University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E05958: Prudentius, in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), written c. 400 in Calahorra (northern Spain), in a poem on the martyrdom of *Laurence (deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037) writes that, though the inhabitants of Spain are far from Rome and thus lack the blessings of many martyrial tombs, they can still look up to heaven and seek the intercession of its citizen, Laurence. Prudentius finishes the poem with a personal prayer to Laurence, seeking his intercession.

online resource
posted on 2018-07-14, 00:00 authored by mszada
Liber Peristephanon II.537–584

Nos Vasco Hiberus diuidit
binis remotos Alpibus
trans Cottianorum iuga
540 trans et Pyrenas ninguidos.

Vix fama nota est abditis
quam plena sanctis Roma sit,
quam diues urbanum solum
sacris sepulcris floreat.

545 Sed qui caremus his bonis
nec sanguinis uestigia
uidere coram possumus,
caelum intuemur eminus.

Sic, sancte Laurenti, tuam
550 nos passionem quaerimus,
est aula nam duplex tibi,
hic corporis, mentis polo.

Illic inenarrabili
adlectus urbi municpes
555 aeternae in arce curiae
gestas coronam ciuicam.

Videor uidere inlustribus
gemmis coruscantem uirum,
quem Roma caelestis sibi
560 legit perennem consulem.

Quae sit potestas credita
et muneris quantum datum
probant Quiritum gaudia
quibus rogatus adnuis.

565 Quod quisque supplex postulat
fert inpetratum prospere;
poscunt iocantur indicant
et tristis haud ullus redit,

ceu praesto semper adsies
570 tuosque alumnos urbicos
lactante conplexus sinu
paterno amore nutrias.

Hos inter, o Christi decus,
audi poetam rusticum
575 cordis fatentem crimina
et facta prodentem sua.

Indignus agnosco et scio
quem Christus ipse exaudiat,
sed per patronos martyras
580 potest medellam consequi.

Audi benignus supplicem
Christi reum Prudentium
et seruientem corpori
absolue uinclis saeculi!

'Us the Vascon Ebro separates from you [Rome], we are far removed beyond two mountain-ranges, across the Cottian heights and the snowy Pyrenees. Scarcely even have we heard report how full Rome is of buried saints, how richly her city's soil blossoms with holy tombs. (545) Still, though we lack these blessings and cannot see the traces of blood with our own eyes, we look up to heaven on high. It is thus, holy Laurence, that we seek your passion; for you have two seats, that of your body here on earth, that of your soul in heaven. Admitted there as a freeman of the ineffable city, you wore the civic crown in that Capitol where sits the everlasting senate. I think I see the hero flashing with brilliant jewels, whom the heavenly Rome has chosen to be her perpetual consul. (561) The power entrusted to you, the greatness of the function assigned to you, is proved by the rejoicing of Rome's citizens, to whose requests you gave assent. What each one asks in prayer, is happily granted. They ask, and are gay, and tell, and none returns home sorrowful; it is as if you were ever by their side to help, taking your foster-children of the city to the richness of your breast and feeding them with a father's love. (573) Among them, you glory of Christ, listen to a country poet as he acknowledges the sins of his heart and confesses his deeds. He is unworthy, I know and own, that Christ himself should listen to him; but through the advocacy of the martyrs he may attain healing. Be gracious and hear the prayer of Prudentius who stands arraigned by Christ, and set him free from the fetters of the world where he is in bondage to the body.'

Text: Cunnigham 1966: 276–277. Translation: Thomson 1953: 141-143, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome : S00037

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Calahorra Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405) was a Christian aristocrat from Calahorra in the Spanish province of Tarraconensis. He was a high official in the imperial bureaucracy in Rome, but withdrew from public life, returned to Calahorra, and dedicated himself to the service and celebration of God. Most of what we know about his biography comes from the preface to the ensemble of his works, which can be reliably dated to 404 (Cunningham 1966, 1-2), and other autobiographical remarks scattered throughout his works (for a detailed discussion, see Palmer 1989, 6-31). He composed several poetical works, amongst them the Peristephanon (literally, On the Crowns [of the Martyrs]), a collection of fourteen poems of different length describing martyrdoms of saints. We do not know exactly at which point in his literary career Prudentius wrote the preface (possibly at the very end, just before publication); for attempts at a precise dating of the Peristephanon, see Fux 2013, 9, n. 1. The poems in the Peristephanon, written in elegant classical metres, deal mainly with martyrs from Spain, but some of them are dedicated to saints of Rome, Africa and the East. The poems were widely read in the late antique and medieval West, and had a considerable influence on the diffusion of cult of the saints included. In later periods they were sometimes used as hymns in liturgical celebrations and had an impact on the development of the Spanish hymnody. Some indications in the poems suggest that they were written to commemorate the saints on their feast days, but Prudentius probably did not compose them for the liturgy of his time. Rather, they probably provided 'devotional reading matter for a cultured audience outside a church context' (Palmer 1989, 3; see also Chapter 3 in her book).


Editions of the Peristephanon: Cunningham, M.P., Prudentii Carmina (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 126; Turnhout: Brepols, 1966), 251-389. Bergman, J., Prudentius, Carmina (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 61; Vienna, 1926), 291-431. Translations of the Peristephanon: Eagan, C., Prudentius, Poems (Fathers of the Church 43; Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1962), 95-280. English translation. Thomson, H.J., Prudentius, vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; London Cambridge, Mass: W. Heinemann; Harvard University Press, 1953), 98-345. Edition and English translation. Further reading: Delehaye, H., "Cyprien d'Antioche et Cyprien de Carthage," Analecta Bollandiana 39 (1921), 314-322. Fux, P.-Y., Prudence et les martyrs: hymnes et tragédie. Peristephanon 1. 3-4. 6-8. 10. Commentaire, (Fribourg: Academic Press, 2013). Malamud, M.A., A Poetics of Transformation: Prudentius and Classical Mythology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989). Palmer, A.-M., Prudentius on the Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). Roberts, M., Poetry and the Cult of the Martyrs: The "Liber Peristephanon" of Prudentius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager