Saint NamePeter the Apostle : S00036
Saint Name in SourcePetrus
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)
Evidence not before579
Evidence not after625
Activity not before579
Activity not after579
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcRome
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Rome
Major author/Major anonymous workLiber Pontificalis
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBurial ad sanctos
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
SourceThe 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.
DiscussionAlthough Benedict is presented as a good pope, Liber Pontificalis does not provide the date of his burial, which normally suggests a form of cult and is a standard piece of information in other lives.
Duchesne, L., Le Liber pontificalis. 2 vols (Paris: E. Thorin, 1886-1892) (with substantial introduction and commentary).
Davis, R., The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Translated Texts for Historians 6; 3rd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).