Tertia porta Porciniana, et uia eodem modo appellata, sed cum peruenit ad Salariam nomen perdit; et ibi prope, in eo loco qui dicitur Cucumeris, requiescunt martires Festus Iohannes Liberalis Diogenes Blastus Lucina, et in uno sepulchro ducenti sexaginta et in altero triginta.
'The third gate, the Pinciana, and the road called by the same name; but it loses that name when it reached the via Salaria. Close thereby, in the place called 'of the Cucumber', rest the martyrs Festus, Iohannes, Liberalis, Diogenes, Blastus, Lucina, and in one tomb are two hundred and sixty, in another thirty.'
Text and translation: Mynors, Thomson, and Winterbottom 1998, 616-617, modified
[*Festus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S00515
; *Iohannes, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S00514
; *Liberalis/Liberatus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S02703
; *Diogenes, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, *S00475; *Blastus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S00476
; Lucina is otherwise unknown, perhaps an error for *Longina, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus, S00486]
Saint NameIohannes, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus : S00514
Diogenes, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria vetus : S00475
Festus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Salaria : S00515
Liberatus/Liberalis, martyr of Rome, buried on the via
Saint Name in SourceIohannes
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries
Evidence not before642
Evidence not after683
Activity not before642
Activity not after683
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcRome
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Rome
Major author/Major anonymous workLists of Shrines in Rome
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPilgrimage
Cult Activities - RelicsBodily relic - entire body
SourceThe 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.
William of Malmesbury, a monk of Malmesbury abbey in Wiltshire (England), included one of these itineraries in his massive work of history, the Gesta Regum Anglorum ('Deeds of the English Kings'), which he completed in 1125: hence the modern title given to this itinerary, the Itinerarium Malmesburiense (the 'Malmesbury Itinerary'). William introduces the text as an excursus on the gates and saints of Rome, as if it were his own composition: '... that it [Rome] may lack none of its due honour, I will append the number of the gates and its long list of the remains of saints'. But in reality he is quoting a much earlier text, that he had found somewhere in an English library, dating from before the massive translation of saintly bodies into the city in the late eighth and ninth centuries; indeed, as we will see below, the text can be dated with confidence to the mid or later seventh century. There is of course a possibility that William edited what he had found; but there are no obvious anachronisms in what he recorded, and when he wrote, in introducing the itinerary, that he 'will use the casual words of everyday speech', he may well be excusing the verbatim transcription of a text so simple that it rather offended his educated sensibilities.
Like the other two itineraries, the Itinerarium Malmesburiense, takes one round the suburban cemeteries of Rome, major road by major road, listing the churches and principal graves that lay along them, starting with the via Cornelia and the church and grave of Peter, then proceeding clockwise round the city to the via Aurelia, and closing with a short list of those saints whose bodies already rested within the walls. Uniquely, our itinerary names not only the roads, but also the relevant gates in the Aurelianic walls, revealing that these were increasingly being called after the saints whose shrines lay near them. Unlike the Notitia Ecclesiarum, which directly addresses the reader in the second person singular ('Then you go ...' etc.), the Itinerarium (in common with the De Locis), uses the impersonal 'By this road is ...' etc.
The Itinerarium can be dated with confidence to the years between 642 and 683, from information given in its list of intramural saintly burials (E07897). There we learn that the bodies of Primus and Felicianus were already in the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo, the result of a translation from a cemetery on the via Nomentana effected by Pope Theodore I (642-649; E01629). On the other hand, the translation of the bodies of Simplicianus, Faustinus and Beatrix from the via Nomentana to the church of Santa Bibiana, carried out by Pope Leo II (682-683; E01678), is not mentioned, and, since our author seems to have done a very thorough job of recording intramural burials, this must mean that it had not yet occurred.
DiscussionThe saints listed here as buried in the cemetery called 'Cucumeris' (literally, 'of the Cucumber') are essentially the same as those listed here in the other two seventh-century itineraries, the Notitia Ecclesiarum (E00636) and in the De Locis Sanctis (E06999). The one puzzle is 'Lucina' the final martyr listed, who appears in no other source. We wonder whether this name could be an error for 'Longina', the last saint listed in this cemetery in the De Locis Sanctis; however, clarity and certainty on this issue are not helped by the fact that the Notitia lists Longina as a male Longuinus!
Mynors, R.A.B., Thomson, R.M., and Winterbottom, M. (ed. and trans.), William of Malmesbury. Gesta Regum Anglorum (Oxford Medieval Texts; Oxford 1998), vol. 1, 614-621.
Glorie, F. (ed.), Itinerarium Malmesburiense, in Itineraria et alia geographica aetatis patrum, saec. VI - VIII (Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 175; Turnhout: Brepols, 1965), 325-328. [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, 141-153.
Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford Early Christian Studies; Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018), 664-666. [Translates most of the text, but omits parts less relevant to the martyrdom accounts that he includes in his collection.]