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E07889: The Itinerarium Malmesburiense, a guide to saints' graves around and within Rome, lists those outside the porta Tiburtina (now called the saint Laurence's gate) on the via Tiburtina, east of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 642/683.

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posted on 2020-05-12, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
Sexta porta et uia Tiburtina, quae modo dicitur porta sancti Laurentii. Iuxta hanc uiam iacet sanctus Laurentius in sua aecclesia et Habundius martir. Et ibi prope in altera aecclesia pausant hi martires, Ciriaca, Romanus, Iustinus, Crescentianus.

Et ibi non longe basilica sancti Ipoliti, ubi ipse cum familia sua pausat, id est, decem et octo. Et ibi requiescunt beata Trifena uxor Decii, et filia eius Cirilla et Concordia nutrix eius.

Et in altera parte uiae illius est aecclesia Agapiti martiris.

'The sixth gate and road, the Tiburtina, which is now called the gate of saint Laurence. By this road lies saint Laurence in his own church, and the martyr Abundius. And there nearby in another church rest these martyrs: Cyriaca, Romanus, Iustinus, and Crescentianus.

And there, not far away, is the basilica of saint Hippolytus, where he himself rests with his household, that is, eighteen persons. And there lie the blessed Tryphona, wife of Decius, and her daughter Cyrilla, and Concordia, his nurse.

And in another part of that road is the church of the martyr Agapetus.'

Text and translation: Mynors, Thomson, and Winterbottom 1998, 616-619, lightly modified

[*Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037; *Abundius and Romanus, martyrs of Rome associated with Xystus/Sixtus, Laurence and Hippolytus, S00213; *Cyriaca, widow and martyr of Rome, buried on the via Tiburtina, S00567; *Iustinus and Crescentius, two of the seven sons of Symphorosa S01165; *Hippolytus, martyr of Rome, S00509; *Triphonia, Cyrilla and Concordia, S00213, martyrs associated with Xystus/Sixtus, Laurence and Hippolytus, S00213; *Agapitus, deacon of Xystus II and martyr of Rome, S00202]


Evidence ID


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

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Gates, bridges and roads

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. 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.


Because the text of the Malmesburiense is organised according to the gates of the city (as well as the roads out of Rome), we learn here that by the later seventh century the porta Tiburtina had become the porta sancti Laurentii, after the grave and church of saint Laurence. It has retained this name, porta San Lorenzo, up to the present. All the saints' graves mentioned here are also attested in other sources.


Edition: 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. (Partial) Translation: 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.]

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