museum.
The text was first offered in print by Giovanni Gaetano Bottari in 1754. Reedited and/or mentioned by many other scholars, also in unpublished manuscripts, some of them wrongly ascribing the find-spot to the via Appia or the 'crypts of Saint Hermes' (sic!). For a list of editions up to 1975, see the lemma in the reference edition by Antonio Ferrua in the sixth volume of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae. A drawing is now offered in the Epigraphic Database Bari.
We do not record altered readings in the text, as in this case they are of minor importance for our project.
DiscussionThe inscription is the epitaph for a nine-year-old boy, described as nutricatus deo Cristo marturibus. Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1869, 50) points out that this is almost certainly the designation of a child offered for service at a church of martyrs. He also noted that offerings of senators' children for such a service are described in lines 517-529 of the Latin poem on *Laurence, deacon and martyr of Rome, by Prudentius (E05957): Ipsa et senatus lumina / quondam luperci aut flamines / apostolorum et martyrum / exosculantur limina. / Videmus inlustres domos / sexu ex utroque nobiles / offerre votis pignora / clarissimorum liberum. / Vittatus olim pontifex / adscitur in signum crucis / aedemque Laurenti tuam / vestalis intrat Claudia // 'The very ornaments of the senate, men who once served as Luperci or flamines, now eagerly kiss the thresholds of the apostles and martyrs. We see distinguished families, where both sides are highborn, dedicate their dear ones, their noble children. The priest who once wore the head-bands is admitted to receive the sign of the cross and, Laurence, a Vestal Claudia enters your church.' (trans. H. J. Thomson, lightly modified)
Dating: Carlo Carletti (in EDB) dates the inscription to the second half of the 4th c.
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB5535. See http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/5535
De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.), Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 6: Coemeteria viis Latina, Labicana et Praenestina (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1975), no. 17116 (with further bibliography).
Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 1617.
Marucchi, O., I Monumenti del Museo Cristiano Pio-Lateranense riprodotti in Atlante di XCVI tavole (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1910), Tav. LI no. 14.
Perret, L., Catacombes de Rome, vol. 5 (Paris:, 1851), Tab. X no. 15, and vol. 6 (Paris:, 1856), p. 149.
Bottari, G.G., Sculture e pitture sagre estratte dai cimiteri di Roma pubblicate già dagli autori della Roma sotterranea ed ora nuouamente date in luce, vol. 3 (Rome: Stamperia Vaticana presso Giovanni Maria Salvioni, 1754), 117, no. 18.
Northcote, J. S., Epitaphs of the Catacombs, or Christian Inscriptions in Rome during the First Four Centuries (London: Longmans, Green, 1878), 108-109.
de Rossi, G.B., "Le medaglie di devozione dei primi sei o sette secoli della chiesa: Continuazione e fine", Bullettino di archeologia cristiana 7 (1869), 50.