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E04649: Very fragmentary Latin inscription in Philocalian script, with probable remnants of a poem. Argued by de Rossi to have commemorated a refurbishment of the crypt of *Cornelius (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00172) by pope Siricus. Found in the 'crypt of Saint Cornelius' at the Cemetery of Callistus sited between Via Appia and Via Ardeatina (Rome). Arguably 384-399.

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posted on 2018-01-21, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The text, as presented by Antonio Ferrua:

pia [membra re]tentat

'[- - -] holds the holy [limbs].'

Text: ICVR, n.s., IV, no. 9369.

The text, as tentatively restored by Giovanni Battista de Rossi:

S[iricius perfecit opus]
conclusit et arcam
ma[rmore Corneli quoniam]
pia [membra re]tentat.

'S[iricius carried out this work and closed the crypt (arca) of Cornelius with marble, as] it holds the holy [limbs].'

Text: de Rossi 1864, 293.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Cornelius, bishop and martyr of Rome : S00172

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.) Literary - Poems


  • 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

Suburban catacombs and cemeteries

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

Suburban catacombs and cemeteries Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Merchants and artisans Ecclesiastics - Popes

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



Fragments of a marble plaque preserving a handful of letters. High quality lettering, Philocalian script. Found by de Rossi in 1852 in the crypt of Cornelius.


The fragments are believed to have once belonged to a commemorative plaque with a Damasan poem, or a work imitating Damasan poetry. Both the physical appearance of the letters, and the last verse, plausibly restored, which resembles classic Damasan phrases, support this identification. Giovanni Battista de Rossi, the finder and first editor of the fragments, hesitated between several entirely hypothetical restorations. Eventually, he favoured the version which we present here. Although it is no more plausible that the others, some scholars do not entirely reject it (see Trout 2015, 120). According to this interpretation, the poem, composed in two hexameter verses, may have commemorated a refurbishment of the crypt of Cornelius by pope Siricius (384-399), successor of pope Damasus credited with a major rebuilding of the crypt (see E04648). We find this extremely doubtful.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB20439, see De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 4: Coemeteria inter Vias Appiam et Ardeatinam (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1964), no. 9369. ???Ferrua, A., Epigramata damasiana (Rome: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1942), 136-137, no. 19. Ihm, M., Damasi epigrammata (Anthologiae Latinae Supplementa 1, Leipzig: Teubner, 1895), comments to no. 19 (p. 27). de Rossi, G.B., La Roma sotterranea cristiana, vol. 1 (Rome: Cromo-litografia pontificia, 1864), 293. Further reading: Reekmans, L., La tombe du pape Cornelie et sa région cémétériale (Roma sotterranea cristiana 4, Città del Vaticano: , 1964). de Rossi, G.B., La Roma sotterranea cristiana, vol. 1 (Rome: Cromo-litografia pontificia, 1864), 291-293, Tav. II and IV. Trout, D., Damasus of Rome: The Epigraphic Poetry. Introduction, Texts, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford: OUP, 2015), 120.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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