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E00403: 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 *Agnes (virgin and martyr of Rome, S00097) outside Rome by the emperor Constantine (312-337).

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posted on 2015-04-22, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 34.23

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

Second edition

Eodem tempore fecit basilicam sanctae martyris Agnae ex rogatu filiae suae et baptisterium in eodem loco ubi et baptizata est soror eius Constantia cum filia Augusti a Silvestro episcopo, ubi et constituit donum hoc:
patenam ex auro purissimo, pens. lib. XX;
calicem aureum, pens. lib. X;
coronam farum cantharum ex auro purissimo cum delfinos XXX, pens. lib. XV;
patenas argenteas II, pens sing. lib. XX;
calices argenteos V, pens. sing. lib. X;
fara cantara argentea XXX, pens. sing. lib. VIII;
fara cantara aurocalca XL;
cerostata aurocalca argentoclusa sigillata XL;
lucerna aurea nixorum XII super fonteml pens. lib. XV;
et donum in reditum...

'Then he [Constantine] built a basilica to the martyr saint Agnes at the request of his daughter, and a baptistery in the same place, where his sister Constantia was baptised, along with the emperor’s daughter, by bishop Silvester. And there he assigned the following gift:
a paten of finest gold weighing 20 lb;
a gold chalice weighing 10 lb;
a crown chandelier of finest gold, with 30 dolphins, weighing 15 lb;
2 silver patens each weighing 20 lb;
5 silver chalices each weighing 10 lb;
30 silver chandeliers each weighing 8 lb;
40 brass chandeliers;
40 brass candlesticks, chased with silver, with medallions;
a gold lantern with 12 wicks, above the font, weighing 15 lb;
and the gift for revenue...'

There follows a list of the endowments of the basilica.

Text: Duchesne 1886, 180-181. Translation: Davis 2010, 21, lightly modified. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Agnes, martyr in Rome (ob. c. 304) : S00097

Saint Name in Source


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

Monarchs and their family Ecclesiastics - bishops Women

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Chalices, censers and other liturgical vessels Precious material objects Oil lamps/candles


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).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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