Saint NamePaul, the Apostle : S00008
Peter the Apostle : S00036
Saint Name in SourcePaulus
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Evidence not before350
Evidence not after400
Activity not before350
Activity not after400
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 - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBurial ad sanctos
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
SourceRight-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.
DiscussionThe 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.
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB2300, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/2300
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.
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.