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E05091: High quality Latin inscription with a dedication to a martyr Maximus. Found at the cemetery 'ad Catacumbas', via Appia, Rome. Probably 5th c.

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posted on 2018-02-19, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski

'To the holy martyr Maximus.'

Text: ICVR, n.s., V, no. 13189 = EDB4582.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Tiburtius, Valerianus, and Maximus, martyrs of Rome, buried on the via Appia : S00537

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) 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 - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings


Marble plaque cut off from the lid of a sarcophagus. H. 0.23 m; W. 0.36 m; Th. 0.13 m. Letter height 0.03-0.045 m. The inscription is on a sunken field within a double frame. The inscription may have been recorded already in the 16th c. by Philippe De Winghe, but has been made known to the scholarly world only in 1632 when it was first published by Antonio Bosio. According to his description, the stone was found in the crypt of Saint Caecilia in the Cemetery of Callistus. Later, however, the stone was rediscovered in region D at the Cemetery 'ad Catacumbas'. De Rossi notes that Bosio confused the Cemetery of Caliistus with the Cemetery of ‘ad Catacumbas’/San Sebastiano, and therefore, wrongly identified the find-spot. According to Ferrua, early modern records mention the plaque as embedded in the floor of the church of San Sebastiano, but it it not clear whether they are right; see the comments by Anna Maria Nieddu (2009, 405, note 1915). For a list of editions up to 1971, see the lemma in ICVR, n.s., V, no. 13189.


We do not know who this martyr Maximus was, and whether the plaque comes from his original sarcophagus, a later monumental tomb, or just records a dedication to the saint. The first editor, Antonio Bosio, hypothesised that this Maximus could have been a supporting character of the Martyrdom of Saint Caecilia, holding the office of cornicularius (E02519; see also De Santis 2010, 22, note 16 with further bibliography; Lapidge 2018, 140). The story says that he was buried by Caecilia together with Valerian and Tiburtius at the Cemetery of Callistus. Alternatively, Bosio considered the person mentioned in the inscription as Maximus, a prison registrar (commentariensis) and a companion of the so-called Greek martyrs, described in the Martyrdom of Eusebius, Marcellus, and their companions (E03254), also buried in one of the cemeteries on the Via Appia. Other scholars suggested different possibilities (see a summary in de Rossi 1867, 180-184). De Rossi and Ferrua were, however, sceptical about the identity of the martyr mentioned in the inscription, as the Cemetery ‘ad Catacumbas’, although also located on the Via Appia, was a different complex from those where the other two Maximi were claimed to have been buried. Maximus, the companion of Caecilia may have been buried at the cemetery of Praetextatus (see Lapidge 2018, 159, note 63) and Maximus, a companion of the Greek Martyrs at the Cemetry of Callistus. De Rossi also discusses this inscription together with a number of ordinary epitaphs for Maximi, wondering if any of them can refer to any of the Roman martyrs bearing this name (ICVR, n.s., V, no. 13188: locus Maximi; ICVR, n.s., V, no. 13190: Maximus in pace XII kal. Ma.). These are, however, very doubtful considerations, and nothing in the contents of these texts suggests that these inscriptions were erected as tombstones for martyrs. A summary of de Rossi's discussion is also offered by Anna Maria Nieddu in her reference study of the Basilica of the Apostles, where she argues that our Maximus could possibly be identified with the Maximus buried in the Cemetery of Praetextatus. This is because the names of cemeteries on the Via Appia were confused already in late antiquity, and his burial in the cemetery of Praetextatus is documented only by a martyrdom of poor credibility. She also considers the possibility that the cult of Maximus was 'imported' to a presumed oratory in the cemetery 'ad Catacumbas' from one of other cemeteries on the Via Appia. For an inscription dedicated to Tiburtius, Valerianus, and Maximus, see also E05732. Dating: Antonio Felle (EDB) places the inscription in the 5th c.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB4582, see De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 5: Coemeteria reliqua Viae Appiae (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1971), no. 13189. Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 1998. Marucchi, O., Epigrafia cristiana. Trattato elementare con una silloge di antiche iscrizioni cristiane principalmente di Roma (Milan: U. Hoepli, 1910), no. 185. Marucchi, O., Le catacombe romane (Rome: Desclée, Lefebvre E.C., 1905, 2nd ed.), 211. de Rossi, G.B., La Roma sotterranea cristiana, vol. 2 (Rome: Cromo-litografia pontificia, 1867), 183. Bossio, A., Roma sotterranea (Rome: , 1632), 178. Further reading: De Santis, P., Sanctorum Monumenta: "Aree sacre" del suburbio di Roma nella documentazione epigrafica (IV-VII secolo) (Bari: Edipuglia, 2010), 22, note 16. Ferrua, A., La basilica e la catacomba di S. Sebastiano (Città del Vaticano: Pontificia commissione di archeologia sacra, 1990, 2nd ed.), 60. Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 140. Nieddu, A.M., La Basilica Apostolorum sulla via Appia e l'area cimiteriale circostante (Città del Vaticano: Pontificio istituto di archeologia cristiana, 2009), 405.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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