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E01316: The Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome in the 530s, and re-edited before 546, in its account of *Gelasius (bishop of Rome, ob. 496, S00789), recounts his burning of heretical books before the doors of the basilica of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) in Rome; his dedication of a basilica of *Euphemia (martyr of Chalcedon, S00017) in Tibur/Tivoli, and basilicas of *Eleutherius (martyr of Rome, S01661), *Nicander (saint of Rome, S00788), and *Andreas (probably Andrew the Apostle, S00288) on the via Labicana, outside Rome; his building of a basilica of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) on the via Laurentina; and his burial in the basilica of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) on 21 November [AD 496]. A later interpolation records the discovery of the sanctuary of the Archangel *Michael (S00181) on Monte Gargano (southern Italy).

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posted on 2016-04-28, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Liber Pontificalis 51

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

Gelasius, natione Afer, ex patre Valerio, sedit ann. IIII m. VIII d. VIII. Fuit autem temporibus Teodorici regis et Zenonis Aug.

'Gelasius, born in Africa, son of Valerius, held the see 4 years 8 months 18 days. He was bishop in the time of king
Theoderic and the emperor Zeno.'


Qui etiam sepultus est apud beatum Petrum XI kal. decemb.

'He was buried at St Peter's on 21 November.'

Second edition

Gelasius, natione Afer, ex patre Valerio, sedit ann. IIII m. VIII d. XVIII. Fuit autem temporibus Teodorici regis et Zenonis Aug. . Huius temporibus inventi sunt Manichei in urbe Roma, quos exilio deportari praecepit, quorum codices ante fores basilicae sancte Mariae incendio concremavit.

'Gelasius, born in Africa, son of Valerius, held the see 4 years 8 months 18 days. He was bishop in the time of king
Theoderic and the emperor Zeno. In his time Manichaeans were discovered in Rome; these he ordered to be deported into exile, and their books he burnt with fire before the doors of the basilica of saint Mary.'


Hic dedicavit basilicam sanctae Eufimiae martyris in civitate Tiburtina et alias basilicas sanctorum Nicandri, Eleutheri et Andreae in via Lavicana in villa Pertusa. Fecit autem basilicam sanctae Mariae in via Laurentina, in fundum Crispinis .

'He dedicated the basilica of saint Euphemia the martyr in the city of Tibur [Tivoli]; and other basilicas: of saints Nicander, Eleutherius, and Andreas on the via Labicana at the villa Pertusa; and he built another basilica of saint Mary on the via Laurentina on the Crispinis estate <20 miles from the city>.'


Qui etiam sepultus est in basilica beati Petri apostoli XI kal. decemb.

'He was buried in the basilica of the blessed Peter on 21 November.'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 95 and 255. Translation: Davis 2010, 41-42, lightly modified.

The passages in brackets, <>, are interpolations, recorded in only some manuscripts of the Liber Pontificalis; it is uncertain when they were added to the text.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Euphemia, martyr in Chalcedon, ob. 303 : S00017 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Andrew, the Apostle : S00288 Nicander, venerated in Rome : S00788 Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Gelasius, bishop of Rome, ob. 496 : S00789 Peter the Apostle : S00

Saint Name in Source

Eufimia Maria Andreas Nicander sanctus angelus Gelasius Petrus apostolus Eleutherius Nicander

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

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified


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.


The basilica of Mary, where the heretical books were burnt, is Santa Maria Maggiore. The church of Euphemia at Tivoli is known only from this passage. The popularity of Euphemia had been greatly enhanced by the holding of the 451 Council of Chalcedon in her burial church. There are no other references to the 'basilicas' (or perhaps a single basilica dedicated to three saints) on the via Labicana, unless this was the oratory of Andrew on the Labicana rebuilt by Sergius I (pope 687-701) - see E01729. The remains of a church on the via Labicana, which might be this building, have, however, been identified (see Zagretti 2012). Eleutherius and Nicander are both minor figures, though both do feature in other evidence from Rome.


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). Further reading: Krautheimer, R., Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae: The early Christian Basilicas of Rome (IV–IX Centuries), Vatican City 1937–1977 Brandenburg, H., Ancient churches of Rome from the fourth to the seventh century : the dawn of Christian architecture in the West, Turnhout 2005. Zagretti, M., "Su due chiese poco note dell'estremo suburbio orientale di Roma: San Gennaro, Santi Nicandro, Eleuterio e Andrea", Temporis Signa 7 (2012), 209-217.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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