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E05798: Agnellus of Ravenna, in his Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, quotes a Latin funerary inscription of c. 595 from a monasterium dedicated to *Marcus (bishop of Rome, ob. 336, S00420), *Marcellus (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00529), and *Felicula (virgin and martyr of Rome, S02148). The monasterium was located in the church of *Apollinaris (bishop and martyr of Ravenna, S00331) in Classe (near Ravenna, northern Italy). Account written in Ravenna in 830/846.

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posted on 2018-06-19, 00:00 authored by frances
Agnellus of Ravenna, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis 98

Postquam autem obiit hic beatissimus Iohannes die .xi. mense Ianuarii, sepultus est in ecclesia beati Apolenaris ciuitatis Classis extra muros, in monasterio sanctorum Marci, Marcelli et Feliculae, quod ipse a fundamentis aedificauit et tessellis decorauit, et omnia consummauit. Et super ualuas dicti monasterii uersus metricos continentes inuenietis ita: 

Inclita praefulgent sanctorum limina templo 
Marci, Marcelli Feliculae que simul.  
Pontifices hos Roma cepit, haec martir habetur. 
Horum Gregorius dat papa reliquias 
Quas petit antistes meritis animo que Iohannes, [5]
Paruula pro summis reddere dona parat. 
Oraculum statuit, tanta uirtute repletus, 
Cuius ab auspiciis gratia extat opus. 
Qui bis septeno sacri diadematis anno, 
Tractatu uigili quo regit ecclesiam, [10]
Hanc quoque regentem reuerendi culminis arcem 
Iunxit et euentum traxit ad arbitrium.  
Miranda subito suspendens arte cacumen 
Inflexum reparat parte utraque latus. 
Additus his meritis felix Smaragdus in aeuum, [15]
Cuius in his titulis participantur opes. 

‘However after he died this most blessed John [bishop of Ravenna, 578-595] was buried on the eleventh day after the month of January in the church of St Apollinaris in the city of Classe outside the walls, in the monasterium of Sts Marcus, Marcellus and Felicula, which he built from the foundations and decorated with mosaics, and finished it all. And over the doors of the said monasterium you will find metrical verses containing the following:

The celebrated thresholds gleam in the temple of Sts Marcus, Marcellus and Felicula. Rome had the former as bishops, the latter is considered a martyr. Pope Gregory gives their relics, which John sought, bishop in merits and spirit [5], he is ready to return these small gifts for the highest. Full of such virtue he established the oratory whose structure exists thanks to his authority. In the fourteenth year of [his] holy crown, in which he rules the church with watchful management [10], he also added this ruling stronghold of the venerable building and carried it to its final conclusions. Suddenly suspending the roof with wondrous skill, he repairs the curved wall on each side. Fortunate Smaragdus, inspired forever by these merits [15], whose wealth participated in this foundation.’

Text: Deliyannis 2006. Translation: Deliyannis 2004.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Felicula, virgin and martyr of Rome : S02148 Marcus, bishop of Rome, ob. 336 : S00420 Marcellus, bishop and martyr of Rome : S00529 Apollinaris, bishop and martyr of Ravenna : S00331

Saint Name in Source

Felicula Marcus Marcellus Apollinaris

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories) Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Ravenna Classe

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Ravenna Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Classe Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Agnellus of Ravenna

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



Agnellus of Ravenna (ob. c. 846) was a deacon of the cathedral in Ravenna and – by hereditary right - abbot of two monasteries in the city. He wrote his Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis between 830 and 846, following the model of the Roman Liber Pontificalis. This work provides biographies of all the bishops of Ravenna – from the legendary founder bishop Apollinaris to those active in Agnellus’ own day. The text is preserved in two manuscripts: one from the fifteenth century (Biblioteca Estense Cod. Lat. 371 X.P.4.9.) and a fragmentary manuscript from the sixteenth century (MS Vat. Lat. 5834). Agnellus bases his account of the lives of the late antique bishops on documents preserved in Ravenna, stories which had been transmitted orally and his own experiences in the architectural landscape of ninth-century Ravenna. This work contains invaluable architectural and art historical information about Ravenna: Agnellus refers to several religious buildings in Ravenna and the neighbouring settlements of Caeserea and Classe. He describes their decoration and preserves several inscriptions, many of which are now lost to us. It must be remembered this is a ninth-century work. Agnellus’ descriptions of buildings and their fixtures is based on his ninth-century experience, and not a late antique reality. Indeed, his accounts of events of earlier years are often riddled with inaccuracies. Yet it is likely that his descriptions of the churches of Ravenna are more trustworthy. As Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis and others have argued, a comparison of the surviving late antique mosaics with Agnellus’ account suggests that his descriptions were largely accurate. This is limited to what he does tell us – for example Arian foundations are often ignored whilst orthodox foundations are emphasised. Yet, overall, this text provides invaluable information about the cult of saints in late antique Ravenna.


J. M. Stansterre and E. Morini have both argued convincingly that, throughout Agnellus’ account, monasterium can used to mean any foundation – for example a chapel or church – dedicated to a saint. It does not necessarily refer to a monastery. As such, the original Latin is preserved in this record. A map showing the likely locations of the foundations in Classe and Ravenna is attached to this record.


Text: Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Agnelli Ravennatis Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis (Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 199; Turnhout, 2006). Translation: Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, The Book of Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna (Washington D.C., 2004). Further Reading: Deichmann, Friedrich Wilhelm, Ravenna, Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes, vol. 1-3, (Wiesbaden, 1958-89). Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Ravenna in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2010). Mackie, Gillian, Early Christian Chapels in the West: Decoration, Function and Patronage (Toronto, 2003). Moffat, Ann, "Sixth Century Ravenna from the Perspective of Abbot Agnellus," in: P. Allen and E.M. Jeffreys (eds,), The Sixth Century – End or Beginning? (Brisbane, 1996), 236-246. Morini, E., "Le strutture monastische a Ravenna," in: Storia di Ravenna, 2.2, Dall’età bizantia all’ età ottania, ed. A. Carile (Ravenna, 1992), 305-312. Schoolman, Edward, Rediscovering Sainthood in Italy: Hagiography and the Late Antique Past in Medieval Ravenna (Basingstoke, 2016). Stansterre, J. M., "Monaci e monastery greci a Ravenna," in: Storia di Ravenna, 2.1, Dall’età bizantia all’ età ottania, ed. A. Carile (Ravenna, 1992), 323-329. Verhoeven, Mariëtte, The Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna: Transformations and Memory (Turnhout, 2011).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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