University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E00402: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, recounts the founding and endowment of the basilica of *Paul (the Apostle, S00008) outside Rome by the emperor Constantine (312-337).

online resource
posted on 2015-04-22, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 34.21

For the following passage it is impossible to reconstruct the text of the first edition.

Second edition

21. Eodem tempore fecit Augustus Constantinus basilicam beato Paulo apostolo ex suggestione Silvestri episcopi, cuius corpus ita recondit in aere et conclusit sicut beati Petri, cui basilicae hoc donum obtulit:
Sub Tarso Ciliciae: insulam Gordianon, praest. sol. DCCC.
Omnia enim vasa sacrata aurea vel argentea vel aerea ita posuit ut in basilica beati Petri apostoli, ita et beati Pauli apostoli ordinavit. Sed crucem auream super locum beati Pauli posuit, pens. lib. CL.

'Then the emperor Constantine built a basilica to saint Paul the apostle at the petition of bishop Silvester; and he buried and sealed his body in bronze just like St Peter’s. To this basilica he presented the following gift:
In Cilicia, in the suburbs of Tarsus, the island Cordionon, revenue 800 solidi.
He placed and arranged all the sacred vessels of gold, silver and bronze at St Paul’s basilica just as at St Peter’s basilica. He also put a gold cross over the burial place (locum) of the blessed Paul, weighing 150 lb.'

There follows a list of other endowments of St Paul's Basilica.

Text: Duchesne 1886, 178-179. Translation: Davis 2010, 19-20, lightly modified. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Peter the Apostle : S00036

Saint Name in Source

Paulus Petrus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Liber Pontificalis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Crosses Chalices, censers and other liturgical vessels


The Liber Pontificalis consists of a series of short lives of popes. The preface attributes it to pope Damasus (366-384), but this attribution is obviously false. According to Louis Duchesne, the first modern editor of the Liber Pontificalis, the original series of lives was written in Rome by an anonymous author, probably a member of the lesser clergy, in the 530s, and contained the lives from *Peter the Apostle to Felix IV (ob. 530). Shortly after, before 546, the text was re-edited by another anonymous author and only this edition survives. The first edition, however, can be reconstituted on the basis of its two epitomes (and the second edition). The second edition started to be continued systematically from the time of pope Honorius (625–638). It should be noted that Theodor Mommsen dated both editions of the Liber Pontificalis to the 7th century, but his opinion is widely rejected and the commonly accepted dating is that of Duchesne. For the pre-Constantinian period (before 312), the credibility of the Liber Pontificalis is very low. The chronology is confused, and details concerning the personal lives, decisions, and ordinations of the bishops of Rome at best reflect what people in the 6th century trusted to be true, at worst are a pure invention of the author. The situation changes with the later lives. Already the information of 4th century papal foundations and offerings are generally trustworthy. The early 6th century evidence, based on the author's first hand knowledge is even better, though still imperfect.


Edition: Duchesne, L., Le Liber pontificalis. 2 vols (Paris: E. Thorin, 1886-1892). (With substantial introduction and commentary.) Translation: Davis, R., The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Translated Texts for Historians 6; 3rd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity