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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world


The decrees (in Latin) of a synod, held in 499 in St Peter's basilica, Rome, by Pope Symmachus (498-514), are subscribed to by a number of presbyters of the city's titular churches, each identified by the name of his titulus, a few of which are dedicated to saints; preserved as Symmachus Letter 1.

Evidence ID

E02744

Type of Evidence

Canonical and legal texts

§1:

Post consulatum Paulini viri clarissimi sub die Kalendarum Martiarum in basilica beati Petri apostoli [...].

'On the kalends of March [= 1 March] in the year after the consulship of the
vir clarissimus Paulinus, in the basilica of Peter the Apostle ...'


§9:

'Coelius Laurentius archipresbyter tituli Praxidae [...]

Martianus presbyter tituli
s. Caeciliae subscripsi ut supra.

Gordianus presbyter tituli Pammachi subscripsi.

Petrus presbyter tituli
s. Clementis subscripsi.

Urbicus presbyter tituli
s. Clementis subscripsi.

Paulinus presbyter tituli Julii subscripsi ut supra.

Valens presbyter tituli
s. Sabinae subscripsi.

Petrus presbyter tituli Chrysogoni subscripsi.

Soranus presbyter tituli Vestinae subscripsi.

Asterius presbyter tituli Pudentis subscripsi.

Justinus presbyter tituli Pudentis subscripsi.

Redemptus presbyter tituli Chrysogoni subscripsi.

Projecticius presbyter tituli Damasi subscripsi.

Jovinus presbyter tituli Aemilianae subscripsi.

Bonus presbyter tituli Crescentianae subscripsi.

Paschasius presbyter tituli Eusebii subscripsi.

Johannes presbyter tituli Pammachi subscripsi.

Martinus presbyter tituli Cyriaci subscripsi.

Epiphanius presbyter tituli Cyriaci subscripsi.

Andreas presbyter tituli
s. Matthaei subscripsi.

Servusdei presbyter tituli
s. Clementis subscripsi.

Opilio presbyter tituli Vestinae subscripsi.

Petrus presbyter tituli Chrysogoni subscripsi.

Romanus presbyter tituli Tigridae subscripsi.

Marcellinus presbyter tituli Julii subscripsi.

Dominicus presbyter tituli Crescentianae subscripsi.

Abundantius presbyter tituli
Sabinae subscripsi.

Marcellus presbyter tituli Romani subscripsi.

Asellus presbyter tituli Vizantis subscripsi.

Agatho presbyter tituli Vizantis subscripsi.

Sebastianus presbyter tituli Aequitii subsripsi.

Valentinus presbyter tituli Eusebii subscripsi.

Anastasius presbyter tituli Anastasiae subscripsi.

Genesius presbyter tituli Nicomedis subscripsi.

Dionysius presbyter tituli Aemilianae subscripsi.

Epiphanius presbyter tituli
apostolorum subscripsi.

Acontius presbyter tituli Fasciolae subscripsi.

Paulinus presbyter tituli Fasciolae subscripsi.

Agapetus presbyter tituli
apostolorum suscripsi.

Adeodatus presbyter tituli Aequitii subscripsi.

Benedictus presbyter tituli Gaji subscripsi.

Dominicus presbyter tituli Priscae subscripsi.

Redemptus presbyter tituli Tigridae subscripsi.

Severus presbyter tituli Gaji subscripsi.

Stephanus presbyter tituli Marcelli subscripsi.

Crescentius presbyter tituli
apostolorum subscripsi.

Julianus presbyter tituli Anastasiae subscripsi.

Septiminus presbyter tituli Julii subscripsi.

Cyprianus presbyter tituli Marci subscripsi.

Epiphanius presbyter tituli Fasciolae subscripsi.

Bonifacius presbyter tituli
Caeciliae subscripsi.

Petrus presbyter tituli Praxidae subscripsi.

Timotheus presbyter tituli Marcelli subscripsi.

Hilarus presbyter tituli Lucinae subscripsi.

Victorinus presbyter tituli
Sabinae subscripsi.

Laurentius presbyter tituli
s. Laurentii subscripsi.

Eutyches presbyter tituli Aemilianae subscripsi.

Julianus presbyter tituli Anastasiae subscripsi.

Marcus presbyter tituli Lucinae subscripsi.

Vincemalus presbyter tituli Crescentianae subscripsi.

Abundius presbyter tituli Marci subscripsi.

Venantius presbyter tituli Marcelli subscripsi.

Stephanus presbyter tituli Eusebii subscripsi.

Paulinus presbuter tituli
s. Laurentii subscripsi.'


The majority of these churches are named, probably after their founders, who at this date are not designated as saints. Later several of them (Anastasia, Chrysogonus, Cyriacus, Damasus, Eusebius, Julius, Marcus, Marcellus, Nicomedes, Praxida, Pudens) would be elevated to sainthood, or would have their identity merged with saints of the same name.

Others would be replaced by renowned saints (although the identification of some
tituli with later churches is not always certain): that of Aemiliana would become the church of the *Four Crowned Martyrs; of Aequitius that of *Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours; of Crescentiana that of *Sixtus/Xystus II, bishop and martyr of Rome; of Fasciola that of *Nereus and Achilles, eunuchs and martyrs of Rome; of Gaius that of *Susanna, virgin and martyr of Rome; of Lucina that of *Laurence, deacon and martyr of Rome; of Pammachius (sometimes termed of Visans/Bizans) that of *Iohannes and Paulus, brothers and eunuchs, martyrs of Rome; while that of Vestina became a church of *Vitalis, martyr of Ravenna (though here venerated as a native of Milan). We do not know what happened with the tituli of Romanus and Tigrida.

In our subscription list of 499, only four of the
tituli are explicitly and unambiguously named after saints: the Apostles, St Clemens, St Laurence, and St Mattheus (perhaps Matthew the Evangelist). Two further tituli, those of Caecilia and Sabina, are named after women who, confusingly, are designated, in different parts of the list, as either saints or ordinary mortals (though in time both became firmly established as major saints of the city).


Text: Symmachus,
Letter 1 (Thiel 1867, 642-654)

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Places Named after Saint

Towns, villages, districts and fortresses

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Source

Preserved in the correspondence of pope Symmachus (498-514), Letter 1.


Discussion

This is an important document for what it tells us about the naming, and dedications, of the titular churches of Rome (in effect the parish churches of the city). In 499, when this document was drafted, they were still for the most part known by the names of ordinary mortals, who can be presumed to be their founders (indeed in some cases this is known for certain). When we next get a list of tituli, a century later, in 595, all of the churches are named after saints, many bearing the same names as those of the mortal founders listed here, who have either been elevated to sainthood, or been merged with already existing saints of the same name (see E06362).


Bibliography

Edition:
Thiel, A., Epistolae Romanorum Pontificum Genuinae et quae ad eos scriptae sunt a s. Hilario usque ad Pelagium II (Brunsberg, 1867), 642-654.



Record Created By

Matthieu Pignot

Date Last Modified

11/12/2021

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00036Peter, the ApostlePetrusCertain
S00037Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of RomeLaurentiusCertain
S00084Apostles, unnamed or name lostApostoliCertain
S00111Clemens/Clement, bishop of Rome, martyr of the CrimeaClemensCertain
S00146Caecilia, virgin and martyr of RomeCaeciliaCertain
S00791Matthew, Apostle and EvangelistMatthaeusUncertain
S01303Serapia and Sabina, martyrs of oppidum Vendinensium, perhaps Vindena near TerniSabinaCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Matthieu Pignot, Cult of Saints, E02744 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E02744