University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E05277: Latin epitaph with a poem praising the virtues of a certain reader Paulus, and possibly declaring him a descendant of martyrs (termed proceres). Found in the cemetery Ad Sanctos Marcellinum et Petrum /inter duas lauros, via Labicana, Rome. Probably late 4th - early 5th c.

online resource
posted on 2018-03-29, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
hic sanctum corpus lectoris Pauli quiescit,
caelo tamen animam cum iustis credo receptam.
Integer ut infans maior sic creverat aetas,
mundus ab omni labe [tamen] fide purior esset;
nobis a proavis procerum de stirpe creatus,
ducere qui nihilum voluit mundi huius honores.

2. celo, anima, recepta: codices || 3. etas: codices || 4. [tamen]: de Rossi, accepted by Ferrua || 6. in nihilum: Sylloge Centulensis

'Here rests the holy body of the reader Paulus,
But I believe that his soul (anima) was received in heaven, with the righteous ones.
Untouched as a child, later age saw him the same,
Clean from all fault, [but] purer in faith;
To us from his ancestors, he arose from a stem of martyrs (or: bishops, proceres),
He wanted to consider the honours of this world as mere nothing.'

Text: ICVR, n.s., VI, no. 17106 = EDB10459. Translation: P. Nowakowski


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions Literary - Poems


  • 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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


The inscription is now lost but the text was preserved by the Sylloge Turonensis (entire text in the codices Closterneoburgensis 723 and Goettweihensis 64), and the Sylloge Centulensis (just verses 5-6, in the codex Petropolitanus F. XIV 1 f. 129v). Giovanni Battista de Rossi published the text based on all the codices in the second volume of the old series of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae in 1888. The present reference edition is by Antonio Ferrua in the sixth volume of the new series of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae (1975). The Sylloges do not describe the find-spot of the inscription. De Rossi plausibly ascribed it to the cemetery Ad Sanctos Petrum et Marcellinum /inter duas lauros on the via Labicana, as the poem was presented in the manuscripts after the inscriptions from the Ager Veranus, and before those from the via Labicana.


The inscription praises the virtues of a certain reader Paulus. To us the most important is verse 5 which says that the deceased was procerum de stirpe creatus. Ferrua hesitated whether the term proceres should be understood here as 'bishops' (it is apparently used in this meaning in ILChV, no. 2172) or 'martyrs'. He eventually favoured the second option. Indeed the term proceres is used to name martyrs, for example, in the Damasan poem from the crypt of the popes in the cemetery of Callistus (E01866), and the Apostles Peter and Paul in a poem by Paulinus of Nola (E04379). We must, however, remember that the epithet proceres may also denote an ordinary noble family. If the interpretation that proceres refers to martyrs is correct, it is very likely that the reader Paulus came from a family cultivating the memory of their ancestors, martyrs, and considering this ancestry as an important marker of their self-identification. Dating: Carlo Carletti (in EDB) dates the inscription to the late 4th or early 5th c.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB10459, see De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 4: Coemeteria inter Vias Appiam et Ardeatinam (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1964), no. 17106. De Rossi, G. B., Inscriptiones christianae Urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores 2.1 (Rome: Ex Officina Libraria Pontificia, 1857-1888), 64, no. 11, and 90, no. 47.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager