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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


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


The De Locis Sanctis, a guide to the martyrs' burials around Rome, is followed by an Appendix listing 21 churches dedicated to saints within the Aurelianic walls of Rome. Written in Latin in Rome, certainly after 625 and before 790, possibly in 642/683.

Evidence ID

E07001

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries

Major author/Major anonymous work

Lists of Shrines in Rome

ISTAE VERO ECCLESIAE INTUS ROMAE HABENTUR

'THESE CHURCHES, HOWEVER, ARE WITHIN ROME'


Basilica Constantiniana quae et saluatoris; ipsa quoque et sancti Iohannis dicitur.
'The Constantinian basilica, which is also the Saviour's; it is also called Saint John's.'
[*John the Baptist, S00020, perhaps also *John, the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042; the church of San Giovanni in Laterano]


Basilica quae appellatur sancta Maria maior.
'The basilica which is called Saint Mary the Great
.'
[*Mary, Mother of Christ, S00033; the church of Santa Maria Maggiore]

Basilica quae appellatur sancta Anastasia, ubi cruces seruantur quae portantur per stationes.
'The basilica which is called Saint Anastasia, where the crosses are kept which are carried to the processional stations.'

[*Anastasia, martyr of Sirmium and Rome, S00602; the church of Sant'Anastasia al Palatino]

Basilica quae appellatur sancta Maria antiqua.
'The basilica which is called Saint Mary the Old.'
[The church of Santa Maria Antiqua on the Forum]

Basilica quae appellatur sancta Maria rotunda.
'The basilica which is called the Saint Mary the Round.'
[The church of Santa Maria Rotonda, i.e. the Pantheon, also called Santa Maria ad Martyres]

Basilica quae appellatur sancta Maria transtiberis; ibi est imago sanctae mariae quae per se facta est.
'The basilica which is called Saint Mary across the Tiber; there is a picture of Saint Mary which came into being by itself.'
[The church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, with its Ἀχειροποίητος εἰκὼν
(acheiropoietos eikon) image]

Basilica quae appellatur apostolorum Iacobi et Philippi.
'The basilica which is called of the Apostles James and Philip.'

[*James, the Apostle, son of Alphaeus, S01801; *Philip, the Apostle, S00109; the church at the foot of the Quirinal hill, now known as Santi Apostoli]

Basilica quae appellatur Iohannis et Pauli, ubi ipsi ambo in uno tumulo iacent.
'The basilica which is called of Iohannes and Paulus where they both lie in one grave.'
[*Iohannes and Paulus, brothers and eunuchs, martyrs under the emperor Julian, S00384; the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo on the Caelian hill]

Basilica quae appellatur Cosmae et Damiani.
'The basilica which is called of Cosmas and Damianus.'
[*Cosmas and Damianus, brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, S00385; the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano, on the Forum]

Basilica quae appellatur sancti Laurenti, ubi graticula eiusdem habetur laurenti.
'The basilica which is called Saint Laurence's, where the grid of the same Laurence is kept.'
[*Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037; the church of San Lorenzo in Damaso, now incorporated into the Palazzo della Cancelleria]

Basilica quae appellatur uincula Petri, ubi habetur catena qua Petrus ligatus est.
'The basilica which is called the Bonds of Peter, where the chain is kept with which Peter was bound.'
[*Peter the Apostle, S00036; the church of San Pietro in Vincoli on the Oppian hill]

Basilica quae appellatur ad sancta Adriana.
'The basilica which is called at Saint Adriana.'
[certainly an error for *Hadrianus, martyr of Nicomedia, S01342; the church of Sant'Adriano al Foro, in the converted Senate House]

Basilica quae appellatur sancti Crisogoni.
'The basilica which is called of Saint Crisogonus'.'
[*Chrysogonus, martyr of Aquileia, venerated in Rome, S00911; the church of San Crisogono in Trastevere]

Basilica quae appellatur sancti Georgi.
'The basilica which is called Saint George's.'
[*George, soldier and martyr, S00259; the church of San Giorgio in Velabro, between the Forum and the Tiber]]

Basilica quae appellatur sancti Clementis.
'The basilica which is called Saint Clement's.'
[*Clement/Clemens, bishop of Rome, martyr of the Crimea, S00111; the church of San Clemente near the Colosseum]

