Saint NameFabianus, bishop and martyr of Rome : S00147
Saint Name in SourceΦαβιανός
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)
Evidence not before250
Evidence not after250
Activity not before250
Activity not after250
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSuburban catacombs and cemeteries
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Suburban catacombs and cemeteries
Cult activities - PlacesBurial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsCeremonies at burial of a saint
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
Cult Activities - Cult Related ObjectsInscription
SourceFive conjoining fragments of a marble plaque. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.58 m; W. 0.82 m. Letter height 0.05 m. Four fragments were recorded by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in cubiculum Aa, in the area of the Crypt of the Popes, in 1854. The fifth fragment was found in 1922 by Enrico Josi. Now in cubiculum Aa.
The fragments have been reedited and discussed by many scholars, notably Antonio Ferrua in 1964. High quality photographs are published in the Epigraphic Database Bari.
DiscussionThe epitaph was composed for pope Fabianus (236-250). His numerous deeds, including his peculiar interest in the monumentalisation of papal tombs in the catacombs, are recounted by the Liber pontificalis (E00343), a work from the 530s. Fabianus was, notably, also known to the eastern Greek-speaking church historian, Eusebius (E00343).
The Liber pontificalis says that Fabianus died a martyr's death, and 'was buried in the cemetery of Callistus on the Via Appia on 20 January.' The same day is attested by the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (E04616). The epitaph does not record the year of the deposition. Epitaphs for 3rd c. popes, however, rarely record those dates. For a remarkable exception, see the epitaph for pope *Gaius (E04739).
Importantly, it has been suggested that the term martyr, clearly visible in the epitaph of Fabianus, was added later, by a different hand. Having carefully examined the stone, Antonio Ferrua confirmed the different lettering, and shallower carving of this word.
Dating: The inscription, if this is the original epitaph for the pope, erected during or shortly after this burial, must date to 250.
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB1781, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/1781
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. 10694 (with further bibliography).
Josi, E., Il Cimitero di Callisto (Roma: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1933), 23.
Josi, E., "Conferenze di Archeologia Cristiana", Nuovo bullettino di archeologia cristiana (1922), 97 (communication of the discovery of the fifth fragment).
Marucchi, O., Epigrafia cristiana. Trattato elementare con una silloge di antiche iscrizioni cristiane principalmente di Roma (Milan: U. Hoepli, 1910), 190, no. 192.
Wilpert, J., La Cripta dei Papi e la cappella di Sainta Cecilia ne cimetero di Callisto (Rome: Desclée & C., 1910), 19, 28, and Fig. 12.
de Rossi, G.B., La Roma sotterranea cristiana, vol. 2 (Rome: Cromo-litografia pontificia, 1867), 58-62, and Tav. III.
Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum IV, no. 9674.
Civiltà cattolica, vol. 3 (1854), 127 (four fragments).
Carletti, C., Epigrafia dei cristiani in Occidente dal III al VII secolo. Ideologia e prassi (Bari: Edipuglia, 2008), 36.