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E01701: The short Life of *Sergius (bishop of Rome, ob. 701, S00897) in the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome soon after his death, mentions various places in Rome dedicated to saints: the titular church of *Susanna (martyr of Rome, S00892); the oratory of *Silvester (bishop of Rome, S00397) at the Lateran palace; the oratory of *Caesarius (martyr of Terracina, S00893) at the imperial palace; and the city-gate of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036); it also records Sergius' burial at St. Peter's on 8 September.

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posted on 2016-07-10, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 86

Sergius, natione Syrus Anthiochiae regionis, ortus ex patre Tiberio in Panormo Sycilie, sedit ann. XIII m. VIII d. XXIII.
Hic Romam veniens sub sancte memoriae Adeodato pontifice, inter clerum Romanae ecclesiae connumeratus est, et quia studiosus erat et capax in officio cantelenae, priori cantorum pro doctrina est traditus. Et acolotus factus per ordinem ascendens a sanctae memoriae Leone pontifice in titulo sancte Susannae, qui et Duas domos vocatur, presbiter ordinatus est. 

Hic tempore presbiteratus sui inpigre per cimiteria diversa missarum sollemnia celebrabat. Post septennium vero defuncto beate memoriae Conone apostolicae sedis praesule, ut fieri assolet, populus Romane urbis in duas partes divisus est; et una quidem pars elegit Theodorum archipresbiterum, alia vero Paschalem archidiaconum. Et quidem Theodorus archipresbiter cum populo, qui ei favebat, praeveniens interiorem partem patriarchii tenuit; Paschalis vero exteriorem partem ab oratorio sancti Silvestri et basilicam domus Iuliae, quae super campum respicit, occupavit. Cumque unus alio locum non cederet, sed utrique inmaniter perdurarent, ut unus alium superaret, inito consilio primati iudicum et exercitus Romane militiae vel cleri, si dici est, plurima pars et praesertim sacerdotum atque civium multitudo ad sacrum palatium perrexerunt. Et diu pertractantes, quid fieri deberet qualiterve duorum altercantium electorum sopiretur intentio, deo annuente in personam denominati Sergii venerabilis tunc presbiteri concordantes se contulerunt eumque de medio populi tollentes in oraculum beati Caesarii Christi martyris, quod est intro suprascriptum palatium, introduxerunt, et exinde in Lateranense episcopio cum laude adclamationibus deduxerunt.

'Sergius of Syrian origin from the region of Antioch, born to his father Tiberius at Panormus in Sicily, held the see 13
years 8 months 23 days. He came to Rome under the pontiff Adeodatus of holy memory and was numbered among the clergy of the Roman church; because he was studious and competent in the task of chanting, he was handed over to the precentor for education. He became an acolyte, rose through the ranks, and was ordained by the pontiff Leo of holy memory as priest for the titular church of saint Susanna, called Duae domus.

In the period of his priesthood he celebrated the ceremonies of mass without stinting in the different cemeteries. But after seven years, when Conon of blessed memory, prelate of the apostolic see, died, the Roman people as usually happens divided into two factions, and while one elected the archpriest Theodorus, the other elected the archdeacon Paschalis. Now Theodorus and his supporters got to the patriarchate first and occupied its inner areas, while Paschalis held the outer parts, from the oratory of saint Silvester and the basilica of the house of Julius, which overlooks the square. Since neither would give way to the other, but each ferociously continued trying to dislodge the other, the dignitaries of the judges, the army of the Roman soldiery, the majority (if it may be said) of the clergy and particularly of the sacerdotes, and a crowd of the citizens, adopted a plan and made their way to the imperial palace. For a long time they discussed what should be done and how the struggle between the two elected rivals should be settled. It was God’s will that with one mind they should settle on the person of the above named Sergius, then a venerable priest. Taking him from the midst of the people, they brought him into the oratory of Christ’s martyr the blessed Caesarius, which is inside the imperial palace, and from there they led him to the Lateran Episcopium with praise and acclamation.'


Much later, during conflict with the emperor in Constantinople over doctrine:

Exercitus autem Ravennatis ingressus per portam beati Petri apostoli cum armis et turba in Lateranense episcopio venit, pontificem videre estuans, quem fama vulgante per nocte sublatum et in navigio missum fuisse cognoverant.

'The army of Ravenna entered the city by St Peter’s Gate with weapons, and the crowd came to the Lateran Episcopium, burning to see the pontiff whom they understood from a rumour that was going around had been smuggled out by night and put on a ship.'


After the incident above (which ends well for Sergius), the Life lists his many works of embellishment and repair in churches in and around Rome - for which see $E01729.

Qui sepultus est in basilica beati Petri apostoli VI id. septemb. indictione XIIII, Tiberio Augusto.

'He was buried in the basilica of the blessed Peter on 8 September in the 14th indiction, while Tiberius was emperor.'

Text: Duchesne 1887, 371-376. Translation: Davis 2010, 80-85, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Susanna, martyr at Rome, ob. c. 305 : S00892 Silvester, bishop of Rome, d. 336 : S00397 Caesarius, martyr at Terracina, ob. c. 54-68 : S00893 Sergius, bishop of Rome, ob. 701 : S00897

Saint Name in Source

Petrus Susanna Silvester Caesarius Sergius

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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Gates, bridges and roads

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Soldiers Crowds


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 titular church of saint Susanna (Santa Susanna alle Terme di Diocleziano) is located at the Quirinal Hill. The oratory of St Sergius at the Basilica domus Iuliae belonged to the the complex of the Lateran. The oratory of St Caesarius was probably located at the Palatine Hill. The gate of St Peter is the ancient Porta Cornelia.


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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