Basilica quae appellatur sanctae Agathae.
'The basilica which is called Saint Agatha's.'
[*Agatha, virgin and martyr of Catania, S00794; the church of Sant'Agata dei Goti near Trajan's Market]

Basilica quae appellatur sancti Stephani.
'The basilica which is called Saint Stephen's.'
[*Stephen, the First Martyr, S00030; the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo on the Caelian hill]

Basilica quae appellatur sancti Marci.
'The basilica which is called Saint Mark's.'
[*Mark the Evangelist, S00293; the church of San Marco, at the foot of the Capitol]


Basilica quae appellatur sancti Marcellini.
'The basilica which is called Saint Marcellinus'.'
[an error for *Marcellus, bishop and martyr of Rome, S00529; the church of San Marcello al Corso]

Basilica sancti Michahelis archangeli.
'The basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel.'
[*Michael, the Archangel, S00181; a church of uncertain location]


Basilica sancti Bonifaci martyris, ubi ipse dormit.
'The basilica of saint Boniface the martyr where he sleeps.'
[*Bonifacius, saint of Rome, honoured and buried on the Aventine hill, S02862; the church, on the Aventine hill, of Santi Bonifacio e Alessio, now generally known as Sant'Alessio]

Basilica
Basilica
Basilica
Basilica
Basilica

In his omnibus basilicis per certa tempora puplica statio geritur.
'In all these basilicas at certain times a public stational procession is held.'

Text:
Valentini and Zucchetti 1942, 31. Translation: P. Polcar.

Liturgical Activities

Procession

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Use of Images

Public display of an image

Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Source

Immediately after the De locis sanctis martyrum quae sunt foris civitatis Romae ('On the Holy Places of the Martyrs which are outside the City of Rome'), in all the manuscript in which it is preserved, comes a list of churches which can be found within the Aurelianic walls of Rome, entitled Istae vero ecclesiae intus Romae habentur ('These churches, however, are within Rome'). Twenty-one churches are named, though at the end of the text there are five more entries for a 'Basilica', then left blank.

This is, of course, very far from a complete list of the churches that existed in seventh-century Rome, though most of the major basilicas are named. From the statement at the end of the document, and from what is said about Sant'Anastasia (the third church listed), it seems that a particular interest of the author was in churches that hosted stational processions. Although the text is appended immediately after the
De locis sanctis and is linked to that text by its title, it need not be by the same author, nor of the same date - the two texts could have been put together at any point before the end of the eighth century (the date of the earliest manuscript, Vienna National Library Ms 795). If it is of the same date as the De Locis, then our text must have been written between 642 and 683 (see the Source Discussion to, for example, E06981).

If it is examined for dating evidence, independent of the
De locis sanctis, we can be absolutely confident that it post-dates 625, since it mentions the church of Sant'Adriano al Foro (which was established by Honorius I, pope 625-638). There is, however, no cast-iron terminus ante quem, other than the date of the earliest manuscript (written in Salzburg in the 790s). Valentini and Zucchetti (1942, 102) argue that the list must predate 649, because, when it mentions the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo, it does not mention the relics of Primus and Felicianus, which were moved to Santo Stefano by Pope Theodore I (642-649). This is a possible argument, but, if the text was produced by a different author from the De Locis (which would indeed be very unlikely to omit a reference to relics) and for a different purpose, it is by no means conclusive. We prefer to leave the date of the text more open.


Discussion

The churches listed are, with one single exception, entirely familiar, and for the most part do not require comment. In what follows only a few salient points are noted.

Probably the most interesting feature of the list is that it records a few churches by their popular names, not by the official titles that were always used in more formal documents (such as the
Liber Pontificalis). We thus learn that the church, officially known in the seventh century as 'sancta Maria ad praesepe' ('St Mary at the crib', after its greatest relic), was actually already being referred to as 'sancta Maria maior' (Santa Maria Maggiore), and that 'sancta Maria ad martyres' (the Pantheon) had also already acquired its popular name of 'sancta Maria rotunda' (Santa Maria Rotonda).

