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E04223: Prudentius, in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), written c. 400 in Calahorra (northern Spain), in a poem on the martyrdom of *Hippolytus (martyr of Rome, S00509), tells of the feast of Hippolytus in Rome on 13 August, and he asks Bishop Valerianus of Calahorra, to whom this poem is dedicated, to introduce the feast on this day into Spain. He also mentions the feasts of *Eulalia (virgin and martyr of Mérida, S00407), *Cyprian (bishop and martyr of Carthage, S00411), and *Chelidonius (soldier and martyr of Calahorra, companion of Emeterius, S00410).

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posted on 2017-10-27, 00:00 authored by mszada
Liber Peristephanon, Poem XI.231-246

Si bene commemini, colit hunc pulcherrima Roma
Idibus Augusti mensis, ut ipsa uocat
prisco more diem, quem te quoque, sancte magister,
annua festa inter dinumerare uelim.
235 Crede, salutigeros feret hic uenerantibus ortus
lucis honoratae praemia restituens.
Inter sollemnes Cypriani uel Chelidoni
Eulaliaeque dies currat et iste tibi.
Sic te pro populo, cuius tibi credita uita est,
orantem Christus audiat omnipotens.
240 Sic tibi de pleno lupus excludatur ouili
agna nec ulla tuum capta gregem minuat.
Sic me gramineo remanentem denique campo
sedulus aegrotam pastor ouem referas.
245 Sic, cum lacteolis caulas conpleueris agnis,
raptus et ipse sacro sis comes Hippolyto.

'If I remember aright, beauteous Rome honours this martyr on the Ides of August, as she herself names the day in the old fashion, and I should like you too, holy teacher, to count it among your yearly festivals. Assuredly he [Hippolytus] will bring healthful days to those who venerate him, and give them in return the reward for honouring his day. (237) Along with the festivals of Cyprian and Chelidonius and Eulalia, let this day too come round for you. So may Christ the almighty hear your prayers for the people whose life has been committed to your care; so may your sheepfold be full and the wolf shut out from it and your flock never reduced by his seizing a lamb, (242) so, when I am left behind like a sick sheep on the grass of the field, may you as a zealous shepherd bring me home; so, when you have filled your pens with milk-white lambs, may you too be taken up and join company with holy Hippolytus.'

Text: Cunningham 1966, 377-378. Translation: Thomson 1953, 321-323.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Hippolytus, martyr of Rome : S00509 Eulalia, martyr of Mérida (Spain), ob. 303/305 : S00407 Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (Africa) and martyr, ob. 258 : S00411 Emeterius and Celidonius, soldier martyrs of Calahorra (Spain), ob.? : S00410

Saint Name in Source

Hippolytus Eulalia Cyprianus Chelidonius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Calahorra Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405) was a Christian aristocrat from Calahorra in the Spanish province of Tarraconensis. He was a high official in the imperial bureaucracy in Rome, but withdrew from public life, returned to Calahorra, and dedicated himself to the service and celebration of God. Most of what we know about his biography comes from the preface to the ensemble of his works, which can be reliably dated to 404 (Cunningham 1966, 1-2), and other autobiographical remarks scattered throughout his works (for a detailed discussion, see Palmer 1989, 6-31). He composed several poetical works, amongst them the Peristephanon (literally, On the Crowns [of the Martyrs]), a collection of fourteen poems of different length describing martyrdoms of saints. We do not know exactly at which point in his literary career Prudentius wrote the preface (possibly at the very end, just before publication); for attempts at a precise dating of the Peristephanon, see Fux 2013, 9, n. 1. The poems in the Peristephanon, written in elegant classical metres, deal mainly with martyrs from Spain, but some of them are dedicated to saints of Rome, Africa and the East. The poems were widely read in the late antique and medieval West, and had a considerable influence on the diffusion of cult of the saints included. In later periods they were sometimes used as hymns in liturgical celebrations and had an impact on the development of the Spanish hymnody. Some indications in the poems suggest that they were written to commemorate the saints on their feast days, but Prudentius probably did not compose them for the liturgy of his time. Rather, they probably provided 'devotional reading matter for a cultured audience outside a church context' (Palmer 1989, 3; see also Chapter 3 in her book).


Editions of the Peristephanon: Cunningham, M.P., Prudentii Carmina (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 126; Turnhout: Brepols, 1966), 251-389. Bergman, J., Prudentius, Carmina (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 61; Vienna, 1926), 291-431. Translations of the Peristephanon: Eagan, C., Prudentius, Poems (Fathers of the Church 43; Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1962), 95-280. English translation. Thomson, H.J., Prudentius, vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; London Cambridge, Mass: W. Heinemann; Harvard University Press, 1953), 98-345. Edition and English translation. Further reading: Brent, A., Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century: Communities in Tension before the Emergence of a Monarch-Bishop (Leiden: Brill, 1995). Fux, P.-Y., Prudence et les martyrs: hymnes et tragédie. Peristephanon 1. 3-4. 6-8. 10. Commentaire, (Fribourg: Academic Press, 2013). Malamud, M.A., A Poetics of Transformation: Prudentius and Classical Mythology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989). Palmer, A.-M., Prudentius on the Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). Roberts, M., Poetry and the Cult of the Martyrs: The "Liber Peristephanon" of Prudentius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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