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E06991: The De Locis Sanctis, a guide to the graves of the martyrs around Rome, lists those on the via Ardeatina, south of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 642/683.

online resource
posted on 2018-10-26, 00:00 authored by Bryan
On the Holy Places of the Martyrs which are outside the City of Rome (De locis sanctis martyrum quae sunt foris civitatis Romae), via Ardeatina

Iuxta uiam Ardentinam ecclesia est sanctae Petronellae; ibi quoque sanctus Nereus et sanctus Achileus sunt et ipsa Petronella sepulti.

Et prope eandem uiam sanctus Damasus papa depositus est et soror eius Martha.

Et in alia basilica non longe Marcus et Marcellianus sunt honorati.

Et adhuc in alia ecclesia alius Marcus cum Marcellino in honore habetur.

'By the via Ardeatina is the church of saint Petronella; there are buried also saint Nereus and saint Achilleus, and Petronella herself.

And by the same road saint Damasus, the pope, is buried, and his sister Martha.

And in another basilica not far away, Marcus and Marcellianus are honoured.

And in a different church, another Marcus with Marcellinus is held in honour.'

Text: Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 110. Translation: P. Polcar.

[*Petronilla, daughter of saint Peter and martyr of Rome, S00402; *Nereus and Achilleus, eunuchs and martyrs of Rome, S00403; *Damasus, bishop of Rome, ob. 384, S00535; *Marcus and Marcellianus, twin brothers, deacons and martyrs of Rome, S01401; *Marcus, bishop of Rome, ob. 336, S00420; the identity of *Marcellinus is unclear, possibly *Marcellus, martyr of Capua, S01400]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Petronilla, daughter of saint Peter and martyr of Rome : S00402 Nereus and Achilleus, eunuchs and martyrs of Rome, and companions : S00403 Damasus, bishop of Rome, ob. 384 : S00535 Marcus and Marcellianus, twin brothers, deacons and martyrs of Rom

Saint Name in Source

Petronella Nereus, Achileus Damasus Marcus, Marcellianus Marcus Marcellinus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries



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


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)


Most of the martyrs mentioned here - Petronilla, Nereus and Achilleus, and Marcus and Marcellianus - are familiar figures, repeatedly documented as venerated on the via Ardeatina. 'Damasus' and the second 'Marcus' are also readily identifiable as fourth-century popes known to have been buried on the Ardeatina; Damasus is also known to have been buried with his sister (and indeed his mother), though apparently the name Martha, given here to his sister, must have been due to an incorrect reading of the verse epitaph that Damasus composed for her (Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 110, note 3). She is probably listed here, not as a saint, but out of the interest of our author (who had evidently seen the epitaph). The one saint who is obscure is Marcellinus, paired here with the second Marcus. There are several saints in Rome with the name Marcellus or Marcellinus, but none of these are recorded as being buried on the via Ardeatina..


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.]