In this respect the statement that the Constantinian basilica at the Lateran, dedicated to the Saviour, '
is also called Saint John's' is particularly interesting, because its formal dedication to the Saviour alone certainly persisted through the eighth and ninth centuries (it is, for instance, thus titled when mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis). But it seems that in popular usage it was increasingly being referred to as a church of St John, probably because of the importance of its baptistery (dedicated to the Baptist), and to the presence there of oratories to both the Baptist and the Apostle and Evangelist (for which, see E01307 and E01626). Other important evidence of an early shift towards St John can be found in the early seventh-century Life of Pope Sabinianus in the Liber Pontificalis (E01425) and in the Itinerarium Malmesburiense of 642/683 (E07891), where we learn that the porta Asinaria, the gate in the Aurelianic walls by the Lateran basilica, was being called the 'porta sancti Iohannis'. In the twelfth century the Lateran basilica was formally dedicated to both John the Baptist and John the Apostle and Evangelist, as well as to the Saviour, and it is of course today always referred to as San Giovanni in Laterano.

The reference to the 'Basilica quae appellatur sancti Georgi' could be the earliest, and is certainly one of the earliest references to San Giorgio in Velabro. The only other possible seventh-century reference is in the
Liber Pontificalis Life of Leo II (pope 682-683), where it is stated that he ordered the building of the church and dedicated it to Saints Sebastian and George; but this sentence does not appear in the earliest manuscripts of the Liber, and is almost certainly a later (and therefore possibly unreliable) interpolation. For a cast-iron datable reference to San Giorgio in Velabro, we have to wait for the Life of Pope Zacharias (741-752) in the Liber Pontificalis.

The basilica of St Michael the Archangel (the penultimate basilica on the list) is the one church that cannot be identified. There was a well documented church of St Michael on the via Salaria, outside the walls; but no church of the Archangel is otherwise recorded at this early date within the city.

The 'Basilica sancti Bonifaci martyris, ubi ipse dormit' is the church of San Bonifacio, later Santi Bonifacio e Alessio, on the Aventine. Although this 'Bonicacius martyr' is wholly obscure (and entirely unreferenced in Rome before the later seventh century), by then the belief that he was present on the Aventine in body was firmly established, since the Itinerarium Malmesburiense, which can be reliably dated to 642/683, in its listing of saints buried within the city, also records 'In Monte Auentino sanctus Bonefatius' ('On the Aventine hill, saint Bonifacius').



Bibliography

Edition:
Glorie, F. (ed.), De locis sanctis martyrum quae sunt foris civitatis Romae, in Itineraria et alia geographica (Corpus Christianorum, series Latina 175; Turnhout: Brepols, 1965), 315-321. [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, 106-118.

Further Reading:
Krautheimer, R., Frazer, A., Corbett, S., Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae: The Early Christian Basilicas of Rome (IV–IX Centuries), (Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana: 1937–77).


Record Created By

Philip Polcar, Bryan Ward-Perkins

Date Last Modified

22/06/2020

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00020John the BaptistIohannesCertain
S00030Stephen, the First MartyrStephanusCertain
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristMariaCertain
S00036Peter, the ApostlePetrusCertain
S00037Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of RomeLaurentiusCertain
S00042John, the Apostle and EvangelistIohannesCertain
S00109Philip, the ApostlePhilippusCertain
S00111Clemens/Clement, bishop of Rome, martyr of the CrimeaClemensCertain
S00181Michael, the ArchangelMichahelCertain
S00259George, soldier and martyr, and CompanionsGeorgiusCertain
S00293Mark the EvangelistMarcusCertain
S00385Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs of SyriaCosmas, DamianusCertain
S00529Marcellus, bishop and martyr of RomeMarcellusUncertain
S00602Anastasia, martyr of Sirmium and RomeAnastasiaCertain
S00794Agatha, virgin and martyr of CataniaAgathaCertain
S00911Chrysogonus, martyr of Aquileia, venerated in RomeCrisogonusCertain
S01342Adrianos, martyr of Nicomedia, and Natalia, his pious wifeAdrianaCertain
S01801James, the Apostle, son of AlphaeusIacobusCertain
S02862Bonifacius, martyr, buried on the Aventine hillBonifaciusCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Philip Polcar, Bryan Ward-Perkins, Cult of Saints, E07001 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E07001