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E01370: The short Life of Vigilius, bishop of Rome 537-555, in the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome, probably during the 6th c., mentions offerings to the basilica of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) and the foundation of a xenodochium, both in Rome, and the foundation of a monastery of *Iuvenalis (bishop of Narni, S00815), at Hortae (present-day Orte) on the via Flaminia, north of Rome, all by the general Belisarius, in c. 540.

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posted on 2016-05-16, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 61

The account of Vigilius' pontificate describes, in a confusing way, the campaigns in Italy of Belisarius, and then Narses.

Tunc Vilisarius patricius de spolia Wandalorum veniens Roma, obtulit beato Petro apostolo per manus Vigilii papae crucem auream cum gemmis, pens. lib. C, scribens victorias suas, et cereostatos deauratos maiores II, qui stant usque hodie ante corpus beati Petri apostoli. Sed et alia multa dona et elemosynas pauperum largitus est. Fecit enim Vilisarius patricius xenodochium in via Lata, et in via Flamminea iuxta civitate Hortas monasterium sancti Iuvenalis, ubi possessiones et dona multa largitus est.

'Then Belisarius came to Rome, and from the spoils of the Vandals presented to St Peter by the hands of pope Vigilius a gold cross with jewels, weighing 100 lb, with an inscription detailing his victories, and the two great silver-gilt candlesticks which still stand today before the body of the blessed Peter the apostle. Belisarius also presented many other gifts and alms for the poor; he built a hostel for strangers on the via Lata, and the monastery of saint Iuvenalis on the via Flaminia close to the city of Horta, where he presented many properties and gifts.'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 296. Translation: Davis 2010, 55, lightly modified. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Juvenalis, bishop and martyr or confessor at Narni (Italy), ob. after 366 : S00815

Saint Name in Source

Petrus Iuvenalis

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 Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Aristocrats Officials

Cult Activities - Cult Related 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.


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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