Saint NameAgnes, virgin and martyr of Rome : S00097
Saint Name in SourceAgne
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)
Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Evidence not before250
Evidence not after400
Activity not before250
Activity not after400
Place of Evidence - RegionRome 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 - PlacesBurial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceMarble plaque broken into two conjoining fragments. H. 0.31 m; W. 0.62 m; Th. 0.035 m. Letter height 0.055-0.06 m. Very fine lettering.
The inscription first appears in the archive of Luigi Gaetano Marini (18th c.), as retrieved from one of the suburban cemeteries of Rome. Seen by Ignazio Maria Raponi (18th c.) in the Galleria Borghese. First published in 1819 by Clemente Cardinali, from a manuscript copy by Raponi. In the mid-19th c., Theodor Mommsen rediscovered it in the royal Bourbon museum in Naples (now the Museo Nazionale Archeologico of Naples), and republished it in 1852 from the stone itself, as a pagan text (for an ordinary woman). Later re-edited by many scholars, notably twice in the new series Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae (in vol. I by Angelo Silvagni, and in vol. VIII by Antonio Ferrua). For a list of editions up to 1983, see the lemma by Ferrua.
The original stone is now in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, a 19th c. copy is displayed at the entrance to the catacombs of Agnes, in front of a modern sarcophagus dedicated to the martyrs Agnes and *Emeritana (companion of Agnes according to her Martyrdom).
DiscussionBased on the written records of the discovery of the stone, Ferrua suggests that this is almost certainly the epitaph for a Christian woman buried in a Roman suburban cemetery. Her identity is to him less clear. He notes that it was Armellini who first connected the inscription to the cemetery of Agnes, based on the mention of the name Agnes, the epithet sanctissima (which could also be given to an ordinary deceased woman), and the high quality of execution. The latter argument may speak in favour of Armellini's identification, but is in no way decisive. Orazio Marucchi was, for example, sceptical about this attribution. Hence, the text was also originally edited in the first volume of the ICVR, collecting inscriptions of uncertain origin.
This inscription is not believed by most modern scholars to be connected with Agnes the martyr. In particular, there is no evidence (other than the name) to connect it with the shrine of Agnes on the via Nomentana.
For a graffito with a similar formula, see E05836.
Dating: Editors of the Epigraphic Database Bari date the inscription to the 3rd or early 4th c.
Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB13259 and EDB35658, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/13259
Camodeca, G., Solin, H., Nasti, F., Parma, A., Kajava, M. (eds.), Catalogo delle iscrizioni latine del Museo Nazionale di Napoli (ILMN): Roma e Latium (Napoli: Loffredo, 2000), no. 450.
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. 20881 (with further bibliography).
Frutaz, A.P., Il complesso monumentale di S. Agnese (Rome: Tipografia poliglotta vaticana, 1976), 178, note 122.
Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 2004.
Marucchi, O., Le catacombe romane (Rome: Desclée, Lefebvre E.C., 1905, 2nd ed.), 356.
Marucchi, O., "Resoconto delle adunanze tenute dalla Società per le conferenze di Archeologia cristiana", Nuovo bullettino di archeologia cristiana 14 (1908), 235.
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. 2816.
Armellini, M., Il cimitero di s. Agnese sulla via Nomentana (Rome: Tipografia Poliglotta della S.C. di Propoganda Fide, 1880), 68, 264, Tav. XIII no. 3.
Mommsen, Th., Inscriptiones regni Neapolitani Latinae (Lipsiae: G. Wigand, Neapoli prostat apud A. Detken, 1852), no. 6690(9).
Cardinali, C., Iscrizioni antiche inedite (Bologna: nella Tipografia Nobili, 1819), 31, no. 174.
Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), chapter XVII.