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E01364: The short Life of *Agapitus (bishop of Rome, ob. 536, S00811) in the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome soon after his death, mentions Agapitus' father, a presbyter of the church in Rome of *Iohannes and Paulus (brothers and eunuchs, martyrs of Rome under the emperor Julian, S00384); it concludes with Agapitus' death in Constantinople, the transfer of his body back to Rome, and its burial at the church of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036), on 20 September [AD 536].

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posted on 2016-05-12, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 59

Agapitus, natione Romanus, ex patre Gordiano presbitero, clericus a sanctos Iohannem et Paulum, sedit mens. XI d. XVIII.

'Agapitus, born in Rome, son of the priest Gordianus, was a cleric from saints Iohannes and Paulus; he held the see 11 months 18 days.'

There follows an account of the journey made by Agapitus to Constantinople.

Post dies vero aliquantos egritudine commotus defunctus est Constantinopolim X kl. mai. Cuius corpus in loculum plumbeum translatum usque in basilicam beati Petri apostoli, ubi et sepultus est XII kl. octob.
'But a number of days later he was struck ill and died in Constantinople on 22 April. His body was transported in a lead coffin to St Peter’s and buried there on 20 September.'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 287-288. Translation: Davis 2010, 51-52, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Agapitus, bishop of Rome, ob. 536 : S00811 Peter the Apostle : S00036 John and Paul, brothers and eunuchs, martyrs at Rome, ob. 361/363. : S00384

Saint Name in Source

Agapitus Petrus Iohannes, 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

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics


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.


Agapitus is presented as a saint pope - his visit in Constantinople is a heroic struggle for Orthodoxy. The aim of the transfer of his body from Constantinople to Rome, however, was to bury him in the place proper for a bishop of Rome, rather than to bring his relics to the city.


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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