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E00407: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, recounts the founding and endowment of a basilica of *John the Baptist (S00020) in Albanum, close to Rome, by the emperor Constantine (312-337).

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posted on 2015-04-22, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 34.30

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

Second edition

Hisdem temporibus fecit Augustus Constantinus basilicam in civitatem Albanense sancti Iohannis Baptistae, ubi posuit hoc:
patenam argenteam, pens. lib. XXX;
scyphum argenteum deauratum, pens. lib. XII;
calices argenteos ministeriales X, pens. sing. lib. III;
amas argenteas II, pens. sing. lib. III;
amas argenteas II, pens. sing. lib. XX.

There follows a list of the endowments of the basilica of John the Baptist.

'30. Then the emperor Constantine built in the city of Albanum the basilica of St John the Baptist, where he placed the following:
a silver paten weighing 30 lb;
a silver-gilt scyphus weighing 12 lb;
10 silver service chalices each weighing 3 lb;
2 silver amae each weighing 20 lb.'

There follows a list of the endowments of the basilica of John the Baptist.

Text: Duchesne 1886, 184-185. Translation: Davis 2010, 24, lightly modified. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Baptista

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other


  • 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

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

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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