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E05764: Latin inscription with a poem commemorating the construction of a splendid church (aula) of *Agnes (virgin and martyr of Rome, S00097), certainly by Pope Honorius I (625-638). Now lost but originally displayed on the triumphal arch over the apse of the basilica of Agnes (Sant'Agnese fuori le mura) on the via Nomentana, Rome.

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posted on 18.06.2018, 00:00 by pnowakowski
virginis aula micat variis decorata metallis,
sed plus namque nitet meritis fulgentior amplis

'The hall (aula) of the virgin glitters, decorated with various metals, but it is even more shining since it radiates with great merits.'

Text: ICVR, n.s., VIII, no. 20756 = EDB9576. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

History

Evidence ID

E05764

Saint Name

Agnes, virgin and martyr of Rome : S00097

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Literary - Poems

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

625

Evidence not after

638

Activity not before

625

Activity not after

638

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Suburban catacombs and cemeteries

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

Suburban catacombs and cemeteries Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - Popes

Source

The inscription is now lost. The text is known only through the manuscript tradition, it features in the Sylloge Turonensis (codex Closterneoburgensis 723 f. 265v and Goettweihensis 64), the Sylloge Centulensis (codex Petropolitanus F. XIV 1 f. 129), the Sylloge Laureshamensis (codex Vaticanus Palatinus 833 f. 63 v), the Sylloge Virdunensis (codex Virdunensis 45 f. 213v col. 1), and in the Anthologia Latina (codex Parisinus latinus 8071 f. 61 col. 1). The Sylloge Virdunensis says that the poem was displayed in a church of Agnes (certainly the basilica of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, on the via Nomentana), and the Sylloge Turonensis places it on the triumphal arch of the apse. The text first appeared in print in 1602, published by Jan Gruter from the Sylloge Laureshamensis. In 1831 Luigi Gaetano Marini re-edited it based on the codex Closterneoburgensis, by mistake collated with a different poem. Later de Rossi offered an edition based on all the available codices (actually several separate editions for each of the Sylloges). The present-day reference edition is that by Antonio Ferrua in the eighth volume of the new series of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae.

Discussion

The inscription, composed in two hexameters, certainly commemorates the construction of the basilica dedicated to Agnes by Pope Honorius (625-638). This generous donation is described by the Liber Pontificalis, in the paragraph on the construction of the basilica of Agnes by Honorius: 'Then he built from the ground up the church of St Agnes the martyr at the 3rd mile from Rome on the via Nomentana, where the body rests...' (see E01443). Honorius' work is, on the other hand, presented as a major restoration by the Notitia ecclesiarium urbis Romae: 'Then [you go] by the via Nomentana to the church of St Agnes, which is beautiful and in which she rests alone. This [church] was also wonderfully repaired by bishop Honorius.' (see E00676) For an inscription commemorating the embellishment of the tomb of Agnes with silver by Pope Honorius, see E05762. Ernst Diehl notes that the wording of our inscription resembles a poem from an inscription from the church of *Cosmas and Damianus at Rome (ILChV 1784, AD 526-530. EXXXX). Antonio Ferrua notes that the Liber Pontificalis of the Church of Ravenna quotes a poem with an identical opening phrase (Virginis aula micat), which accompanied an image of *Mary, Mother of Christ, in a church dedicated to her by Ecclesius of Ravenna (522-532), see E05811. Our poem, with a slightly altered verse 2, is also quoted in one of the codices of the (Roman) Liber Pontificalis, in the Life of Pope Honorius, and was an inspiration for a dedicatory inscription by Pope Paschal, which is outside our chronological timeframe (817-824): for references, see the comments by Ferrua in ICVR, n.s, VIII, no. 20756.

Bibliography

Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB9576, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/9576 De Santis, P., Sanctorum Monumenta: "Aree sacre" del suburbio di Roma nella documentazione epigrafica (IV-VII secolo) (Bari: Edipuglia, 2010), no. 100. De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.), Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 8: Coemeteria viarum Nomentanae et Salariae (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1983), no. 20756. Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 1769. Duchesne, L., Le Liber pontificalis, vol. 1 (Paris: E. Thorin, 1886), 325, note 7. Armellini, M., Il cimitero di s. Agnese sulla via Nomentana (Rome: Tipografia Poliglotta della S.C. di Propoganda Fide, 1880), 374 (from the edition by Gruter). de Rossi, G.B., Mosaici Cristiani e Saggi dei pavimenti delle chiese di Roma anteriori al secolo XV (Roma: Libreria Spithöver di G. Haas, 1872), XVIII f. 2. De Rossi, G. B., Inscriptiones christianae Urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores 2.1 (Rome: Ex Officina Libraria Pontificia, 1857-1888), 63, no. 6; 89, no. 43; 104, no. 37; 137, no. 18; 249, no. 18. Luigi Gaetano Marini through a copy by Giuseppe Garampi in: Angelo Mai, Scriptorum veterum nova collectio e Vaticanis codicibus edita, vol. 5 (Rome: Typis Vaticanis, 1831), 418, no. 3 (from the codex Closterneoburgensis 723). Gruter, J., Inscriptiones antiquae totius orbis Romani, in corpus absolutissimum redactae (Heidelberg: Ex officina Commeliniana, 1602), 1172 no. 5 (from the codex Vaticanus Palatinus) Further reading: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), chapter XVII.

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