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E05799: Agnellus of Ravenna, in his Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, written in Latin, refers to the burial of several bishops of Ravenna in the church dedicated to *Apollinaris (bishop and martyr of Ravenna, S00331) in Classe (near Ravenna, northern Italy); he claims these burials took place from 606 onward. Account written in Ravenna in 830/846.

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posted on 19.06.2018, 00:00 by frances
Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 103

Igitur, ut diximus, mortuus est hic beatissimus die .x. Kalendas Nouembris, et sepultus est in ardica beati Apolenaris, extra muros Classis, cum multis lamentationibus.

‘Therefore, as we said, this most blessed man [Marinian, Bishop of Ravenna, 595-606] died on the tenth kalends of November [October 23] and was buried in the narthex of St Apollinaris, outside the walls of Classe, with great lamentations.’

Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 104

Obiit corpore, sepultus est, ut aestimo, in ardica beati Apolenaris.

‘He [John III, Bishop of Ravenna, 606-625] died in body, he was buried, I think, in the narthex of St Apollinaris.’

Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 107

His itaque transactis, defunctus est hic beatissimus et sepultus est, ut suspicatus sum, in ardica beati Apolenaris.

‘And with these things done, this most blessed man [John IV, Bishop of Ravenna, 625-631] died and was buried, as I suspect, in the narthex of blessed Apollinaris.’

Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 109

Obiit autem hic beatissimus praesul die .vii. Kalendas Septembris in senectute bona, sepultus que est in pace in basilica sancti Apolenaris sacerdotis et martiris in Classe.

‘However this most blessed leader [Bonus, Bishop of Ravenna, 631-642] died on the seven kalends of September [August 26] in ripe old age and was buried in the basilica of St Apollinaris priest and martyr, in Classe.’

Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 113

Et apertis ianuis, quae respiciunt ad ecclesiam beati Seueri, intuisset quis illum lapidem sicut in speculum, tam homines quamque animalia siue uolatilia uel qualiscumque res inde transissent, enigma quasi [in] speculum uidere potuisset.

‘And with these words he [Maurus, Bishop of Ravenna, 642-671] died; and he was buried in the narthex of blessed Apollinaris, in a wonderful tomb. There was a porphyry stone before the said sarcophagus, most previous and very shiny like glass. And with the doors which look out onto the church of St Severus open, whoever looked at this stone as if in a mirror could see images, men and animals or birds or whatever things were passing by there, just as in a mirror.’

Agnellus continues to relate how, twelve years earlier, this tomb was removed by the Carolingian emperor, Lothar (ob. 855).

Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 116

Mortuus igitur et sepultus est in ecclesia beati Apolenaris. Epitaphium ipsius deletum est.

‘He [Reparatus, Bishop of Ravenna, 671-677] died and was buried in the church of St Appollinaris. His epitaph is destroyed.’

Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 124

Igitur obiit iste ferocissimus die .xviii. mensis Ianuarii, cum multa alacritate sacerdotum et omnium gratulatione humo submersus est, in ardica beati Apolenaris consubtus iacet. Epitaphium uero eius clare legere non potui.

‘Therefore when this most arrogant one [Theodore, Bishop of Ravenna, 677-691] died on the eighteenth day of the month of January, with great eagerness of the priests and to the joy of everyone he was buried in the earth, he lies buried in the narthex of St Apollinaris. I could not read his epitaph properly.’

Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 135

Obiit hic beatissimus uir .iii. Idus Mai. Epitaphium inuenies super sepulchrum eius continentem ita:

Sanctificus semper meritis, memorande sacerdos, 
Hoc positus tumulo, Damiane, iaces. 
Corpore defunctus, tamen est tua fama superstes; 
Artus obit terris, lux tua facta tenet. 
Dalmatiae is ueniens antistes beatus a rure, [5]
Tutasti precibus sancta Rauenna tuis. 
Cuncta salutifero disponens tempore saecla, 
Te pius in populo Christus orante dedit. 
Quod tamen his templis meruisti sumere busta, 
Te placuisse Deo, tanta sepulcra probant; [10]
Vt que uices cuius gessisti rite sacerdos, 
Ipsius in que locis sit tibi sancta quies. 

Haec infra ecclesiam beati Apolenaris scripta super sepulchrum ipsius inuenimus.

