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E01419: The short Life of *Gregory I ('the Great, bishop of Rome, ob. 604, S00838) in the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome, probably early in the 7th c., mentions his enhancement of the tombs of the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008), so that mass could be celebrated directly over their bodies; his dedication of the church of *Agatha, (virgin and martyr of Catania, S00794); and his burial at St Peter's, perhaps on 12 March; all in Rome.

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posted on 2016-05-30, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Liber Pontificalis 66

Gregorius, natione Romanus, ex patre Gordiano, sedit ann. XIII mens. VI dies X.

'Gregory born in Rome, son of Gordianus, held the see 13 years 6 months 10 days.'


Hic fecit beato Petro apostolo cyburium cum columnis suis IIII ex argento puro. Fecit autem vestem super corpus eius blattinio ex exornavit auro purissimo, pens. lib. C. Hic praecepit, ut super corpus beati Petri missas celebrarentur; item et in ecclesiam beati Pauli apostoli eadem fecit. Eodem tempore dedicavit ecclesia Gothorum, quae est in Subora, in nomine beatae Agathae martyris. Hic domum suam constituit monasterium. Qui mortuus est et sepultus in basilica beati Petri apostoli, .

'For the blessed Peter he provided a fine silver canopy [cyborium] with its four columns, provided a purple-dyed cloth to go above his body, and decorated it with the finest gold, weighing 100 lb; he brought it about that mass could be celebrated above the body of the blessed Peter. At the church of the blessed Paul the apostle he made the same arrangements. In the same period he dedicated the church of the Goths in the Subura in the name of the blessed Agatha the martyr. He established his own house as a monastery. He died and was buried in the basilica of the blessed Peter in front of the secretarium .'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 312. Translation: Davis 2010, 60, modified.

The passage in brackets, <>, is an interpolation, recorded in only some manuscripts of the Liber Pontificalis; it is uncertain when it was added to the text.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Agatha, virgin and martyr of Catania : S00794 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Gregory I, bishop of Rome, ob. 604 : S00838

Saint Name in Source

Paulus Petrus Agatha

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

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 - Liturgical Activity

  • Eucharist associated with cult

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Foreigners (including Barbarians)

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious cloths Precious material 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.


The church of St Agatha (present-day Sant'Agata dei Goti, near the market of Trajan) was an Arian church re-dedicated by Gregory. It is mentioned in his Dialogues III 30 (see E04501) and Letter IV 19 (see E06350).


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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