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E01347: The second edition of the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome between the 530s and 546, in its account of *Symmachus (bishop and confessor of Rome, S00793), lists his extensive work at the basilica of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) in Rome, honouring a number of different saints.

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posted on 2016-05-04, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Liber Pontificalis 53

First edition (as reconstructed by Duchesne)

The passage on Symmachus' foundations and offerings can be found only in the second edition.

Second edition

Hic fecit basilicam sancti Andreae apostoli apud beatum Petrum, ubi fecit:
tiburium ex argento purissimo et confessionem, pens. lib. CXX;
arcos argenteos III, pens. lib. LX;
oratorium sancti Thomae apostuli ex argento, pens. in confessionem lib. XX;
arcum argenteum, qui pens. lib. XVI;
confessionem sancti Cassiani et sanctorum Proti et Yacinti ex argento, pens. lib. XX;
arcum argenteum, pens. lib. XII;
oratorium sancti Apollinaris ex argento in confessionem cum arcum, pens. lib. XXXI;
oratorium sancti Sossii ex argento confessionem, pens. lib. XX.
Item ad fontem in basilica sancti Petri apostoli:
oratorium sanctae crucis ex argento confessionem et crucem ex auro cum gemmis, ubi inclaudit lignum dominicum; ipsa crux aurea pens. lib. X.
Fecit autem oratoria II sancti Iohannis euangelistae et sancti Iohannis baptistae, in quorum confessiones cum arcos argenteos, pens. lib. XXX; quas cubicula omnes a fundamento perfecta construxit.
Basilicam vero beati Petri marmoribus ornavit.
Ad cantharum beati Petri cum quadriporticum ex opere marmoribus ornavit et ex musivo agnos et cruces et palmas ornavit. Ipsum vero atrium omnem conpaginavit; grados vero ante fores basilicae sancti Petri apostoli ampliavit et alios grados sub tigno dextra levaque construxit. Item episcopia in eodem loco dextra levaque fecit. Item sub grados in atrio alium cantharum foris in campo posuit et usum necessitatis humanae fecit. Et alios grados ascendentibus ad beatum Andream fecit et cantharum posuit.

'He built the basilica of saint Andrew the apostle at St Peter’s, where he provided:
a canopy of finest silver and a confessio weighing 120 lb;
3 silver arches weighing 60 lb;
the oratory of saint Thomas the apostle in silver weighing for the confessio, 20 lb;
a silver arch weighing 16 lb;
the confessio of saint Cassianus and of saints Protus and Hyacinthus, of silver weighing 20 lb;
a silver arch weighing 12 lb;
the oratory of saint Apollinaris: 31 lb weight of silver for the confessio with the arch;
the oratory of saint Sossius: a confessio of silver weighing 20lb.
Also, at the font in the basilica of saint Peter the apostle:
the oratory of the Holy Cross: the confessio of silver, and the cross of gold with jewels in which he enclosed the Lord’s wood—the gold cross itself weighing 10 lb.
And he built 2 oratories, of saint John the Evangelist and saint John the Baptist—30 lb weight of silver for their confessiones and arches; all these chambers he constructed complete from the ground up.
He decorated the basilica of the blessed Peter with marble: at the blessed Peter's fountain with the square colonnade he provided marble adornments, including mosaic lambs, crosses, and palms. He completely enclosed the actual atrium; outside the doors of the basilica of saint Peter the apostle he widened the steps, he built other steps under the awning on right and left, and there he also built episcopal rooms on right and left. He also set up by the steps to the atrium another fountain outside in the open, and he built a convenience for people to use when needed; he built other steps for the climb to the blessed Andrew, and set up a fountain.'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 261-262. Translation: Davis 2010, 44, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Andrew, the Apostle : S00288 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Thomas, the Apostle : S00199 Cassianus, teacher and martyr of Imola : S00309 Protus and Hyacinthus, martyrs in Rome, ob. c. 257 : S00464 Apollinaris, bishop of Ravenna and martyr, ob. 69/79

Saint Name in Source

Andreas Petrus Thomas Cassianus Protus, Yacintus Apollinaris Sossius Iohannes Baptista Iohannes Euangelista Symmachus

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 - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious material objects Crosses


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.


Symmachus extensive building activity on the Vatican Hill dates to the period when, during his conflict with Laurentius, he had to stay at St Peter's. The circular basilica of Andrew, adapted from an imperial mausoleum, was demolished in the 18th century. This basilica, as well as the oratories of Sossius, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist are also known thanks to recorded dedicatory inscription (see XXXXXXXXXX). Sossius (though a somewhat obscure figure) is almost certainly Sossius deacon of Misenum, martyred in this city or in nearby Puteoli/Pozzuoli, Apollinaris is the bishop of Ravenna, and Cassianus the martyr of Imola.


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.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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