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E07897: The Itinerarium Malmesburiense, a guide to saints' graves around and within Rome, lists those buried inside the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 642/683.

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posted on 2020-05-12, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Intra urbem in Monte Celio sunt martires Iohannes et Paulus in sua domo, quae est facta aecclesia post eorum martirium, et Crispinus et Crispinianus, et sancta Benedicta. In eodem monte est aecclesia sancti Stephani prothomartiris, et ibi reconditi sunt martires Primus et Felicianus. In Monte Auentino sanctus Bonefatius et in Monte Nola sancta Tatiana pausant.

'Within the city on the Caelian hill are the martyrs Iohannes and Paulus in their house, which became a church after their martyrdom, and Crispinus and Crispinianus, and saint Benedicta. On the same hill is the church of saint Stephen the first martyr, and there are buried the martyrs Primus and Felicianus. On the Aventine hill saint Bonifacius and on the Nola hill saint Tatiana rest.

Text and translation: Mynors, Thomson, and Winterbottom 1998, 620-621, text and translation modified, following Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 152.

[*Iohannes and Paulus, brothers and eunuchs, martyrs of Rome under the emperor Julian, S00384; *Crispus/Priscus, Crispinianus/Priscillianus, and Benedicta, martyrs of Rome under the emperor Julian S01516; *Stephen, the First Martyr, S00030; *Primus and Felicianus, martyrs of Numentum, near Rome, S00855; Bonifacius, martyr, buried on the Aventine hill, S02862; *Tatiana/Tatiane, martyr of Rome, S02562]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Iohannes and Paulus, brothers and eunuchs, martyrs of Rome under the emperor Julian : S00384 Priscus/Crispus, Priscillianus/Crispinianus, and Benedicta, martyrs of Rome under the emperor Julian : S01516 Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030 Primus an

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes, Paulus Crispinus, Crispinianus Stephanus Primus, Felicianus Bonifatius Tatiana

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. 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.


Here the author lists those saints who were believed to rest within the walls of the city, before the massive translation of relics into Rome that occurred in the eighth and early ninth century. Iohannes and Paulus, and their companion martyrs, were from an early date believed to have been buried within their house on the Caelian Hill (under the present-day church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo). The record that Primus and Felicianus were in Santo Stefano Rotondo is important, because this helps date our text: these saints were moved to Santo Stefano from the via Nomentana (the first recorded translation of saints into the city from the suburban cemeteries) by Pope Theodore I (642-649). Bonifacius is a shadowy figure, but the belief that his body rested on the Aventine, in the church of Santi Bonifacio e Alessio, is also stated in the list of urban churches appended to the De Locis Sanctis (E07001). The burial of Tatiana inside the city is otherwise unrecorded in our period, and the statement that she lay buried on 'Monte Nola' is problematic, because no hill in the city bears this name, or a name that is similar. Our author has seemingly been systematic in searching out saints within the city, which suggests that he wrote before the translation of the bodies of Simplicianus, Faustinus and Beatrix from the via Portuensis to the church of Santa Bibiana by Pope Leo II (682-683).


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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