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E05836: Image of a praying girl, on a marble plaque in low-relief, perhaps labelled as *Agnes (virgin and martyr of Rome, S00097). The label is, however, scarcely legible, and its text and date have been questioned. According to different reports found in the cemetery or church of Agnes on the via Nomentana (Sant'Agnese fuori-le-mua), Rome. Usually dated to the 4th c.

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posted on 2018-06-20, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Fragment of a marble plaque. H. 0.90 m; W. 1.30 m. Possibly from a latticework or a chancel screen. Decorated with geometrical patterns resembling conchs, with an image of a young woman in low-relief, shown in the posture of an orant. The female figure is about 0.68 m high. The inscription, scarcely legible, is scratched to the right and to the left of the head. Different editors suggested several contradictory readings which cannot be verified due to the present-day poor condition of the stone.

Mariano Armellini's reading:


s(ancti)s(sima) Anneas = 'The most holy Agnes'

This reading is the most widely accepted, and, for example, reproduced in the Epigraphic Database Bari as the basic text. Antonio Ferrua, was, however, unable to confirm it when he examined the stone. He managed to recognise just the damaged letters A and N. Ferrua also points out that Pietro Amato Frutaz was even more sceptical about the accuracy of Armellini's reading, calling it entirely imaginary.

Orazio Marucchi's reading:

SCA Agnes

s(an)c(t)a Agnes = 'Saint Agnes'

Rudolf Herzog's reading:

n(umerus) f(olii) 4 m(armorum) SS. Anneas = 'Number of the plaque: 4. Of the marbles (of the church of) the most holy Agnes.'

This reading is refuted by Ferrua.

As no inscription features in the earliest reports of the discovery of this carving, one can suppose that it is a later addition, resulting from a modern identification of the praying girl as Agnes. Similar images of unidentified praying women are, however, a common iconographic motive in Roman suburban cemeteries.

Text: ICVR, n.s., VIII, no. 20759 = EDB9579.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Agnes, virgin and martyr of Rome : S00097

Saint Name in Source

Anneas, Agnes

Image Caption 1

From: Armellini 1889, Taf. 1.

Image Caption 2

From: Bosio 1632, 429.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements Images and objects - Sculpture/reliefs Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.) Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, 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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image


The stone is first recorded in the notes of Pompeo Ugonio (16th c.), and was first presented in print by Antonio Bosio in 1602. Ugonio reportedly saw it reused (?) in the pulpit of the church of Sant'Agnese. Bosio published a drawing together with some sarcophagi 'retrieved from the cemetery of Agnes' and together with a similar object, which, he claimed, were both 'pili' excavated form the cemetery. He, however, did not note the presence of the inscription. Since then the plaque has been re-examined by many scholars. For a list of editions up to 1983, see the lemma in ICVR, n.s., VIII, no. 20759 by Antonio Ferrua. According to the editors of the Epigraphic Database Bari the stone is now in the Capitoline Museums (aula cristiana II).


For an inscription with a similar formula, see E05850.


Edition: Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB9579, see De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 8: Coemeteria viarum Nomentanae et Salariae (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1983), no. 20759 (with further bibliography). Frutaz, A.P., Il complesso monumentale di S. Agnese (Rome: Tipografia poliglotta vaticana, 1976), 178, note 120. Herzog, R., "Zwei griechische Gedichte des 4. Jahrhunderts aus St. Maximin in Trier: II. Gedicht auf die hl. Agnes", Trierer Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kunst des Trierer Landes und seiner Nachbargebiete 13 (1938), 91. Armellini, M., Gli antichi cimeteri cristiani di Roma e d'Italia (Rome: Tipografia poliglotta, 1893), 273. Armellini, M., "Die neu entdeckte Frontseite des ursprüngl. Altars der h. Agnes", Römische Quartalschrift für christliche Altertumskunde und Kirchengeschichte (1889), 65 Taf. 1. Armellini, M., "", Cronachetta mensuale di scienze naturali e d'archeologia (1885), 13. Armellini, M. (ed) in: O. Marucchi, "Conferenze della società di cultori della cristiana archeologia in Roma", Bullettino di archeologia cristiana 4. Ser. 3 (1885), 128 Bosio, A., Roma sotteranea (Rome: Appresso Guglielmo Facciotti, 1632), 429. Further reading: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford: OUP, 2018), chapter XVII.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity