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E06994: The De Locis Sanctis, a guide to the graves of the martyrs around Rome, lists those on the via Labicana, 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 Labicana

Iuxta uiam uero Lauicanam ecclesia est sanctae Elenae ubi ipsa corpore iacet. Ibi sancti isti dormiunt: Petrus, Marcellinus, Tiburtius, sancti XXX milites, Gorgonius, Genuinus, Maximus, IIII Coronati, id est Claudius, Nicostratus, Simpronianus, Castorius, Simplicius; ibi et in cryptis sub terra innumera martyrum multitudo sepulta iacet.

'By the via Labicana is the church of saint Helena where she lies in the body. There sleep the following saints: Petrus, Marcellinus, Tiburtius, 30 holy soldiers, Gorgonius, Genuinus, Maximus, Four Crowned Martyrs, that is Claudius, Nicostratus, Sympronianus, Castorius, Simplicius; there in catacombs below the earth lies buried a countless multitude of martyrs.


Text: Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 113. 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: [*Helena, empress and mother of Constantine, ob. 328, S00185; *Marcellinus and Petrus, priest and exorcist, martyrs of Rome, S00577; *Tiburtius, son of the prefect Chromatius, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Labicana,S01404; *Thirty Martyrs of Rome, buried on the via Labicana, S00586; *Gorgonius, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Labicana, S00576; *Genuinus, martyr of Rome, S02127; *Maximus, buried on the via Labicana, S02501; *Four Crowned Martyrs, S00685 - the second group (Sempronianus, Nicostratus, Claudius, Castor), martyrs of Sirmium (Pannonia), with their companion Simplicius]

Second paragraph: [Stratonicus, bishop, martyr of Rome, S02471; Castolus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Labicana, S01405]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Helena, empress and mother of Constantine, ob. 328 : S00185 Gorgonius, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Labicana : S00576 Four Crowned Martyrs - the second group (Sempronianus, Nicostratus, Claudius, Castor), martyrs in Sirmium (Pannonia), in the

Saint Name in Source

Elena Gorgonius IIII coronati, Claudius, Nicostratus, Simpronianus, Castorius, Simplicius sancti XXX milites Petrus, Marcellinus Tiburtius Genuinus, Maximus Maximus Castolus Stratonicus

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)


The list of burials in the first paragraph relates to the cemetery 'inter/ad Duos Lauros', or 'of Marcellinus and Petrus' (as it came to be known). The empress Helena and most of the martyrs listed are readily identifiable and also recorded as venerated here in other sources (see, for instance, the very similar lists in the more-or-less contemporary Notitia Ecclesiarum, E00680 and Itinerarium Malmesburiense, E07890). Maximus, however, is not reliably documented elsewhere. Stratonicus, bishop and martyr, in the interpolated passage is otherwise unrecorded in our sources, and no indication is given as to where he was a bishop (no bishop of Rome ever bore this name); according to Valentini and Zucchetti (1942, 113, note 3) his were amongst the many relics transferred to Santa Prassede by pope Paschal I in the ninth century. Castolus, or Castulus, is a martyr who features in the Martyrdom of Sebastianus and Companions (E02512); his grave on the Labicana (which is very close to the Praenestina) is also mentioned in one manuscript of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (E04750).


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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