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E06996: The De Locis Sanctis, a guide to the graves of the martyrs around Rome, lists those on the via Tiburtina, 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 Tiburtina, and between the Tiburtina and Nomentana

Iuxta uiam Tiburtinam ecclesia est sancti Agapiti multum honorabilis martyrum corporibus.

Et prope eandem uiam ecclesia est sancti Laurenti maior in qua corpus eius primum fuerat humatum; et ibi basilica noua mirae pulchritudinis ubi ipse modo requiescit; ibi quoque sub eodem altare Abundus est depositus, et foris in portico lapis est qui aliquando in collo eiusdem abundi pendebat in puteum missi. Ibi Hereneus, Iulianus, Primitiuus, Tacteus, Nemeseus, Eugenius, Iustinus, Crescentianus, Romanus sunt sepulti, et sancta Cyriaca, sancta Simferosa et Iustina cum multis martyribus sunt sepulti.

Inde in boream sursum in monte basilica sancti Hyppoliti est ubi ipse cum familia sua tota XVIIII martyres iacet; carcer ibi est in quo fuit Laurentius; ibi est Trifonia uxor Decii Caesaris et Cyrilla filia eius; inter utrasque Concordia; et sanctus Geneseus; et multi martyres ibi sunt.

'By the via Tiburtina is the church of saint Agapitus, much to be honoured for the bodies of its martyrs.

And close by the same road is the larger church of saint Laurence in which his body was first buried; and there there is a new basilica and it is of marvellous beauty, where he now rests; there under the same altar is also deposited Abundus, and outside in a portico is the stone which once hung on the neck of Abundus, [when he was] thrown was thrown into the sewer. There are buried Hereneus, Iulianus, Primitivus, Tacteus, Nemeseus, Eugenius, Iustinus, Crescentianus, Romanus, and saint Cyriaca, saint Simpherosa, and Iustina; they are buried with many martyrs.

From there to the north, on a hill is the basilica of saint Hyppolitus, where he lies with his household, in total 18 martyrs; the prison is there in which Laurence was; there is Trifonia, the wife of the emperor Decius, and Cyrilla, his daughter; between the two is Concordia; and saint Genesius, and many martyrs are there.'

Text: Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 113-115. 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: [*Ianuarius and *Agapitus, both deacons of Xystus II, and both martyrs, S00202]

Second paragraph: [*Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037; Abundius/Habundius, Irenaeus/Herennius, and Romanus, martyrs associated with *Xystus/Sixtus, Laurence and Hippolytus, S00213; Iulianus, Primitivus, Tacteus, Nemeseus, Eugenius, Iustinus, Crescentianus, all sons of *Symphorosa, and martyrs of Tivoli, S01165; *Cyriaca, widow and martyr of Rome, buried on the Via Tiburtina, S00567; *Iustina perhaps a repeat of *Iustinus, one of the seven sons of Symphorosa]

Third paragraph: [*Hippolytus, martyr of Rome, S00509; Triphonia and Cyrilla, wife and daughter of the emperor Decius, and Concordia, nurse of Hippolytus, martyrs associated with *Xystus/Sixtus, Laurence and Hippolytus, S00213; *Genesius, martyr of Rome, S00508]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Roman martyrs associated with Xystus/Sixtus, Laurence and Hippolytus : S00213 Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome : S00037 Hippolytus, martyr of Rome : S00509 Symphorosa and her seven sons, martyrs of Tivoli : S01165 Cyriaca, widow

Saint Name in Source

Abundus, Hereneus, Romanus, Trifonia, Cyrilla, Concordia Laurentius Hippolytus Simpherosa, Iulianus, Primitivus, Tacteus, Nemeseus, Eugenius, Iustinus, Crescentianus Cyriaca Geneseus

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 - instrument of saint’s martyrdom


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)


A church of Ianuarius is also documented in the late-8th-century Life of Pope Hadrian I, in the Liber Pontificalis. It is, however, almost certainly an error in our text that it was dedicated to Ianuarius, 'bishop and martyr': firstly, because there is no evidence in this period of any Bishop Ianuarius being venerated in Rome; secondly, because here, near the grave and church of St Laurence, was an appropriate place to dedicate a church to one of Laurence's companion martyrs, Ianuarius, the deacon. Indeed another deacon and co-martyr with Laurence (and Ianuarius), Agapitus, had a church in the vicinity (as mentioned here); this church is known to have been built by Pope Agapitus (pope 483-492; see E01315). Unlike the vast majority of the shrines mentioned in the De Locis, these two churches were not the burial-churches of the saints to whom they were dedicated; the bodies of Ianuarius and Agapitus were both venerated in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the via Appia. The second paragraph covers the area around San Lorenzo fuori le mura. The larger church (ecclesia maior) is presumably the Constantinian cemeterial church (though in reality it never housed the body of the martyr); the new church 'of marvellous beauty' is certainly the church built by Pelagius II (579-590), which still largely survives as the presbytery of the present-day San Lorenzo. Like Ianuarius and Agapitus, Abundius was a companion martyr of Laurence, Xystus II and Hippolytus (see E02504); so too, somewhat confusingly, were Hereneus/Irenaeus and Romanus in the long list of martyrs that follows. The 'stone which once hung on the neck of Abundus, [when he was] thrown into the sewer' (a reference to the story of Abundius' martyrdom, E02504) is presumably the same 'stone which many people touch with their finger without knowing what they are doing' mentioned in the Notitia Ecclesiarum (E00679). The seven martyrs whose names are book-ended by Hereneus and Romanus are the seven sons of Sympherosa (the 'Simferosa' listed later), all martyrs of Tivoli, and all said to have been buried on the via Tiburtina. Cyriaca, however, though also mentioned in the Notitia Ecclesiarum, is a shadowy figure; as is 'Justina', who could perhaps be an erroneous doubling of 'Justinus' in the list just above. In the third paragraph, the itinerary moves northwards towards the via Nomentana, to the cemetery of Hippolytus; Tryphonia, Cyrilla and Concordia are all companion martyrs of his. The martyr Genesius, who also feature in the Notitia Ecclesiarum, is a shadowy figure: see the discussion under E02497.


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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