Saint NameTiburtius, Valerianus, and Maximus, martyrs of Rome, buried on the via Appia : S00537
Saint Name in SourceTiburtius, Balerianus, Maximus
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)
Evidence not before480
Evidence not after600
Activity not before480
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Rome 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 - Festivals
Cult activities - PlacesBurial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBequests, donations, gifts and offerings
SourceMarble plaque. H. 0.53 m; w. 1.33 m. Letter height 0.05-0.055 m. Found in the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, in the crypt (confessio) of Caecilia, where it was certainly reused. Sometimes wrongly ascribed to the basilica Vaticana. Probably brought from the crypt of Tiburtius, Valerianus, and Maximus on the via Appia, located either in the cemetery of Praetextatus or the cemetery ‘ad Catacumbas’ (see E05091 for an inscription, possibly from the same crypt, and E00683 for a description in the 7th c. Notitia ecclesiarum Urbis Romae), or from a church built close to their tomb, frequently visited by pilgrims (see Lapidge 2018, 142).
The inscription first appears in the notes of Aldus Manutius (Aldo Manuzio), a late 15th/early 16th c. humanist. It was first offered in print by Antonio Bossio in 1600 in his edition of the hagiographic dossier of Saint Caecilia. Later reedited by many scholars (see the lemma in ICVR, n.s., V, no. 15435) with minor alterations, including two reference editions in the series Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae (vol. I and V). A good quality photograph is now accessible in the Epigraphic database Bari.
DiscussionThe inscription has been differently interpreted by editors. The first editor, Antonio Bosio, presented it as an original 3rd c. epitaph for the three martyrs mentioned. Antonio Silvagni and Antonio Ferrua, based on the judgement of Giovanni Battista de Rossi, probably rightly argue that the plaque commemorates a very late 5th or 6th c. dedication to the martyrs, although other scholars have dated it even to the 9th c.
The stone was almost certainly brought to the church of Saint Caecilia on purpose and for cultic reasons as Tiburtius, Valerianus and Maximus were supporting characters in the Martyrdom of Caecilia (see E02519 and Lapidge 2018, chapter IV). Valerianus was betrothed to Caecilia, Tiburtius was his brother, and Maximus a converted assistant of the prefect of the city of Rome who condemned them to death. The martyrdom states that the three martyrs were buried together by Caecilia, probably on the via Appia at the fourth milestone.
The Martyrologium Hieronymianum records a common feast of Caecilia, Tiburtius, Valerianus, and Maximus on the via Appia on 22 November (see E05027), and a commemoration of their martyrdom in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the via Appia on 14 April (E04775), while Bede also mentions 14 April as the date of their feast at Rome (E05540). Our inscription offers the same date: 14 April.
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB13826, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/13826
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB35353, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/35353
Ferrua, A., Corona di osservazioni alle iscrizioni cristiane di Roma incertae originis (Memorie PARA III serie in 8° 3, Città del Vaticano: Tipografia poliglotta vaticana, 1979), 11, no. 93.
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. 15435.
De Rossi, G.B., Silvagni, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 1: Inscriptiones Incertae Originis (Rome: Ex officina libraria doct. Befani, 1922), no. 93.
Angelo Mai, Scriptorum veterum nova collectio e Vaticanis codicibus edita, vol. 5 (Rome: Typis Vaticanis, 1831), 408, no. 8.
Bosio, A., "De revelatione et inventione corporis s. Caeciliae", in: Historia Passionis B. Caeciliae virginis, Valeriani, Tiburtii, et Maximi Martyrum... (Rome: Apud Stephanum Paulinum, 1600), 141.
Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), chapter IV.