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E05109: Latin epitaph invoking protection for the deceased of the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008) as martyrs, not apostles. Found near the church of S. Sebastiano/Basilica Apostolorum at the Cemetery 'ad Catacumbas', via Appia, Rome. Probably 4th c.

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posted on 2018-02-20, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[Petre] Paule
[beati] martures
[comm]ando bovis

3. commando bovis read commendo vobis

'[O Peter] (and) Paul,
[the blessed] martyrs,
[I entrust] (myself) to you...'

Text: ICVR, n.s., V, no. 13600 = EDB2300.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Peter the Apostle : S00036

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions


  • 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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


Right-hand fragment of the lid of a sarcophagus. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.14 m; W. 0.58 m; Th. 0.09 m. Letter height 0.025 m. Decorated with a carving of a dolphin. The stone was found in 1933 in a wall behind the apse of the baptistery of the church of San Sebastiano/Basilica Apostolorum. Now in the museum of the church. First mentioned with a transcription in 1933 by Enrico Josi in the appendix to the posthumous collection of the works of Orazio Marucchi. First published with images by Paul Styger (1935) and Josef Wilpert (1936). In 1948 reedited by Giulio Belvederi, and, notably, by Antonio Ferrua in 1971. Two high-quality digital photographs are now offered in the Epigraphic Database Bari.


The inscription invokes Peter and Paul on behalf of the deceased. Interestingly, the two saints are here named just as martyrs, although the epithet 'apostle' was considered much more prestigious by the ancient Christians. The epitaph may also conceal a message that the deceased was intentionally buried ad sanctos, at the Basilica Apostolorum, as it says that he 'entrusts' himself to Peter and Paul. Similar invocations are recorded in the graffiti from the 3rd c. Memoria Apostolorum below the church of San Sebastiano (the famous triclia, E05087), see Felle 2012, 493, note 114. Dating: Antonio Ferrua noted that the style of the sarcophagus bearing the inscription resembles that of several others found in different cemeteries on the Via Appia, and that they probably come from the same period. Carlo Carletti in the EDB dates the inscription to the 4th c.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB2300, 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. 13600. Belvederi, G., Le tombe apostoliche nell'età paleocristiana (Città del Vaticano: Societa "Amici delle catacombe", 1948), 242 and fig. 48. Wilpert, J., I sarcofagi cristiani antichi, vol. 3 (Roma: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1936), 2, Tav. 278, n. 1. Styger, P., Römische Märtyrergrüfte (Berlin: Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 1935), 32 and Tab. 14b. Marucchi, O., Josi, E., Le catacombe romane. Opera postuma (Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1933), 685. Further reading: Felle, A.E., "Alle origini del fenomeno devozionale cristiano in Occidente: le inscriptiones parietariae ad memoriam apostolorum", in: P. De Santis, A. Coscarella (ed.), Martiri, santi, patroni: per una archeologia della devozione. Atti del X Congresso Nazionale di Archeologia Cristiana (Arcavacata di Rende (Cosenza), 15-18 settembre 2010) (Cosenza: Università della Calabria, 2012), 493, note 114.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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