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E00404: 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 St *Laurence (deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037) on the via Tiburtina outside Rome by the emperor Constantine (312-337).

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posted on 2015-04-22, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 34.24

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

Second edition

24. Eodem tempore fecit basilicam sancto Laurentio martyri via Tiburtina in agrum Veranum supra arenario cryptae et usque ad corpus sancti Laurenti fecit grados ascensionis et descensionis. In quo loco construxit absidam et exornavit marmoribus purphyreticis et desuper loci conclusit de argento et cancellos de argento purissimo ornavit, qui pen. lib. Ī ; et ante ipsum locum in crypta posuit lucernam ex auro purissimo cum delfinos L, pens. lib. XX;
coronam ex argento purissimo cum delfinos L, pens. lib. XXX;
candelabra aerea II in pedibus denos, pens. sing. lib. CC;
ante corpus beati Laurenti martyris argento clusas sigillis passionem ipsius cum lucernas binixes argenteas, pens. sing. lib. XV.
Donum quod obtulit:
patenam auream, pens. lib. XX;
patenas argenteas II, pens. lib. XXX;
sciphum ex auro purissimo, pens. lib. XV;
sciphos argenteos II, pens. lib. X;
calices argenteos ministeriales X, pens. sing. lib. II;
amas argenteas II, pens. sing. lib. X;
fara argentea XXX, pens. sing. lib. XX;
metreta ex argento, pens. lib. CL, portanate medemnos II;

'24. Then he [Constantine] built a basilica to the martyr saint Laurence on the via Tiburtina at the Ager Veranus, above the arenarium of the crypt; to reach the body of the martyr saint Laurence he built steps for going up and down. In that place he built an apse and decorated it with purple marble, and above the burial place he sealed it with silver, and decorated it with railings of finest silver weighing 1000 lb; and in front of the actual burial place in the crypt he placed a lantern of finest gold with 10 wicks, weighing 20 lb, a crown of finest silver, with 50 dolphins, weighing 30 lb, 2 bronze candelabra 10 ft in size, each weighing 300 lb; in front of the body of the martyr saint Laurence, his martyrdom (passio) in medallions chased with silver, with 6-wick silver lanterns each weighing 15 lb.
The gift he presented:
a gold paten weighing 20 lb;
2 silver patens each weighing 30 lb;
a scyphus of finest gold weighing 15 lb;
2 silver scyphi each weighing 10 lb;
10 silver service chalices each weighing 2 lb;
2 silver amae each weighing 10 lb;
30 silver lights each weighing 20 lb;
a metreta of silver weighing 150 lb, capacity 2 medimni.'

There follows a list of the endowments of saint Laurence' s basilica.

Text: Duchesne 1886, 181-182. Translation: Davis 2010, 21, lightly modified. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Lawrence, martyr of Rome, ob. 258 : S00037

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 - Use of Images

  • Commissioning/producing an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

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


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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