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E01273: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Damasus (bishop of Rome, ob. 384, S00535), lists his construction of a basilica of *Laurence (martyr in Rome, S00037) inside the city of Rome; the dedication of a marble tablet at the Catacumbas cemetery on the via Appia, commemorating the former resting place of the bodies of the Apostles *Peter and *Paul (S00036 and S00008); the discovery and honouring in verse of many martyrs; and his burial, with his mother and sister, in his own basilica on the via Ardeatina, on 11 December [AD 384].

online resource
posted on 2016-04-14, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 39

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Damasus, natione Spanus, ex patre Antonio, sedit an. XVIII mens. III dies XI. Fuit autem temporibus Iuliani. Hic fecit basilicas II, una <.......> ad via Ardeatina ubi requiescit; dedicavit platomam in Catacumbas, ubi corpora Petri et Pauli apostolorum iacerunt, quam et versibus ornavit...
Qui etiam sepultus est via Ardiatina, in basilica sua, III id. decemb. cum sua matre et germana.

'Damasus, born in Spain, son of Antonius, held the see 18 years 3 months 11 days. He was [bishop] in the times of Julian. He built two basilicas, one <.......> on the via Ardeatina where he is buried. He dedicated a marble tablet (platoma) at the Catacumbas [cemetery], where lay the bodies of the apostles Peter and Paul, and he adorned it with verses...
He was buried on the via Ardeatina in his own basilica on 11 December, close to his mother and sister.'

Second edition

Damasus, natione Spanus, ex patre Antonio, sedit ann. XVIII m. III d. XI...
Hic fecit basilicas duas, una beato Laurentio iuxta theatrum et alia via Ardeatina ubi requiescit; et in Catatumbas, ubi iacuerunt corpora sanctorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli, in quo loco platomam ipsam, ubi iacuerunt corpora sancta, versibus exornavit. Hic multa corpora sanctorum requisivit et invenit, quorum etiam versibus declaravit...
Qui etiam sepultus est via Ardeatina in basilica sua III id. decemb. iuxta matrem suam et germanam suam.

'Damasus, born in Spain, son of Antonius, held the see 18 years 3 months 11 days...
He built two basilicas: one to the blessed Laurence close to the Theatre, and the other on the via Ardeatina where he is buried. At the Catacumbas [cemetery], where lay the bodies of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, he adorned with verses the marble tablet (platoma) at the place where the holy bodies lay. He searched for and discovered many bodies of holy martyrs, and also proclaimed their [acts] in verses...
He was buried on the via Ardeatina in his own basilica on 11 December, close to his mother and sister.'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 85 and 212-213. Translation: Davis 2010, 28-29, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Damasus, bishop of Rome, ob. 384 : S00535 Anonymous martyrs : S00060 Lawrence, martyr of Rome, ob. 258 : S00037 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source

Damasus Laurentius Petrus Paulus

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 - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Women Relatives of the saint

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious material objects


The Liber Pontificalis consists of a series of very 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.


Damasus' church of Laurence inside Rome is now the church of San Lorenzo in Damaso (part of the Palazzo della Cancelleria). For the verses, written and inscribed to many of the martyrs of Rome, see EXXXXXXXXXXX


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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