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E05290: Latin epitaph with a eulogy for a woman, saying that unnamed martyrs will 'offer testimony of her life to God and Christ' and will be her advocates (advocati). Probably from the cemetery of Cyriaca ad Sanctum Laurentium, via Tiburtina, Rome. Probably 4th c.

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posted on 2018-04-05, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Saint Name in Source

sancti martyres

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 - cemetery/catacomb

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous protection - of people and their property

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Other lay individuals/ people


Large marble plaque. The left-hand edge is lost. H. 1.00 m; W. 1.40 m; letter height 0.035 m. The stonemason did not understand the text so he distorted some words, and left blank spaces for some letters. Found by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in the subterranean chapel of the extramural basilica of S. Lorenzo fuori le mura, set against a wall. Brought there probably from the nearby cemetery of Cyriaca. Now in the lower church. First published by de Rossi in 1864 with a drawing. The reference edition has long been that by Antonio Ferrua in the seventh volume of the new series of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae. A photograph and a revised text is now offered in the Epigraphic Database Bari (the text from a new edition by Pasqua Colafrancesco, 2014).


The inscription contains an elaborate eulogy for a woman, Quirica, voiced by her husband (almost certainly a second husband, since only four-and-a-half years of marriage, but three children, are mentioned). Its most interesting element is the penultimate clause saying that unnamed martyrs will intercede on her behalf as her 'advocates', advocati, presenting to God a testimony of her pious life. We find a similar formula, albeit with no extant reference to martyrs (as that inscription is very fragmentary), in another text from this burial complex (ICVR, n.s., VII, no. 18157). A similar idea of unnamed martyrs as advocates on the day of judgement is expressed in a Greek inscription from Aphrodisias in Asia Minor (E00834). We read there that the deceased, a civic official, and probably an envoy, desired to be buried ad martyres in order to 'have an advocate (παράκλητος) on the day of judgement'. Dating: The inscription is very likely to date to the 4th c.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB34813, see Colafrancesco, P., "Martyres advocati: una rilettura di ICUR VII 17765", Auctores Nostri 14 (2014), 603-608. De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.), Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 7: Coemeteria via Tiburtinae (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1980), no. 17765. da Bra, G., Le iscrizioni latine della Basilica di S. Lorenzo fuori le mura del chiostro e delle catacombe di S. Ciriaca (Rome: Scuola tipografica Pio X, 1931), 10, no. 4. Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 1711. Marucchi, O., Epigrafia cristiana. Trattato elementare con una silloge di antiche iscrizioni cristiane principalmente di Roma (Milan: U. Hoepli, 1910), 153, no. 118. de Rossi, G.B., "Scoperte nella basilica di S. Lorenzo nell'agro Verano", Bulletino di archeologia cristiana 2 (1864), 34-36. Further reading: Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, vol. 5, p. 246.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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