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E04662: Scarcely legible Latin and Greek graffiti with invocations of Xystus/Sixtus II (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00201), and probably other deceased popes. 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.

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posted on 2018-01-24, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Sux[ste (?) - - - - - -] roge
...otia pe[t]ite Κάτ[ελλος (?) - - -]
... et pro parente
f]ratribus eius.....
v]iban sun bono
Ursacia ... TIN ...
Ἑλάφιν dulc
εἰς μνίαν Πολυνείκ[ης]
Ἀχιλλεὺς ἔχεται
ζή<σ>αις ὁρκίζ[ο]υ Διονύσιν
διὰ τὸν (christogram) εἰς μνίαν ἔχεται LS Agnes
AM Suggessum Marcia
.. anum matri

'O Xystus, [- - -] ask for [- - -], and intercede [- - -] and on behalf of the the parent [- - -] his brothers [- - -] may they live in prosperity!'

'Of Leon, of Katellis (?)'

'Ursacia [- - -] sweet [- - -]'


'Achilleus, may you live [- - -]'

'Keep in memory Elaphios, I beg you through Christ! Elpidephoros.

'Keep in memory Dionysios!'






Text: ICVR, n.s., IV, no. 9523.


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.)


  • Greek

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 Women


Graffiti in cursive script. Scratched in the plaster, on a wall at the entrance to the 'crypt of the popes'. First recorded by Giovanni Battista de Rossi and published by him in 1854, 1864, and 1867. Revisited and published again in 1964 by Antontio Ferrua.


The inscriptions are scarcely legible, they, however, show the variety of supplicants who visited the 'crypt of the popes,' and the diversity of prayers addressed to the saints. Here pope Xystus/Sixtus II (257-258), martyr under the emperor Valerian, is mainly invoked, but as some invocations are formulated in the plural, we can presume that the intercession of other popes buried in the crypt was also desired by the visitors. Interestingly, the Greek invocations εἰς μνείαν ἔχετε closely resemble the Latin ones, 'habete in mente', whilst in the East the dominant formula was a simple request for help, βοήθει. Dating: Antonio Felle (EDB) places the inscriptions in the second half of the 4th or first half of the 5th c. He gives no arguments, but probably supposes that our anonymous visitors must have venerated the popes buried in the crypt after its refurbishment by pope Damasus in the mid-4th c.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB19167, 18401, 18715, 18716, 18717, 18717. 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. 9523. de Rossi, G.B., La Roma cotterranea cristiana, vol. 1 (Rome: Cromo-litografia pontificia, 1864), 253, and vol. 2 (Rome: Cromo-litografia pontificia, 1867), 18, 381, and Tav. XXIX. Civiltà cattolica, vol. 3 (1854), 125.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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