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E00680: The Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae, a guide to saints' graves around Rome, lists those on the via Labicana, south-east of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, probably in 625/649.

online resource
posted on 2015-09-03, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Catalogue of the Churches of the City of Rome (Notitia Ecclesiarum urbis Romae) 16

Ad Helenam uia Canpania multi martyres pausant: in aquilone parte ecclesiae Helenae, primus Tibertius martir; postea intrabis in sp[e]luncam: ibi pausant sancti martires Petrus presbyter et Marcellinus martir; postea in interiore antro Gorgonius martir et multi alii: et in uno loco in interiore spelunca XL martires, et in altero XXX martires, et in tercio IIII coronatos; et sancta Helena in sua rotunda.

'Many martyrs repose close to Helena, on the via Campania. First, in the northern part of Helena's church, there is the martyr Tiburtius. Then you enter the catacomb. There rest the holy martyrs Petrus, the presbyter, and Marcellinus, martyr. Then, in the inner grotto, the martyr Gorgonius and many others. And in one place, in an inner crypt, there are 40 Martyrs, and in another 30 Martyrs, and in a third, the Four Crowned ones. And saint Helena in her rotunda.'

Text: Glorie 1965, 307. Translation: R. Wiśniewski, P. Polcar

[*Helena, empress, mother of Constantine, ob. 328, S00185; *Tiburtius, son of the prefect Chromatius, martyr of Rome, S01404; *Marcellinus and Petrus, priest and exorcist, martyrs of Rome, S00577; *Gorgonius, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Labicana, S00576; perhaps the *Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, ob. early 4th c., S00103, or, more probably, *Forty martyrs of Rome, S00540; *Thirty Martyrs of Rome, S00586; *Four Crowned Martyrs - the second group, martyrs in Sirmium (Pannonia), in the late 3rd c., S00685]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Helena, empress, mother of Constantine, ob. 328 : S00185 Tiburtius, son of the prefect Chromatius, martyr of Rome : S01404 Peter and Marcellinus, martyrs at Rome, ob. ??? : S00577 Gorgonius, martyr at Rome, ob. ??? : S00576 Forty Martyrs of Sebas

Saint Name in Source

Helena Tibertius Petrus, Marcellinus Gorgonius XL martires XL martires XXX martires IIII coronati

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries


  • 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

Lists of Shrines in Rome

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The graves of the martyrs of Rome are quite exceptional in two respects: for the overwhelming number of saints whose names are recorded; and for the level of detail we have on where their bodies were venerated - in the many Martyrdoms surviving from Rome (incomparably more than from any other city), in uniquely rich epigraphic evidence, and in a narrative history, the Liber Pontificalis, that records in loving detail papal improvements to the saintly graves and churches of the city. From the century between circa 590 and 690, we even have four long lists of venerated graves, which were compiled entirely independently of each other: one (the Monza papyrus, $E06788) is a catalogue of holy oil collected at these graves, but the other three, the Notitia Ecclesiarum ($E07900), the De Locis Sanctis ($E07901) and the Itinerarium Malmesburiense ($E07883), are 'itineraries' - in other words texts that introduce their readers to the graves by taking them on a journey through the burial churches and cemeteries that ringed the city. They are often described as pilgrim-guides, which was certainly one of their functions, though they could also serve to introduced the saints of Rome to distant readers. The Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae is the earliest of these three itineraries. Though it bears the deceptive title 'A catalogue of the churches of the city of Rome', in reality it is an itinerary through the cemeteries outside the city. The itinerary is arranged by the major roads leaving the city, starting in the north, with the via Flaminia, and working round clockwise, to end on the via Cornelia; this arrangement was certainly intentional, in order to close the list with Rome's greatest shrine, the church and grave of Peter on the Vatican hill. Of the three itineraries we have, the Notitia is the closest we have in style to a modern guidebook and the text that it is easiest to imagine in a pilgrim's hands, rather than being pored over in a distant monastic library. In particular, it is the richest in topographical detail, and the only one that directly addresses its reader - 'Then you leave the via Appia ...', 'You descend into the catacomb and find there ...', etc. - whereas the other two itineraries are expressed in the impersonal third person - 'By the via Salaria is the church of ...', etc. The Notitia was certainly composed during, or shortly after, the pontificate of Pope Honorius I (625-638), because several of his constructions or works of repair are noted, and it is equally certain that it was written before the end of the pontificate of Theodore I (642-649), since, when it describes the church of Valentinus on the Via Flaminia ($E00633), it mentions a repair by Honorius but fails to mention a major rebuilding by Theodore (for which, see $E01629). A description of the basilica of St Peter (primarily a list of its altars) was subsequently appended to the original text, around the middle of the 8th century. Although this addition falls outside the chronological limits of our database (which we set at AD 700), we have included it for completeness' sake (and because it is an interesting text!) - see $E00690. The author of the Notitia had a thorough knowledge of the extramural shrines of Rome; but inevitably, with so many Roman martyrs (many with similar or identical names) and with the accretion of different traditions over the centuries, many of the names of martyrs given in the text are of uncertain identification, and it also contains some statements that we can confidently identify as 'errors' (for instance, several popes who are known to have died a peaceful death are here described as martyrs). It is, however, impossible to tell which of these uncertainties and errors were already firmly established at the shrines and which were introduced by our author. The Notitia survives in a single manuscript, written in Salzburg in the late 790s (Vienna, National Library Ms 795). For a useful discussion of the text: Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 67-71. (Philip Polcar and Bryan Ward-Perkins)


The complex of the Mausoleum of Helena and the remains of the adjacent basilica are still extant, though in ruins. This cemetery is named as inter duas lauros in the Liber Pontificalis (E00405) and in the 7th-century Cimiteria totius Urbis Romae (E06912), though eventually it came to be named after its most prominent saints, Marcellinus and Petrus. It lies on the via Labicana (though here this is termed the 'via Canpania'). When built by Constantine, the church adjacent to Helena's mausoleum was dedicated to Marcellinus and Petrus, but our author, and the author of the roughly contemporary De Locis Sanctis (E06994), consider it a church of St Helena. The Forty Martyrs of Rome mentioned here, are recorded as having a feast on the via Labicana on 13 January (E04608); it is possible that they are but an echo of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (S00103), whose relics were spread widely at an early date.


Edition: Glorie, F. (ed.), Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae, in Itineraria et alia geographica (Corpus Christianorum, series Latina 175; Turnhout: Brepols, 1965), 305-311. [Reproduces Valentini and Zucchetti, with a few emendations.] Valentini, R. and Zucchetti, G. (ed.), Codice topografico della città di Roma (Istituto storico italiano - Fonti per la storia d'Italia; Roma 1942), vol. 2, 72-94. (Partial) Translation: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford Early Christian Studies; Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018), 660-662. [Translates most of the text, but omits parts less relevant to those martyrdom accounts that he includes in his collection.]

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