File(s) not publicly available

E05806: Agnellus of Ravenna, in his Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, written in Latin, describes a mosaic and quotes a Latin inscription commemorating *Peter (the Apostle S00036) in the episcopal palace in Ravenna (northern Italy); he claims they originate from 450/73. Account written in Ravenna in 830/846.

online resource
posted on 19.06.2018, 00:00 by frances
Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 29

In his account of the life of Neon (Bishop of Ravenna, 450-73), Agnellus describes a mosaic and inscription dedicated to Peter.

Et in alia fronte depicta historia Petri apostoli, subscripti que sunt uersus metrici:

Accipe, sancte, libens, paruum ne despice carmen, 
Pauca tuae laudi nostris dicenda loquelis. 
Euge, Simon Petre, et missum tibi suscipe munus, 
In quod sumere te uoluit rex magnus ab alto. 
Suscipe de caelo pendentia lintea plena, [5] 
Missa Petro tibi: haec diuersa animalia portant, 
Quae mactare Deus te mox et mandere iussit. 
In nullis dubitare licet quae munda creauit 
Omnipotens genitor; rerum cui summa potestas. 
Euge, Simon Petre, quem gaudet mens aurea Christi, [10]
Lumen apostolicum cunctos ornare per annos: 
In te sancta Dei pollens ecclesia fulget, 
In te firma suae domus fundamenta locauit 
Principis aetherii clarus per saecula natus. 
Cunctis clara tibi est uirtus, censura fidis que. [15]
Bis senos inter fratres in principe sistis 
Ipse loco, legis que nouae tibi dantur ab alto - 
Quis fera corda domas hominum, pectora mulces 
Christicolas que doces tu omnes esse per orbem - 
Iam que tuis meritis Christi parat gloria regnum. [20]

‘And on the other façade was depicted the story of the apostle Peter and underneath are written metrical verses:

Receive gladly, O saint, and do not despise this small song, we must say a few words in your praise. Hail Simon Peter, and accept the gift sent to you, in which the great king wanted you to take from on high. Take the full linen sheets hanging from heaven [5], sent to you, Peter; they bear these diverse animals which God ordered you to kill and eat. It is permitted to doubt no pure thing which the Almighty creator, who has the highest power over things, created. Hail Simon Peter, apostolic light, whom the golden mind of Christ rejoices [10] to adorn through all the years: in you the holy church of God shines mightily, on you the Son of the heavenly Prince, famous through the ages, placed firm foundations of his house. Your virtue is clear to all and judgement to the faithful [15]. You stand as prince among your twelve brothers, and new laws are given to you from on high – by which you tame the fierce hearts of men, you soothe hearts, you teach all to be Christians throughout the world – and now by your merits Christ’s glory prepares the kingdom [20].'

Text: Deliyannis 2006. Translation: Deliyannis 2004.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories) Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Ravenna Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Agnellus of Ravenna

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Descriptions of images of saints

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.


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).

Usage metrics

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity