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E03225: The Martyrdom of *Getulius and Companions (martyrs of the via Salaria, S02462) is written in Latin, perhaps at Farfa abbey in the 8th c. It narrates the trial and martyrdom of Getulius, his brother Amantius and the convert Cerealis in Tivoli; Getulius’ burial at the 30th milestone on the via Salaria.

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posted on 2017-07-11, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Martyrdom of Getulius (BHL 3524)


Getulius is a Christian teacher in the territory of the Sabines, in the city of Gabii [modern Castiglione] not far from Rome. The vicarius Cerealis is sent to arrest him, but after discussion with Getulius (who tells that he is from Tivoli and married) and his brother Amantius (a former tribune of Hadrian), he is converted, and after a night spent in vigils and a voice ordering it, he is baptised by the bishop of Rome Sixtus in a crypt in Gabii. Vincentius, a tax collector, denounces Cerealis to Hadrian. The consularis Licinius is sent to arrest Cerealis, Getulius, Amantius and Primitivus in Tivoli (Tibur). They are beaten, put in prison for 27 days, then burnt alive in fundo capriolis [variant: capreo] at around the 30th milestone of the Via Salaria, on the river Tiber. Getulius survives and is beaten to death by soldiers. Getulius’ widow Symphorosa takes his body and buries it in Capris across the river on her estate in a sand-pit near the 30th milestone on the Via Salaria.

Text: Mara 1964, 134-147. Summary: M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Getulius and Companions, martyrs of the via Salaria near Farfa : S02462

Saint Name in Source

Getulius, Amantius, Cerealis, Primitivus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

via Salaria

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

via Salaria Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Other liturgical acts and ceremonies

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - cemetery/catacomb

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous sound, smell, light Miracles experienced by the saint Miracle at martyrdom and death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Officials Ecclesiastics - bishops Other lay individuals/ people Women Family Soldiers

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


Epic martyrdoms The Martyrdom of Getulius is an anonymous literary account of martyrdom written long after the great persecutions of Christians that provide the background of the narrative. It is part of a widely spread literary genre, that scholars often designate as "epic" Martyrdoms (or Passiones), to be distinguished from earlier, short and more plausible accounts, apparently based on the genuine transcripts of the judicial proceedings against the martyrs. These texts narrate the martyrdom of local saints, either to promote a new cult or to give further impulse to existing devotion. They follow widespread stereotypes mirroring the early authentic trials of martyrs, but with a much greater degree of detail and in a novelistic style. Thus they narrate how the protagonists are repeatedly questioned and tortured under the order of officials or monarchs, because they refuse to sacrifice to pagan gods but profess the Christian faith. They frequently refer to miracles performed by the martyrs and recreate dialogues between the protagonists. The narrative generally ends with the death of the martyrs (often by beheading) and their burial. These texts are literary creations bearing a degree of freedom in the narration of supposedly historical events, often displaying clear signs of anachronism. For these reasons, they have been generally dismissed as historical evidence and often remain little known. However, since most certainly date from within the period circa 400-800, often providing unique references to cult, they are an essential source to shed light on the rise of the cult of saints. The Martyrdom of Getulius The most widespread and earliest attested version, here summarised, is BHL 3524 and variant 3524a (the other version is BHL 3525). BHL 3524 is found in 12 manuscripts and BHL 3524a in 2 manuscripts, according to the database Bibliotheca Hagioraphica Latina (, to be completed with the list given in Vocino 2017, 220. The earliest are from the 9th-10th centuries: Brussels, KBR, 7984, f. 97r-99r (9th-10th c.); Brussels, Bibliothèque des Bollandistes, 14, f. 20v-21v (9th-10th c.); Chartres, Bibliothèque Municipale, 144, f. 190r-192r (9th c., destroyed); Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, HB XIV.13, f. 207r-209v (9th c.); Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Palat. lat. 846, f. 99v-100v (9th-10th c.).


As recently summarised by Vocino, following earlier studies, there is no early evidence of cult of Getulius. Like that of Anthimus (E02483) and perhaps Hyacinthus (E03227), the Martyrdom should be related to the abbey of Farfa, which promoted Getulius’ cult from the 8th century onwards, as particularly shown by the topographical details provided in the narrative. This suggests that the Martyrdom was composed in the 8th century (Clavis Patrum Latinorum 2195a; Gryson, R., Répertoire général des auteurs ecclésiastiques Latins de l’Antiquité et du Haut moyen âge, 2 vols. (Freiburg, 2007), I, 69; Vocino; Lapidge), while the earliest preserved manuscripts date from the 9th century. It should also be noted that the Martyrdom most probably exploits the Martyrdom of Symphorosa (E02095) composed in late Antiquity before the early 8th century.


Editions (BHL 3524): Acta Sanctorum, Iun. II, 265-266. Mara, M. G., I martiri della Via Salaria (Rome, 1964), 134-147. Mombritius, B., Sanctuarium seu vitae sanctorum, 2 vols. with additions and corrections by A. Brunet and H. Quentin (Paris, 1910), I, 586-587. The original edition was published c. 1480. Translation: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 619-624. Further reading: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 617-619 (bibliography at p. 617 n. 1). Vocino, G., “L’Agiografia dell’Italia centrale (750-950),” in: Goullet, M. (ed.), Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, vol. VII (Turnhout, 2017), 95-268, at 218-220.

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