‘This most blessed man [Damian, Bishop of Ravenna, 692-708] died on the third ides of May [May 13]. You will find his epitaph on his tomb containing the following:

Always sanctifying by your merits, notable priest, you lie placed in this tomb, O Damian. Although you have died in body, you fame lives on: though your limbs are buried in earth, the light holds your deeds. Blessed bishop coming from the land of Dalmatia [5], you preserved holy Ravenna by your prayers. Governing all the world in a more propitious age, faithful Christ gave you to his praying people. Such a tomb proves that you merited a grave in these temples, that you pleased God [10]. And since as a priest you carried out his duties correctly, you may have holy rest in his grounds.

We find this written inside the church of St Apollinaris over his tomb.’

Text: Deliyannis 2006. Translation: Deliyannis 2004.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Apollinaris, bishop and martyr of Ravenna : S00331

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories) Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Ravenna Classe

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

Ravenna Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Classe Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Agnellus of Ravenna

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 - Cult Related Objects



Agnellus of Ravenna (ob. c. 846) was a deacon of the cathedral in Ravenna and – by hereditary right – abbot of two monasteries in Ravenna. He wrote his Liber Pontificalis Ecclessiae Ravennatis between 830 and 846, following the model of the Roman Liber Pontificalis. This work provides biographies of all the bishops of Ravenna from the legendary founder bishop Apollinaris to those active in Agnellus’ own day, and was originally composed to be delivered orally, most likely to clerics of Ravenna. This text is preserved in two manuscripts: one from the 15th c. (Bibliotec Estense Cod. Lat. 371 X.P.4.9.) and a fragmentary manuscript from the 16th c. (MS Vat. Lat. 5834). Agnellus bases his account of the lives of late antique bishops on documents preserved in Ravenna, stories which had been transmitted orally, and his own experience of the architectural landscape of 9th c. Ravenna. Agnellus' work contains invaluable architectural and art historical information about Ravenna: Agnellus refers to several religious buildings in Ravenna and the neighbouring settlements of Caeserea and Classe. He describes their decoration and preserves several inscriptions, many of which are now lost to us. It must be remembered this is a 9th c. work. Agnellus’ descriptions of buildings and their fixtures is based on his 9th c. experience, and not late antique reality. Indeed, his accounts of the events of earlier years are often riddled with inaccuracies. Yet it is likely that his descriptions of the churches of Ravenna are more trustworthy. As Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis argues, a comparison of surviving late antique mosaics with Agnellus’ account suggests that his descriptions were largely accurate. This is limited to what he does tell us – for example Arian foundations are often ignored whilst orthodox foundations are emphasised. Yet, overall, this text provides invaluable information about the cult of saints in late antique Ravenna.


Agnellus received his information regarding the use of St Apollinare in Classe as a burial place for bishops from some epitaphs. These include Marian and Damian's, which he preserves in full, and Theodore's, which he claims he could not read. It is possible this epitaph was clear but, given the dim view Agnellus takes of Theodore throughout the Liber Pontificalis, he chose not to preserve material which praised this bishop. Additionally, it is probable he was familiar with Maurus' ostentatious tomb, which was only removed from Ravenna in the mid 9th c. We cannot be certain that this tomb was made in the 7th c., although it is possible. The likelihood that the other bishops were buried in St Apollinare in Classe is possible but not certain. It is likely based on the fact that, by the 9th century, most bishops were buried in this church. A map showing the likely locations of the foundations in Classe and Ravenna is attached to this record.


Text: Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Agnelli Ravennatis Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis (Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 199; Turnhout, 2006). Translation: Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, The Book of Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna (Washington D.C., 2004). Further Reading: Deichmann, Friedrich Wilhelm, Ravenna, Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes, vol. 1-3, (Wiesbaden, 1958-89). Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Ravenna in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2010). Mackie, Gillian, Early Christian Chapels in the West: Decoration, Function and Patronage (Toronto, 2003). Moffat, Ann, "Sixth Century Ravenna from the Perspective of Abbot Agnellus," in: P. Allen and E.M. Jeffreys (eds,), The Sixth Century – End or Beginning? (Brisbane, 1996), 236-246. Morini, E., "Le strutture monastische a Ravenna," in: Storia di Ravenna, 2.2, Dall’età bizantia all’ età ottania, ed. A. Carile (Ravenna, 1992), 305-312. Schoolman, Edward, Rediscovering Sainthood in Italy: Hagiography and the Late Antique Past in Medieval Ravenna (Basingstoke, 2016). Stansterre, J. M., "Monaci e monastery greci a Ravenna," in: Storia di Ravenna, 2.1, Dall’età bizantia all’ età ottania, ed. A. Carile (Ravenna, 1992), 323-329. Verhoeven, Mariëtte, The Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna: Transformations and Memory (Turnhout, 2011).

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