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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

The Latin decrees 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


Type of Evidence

Canonical and legal texts

Pope Symmachus, Letter 1 ('Post consulatum Paulini', JK, not numbered (p. 96)/JH 1417)

This document is not a letter, but the acts of a synod. It is dated 1 March 499.

The document opens (§ 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 ...'

The following section (§ 9) gives the subscriptions of presbyters from Rome's titular churches. Those named after saints are in bold. It begins:

Coelius Laurentius archipresbyter tituli Praxidae his subscripsi et consensi synodalibus constitutis, atque in hac me profiteor manere sententia.
Coelius Januarius presbyter tituli Vestinae his consensi et subscripsi synodalibus constitutis, atque in hac me manere profiteor sententia.
Martianus presbyter tituli
s. Caeciliae subscripsi ut supra.

'I, Coelius Laurentius, arch-presbyter of the
titulus of Praxides have subscribed and consented to these synodal decision and proclaim myself to remain of this opinion.
     I, Coelius Januarius, presbyter of the
titulus of Vestina, have subscribed and consented to these synodal decision and proclaim myself to remain of this opinion.
     I, Martianus, presbyter of the
titulus of Saint Caecilia have subscribed as above.'

The other presbyters then subscribe using the same formula:

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.

Text: Thiel 1867, 642, 651-53.

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


The record of the Roman synod of 499 survives in a number of early medieval canonical collections, of which the earliest is the Collectio Teatina, compiled in about 525 (Mommsen 1894, 395; Kéry 1999, 24).


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 (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).

In the 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).

Of those not yet designated as saints, several
(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 (S00587); of Aequitius that of *Martin of Tours (S00050); of Crescentiana that of *Sixtus/Xystus II (S00201); of Fasciola that of *Nereus and Achilleus (S00403); of Gaius that of *Susanna (S00892); of Lucina that of *Laurence (S00037); of Pammachius (sometimes termed of Visans/Bizans) that of *Iohannes and Paulus (S00384); while that of Vestina became a church of *Vitalis, martyr of Ravenna (S02826), though here venerated as a native of Milan. We do not know what happened with the tituli of Romanus and Tigrida.


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

Mommsen, T.,
Acta synhodi a. CCCCXCVIIII, in: Cassiodori Senatoris variae (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi 12; Berlin, 1894), 399-415.

Record Created By

Matthieu Pignot

Date of Entry


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 -