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E05246: Painting on the vault of a cubiculum, showing Christ flanked by the Apostles *Peter and *Paul (S00036 and S00008) in the upper register, and, in the lower register, four martyrs labelled with painted Latin inscriptions: *Gorgonius (martyr of Rome, S00576), *Marcellinus and Petrus (martyrs of Rome, S00577), and *Tiburtius (son of the prefect Chromatius and martyr of Rome, S01404), flanking the Lamb of God. Found in the cemetery inter duas lauros /ad Sanctos Marcellinum et Petrum, via Labicana, Rome. Probably 5th c.

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posted on 2018-03-20, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The upper register shows Christ seated on a bench with cushion. Christ is bearded, has a nimbus, and is wearing purple garments. He is wearing sandals and supporting his feet on a plain rectangular footstool. His right hand is raised in the gesture of blessing; in his left hand he is holding an open book. The letters Α and Ω are painted to the right and left of his head, and a christogram surmounts his head. He is flanked by two unlabelled saints with distinctively different beards and haircuts, wearing sandals and white garments. These are certainly the Apostles Peter and Paul. The background is decorated with floral motifs and images of ears of wheat.

The lower register shows four male figures dressed in the same way as the Apostles, on the same background. They are flanking, facing, and venerating with their right hands the Lamb of God standing on a rock. The Lamb has a nimbus. Four streams gush from the rock.

The male figures are labelled from left to right: Gorconi|us, Petrus, Marcellinus, Tibur|tius.

Yet another label is placed to the right and to the left of the nimbus of the Lamb: Ior|das. A christogram surmounts the Lamb.

For the text of the labels, see: ICVR, n.s., VI, no. 15941 = EDB10980.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Peter and Marcellinus, martyrs of Rome : S00577 Gorgonius, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Labicana : S00576 Tiburtius, son of the prefect Chromatius, martyr of Rome : S01404

Saint Name in Source

Petrus, Marcellinus Gorconius Tiburtius

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics Images and objects - Narrative scenes 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 - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image


This very famous painting is located in cubiculum Xv'' in the cemetery Ad Sanctos Marcellinum et Petrum /inter duas lauros on the via Labicana, Rome. It has been suggested that the cubiculum served as a chapel. The painting was first published by Antonio Bosio in 1632. Bosio reproduced the image in a highly stylized way, very remote from the actual look of the painting. This image was later circulated by a number of other early modern editors (e.g. Giovanni Gaetano Bottari 1737). A good image was published by Josef Wilpert in 1903, and in the posthumous volume by Orazio Marucchi in 1933. We give only a very selective bibliography, focused on works that discuss the labels of the saints depicted. The labels with the names of the saints are about 3 cm high.


The image in the lower register shows the veneration of the Lamb of God by four martyrs. The rock on which the Lamb stands, according to its label, represents four streams forming the river Jordan. The identity of the two inner saints, Marcellinus and Petrus (S00577), is clear. They are a priest and an exorcist martyred under Diocletian, after whom the cemetery where the painting was found is named. Their martyrdom is recounted in the Martyrdom discussed in E02500. Gorgonius (S00576) is probably an obscure local martyr buried in this cemetery. His burial is associated with that of Marcellinus and Petrus by the 6th c. Notitia Ecclesiarium Urbis Romae and described as located in the 'inner grotto' (E00680). He is also ascribed to the via Labicana by the Depositio Martyrum in the Chronography of 354 (E01052) which dates his feast to 9 September, and by the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (9 September, E04946). Tiburtius, was the son of Agrestius Chromatius, the urban prefect of Rome, and a martyr whose story is described by the Martyrdom of *Sebastianus (E02512); and he also appears in a dream to the Roman matronae in the Martyrdom of Marcellinus and Petrus (E02500). The Martyrdom of Sebastianus says that he was put to death at the third milestone on the via Labicana, that is at the site of the cemetery inter duas lauros, and presumably buried there. Jean Guyon argues that he had identified a fragment of the now lost Damasan inscription dedicated to the saint (EXXXXX). The cult of Tiburtius in the cemetery inter duas lauros is also attested by late antique/early medieval itineraries. The 6th c. Notitia Ecclesiarum Urbis Romae names him among the martyrs venerated on the via Labicana (E00680), so does the 7th c. Itinerarium Salisburgense (EXXXX), and the 12th c. Itinerarium Malmesburiense. The Liber Pontificalis credits Pope Hadrian I (772-795) with roofing a sanctuary of Tiburtius at the cemetery inter duas lauros, which allows modern scholars to assume that this sanctuary was built at ground level. A feast of Tiburtius on the via Labicana is mentioned in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum on 11 August (E04915). However, he is associated there with Caecilia and Valerianus. As Tiburtius, the brother-in-law of Caecilia was a martyr buried with Valerianus on the via Appia, and clearly a different figure than Tiburtius, son of the prefect Chromatius, this entry probably confuses the two figures. For a discussion of Tiburtius' role in Roman hagiography, see Lapidge 2018, p. 133, note 95, and p. 440. Dating: Carlo Carletti dates the painting to the 5th c.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB10980. De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.), Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 6: Coemeteria viis Latina, Labicana et Praenestina (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1975), no. 15941 (with further bibliography). Marucchi, O., Josi, E., Le catacombe romane. Opera postuma (Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1933), 322. Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 1971B. Wilpert, J., Le pitture delle catacombe Romane (Rome, Desclee, Lefebvre & C., 1903), 456, Tav. 252. Armellini, M., Gli antichi cimeteri cristiani di Roma e d'Italia (Rome: Tipografia poliglotta, 1893), 333. Bottari, G.G., Sculture e pitture sagre estratte dai cimiteri di Roma pubblicate già dagli autori della Roma sotterranea ed ora nuouamente date in luce, vol. 1 (Rome: Stamperia Vaticana presso Giovanni Maria Salvioni, 1737), Tav. IV, and comments on p. 17. Bosio, A., Roma sotteranea (Rome: Appresso Guglielmo Facciotti, 1632), 591 D. Further reading: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford: OUP, 2018), chapter III (Sebastianus) and chapter XXIII (Marcellinus and Petrus).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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