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E00690: The Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae, a guide to saints' graves around Rome, closes with the church and grave of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) on the 'via Vaticana', north-west of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 625/649. A description of the basilica, added in the later 8th c., lists many of the altars of saints within the church.

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posted on 2015-09-03, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Catalogue of the Churches of the City of Rome (Notitia ecclesiarum urbis Romae) 35-43

Et sic intrabis uia Vaticana donec peruenies ad basilicam beati Petri, quam Constantinus imperator totius orbis condidit, eminentem super omnes ecclesias et formosam, in cuius occidentali plaga beatum corpus eius quiescit.


Intrante in porticum sancti Andreae occurrit tibi in sinistra manu altare sancti Laurenti, deinde sancti Viti, deinde sancti Cassiani, deinde ipsius Andreae in medio rotundae; et sic sancti Thomae; et sic sancti Apollinaris; nouissime sancti Syxti. Egrediente uero accipiet sanctus te Martinus, et deducet ad sanctam Petronellam; ibi te primo accipiet Saluator Mundi, adsignat que sanctae Anastasiae, et illa Sanctissimae Genetrici Dei, quae te commendat sanctae Petronellae, ut te deducat ad filium suum Saluatorem Mundi, qui te per beatum Theodorum mittit ad sanctum Michaelem archangelum, ut eius suffragio iterum ad sanctissimam suam genetricem deducaris, ut illa te reddat XII apostolis, qui per beatum Petrum principem apostolorum iterum mittunt ad sanctam Mariam; ex cuius latere sinistro te Leo papa accipiet, reddit que iterum eidem Genetrici Dei, cuius auxilio tandem peruenies per cryptam ad caput beati Petri principis apostolorum. Et exinde peruenies ad altare maius eiusque confessionem. Et exinde, post fusas poenitentiae lacrimas, uadis ad locum ubi idem beatissimus apostolus apparuit cuidam mansionario suo; tum ad eiusdem quoque sancti Apostoli altare quod nomine pastoris nominatur, ubi ferunt lapsum mansionarium per beatum Petrum apostolum a ruina esse defensum. Tum etiam tibi pergendum est ad porticum ubi uiuificae crucis uexillum seruatur; te que ad fontem ingrediente altare est in muro beati Georgii martyris. Tum ad sanctum Iohannem Euangelistam, eo que salutato peruenies ad sanctum Iohannem Babtistam; eo que ducente curre ad praesepe sanctae Mariae: eo que osculato perge ad porticum Petronellae; gaudensque ascende ad Gregorii lectum patris sancti, in quo spiritum reddidit deo datori dignum munus; et ibi habes altaria XI. Inde que discende atque festina ad orationem sanctae Mariae quae antiqua dicitur; deinde ad lapides purporeos qui in medio pauimento iacent et in modum crucis positi sunt. Et exinde ad corpus sancti patris Gregori eundum est; et ex eo loco ad sanctam Mariam quae noua dicitur.

'So you step onto the via Vaticana and then come to the basilica of saint Peter, which Constantine, emperor of the whole world, founded, pre-eminent over all other churches, and beautiful. His [saint Peter's] body rests in its western part.


When you enter the portico of saint *Andrew [the Apostle, S00288] you will see on your left the altar of saint *Laurence [deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037], and then that of saint *Vitus [martyr of Lucania and Rome, S00599], and that of saint Cassianus [teacher and martyr of Imola, $00309] and that of the same Andrew in the middle of the rotunda; and also that of saint *Thomas [the Apostle, S00199] and saint *Apollinaris [bishop and martyr of Ravenna, S00331], and, lastly, that of saint *Sixtus [bishop and martyr of Rome, *S00130]. As you go out, saint *Martin [ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050] will receive you and lead you to saint *Petronilla [daughter of St Peter and martyr of Rome, S00402]. There the Saviour of the World will first receive you and commit you to saint *Anastasia [martyr of Sirmium and Rome, S00602], and she [will commit you] to the Most Holy Mother of God [*Mary, Mother of Christ, S00033] who will commend you to saint Petronilla, so that she leads you to Her son, the Saviour of the World, who will send you, through the agency of the blessed *Theodore [soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480], to saint *Michael the Archangel [S00181], so that by his aid you are led back to His Mother, and let Her hand you to the *12 Apostles [S00084] who will send you, through the agency of the blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles, to the Holy Mary; and at her left, pope *Leo [bishop of Rome, ob. 461, S00423] will receive you and hand you again to the same Mother of God, by whose aid you will pass through the crypt to the head of the blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles. And then you come to the great altar and its confessio. And then, after having shed many tears of penitence you will go to the place where the same most holy Apostle appeared to one of his treasurers. Then [you come] to the same altar of the holy Apostle which is called "the shepherd's" and at which, as they say, the fallen treasurer was saved by the blessed Apostle Peter from ruin. Then you should go to the portico where the life-giving sign of the cross is deposited; and when you approach the [baptismal] font there is an altar of the blessed martyr *George [soldier and martyr, S00259] against the wall. Then you go to saint *John the Evangelist [S00042] and, having greeted him, to saint *John the Baptist [S00020] And following his lead, hasten to the crib of the Holy Mary, and having kissed it, proceed to the portico of Petronilla; and ascend with joy to the funeral bed of the holy father *Gregory ['the Great', bishop of Rome, ob. 604, S00838]where he gave up his spirit, a fitting gift to God who gives. There are 11 altars here. Descend from this place and make haste to the oratory of the holy Mary which is called "the Old" and then to the purple stones which are placed in the middle of the pavement and arranged in the form of the cross. And then you should go to the body of the holy father Gregory which is in the same [place]. And from this place to the holy Mary which is called "the New".

Text: Glorie 1965, 310-311. Translation: R. Wiśniewski, P. Polcar


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Petronilla, daughter of saint Peter and martyr in Rome : S00402 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Andrew, the Apostle : S00288 Vitus, martyr in Lucania (Southern Italy), c. 303-305 : S00599 Lawrence, martyr of Rome, ob.

Saint Name in Source

Petronella Maria, Genetrix Dei Petrus Andreas Vitus Laurentius Thomas Cassianus Apollinaris Martinus Syxtus Gregorius Michael archangelus Anastasia Theodorus Leo Georgius Iohannes Evangelista Iohannes Baptista Syxtus

Related Saint Records

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

Vatican area

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Vatican area 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


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Bodily relic - head Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes Touching and kissing relics


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 first sentence of this passage belongs with the original text of the Notitia Ecclesiarum of 625/649, which closes with Constantine's great basilica, and the body of Peter himself. There follows the mid-eighth century account of the chapels, altars and shrines in and around St Peter's. The account of the altars, and some of the graves, in St Peter's opens with a list of the altars in the church of St Andrew, which had been installed by Pope Symmachus (498-514) in one the two rotundas that opened off the left aisle of the basilica, and which had originally been built as imperial mausolea (see E01347). The final altar listed here, as 'of Sixtus', is probably an error for 'of *Sossius' (martyr of Pozzuoli, S00621), since the Liber Pontificalis records that Symmachus set up an altar to this latter saint, and not to Sixtus/Xystus. The altar of St Martin was in front of the entrance to the rotunda of St Andrew. There follows a listing of the altars (from that of the Saviour to that of Theodore) in the second rotunda, that of St Petronilla (the supposed daughter of St Peter), which was dedicated to this saint by Pope Stephen II (752-757) and which received Petronilla's body under Pope Paul I (757-767). The altar of Michael the Archangel was in the vestibule of St Petronilla's. The next reference, to an altar to Mary, dates our list to the pontificate of Paul I (757-767) or shortly after, since this pope built here an oratory to the Virgin and this is the most recent structure listed. Of the next shrines mentioned, that of Leo is the tomb of Leo I (pope 440-461), which had been moved inside the basilica by Pope Sergius I (687-701) (for which see E01729). There follows the tomb, high altar and confessio of Peter himself, with reference to a miraculous appearance of the saint, as recounted by Gregory the Great in his Dialogues (3.24). The list then mentions the altars and oratories (of George, John the Apostle and Evangelist, and John the Baptist) around the baptismal font (off the right aisle of the basilica), before jumping to the entrance wall (where John VII, pope 705-707, had built an oratory to Mary), and then out, by way of the bed in which Pope Gregory the Great died, into the atrium, where the list closes with Gregory's tomb and a recent altar to Mary. [In the last paragraph of Glorie's edition, the text reads "Et exinde ad corpus sancti patris Gregori eundem est", which is clearly an error. We have emended the text back to Valentini and Zucchetti's eundum.]


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.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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