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E05813: Agnellus of Ravenna, in his Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, written in Latin, quotes a 6th c. Latin inscription from a monasterium dedicated to *Matthew (Apostle and Evangelist, S00791). He claims this monasterium and another, dedicated to *James (the Apostle, son of Zebedee, S00108), were founded in Classe (near Ravenna, northern Italy) in 557/570. 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 91

Monasteria uero in ciuitate Classis, quae lateribus fonti que ecclesiae Petrianae iuncta sunt, sancti Matthei apostoli et Iacobi, ipse tessellis ornari iussit. Et inuenietis in camera tribunae apostoli Matthei continente ita:

Saluo domno papa Agnello. De donis Dei et seruorum eius, qui obtulerunt ad honorem et ornatus sanctorum apostolorum, et reliqua pars de summa seruorum qui perierant et Deo auctore inuenti sunt, haec absida musiuo exornata est.

‘Indeed he [Agnellus, Bishop of Ravenna, 557-570] ordered that the monasteria of St Matthew the apostle and St James, which are joined to the sides of the baptistry of the Petriana church in the city of Classe, be decorated with mosaic. And you will see in the apse of the apostle Matthew the following:

By our holy lord father Agnellus. This apse has been decorated in mosaic from the gifts of God and of his servants, who have given them for the honor and adornment of the holy apostles, and the remaining part was decorated from the sum of the servants who had been lost and were found with the aid of God’.

Text: Deliyannis 2006. Translation: Deliyannis 2004.

History

Evidence ID

E05813

Saint Name

James, the Apostle, son of Zebedee : S00108 Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist : S00791

Saint Name in Source

Iacobus Mattheus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories) Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

557

Evidence not after

846

Activity not before

557

Activity not after

570

Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Classe

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

Classe Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Agnellus of Ravenna

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Inscription

Source

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.

Discussion

J. M. Stansterre and E. Morini have both argued convincingly that, throughout Agnellus’ account, monasterium can used to mean any foundation – for example a chapel or church – dedicated to a saint. It does not necessarily refer to a monastery. As such, the original Latin is preserved in this record. A map showing the likely locations of the foundations in Classe and Ravenna is attached to this record.

Bibliography

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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