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E01442: The short Life of *Boniface V (bishop of Rome, ob. 625, S00844) in the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome soon after his death, mentions his regulations concerning handling relics, his renovation of the cemetery of *Nicomedes (on the via Nomentana, north-east of Rome), and his burial in the church of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) in Rome.

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posted on 2016-06-04, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 71

Bonifatius, natione Campanus, de civitate Neapolim, ex patre Iohanne, sedit ann. V... Hic constituit, ut acolitus non praesumat reliquias sanctorum martyrum levare nisi presbiter... Hic perfecit cymiterium sancti Nicomedi et dedicavit eum. Erat enim beatissimus Bonifatius mitissimus super omnes homines et misericors. Hic clerum amavit, roga integra clero suo dedit.

'Boniface, born in Campania, from the city of Naples, son of Iohannes, held the see 5 years <10 days> ... He decreed that an acolyte should not presume to take up the relics of the holy martyrs, only a priest [presbiter] should... He completed the cemetery of saint Nicomedes and dedicated it. Blessed Boniface was the most mild and compassionate of all men. He loved his clergy and gave them an entire stipend.'

Quo beatissimo papa defuncto sepultus est ad beatum Petrum apostolum. Hic demisit omni clero pro obsequias suas rogam unam integram.

'On his death he was buried at the blessed Peter the apostle; for his funeral he left an entire stipend to all the clergy.'



Text: Duchesne 1886, 321. Translation: Davis 2010, 61-62.

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

Boniface V, bishop of Rome, ob. 625 : S00844 Anonymous martyrs : S00060 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Nereus and Achilleus, eunuchs and martyrs of Rome, and companions : S00403

Saint Name in Source

Bonifatius Petrus Nicomedes

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

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

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

Unspecified relic Touching and kissing 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.


According to the Martyrdom of Nereus and Achilleus 17 (see E02033), the priest and martyr Nicomedes was buried on the via Nomentana. It is probable that his cemetery can be identified with that discovered at the beginnings of the 20th century under the building of the Minisitry of Transport on the via Nomentana, just outside Porta Pia.


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: Barbini, P.M., "S. Nicomedis coemeterium, ecclesia", in Lexicon topographicum urbis Romae: Suburbium, vol. 4 (Rome, Quasar: 2006), 94-95.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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