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E01626: The short Life of *John IV (bishop of Rome, ob. 642, S00854) in the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome soon after his death, records his building of a church, next to the Lateran basilica, of *Venantius, Anastasius, and Maurus, and other martyrs of Istria and Dalmatia (S00853), whose relics John transferred to Rome; and mentions his burial at the church of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) on 12 October.

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posted on 2016-06-13, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 74

Iohannes, natione Dalmata, ex patre Venantio scolastico, sedit ann. I mens. VIIII dies XVIII. Hic temporibus suis misit per omnem Dalmatiam seu Histriam multas pecunias per sanctissimum et fidelissimum Martinum abbatem propter redemptionem captivorum, qui depraedati erant a gentibus. Eodem tempore fecit ecclesiam beatis martyribus Venantio, Anastasio, Mauro et aliorum multorum martyrum, quorum reliquias de Dalmatias et Histrias adduci praeceperat, et recondit eas in ecclesia suprascripta iuxta fontem Lateranensem, iuxta oratorium beati Iohannis euangelistae, quam ornavit et diversa dona optulit: ubi supra arcos argenteos II, qui pens. sing. lib. XV, simul et alia vasa argentea multa. Fecit autem ordinationes II per mens. decemb., presbiteros XVIII, diaconos V; episcopos per diversa loca numero XVIII. Hic demisit omni clero rogam integram. Qui etiam sepultus est ad beatum Petrum apostolum sub die IIII id. octob.

'John, born in Dalmatia, son of the scholasticus Venantius, held the see 1 year 9 months 18 days. In his time
he sent much money by the holy and trustworthy abbot Martin throughout Dalmatia and Histria to redeem captives who had been seized by the barbarians. He built a church for the blessed martyrs Venantius, Anastasius, Maurus, and many other martyrs whose relics he had ordered to be brought from the Dalmatias and Histrias; he deposited them in that church close to the Lateran Font and the oratory of the blessed John the Evangelist; he decorated it and presented various gifts: in the same place, 2 silver arches each weighing 15 lb, and also many other silver vessels. He performed two December ordinations, 19 priests, 5 deacons; for various places 18 bishops. He left an entire stipend to all the clergy. He was buried at the blessed Peter the apostle on 12 October.'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 330. Translation: Davis 2010, 64-65, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Evangelist : S00042 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Venantius, Anastasius, and Maurus, martyrs in Istria or Dalmatia : S00853 John IV, bishop of Rome, ob. 642 : S00854

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Petrus Venantius, Anastasius, Maurus Iohannes

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Construction of cult building to contain 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.


The little church dedicated to Venantius, Anastasius, Maurus, and other saints is still extant and its foundation is commemorated by a mosaic and inscription, see XXXXXXX.


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: Krautheimer, R., Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae: The early Christian Basilicas of Rome (IV–IX Centuries), Vatican City 1937–1977 Brandenburg, H., Ancient churches of Rome from the fourth to the seventh century: the dawn of Christian architecture in the West, Turnhout 2005.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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