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E06993: The De Locis Sanctis, a guide to the graves of the martyrs around Rome, lists those on the via Latina, south-east of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 642/683.

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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 Latina

Iuxta uiam uero Latinam ecclesia est sancti Gordiani ubi ipse cum fratre Epimacho in una sepultura; ibi quoque Quartus et Quintus; ibi Sulpicius et Seruilianus et sancta Sofia et Trophimus cum multis martyribus sepulti dormiunt.

Et iuxta eandem uiam Tertuli[a]ni est basilica ubi ipse cum multis martyribus iacet. Ecclesia quoque sanctae Eugeniae iuxta eam uiam est, ubi ipsa cum matre sua in uno tumulo iacet. Ibi sanctus Stephanus papa cum toto clero suo numero XXVIII martyres dormit; ibi sanctus Nemeseus, sanctus Olymphius, sanctus Sympronius, sanctus Theodotus, sanctus Superius, sanctus Obloteris, sanctus Tiburticanus martyres sunt sepulti.

'Then by the via Latina is the church of saint Gordianus where he [rests] with his brother Epimachus in one grave; there are also Quartus and Quintus; there sleep Sulpicius and Servilianus and saint Sophia and Trophimus, buried with many martyrs.

And close by the road is the basilica of saint Tertulianus where he himself lies with many martyrs. Also, next to the road is the church of saint Eugenia, where she lies with her mother in one tomb. There sleeps also Stephanus, the pope, with his whole clergy, altogether 28 martyrs: there saint Nemeseus, saint Olymphius, saint Sympronius, saint Theodotus, saint Superius, saint Obloteris, saint Tiburticanus, the martyrs, are buried.

Text: Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 111-112. Translation: P. Polcar.

The bracketed <> passage is an interpolation added, in a more-or-less contemporary hand, to the late-8th-century Vienna manuscript of the text. The information it contains probably derived from another written source (of uncertain date), rather than from new direct observation.

First paragraph: [*Gordianus, martyr of Rome under Julian the Apostate, S00579; *Epimachus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Latina, S00295; *Quartus and Quintus, martyrs of Rome, buried on the Via Latina, S00581; *Sulpicius and Servilianus, companion martyrs of Nereus and Achilleus, S00403; *Sophia, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Latina, S02687; *Trophimus, martyr of Rome, buried on the Via Latina, S00583]

Second paragraph: [*Eugenia, virgin and martyr of Rome, S00401; possibly *Stephen, the First Martyr, S00030; *Stephanus, bishop and martyr of Rome, S00205, and a number of his companion martyrs: Tertullinus, Nemesius, Olympius, Symphronius, Theodolus, and Exsuperia (for 'Superius' in our text); also, perhaps, Obloteris and Tiburticanus]

Third paragraph: [*Stephen, the First Martyr, S00030]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Gordianus, martyr of Rome, ob. c. 362 : S00579 Epimachus, martyr of Rome : S00295 Quartus, martyr at Rome, buried on the Via Latina, ob.??? : S00581 Trophimus, martyr at Rome, buried on the Via Latina, ob. ??? : S00583 Nereus and Achilleus, eunuc

Saint Name in Source

Gordianus Epimachus Quintus, Quartus Trophimus Sulpicius, Servilianus Stephanus papa, Tertulianus, Nemeseus, Olymphius, Sympronius, Theodotus, Superius, Obloteris, Tiburticanus Sofia Eugenia Stephanus

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


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)


Many of these martyrs are readily identifiable, and are also recorded in other sources as buried on the via Latina: Gordianus and Epimachus (though with no suggestion elsewhere that they were brothers), Quartus and Quintus, Sulpicius and Servilianus, Trophimus, and Eugenia. This Sophia (on the via Latina) is a shadowy figure, but she is also mentioned in the Itinerarium Malmesburiense (E07891). Tertullinus and all the martyrs buried in the church of Eugenia are certainly, or possibly, companion martyrs of Pope Stephanus. In the Martyrdom of Stephanus (E02514), Tertullinus features as an important figure, and the following are also named: Nemesius, Olympius, Symphronius, Theodolus and Exuperia (who, here in the De Locis, may well be the martyr named 'Superius'). In that text, all are also said to have been buried on the via Latina. Obloteris and Tiburticanus are not mentioned in the surviving version of the Martyrdom, and are not known from any other source; it is, however, just possible that they too were believed to be companions of Stephanus. The De Locis states that Stephanus too was buried in this cemetery, though his Martyrdom and other texts consistently state that he was buried on the via Appia, in the cemetery of Callixtus. Valentini and Zucchetti (1942, 112, note 3) suggest that our author confused Stephanus with Stephen, the First Martyr, who had a well-documented church on the via Latina (mentioned in the interpolated passage).


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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