University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E04659: Latin graffito with an invocation of *Xystus/Sixtus II (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00201). On a wall at the entrance to the 'crypt of the popes,' Cemetery of Callistus, Via Appia, Rome. Probably second half of the 4th - first half of the 5th c.

online resource
posted on 2018-01-23, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[sa]nte Suste in mente-
m abeas in horationes
Aureliu Repentinu
sancte Suste [---]

1. sante ICVR, [sa]nte Carletti || 1-2. in mente | habeas ICVR, in mente|m abeas Carletti

'O Saint Xystus, may you keep in mind, in prayers, Aurelius Repentius! O Saint Xystus [- - -] Repentius!'

Text: ICVR, n.s., IV, no. 9521 = Carletti 2008, 275, no. 174a.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Xystus/Sixtus II, bishop and martyr of Rome : S00201

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)


  • 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


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


Graffito in cursive script. Scratched in the plaster, on a wall in area A3 at the entrance to the 'crypt of the popes'. Letter height c. 0.05 m. First published by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1867. Revisited by Antonio Ferrua, who claims that both invocations are written by the same hand. Further comments, and a drawing were offered by Carlo Carletti in 2002 and 2008.


This is clearly a visitor's inscription. Saint 'Systus', whom the inscription invokes, was plausibly identified by Carletti as pope Xystus/Sixtus II (257-258), martyr under the emperor Valerian, together with four deacons. Xystus was buried in the crypt accessed through the passage where the graffito was found. Dating: Carlo Carletti and Antonio Felle (EDB) place the inscription in the second half of the 4th or first half of the 5th c. This is plausible, because our anonymous visitor is likely to have venerated the popes buried in the crypt after its refurbishment by pope Damasus in the mid-4th c. We can add that an interesting feature of the inscription is the presence of the nomen Aurelius which, when given without praenomen, suggests that its bearer came from a family which received Roman citizenship in 212, as a result of the publication of the Edict of Caracalla (Constitutio Antoniniana). The use of the nomen Aurelius became less and less frequent in the course of the 4th and 5th c.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB15460, see Carletti, C., Epigrafia dei cristiani in Occidente dal III al VII secolo. Ideologia e prassi (Bari: Edipuglia, 2008), 275, no. 174a. 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. 9521. Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 2324d and i/k. Marucchi, O., Epigrafia cristiana. Trattato elementare con una silloge di antiche iscrizioni cristiane principalmente di Roma (Milan: U. Hoepli, 1910), 430, and Tab. XXVIII. de Rossi, G.B., La Roma cotterranea cristiana, vol. 2 (Rome: Cromo-litografia pontificia, 1867), 17, 382, and Tav. XXX. Further reading: Carletti, C., "'Scrivere i santi:' epigrafia del pellerinagio a Roma nei secoli VII-IX", in: Roma fra Oriente e Occidente: 19-24 aprile 2001 (Settimane di studio del Centro italiano di studi sull'alto medioevo 49, Spoleto: Centro italiano di studi sull'alto Medioevo, 2002), 332-333, Tav. I, fig. 1-2.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager