Babilla votum debitum reddo tibi.
'To thee, I, Babilla, discharge a due vow.'
Text: ICVR, n.s., VIII, no. 23396 = EDB19974.
Saint NameFelicitas, martyr of Rome with her seven sons : S00525
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Literary - Poems
Evidence not before418
Evidence not after500
Activity not before418
Activity not after500
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 CustomsBequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Cult Activities - Cult Related ObjectsEx-votos
SourceThe text is preserved by the codex Vaticanus Palatinus 833 f. 60 of the Sylloge Laureshamensis. First edition was offered by Jan Gruter in 1602.
The sylloge does not ascribe this text to any precise location, but places it among the inscriptions of the Cemetery of Felicitas/Cemetery of Maximus on the via Nomentana. Hence the attribution usually given in modern works.
The poem is composed as a single pentameter verse, which is unusual, and in the manuscript immediately follows the last hexameter of E07504 (a praise of a female martyr, certainly Felicitas). Gruter and de Rossi, however, separated it from the former work, and considered as a separate piece of poetry probably because they believed that the other poem was authored by Pope Damasus, and this one credits an otherwise unknown woman as the benefactress. It may be in fact part of yet another larger poem, now lost.
DiscussionGiven the fact that Felicitas was the primary saint venerated in this cemetery, and the inscription is addressed to an individual, we can assume that she was the recipient of the donation. The fact that the dedication is made by woman to a female saint is remarkable.
It is possible that the inscription was set up in the surface basilica where the body of Felicitas lay in a tomb adorned by Pope Boniface I (418-422). Hence, the inscription could date to the 5th c. or later. The date is not discussed by Ferrua or de Rossi.
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB19974.
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. 23396 (with further bibliography).
De Rossi, G. B., Inscriptiones christianae Urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores 2.1 (Rome: Ex Officina Libraria Pontificia, 1857-1888), 102, no. 25.