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E05310: Latin graffito with an invocation, probably of unnamed saints or martyrs, on behalf of a deceased man. Found in the cemetery of Cyriaca ad Sanctum Laurentium, via Tiburtina, Rome. Probably second half of the 4th c.

online resource
posted on 2018-04-11, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
nus vi- Ienar[i]
vas ⳩ [vi]vas

Senium in
mente abete ⳩
Seni vi-
in [- - -]

[Ar]senius: Stevenson, Senius = Xenios or Xenias: Ferrua

'Leontinus, may you live (in Christ)!’

'Have Senius (= Xenios) in mind! O Senius (Xenios), may you live in [(Christ)]!’

'Ienarius, may you live!’

Text: ICVR, n.s., VII, no. 19018b = EDB36976.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060 Saints, unnamed : S00518

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti 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 - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


This group of graffiti was executed with a stylus on a plastered pilaster in a cubiculum in the cemetery of Cyriaca. The walls, and the other pilaster in this cubiculum also bear other, similar graffiti (see ICVR, n.s., VII, no. 18839). Letter height 1.5 - 2.6 cm. The cubiculum, and the present group of graffiti were first recorded by Enrico Stevenson. The texts were first mentioned in an oral report of Stevenson's work in 1876, which appeared in print in 1877. It contains majuscule transcriptions of the texts. Drawings were offered by Stevenson in 1895, and by Antonio Ferrua in 1980 (from an unpublished drawing by Giovanni Battista de Rossi).


Ferrua supposes that the graffiti were authored by at least two different people, one responsible for lines 1-5, and the other for 6-8. Stevenson and Ferrua also presume that all the invocations are on behalf of people buried in the cubiculum, and that the graffiti were authored by their relatives while visiting their tomb. To us the most interesting is the invocation of unnamed figures, asking them to have in mind a certain Senius. In Christian graffiti from the suburban catacombs of the city of Rome, this formula was normally referred to martyrs, 'holy spirits', but also specific figures, for example the Apostles *Peter and *Paul, and the deceased popes. Here we can safely assume that unnamed martyrs, or just other deceased buried in the same cemetery are invoked. The name of the deceased man is given as Senius, a name otherwise unattested. Stevenson supposed that it was a damaged name Arsenius, but Ferrua prefers to consider it as a Latin transliteration of the Greek name Ξένιος or Ξενίας. Dating: The editors of the Epigraphic Database Bari date the graffiti to the second half of the 4th c.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB36976, see 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. 19018. Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), comments to no. 2329. Armellini, M., Gli antichi cimeteri cristiani di Roma e d'Italia (Rome: Tipografia poliglotta, 1893), 296. Stevenson, E., "Cubicolo con graffiti storici nel cimitero di Ciriaca" Nuovo bullettino di archeologia cristiana 1 (1895), 80. Further reading: Stevenson, E., "[Report, 5 March 1876]" in: O. Marucchi, "Conferenze della società di cultori della cristiana archeologia in Roma [1]", Bullettino di archeologia cristiana 3 Ser. 2 (1877), 61-62 (mentioned).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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