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E06981: The De Locis Sanctis, a guide to the graves of the martyrs around Rome, lists those on the via Cornelia, north-west of the city, opening with that of *Peter (the Apostle, S00030). Written in Latin in Rome, 642/683.

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posted on 2018-10-24, 00:00 authored by Bryan, Philip

Primum Petrus in parte occidentali ciuitatis iuxta uiam Corneliam ad miliarium primum in corpore requiescit; et pontificalis ordo, excepto numero pauco, in eodem loco in tymbis propriis requiescit. Ibi quoque iuxta eandem uiam sedis est apostolorum, et mensa et recubitus eorum de marmore facta usque hodie apparet; mensa quoque, modo altare, quam petrus manibus suis fecit, ibidem est.

Iuxta eadem quoque uiam sancta Rufina, sancta Secunda, sancta Maria, sanctus Marius, sanctus Ambacu, sanctus Audafax et alii quamplurimi sancti iacent.


First, Peter rests in body in the western part of the city close by the via Cornelia, by the first milestone; and the pontifical order, except a small number, rests in the same place in their own tombs. There, close by the same road there is also the chair of the apostles, and their table and couch, made from marble, is visible to this very day. Also the table, now an altar, which Peter made with his own hands, is in the same place.

Close by the same road lie saint Rufina, saint Secunda, saint Maria, saint Marius, saint Abacuc, saint Audifax and many other saints.'

Text: Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 106-107. Translation: P. Polcar.

[*Peter the Apostle, S00036; *Rufina and Secunda, virgins and martyrs of Silva Candida, near Rome, S00814; *Marius, Martha, Audifax and Abacuc, husband, wife and two sons from Persia, martyrs of the via Cornelia near Rome, S01163]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Apostles, unnamed or name lost : S00084 Rufina and Secunda, virgins and martyrs of Silva Candida at the 10th milestone from Rome on the via Cornelia : S00814 Marius, Martha, Audifax and Abacuc, husband, wife and two sons

Saint Name in Source

Petrus Rufina, Secunda Maria, Marius, Ambacu, Audafax

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries


  • 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


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

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Lists of Shrines in Rome

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes


The graves of the martyrs of Rome are quite exceptional in two respects: for the overwhelming number of saints whose names are recorded; and for the level of detail we have on where their bodies were venerated - in the many Martyrdoms surviving from Rome (incomparably more than from any other city), in uniquely rich epigraphic evidence, and in a narrative history, the Liber Pontificalis, that records in loving detail papal improvements to the saintly graves and churches of the city. From the century between circa 590 and 690, we even have four long lists of venerated graves, which were compiled entirely independently of each other: one (the Monza papyrus, E06788) is a catalogue of holy oil collected at these graves, but the other three, the Notitia Ecclesiarum (E07900), the De Locis Sanctis (E07901) and the Itinerarium Malmesburiense (E07883), are 'itineraries' - in other words texts that introduce their readers to the graves by taking them on a journey through the burial churches and cemeteries that ringed the city. They are often described as pilgrim-guides, which was certainly one of their functions, though they could also serve to introduced the saints of Rome to distant readers. The De locis sanctis martyrum quae sunt foris civitatis Romae ('On the holy places of the martyrs which are outside the city of Rome'), is exactly what its title claims: it is a guide to the suburban cemeteries of the city, listing the various saints who could be visited there (the vast majority of whom were martyrs). Like all the itineraries, it proceeds road by road, beginning with the via Cornelia and St Peter's, continuing anticlockwise round the city, and closing with the via Flaminia. Unlike the Notitia Ecclesiarum, which directly addresses the reader in the second person singular ('Then you go ...' etc.), the De Locis (in common with the Itinerarium), uses the impersonal 'By this road is ...' etc. In all the manuscripts of the De Locis, the journey around the city is immediately followed by a short text (E07001) entitled Istae vero ecclesiae intus Romae habentur ('These churches, however, are within Rome'), which lists 21 churches within the Aurelianic walls. This text may or may not have been by the same author as the De Locis. In terms of its dating, the De Locis must have been written before 683, because it lists the graves of Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrix on the via Portuensis (E06988), and these martyrs were removed from there and translated into the city by Pope Leo II in 682/683 (E01678). The date after which it must have been written is slightly less certain: unquestionably it was after Honorius I (625-638) built his church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, since this must be the church 'of wondrous beauty' that is described on the via Nomentana (E06997); and it is very likely that it also post-dates the rebuilding by Pope Theodore I (642-649) of the church of Saint Valentinus on the via Flaminia (E01629), described in our text as 'wondrously decorated' (E07000). The earliest manuscript of this text (Vienna National Library Ms 795), datable to the last years of the eighth century, includes some brief interpolated passages (some of which derive from the Notitia Ecclesiarum). These are included, but clearly marked as interpolations, in all the editions of the De Locis, and in the text which we offer. (Bryan Ward-Perkins)


This list of burials and sacred objects along the via Cornelia opens with St Peter's basilica and the tombs of the popes that are there (in reality more or less continuous only from the burial of Leo I in 461). It then describes some rather curious secondary relics, apparently kept at or near St Peter's (as far as we are aware, these are not documented elsewhere). Without giving any indication of distance, the De Locis then moves out to the tenth mile from Rome, to Silva Candida and the graves of Rufina and Secunda, followed by those of Marius and Martha and their two sons.


Edition: Glorie, F. (ed.), De locis sanctis martyrum quae sunt foris civitatis Romae, in Itineraria et alia geographica (Corpus Christianorum, series Latina 175; Turnhout: Brepols, 1965), 315-321. [Reproduces Valentini and Zucchetti's text.] Valentini, R. and Zucchetti, G. (ed.), Codice topografico della città di Roma (Istituto storico italiano - Fonti per la storia d'Italia; Roma 1942), vol. 2, 106-118. (Partial) Translation: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford Early Christian Studies; Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018), 662-664. [Translates most of the text, but omits parts that are not relevant to the martyrdom accounts that he includes in his collection.]

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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