Saint NameMartyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060
Saints, unnamed : S00518
Alexander, Eventius and Theodolus, bishop, priest and deacon, martyrs of Rome : S00127
Saint Name in Sourcemeriti
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Literary - Poems
Evidence not before550
Evidence not after600
Activity not before537
Activity not after600
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 CustomsRenovation and embellishment of cult buildings
Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, ScepticismDestruction/desecration of saint's shrine
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesForeigners (including Barbarians)
Ecclesiastics - Popes
SourceThe text of this inscription is preserved only in the manuscripts of the Sylloge Centulensis (codex Petropolitanus F. XIV 1 f. 129) and Sylloge Laurenshamensis (codex Vaticanus Palatinus 833 f. 63 v and codex Londinus Harleianus 3685 f. 4). It first appeared in print in 1602, published by Jan Gruter from the Sylloge Laureshamensis. The first edition based on all the accessible manuscripts was offered by Giovanni Battista de Rossi.
The codices do not specify the location of this inscription, but it is commonly presumed to have been in the cemetery of Saint Alexander on the via Nomentana, as it appears between the inscriptions copied in the cemetery of Sant'Agnese and those from the via Appia.
DiscussionThe poem does not use the terms 'martyres' or 'sancti'; but the well-deserved ones ('meriti') of verse 3, whose tomb is rebuilt through even greater zeal, or cultic reverence ('meliore cultu'), are commonly considered to have been martyrs by the editors of this text. According to Ferrua, the point of the poem is that any damage done to, or any attempted desecration of, a martyr's tomb only adds to his or her glory as a sort of a continuation of the martyrdom. And of course this sacrilege brought divine punishment down on the heads of those responsible for it.
The gens infelix responsible for the desecration of this tomb is taken to have been the Goths, who besieged Rome in 537/538 under Vitigis, and in 545/546 under Totila. Both sieges were disastrous for the civilian population of the city, and the suburban cemeteries also suffered during military operations (although there is no evidence of intentional damage). The poem must postdate the expulsion of the Goths from Rome, so it was probably composed in the 550s or later. It is possible that our inscription dates from the pontificate of Pope Vigilius (537-555), credited with very similar work in the nearby Cemetery of the Jordani (see E07193). For Vigilius's work in the Cemetery of Hippolytus, see E07580.
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB41558.
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. 22965 (with further bibliography).
De Rossi, G. B., Inscriptiones christianae Urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores 2.1 (Rome: Ex Officina Libraria Pontificia, 1857-1888), 89, no. 44; 115, no. 88; 121, no. 4.