Saint NameMarcus, bishop of Rome, ob. 336 : S00420
Saint Name in SourceMarcus
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after600
Activity not before500
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSuburban catacombs and cemeteries
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Suburban catacombs and cemeteries
Cult activities - Festivals
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceMarble plaque. Dimensions not specified. When recorded, the plaque was reused in the pavement of the church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura on the via Nomentana. Probably brought there from the cemetery (catacombs) of Agnes. Now lost. Antonio Ferrua notes that a modern copy was displayed in the 1980s in the Roman church of San Marco (on the piazza Venezia). For a photograph of the copy (?), see the Epigraphic Database Bari.
The inscription was first recorded by Philippe De Winghe, a 16th c. Flemish traveller, and a transcription is preserved in his notes. In 1632 Antonio Bossio offered the first edition in print. Later reprinted with minor alterations by many scholars. The present-day reference edition is that by Antonio Ferrua in the eighth volume of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae. For a complete list of editions and altered readings, see the lemma by Ferrua.
DiscussionIt is widely accepted that the Saint Marcus whose feast in October is used here in the dating formula, is Marcus, bishop of Rome (ob. 336), whose day of burial is recorded as 7 October in the list of burials of the bishops of Rome in the Chronography of 354 (E01051), where it is said to have been in the cemetery of Balbina. A feast of bishop Marcus on the via Appia, where the cemetery of Balbina was located (actually between the via Ardeatina and the via Appia), is also recorded on the same day by the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (E04979). The tomb of Marcus is further mentioned by the Notitia ecclesiarum Urbis Romae (E00684), by the 7th c. list of the cemeteries of Rome (E00632), and in the Itinerarium Malmesburgiense (EXXXXX); see also Lapidge 2018, 504. In our inscription the feast is termed his dies natalis, a term normally reserved for the commemoration of martyrdoms.
The deceased acolyte served in the titulus-church of Vestina (now San Vitale) which was founded by an aristocratic Vestina under Pope Innocent I in 400. This gives a terminus post quem for our inscriptions. Based on the style and the shape of letters, Ferrua and de Rossi, probably rightly, preferred to date it to the 6th c. Early modern travellers to Rome, stylistically or just arbitrarily, ascribed the inscription to the 5th or even 4th c.
Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB1726, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/1726
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. 20861 (with further bibliography).
Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 1249.
Marucchi, O., Epigrafia cristiana. Trattato elementare con una silloge di antiche iscrizioni cristiane principalmente di Roma (Milan: U. Hoepli, 1910), 206, no. 229.
De Rossi, G.B. (ed.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, vol. 1 (Rome: Ex Officina Libraria Pontifica, 1857-1861), 536, no. 1185.
Bosio, A., Roma sotteranea (Rome: Appresso Guglielmo Facciotti, 1632), 419.
Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 504.
Spera, L., "Regiones divisit diaconibus. Il ruolo dei diaconi negli apparati amministrativo della Chiesa di Roma e la questione della regioni ecclesiastiche", in: Diakonia, diaconiæ, diaconato : semantica e storia nei Padri della Chiesa : XXXVIII Incontro di studiosi dell'antichità cristiana, Roma, 7-9 maggio 2009 (Rome: Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum, 2010), 545, note 7.