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E05160: Fragmentary Latin inscription invoking the 'holy spirits'/spirita sancta, probably of saints and martyrs. Found in the Cemetery of Praetextatus, via Appia, Rome. Late antique.

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posted on 2018-03-06, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[- - - s]pirita sancta

[- - -] O holy spirits!

Text: ICVR, n.s., V, no. 14804 = EDB10220.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Saints, unnamed : S00518 Saints, name lost or very partially preserved : S01744 Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Saint Name in Source

spirita sancta spirita sancta spirita sancta

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions 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 - crypt/ crypt with relics

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Fragment of plaque of Phrygian marble. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.30 m; W. 0.37 m; Th. 0.023 m. Letter height 0.04-0.05 m. Good quality lettering, traces of paint on the letters. Decorated with a carving of an ivy leaf. This was probably a single-line inscription. Antonio Ferrua reports that the stone was found in 1851 in area F11 of the Cemetery of Praetextatus, and moved to the Lateran Museum. It appears in de Rossi's notes, and a facsimile was published in 1910 by Orazio Maruchi, together with other inscriptions from the Lateran collection. In 1933 Enrico Josi decided to bring the stone back to the cemetery (where it is now displayed in area T4), and a copy was left in the Museum. A transcription was first published by Ferrua in 1971.


The inscription probably invokes the souls of the deceased, possibly specifically martyrs, buried in the cemetery, to pray for the living, or for the person for whom the epitaph was composed. Similar phrasing sometimes occurs in epitaphs considered as testimonies to burials ad sanctos. Dating: The inscription, as others from the Cemetery of Praetextatus, dates from the late antique period.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB10220, 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. 14804. Marucchi, O., I monumenti del Museo cristiano Pio-Lateranense riprodotti in atlante di xcvi tavole, con testo illustrativo (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1910), Tav. LII no. 33 (image).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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