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E00688: The Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae, a guide to saints' graves around Rome, lists those on the via Portuensis, south-west of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 625/649.

online resource
posted on 2015-09-03, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Catalogue of the Churches of the City of Rome (Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae) 29-30

In occidentali parte Tiberis ecclesia est beati Felicis martiris, in qua corpus eius quiescit, et Alexandri martiris

Deinde discendis ad aquilonem et inuenies ecclesiam sanctae Candidae uirginis et martiris cuius corpus ibi quiescit; discendis in antrum et inuenies ibi innumerabilem multitudinem martirum: Pumenius martir ibi quiescit, et Milix martir in altero loco, et omnis illa spelunca inpleta est ossibus martirum. Tunc ascendis et peruenies ad sanctum Anastasium papam et martirem. Et in alio Polion martir quiescit. Deinde intrabis in ecclesiam magnam; ibi sancti martires Abdo et Sennes quiescunt. Deinde exeas, et intrabis ubi sanctus Innocentius papa et martir quiescit.

'On the west bank of the Tiber there is the church of the blessed Felix, the martyr, in which his body rests, and of Alexander, the martyr,

Then you go north and find the church of saint Candida, virgin and martyr, whose body rests there; you descend into the catacomb and will find a countless multitude of martyrs there. The martyr Pumenius rests there, and the martyr Milix in another place, and the entire catacomb is full of the bones of martyrs. From there you ascend and will reach saint Anastasius, the pope and martyr. And in another [place] Polion, the martyr, rests. Then you will enter a great church; there the holy martyrs Abdo and Semnes rest. Then you may leave and you will enter the place where saint Innocentius, pope and martyr, rests.'

Text: Glorie 1965, 309. Translation: R. Wiśniewski, P. Polcar.

The bracketed <> passage is an interpolation added, in a more-or-less contemporary hand, to the late-8th-century Vienna manuscript of the text. The information it contains probably derived from another written source (of uncertain date), rather than from new direct observation.

First paragraph: [*Felix, martyr of Rome buried on the via Portuensis, S02672; *Alexander, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Portuensis, S00484; *Sabina, martyr of Rome, with church on the Aventine hill, S01546; Aristus, Christina and Victoria, possibly *Hedistus and companions, martyrs of Laurentum, near Rome, S01229]

Second paragraph: [*Candida, virgin and martyr of Rome, buried on the via Portuensis, S00568; *Pumenius, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Portuensis, S00569; *Milex/Milix, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Portuensis, S00570; *Anastasius I, bishop of Rome, ob. c. 401, buried on the via Portuensis, S00571; *Polion, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Portuensis, S00572; *Abdos and Semnes, martyrs of Rome, buried on the via Portuensis, S00573; *Innocentius/Innocent I, bishop of Rome, ob. 417, buried on the via Portuensis, S00575]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Candida, virgin and martyr at Rome, ob. ??? : S00568 Pumenius, martyr at Rome, ob. ??? : S00569 Milix, martyr at Rome, ob.??? : S00570 Anonymous martyrs : S00060 Anastasius I, bishop of Rome, ob. c. 401 : S00571 Polion, martyr at Rome, ob. ??? :

Saint Name in Source

Candida Pumenius Milix Anastasius Polion Abdo Alexander Innocentius Felix Sabina Aristus, Christina, Victoria

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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines


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)


Both martyrs mentioned in the first sentence, Felix and Alexander, are shadowy figures, despite the fact that Felix apparently had a church dedicated to him. Sabina is presumably the same saint as that of the present-day church on the Aventine (a titular church by the end of the sixth century; see E06362); this passage, interpolated into the Notitia Ecclesiarum, is, however, the sole evidence we have of her veneration in the suburban cemeteries of the city. The identity of Aristus, Christina and Victoria is problematic, as is the precise location of their church, since the most obvious church of St Paul, which our text uses as a reference point, is San Paolo fuori le mura, which is on the via Ostiensis, on the other side of the Tiber to the Portuensis. It is possible that our interpolator (or his source), has made a mistake, and should have placed this church south, rather than north of the river. A letter of Gregory the Great of 604 (E06443) indeed refers to land near San Paolo, which belonged to a monastery 'of saint Aristus': presumably our saint and our church. Particularly if their church was in reality south of the river, it is very likely, that Aristus, Christina and Victoria are the same as the similarly named Hedistus, Christes and Victoria, martyrs of Laurentum (on the coast, some 12 kilometres south of Ostia), who feature in the Martyrdom of Hedistus, Priscus and Companions (E02499). In this text they are said to have been buried by the via Laurentina, a branch road off the via Ostiensis. The cemetery mentioned in the second paragraph is the catacomb of Pontianus, ad Ursum Pileatum. With the exception of Abdos and Semnes, two Persians martyred in Rome, whose story is recounted in the Martyrdom of *Polychronius, Sixtus/Xystus, Laurence, Hippolytus and Others (E02504), the martyrs listed as buried here are minor figures. Neither of the two bishops of Rome who bore the name Anastasius was a martyr; they died at the beginning of the 5th century - long after the last persecution: the Anastasius, mentioned in this passage, can, however, be identified with *Anastasius I (ob. c. 401), who, according to the Liber Pontificalis, was buried ad Ursum Pileatum (see E01275). Pope *Innocentius I (also not a martyr) died in 417, and is also recorded in the Liber Pontificalis as having been buried ad Ursum Pileatum (E01276). For the saints listed on the via Portuensis in the other two seventh-century itineraries, see: E06988 (for the De Locis Sanctis) and E07899 (for the Itinerarium Malmesburiense).


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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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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