University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E05360: Latin inscription, now lost, with a poem ascribed to Alcuin of York, describing a picture of the martyrdom of *Laurence/Laurentius (deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037) and *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030), probably displayed in the Pelagian basilica of Laurence on the ager Veranus, via Tiburtina, Rome. 8th c.

online resource
posted on 2018-04-23, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
En Stephanus lapides suffert Laurentius ignes,
perque iter angustum regna beata petunt.
Iure micat rutilo levitarum aula colore,
quos vitae ad palmam mors pretiosa vocat.

'Look! Stephen suffers stones, Laurentius fire,
through this narrow road they seek the blessed kingdom.
Justly the hall of the deacons flickers with red colour,
whom precious death calls to the palm of life.'

Text: ICVR, n.s., VII, no. 20705 = EDB35127. Translation: P. Nowakowski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome : S00037 Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Saint Name in Source

Laurentius Stephanus

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Literary - Poems Images and objects - Narrative scenes Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics


  • 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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image


The inscription was preserved only in a single manuscript copy, in the codex Bertinianus, which presents it among the works of Alcuin of York (c. 735-804). The codex is now lost but we have the text thanks to the first print edition by André Duchesne (Quercetanus) in 1616, and subsequent reeditions. Giovanni Battista de Rossi included the text in his collection of Christian inscriptions from Rome known from the manuscript tradition (1853-1888), and the poem is included in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. The current reference edition is that by Antonio Ferrua in the seventh volume of the new series of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae. The poem is believed to have been displayed in the Pelagian basilica of Laurentius/San Lorenzo fuori le mura in the ager Veranus, on the via Tiburtina, near a picture showing the martyrdom of Laurentius and Stephen the First Martyr. For the mosaic of the triumphal arch of the Pelagian basilica, associating the two martyrs, see E05292.


The poem, composed in two elegiac couplets, is ascribed, with a degree of uncertainty, to Alcuin of York. Dating: If the attribution of the poem is correct, it must then date to the 8th c. This is slightly above our chronological limit (AD 700), but we have included the poem as it constitutes an important testimony to the iconographical programme of the Pelagian basilica, closely associating Laurentius and Stephen.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB35127, 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. 20705. De Rossi, G. B., Inscriptiones christianae Urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores 2.1 (Rome: Ex Officina Libraria Pontificia, 1857-1888), 286, no. 5. Dümmler, E., MGH: Poetae aevi Carolini, vol. 1 (Berlin: Weidmann, 1881), 345, no. VI. Migne, J.-P. (ed.), B. Flacci Albini seu Alcuini, abbatis et CaroliMagni imperatoris magistri, opera omnia (Paris: , 1853), coll. 770-771. Frobenius, F., Beati Flacci Albini seu Alcuini opera (Regensburg: Englerth, 1777), vol. 2, 223. Duchesne, A. (Quercetanus), Alcuini opera (Paris: , 1616), 1683.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager