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The Popes as Rulers of Rome in the Aftermath of Empire, 476–769

  • Rosamond McKitterick (a1)


This article explores the degree to which the rule and style of the bishops of Rome after the deposition of the last Roman emperor in the West in 476 had any imperial elements, in the light of the evidence contained within the Liber pontificalis. Papal rule in Rome was cast as a replacement of imperial rule in religious matters, an opportunity for the bishop to assume political responsibility and also a deliberate emulation of imperial behaviour. This is manifest above all in the textual record in the Liber pontificalis of the papal embellishment of Rome, and in the physical evidence of the extant basilicas of the city. The deliberately imperial elements of papal self-presentation and the importance of Rome's primacy, apostolic succession and orthodoxy, all articulated so emphatically within the Liber pontificalis, indicate the multitude of strands by which the papacy wove the fabric of its own imperium or power.


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*Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, CB2 3HU. E-mail:


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1 ‘Eodem tempore fuit ecclesia, hoc est prima sedis apostolica, executrix’; ‘expectans tempus paenitentiae’: Liber pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, Louis, Le Liber pontificalis. Texte, introduction et commentaire, 2 vols (Paris, 1886, 1892), 1: 249 [hereafter: LP]. For convenience I also provide page references to the easily accessible and excellent translation by Davis, Raymond, The Book of Pontiffs (Liber pontificalis): The Ancient Biographies of the First Ninety Roman Bishops to AD 715, TTH 6, 3rd edn (Liverpool, 2010), 40.

2 ‘[H]ic fuit temporibus Odoacris regis usque ad tempora Theodorici regis’: LP 1: 252 (Davis, Pontiffs, 40).

3 Numerous modern narrative accounts and studies of these events exist, from the classic Hodgkin, Thomas, Italy and her Invaders, 3: The Ostrogothic Invasion (London, 1896), to the essays in Teodorico il Grande e i Goti d'Italia, Atti del XIII Congresso internazionale di Studio sull'Alto Medioevo, Milan, 2–6 novembre 1992 (Spoleto, 1993). Still a useful account is Llewellyn, Peter, Rome in the Dark Ages, 2nd edn (London, 1993); and a stimulating interpretation is offered by Amory, Patrick, People and Identity in Ostrogothic Italy, 489–554 (Cambridge, 1997). Odoacer's period of rule remains relatively neglected.

4 See the summary of the many editions and translations in Adams, Thomas R., ‘Review: Payne, A. (ed.), The Spanish Letter of Columbus. A Facsimile of the Original Edition published by Bernard Quaritch in 1891 (London, 2006)’, Book Collector, Autumn 2007, 441–3.

5 Croke, Brian, ‘A.D. 476: The Manufacture of a Turning Point’, Chiron 13 (1983), 81119.

6 From a vast literature, the following provides both a useful synthesis and a new appraisal: Jong, Mayke de, ‘The Empire that was always Decaying: The Carolingians (800–888)’, Medieval Worlds 2 (2015), 625 [online journal], at: <>, last accessed 20 January 2017; see also Sarti, Laury, ‘Frankish Romanness and Charlemagne's Empire’, Speculum 91 (2016), 1040–58. The classic account remains Classen, Peter, Karl der Großen, das Papsttum und Byzanz. Die Begründung des karolingischer Kaisertums, ed. Furhmann, Horst and Märtl, Claudia (Sigmaringen, 1985). For new perspectives on the Central Middle Ages, see Eldevik, John, Episcopal Power and Ecclesiastical Reform in the German Empire: Tithes, Lordship and Community, 950–1150 (Cambridge, 2012); Ott, John S., Bishops, Authority and Community in North-West Europe, c.1050–1150 (Cambridge, 2015).

7 I am, of course, not the first to explore this aspect: see in particular Humphries, Mark, ‘From Emperor to Pope? Ceremonial, Space, and Authority at Rome from Constantine to Gregory the Great’, in Cooper, Kate and Hillner, Julia, eds, Religion, Dynasty and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900 (Cambridge, 2007), 2158; idem, ‘Valentinian III and the City of Rome (425–455): Patronage, Politics, Power’, in Grig, Lucy and Kelly, Gavin, eds, Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2012), 161–82.

8 Vignoli, Giovanni, Liber pontificalis seu De Gestis romanorum pontificum quem cum cod. MSS Vaticanis aliisque sumo studio et labore conlatum emendavit, 3 vols (Rome 1724–55); cf. the rival edition by Francesco Bianchini, repr. in PL 127, 128.

9 Schelstrate, Emmanuel, Antiquitas ecclesiae dissertationibus monumentis ac notis, 2 vols (Rome, 1692), 1: 369–75, was apparently the first to refute this. The attribution of the text to Anastasius Bibliothecarius in the later ninth century has taken rather longer to be discarded: but see Herbers, Klaus, ‘Agir et écrire. Les Actes des papes du IXe siècle et le Liber pontificalis’, and François Bougard, ‘Composition, diffusion et réception des parties tardives du Liber pontificalis romain (VIIIe–IXe siècles)’, in Bougard, François and Sot, Michel, eds, Liber, gesta, histoire. Écrire l'histoire des évêques et des papes de l'antiquité au XXe siècle (Turnhout, 2009), 109–24, 127–52. See also the comments on the eighteenth-century editions in Franklin, Carmen Vircillo, ‘Reading the Popes: The Liber Pontificalis and its Editors’, Speculum 92 (2017), 607–29.

10 Herman Geertman, ‘La Genesi del Liber pontificalis romano. Un Processo di organizzazione della Memoria’, in Bougard and Sot, eds, Liber, gesta, histoire, 37–107.

11 LP 1: 1–12; see also Salzman, Michele Renée, On Roman Time: The Codex Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, CA, 1990).

12 See the useful summary in Davis, Pontiffs, xx–xxxiv.

13 On Epitomes F and K, see LP 1: xlvix–lvii, but this element of the Liber pontificalis’s redaction is open to challenge: see Geertman, ‘La genesi del Liber pontificalis romano’; Verardi, Andrea Antonio, ‘La genesi del Liber Pontificalis alla luce delle vicende della città di Roma tra la fine del V e gli inizi del VI secolo. Una proposta’, Rivista di storia del cristianesimo 10 (2013), 728; McKitterick, Rosamond, ‘Perceptions of Rome and the Papacy in Late Merovingian Francia: The Cononian recension’, in Esders, Stefan et al., eds, East and West in the Early Middle Ages: The Merovingian Kingdoms in Mediterranean Perspective (Cambridge, forthcoming).

14 Reproduced from McKitterick, Rosamond, ‘The Papacy and Byzantium in the Seventh- and Early Eighth-Century Sections of the Liber pontificalis’, Papers of the British School at Rome 84 (2016), 241–73, at 248.

15 Useful background in Arnold, Jonathan J., Shane Bjornlie, M. and Sessa, Kristina, eds, A Companion to Ostrogothic Italy (Leiden, 2016).

16 McKitterick, Rosamond, ‘Roman Texts and Roman History in the Early Middle Ages’, in Bolgia, Claudia, McKitterick, Rosamond and Osborne, John, eds, Rome across Time and Space: Cultural Transmission and the Exchange of Ideas c.400–1400 (Cambridge, 2011), 1934. For schism, see K. Blair-Dixon, ‘Memory and Authority in Sixth-Century Rome: The Liber pontificalis and the Collectio Avellana’, in Cooper and Hillner, eds, Religion, Dynasty and Patronage, 59–76; cf. also Davis, Pontiffs, x–xii; Noble, Thomas F. X., ‘A New Look at the Liber pontificalis’, AHP 23 (1985), 347–58; Mauskopf Deliyannis, Deborah, ‘The Roman Liber pontificalis, Papal Primacy, and the Acacian Schism’, Viator 45 (2014), 116.

17 For the conventional approach, see Ullmann, Walter, Gelasius I. (492–496). Das Papst-tum an der Wende der Spätantike zum Mittelalter, Päpste und Papsttum 18 (Stuttgart, 1981); idem, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power (London, 1970); but for refreshing new assessments of these same letters, see Neil, Bronwen and Allen, Pauline, ed. and transl., The Letters of Gelasius I (492–496): Pastor and Micro-Manager of the Church of Rome (Turnhout, 2014). Some new perspectives are to be found in Blaudeau, Philippe, ‘Narrating Papal Authority (440–530): The Adaptation of the Liber Pontificalis to the Apostolic See's developing Claims’, in Dunn, Geoffrey D., ed., The Bishop of Rome in Late Antiquity (Farnham, 2015), 127–40.

18 A notable exception is Blaudeau, ‘Narrating Papal Authority’; Blaudeau covers some of the same ground that I do here, albeit from a complementary perspective and with different emphases.

19 Rosamond McKitterick, ‘La place du Liber Pontificalis dans les genres historio-graphiques du haut moyen âge’, in Bougard and Sot, eds, Liber, gesta, histoire, 23–36; for a more extended argument than the short summary here concerning the model provided by Roman imperial biographies, see McKitterick, ‘Roman Texts and Roman History’. On Roman martyr narratives, see Clare Pilsworth, ‘Dating the Gesta martyrum: A Manuscript-based Approach’, in Kate Cooper, ed., The Roman Martyrs and the Politics of Memory, special issue of EME 9 (2000), 271–324; Marios Costambeys, ‘Review Article: Property, Ideology and the Territorial Power of the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages’, ibid. 367–96; Marianne Sághy, ‘The Bishop of Rome and the Martyrs’, in Dunn, ed., Bishop of Rome, 37–56.

20 For a fuller commentary on this portion of the Liber pontificalis, see McKitterick, Rosamond, ‘The Liber pontificalis and the Transformation of Rome from Pagan to Christian City in the Early Middle Ages’, in Kahlos, Maijastina, Ritari, Katja and Stenger, Jan, eds, Being Pagan, Being Christian in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Helsinki, forthcoming), on which I draw here.

21 Brent, Allen, Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century: Communities in Tension before the Emergence of a Monarch Bishop, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 31 (Leiden 1995); see also Curran, John, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000); Papandrea, James A., Novatian of Rome and the Culmination of Pre-Nicene Orthodoxy (Princeton, NJ, 2011).

22 LP 1: 150; see, for example, Gülzow, Henneke, Cyprian und Novatian. Der Briefwechsel zwischen den Gemeinden in Rom und Karthago zur Zeit der Verfolgung des Kaisers Decius (Tübingen, 1975).

23 ‘Hic fecit constitutum de omne ecclesia. Etiam huius temporibus factum est concilium in Nicea Bithynia et congregati sunt CCCXVIII episcopi catholici’: LP 1: 171 (Davis, Pontiffs, 14).

24 Also in Life 48, Hilarus issued a decree ‘in the consulship of Basiliscus and Hermenericus’ (consulatu Basilisco Hermenerico): LP 1: 242 (Davis, Pontiffs, 37), a phrase which seems to have been extracted from the document referred to.

25 LP 1: 255, 258, 260, 269, 275, 279, 281, 285 (Davis, Pontiffs, 40, 41, 42, 45, 48, 49, 50).

26 ‘[O]mnia praedia facultatum eius ecclesiae catholicae sociavit . . . cum linteaminibus et aromatibus, manibus suis tractans’: LP 1: 232 (Davis, Pontiffs, 34).

27 For Felix IV, see Duchesne, Louis, ‘La Succession du pape Félix IV’, Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire de l’École française de Rome 3 (1883), 239–66. For a judicious appraisal of Vigilius's actions, see Sotinel, Claire, ‘Autorité pontificale et pouvoir impérial sous le règne de Justinien. Le Pape Vigile’, Mélanges de l'Ecole française de Rome. Antiquité 104 (1992), 439–63; eadem, ‘Mémoire perdue ou mémoire manipulée. Le Liber pontificalis et la controverse des Trois Chapîtres’, in eadem and Maurice Sartre, eds, L'Usage du passé entre antiquité tardive et haut moyen âge (Rennes, 2008), 59–76; ET in Sotinel, Claire, Church and Society in Late Antique Italy and Beyond (Farnham, 2010), chs 1, 3. See also eadem, ‘Emperors and Popes in the Sixth Century: The Western View’, in Maas, Michael, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian (Cambridge, 2005), 267–90.

28 See, for example, Patrick T. R. Gray, ‘The Legacy of Chalcedon: Christological Problems and their Significance’, in Maas, ed., Companion to Justinian, 215–39; Chazelle, Celia and Cubitt, Catherine, eds, The Crisis of the Oikoumene: The Three Chapters and the Failed Quest for Unity in the Sixth-Century Mediterranean (Turnhout, 2007), especially Price, Richard, ‘The Three Chapters and the Council of Chalcedon’, 17–37; idem, with Booth, Philip and Cubitt, Catherine, The Acts of the Lateran Synod of 649 (Liverpool, 2014).

29 ‘[D]eposita regia maiestate, fidem suum exposuerunt ante conspectum sanctorum episcoporum’: Life 47.3–4, LP 1: 238 (Davis, Pontiffs, 36–7).

30 ‘Hic propter nomen Romanum’: LP 1: 239 (Davis, Pontiffs, 37).

31 ‘[E]t confirmans dominationem et principatum sancta sedis catholicae et apostolicae’: LP 1: 242 (Davis, Pontiffs, 37).

32 LP 1: 255 (Davis, Pontiffs, 41–2).

33 ‘[Q]ui voluit occulte revocare Acacium . . . sine consilio presbiterorum vel episcoporum vel clericorum cunctae ecclesiae catholicae . . . qui nutu divino percussus est’: Life 52 (496–8), LP 1: 258 (Davis, Pontiffs, 42).

34 ‘Nos iubere volumus, non uobis iuberi’: Life 54, LP 1: 270 (Davis, Pontiffs, 46).

35 But see the interesting suggestions offered by Amory, Patrick, People and Identity in Ostrogothic Italy, 489–554 (Cambridge, 1997), 195235.

36 ‘[A]d unitatem sedis apostolicae’: Life 54.8, LP 1: 270 (Davis, Pontiffs, 47).

37 Life 55, LP 1: 275–6 (Davis, Pontiffs, 48–9); see Noble, Thomas F. X., ‘Theodoric and the Papacy’, in Teodorico il Grande e i Goti d'Italia, Atti de XIII congresso internazionale di studi sull'alto Medioevo Milan 1990 (Spoleto, 1993), 395429. For more recent discussion, see K. Sessa, ‘The Roman Church and its Bishops’, R. Lizzi Testa, ‘Bishops, Ecclesiastical Institutions and the Ostrogothic Regime’, in Arnold, Bjornlie and Sessa, eds, Companion to Ostrogothic Italy, 435–50 (especially 441–2), 451–79.

38 ‘[H]umiliavit se sedi apostolicae et adoravit beatissimum Agapitum papam’: LP 1: 288 (Davis, Pontiffs, 52).

39 McKitterick, Rosamond, ‘The Papacy and Byzantium in the Seventh- and Early Eighth-Century Sections of the Liber pontificalis’, Papers of the British School at Rome 84 (2016), 241–74. On the doctrinal issues, see Jankowiak, M., ‘The Invention of Dyothelitism’, Studia Patristica 63 (2013), 335–42; Price, Lateran Council of 649.

40 ‘Augustus christianissimus cum regno in capite sese prostravit et pedes osculans pontificis’: LP 1: 391 (Davis, Pontiffs, 88–9). On the imperial ‘renewing of the church's privileges’ (omnia privilegia ecclesiae renovavit) during this same visit, see my comments in ‘Papacy and Byzantium’, 264–5.

41 For preliminary comments on this, see ibid. 268–72.

42 See Humphreys, Michael T. G., Law, Power, and Imperial Ideology in the Iconoclast Era, c.650–850 (Oxford, 2015).

43 See Gantner, Clemens, Freunde Roms und Völker der Finsternis. Die päpstlichen Konstruktion von Anderen im 8. und 9. Jahrhundert (Vienna, Cologne and Weimar, 2014), 60138.

44 ‘[U]t ab hoc resipiscerent ac se removerent errore, commonitoria scripta vigore apostolicae sedis institutionis’; ET Davis, Raymond, The Lives of the Eighth-Century Popes (Liber pontificalis), TTH 13, 2nd edn (Liverpool, 2007), 19.

45 ‘[P]ro restitundis confirmandisque in pristino venerationis statu sacratissimis imaginibus domini Dei et salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi, santaeque eius genetricis atque beatorum apostolorum omniumque sanctorum, prophetarum, martyrum et confessorum’: LP 1: 464 (Davis, Eighth-Century Popes, 82).

46 ‘[C]onfundentes atque anathematizantes execrabilem illam synodum quae in Grecie partibus nuper facta est pro deponendis ipsis sacris imaginibus’: Life 96.23, LP 1: 477 (Davis, Eighth-Century Popes, 100). For subsequent developments, see Noble, Thomas F. X., Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians (Philadelphia, PA, 2009); on Greci, see Gantner, Clemens, ‘The Label “Greeks” in the Papal Diplomatic Repertoire in the Eighth Century’, in Pohl, Walter and Heydemann, Gerda, eds, Strategies of Identification: Ethnicity and Religion in Early Medieval Europe (Turnhout, 2013), 303–49.

47 I am grateful to Christian Sahner for bringing the History of the Patriarchs to my attention: see Basil Evetts, ed., History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria I–IV, PO 2, 4, 21, 50, also available online at Roger Pearse's invaluable Tertullian project website: <>, last accessed 20 January 2017; Heijer, Johannes Den, ‘Coptic Historiography in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Early Mamluk Periods’, Medieval Encounters 2 (1996), 6798; Heijer, Johananes Den, Mawhüb ibn Manṣǖr ibn Mufarriğ et l'historiographie copto-arabe. Étude sur la composition de l'Histoire des Patriarches d'Alexandrie, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium Subsidia 83 (Louvain, 1989).

48 The literature on these is too great to be listed here. Davis, Pontiffs, xxvii–xlv, offers a convenient summary of the early papal endowments. I offer some preliminary remarks about the Constantinian basilica, in particular in ‘The Constantinian Basilica in the Early Medieval Liber pontificalis’, in Bosman, Lex, Haynes, Robert and Liverani, Paolo, eds, The Lateran, Rome, British School at Rome Monographs (Cambridge, forthcoming). For articles on many aspects of both decoration and buildings, see the indispensable Guidobaldi, Federico and Guidobaldi, Alessandra Guiglia, eds, Ecclesiae Urbis. Atti del congresso internazionale di studi sulle chiese di Roma IV–X secolo, Studi di antichità cristiana 59 (Vatican City, 2002); Geertman, Herman, More veterum. Il Liber Pontificalis e gli edifici ecclesiastici di Roma nella tarda antichità e nell'alto medioevo, Archaeologica Traiectina 10 (Groningen, 1975). For more recent studies, see Thunø, Eric, The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome: Time, Network, and Repetition (Cambridge, 2015); Proverbio, Cecilia, I cicli affrescati paleocristiani di San Pietro in Vaticano e San Paolo fuori le mura, Bibliothèque de l'antiquité tardive 33 (Turnhout, 2017).

49 See especially the Introduction by the editors, ‘On the Reuse of Antiquity: The Perspectives of the Archaeologist and of the Historian’, Esch, Arnold, ‘Reading spolia in Late Antique and Contemporary Perception’, and Paolo Liverani, ‘The Reuse of Older Elements in the Architecture of Fourth- and Fifth-Century Rome: A Contribution to the Evaluation of spolia’, in Brilliant, Richard and Kinney, Dale, eds, Reuse Value: Spolia and Appropriation in Art and Architecture from Constantine to Sherrie Levine (Farnham, 2011), 152.

50 Hansen, Maria Fabricius, The Spolia Churches of Rome: Recycling Antiquity in the Middle Ages (Aarhus, 2015), 8892, with colour illustrations, is a useful summary of the ideas expounded in eadem, The Eloquence of Appropriation: Prolegomena to an Understanding of Spolia in Early Christian Rome (Rome, 2003). For discussion, see in particular Dale Kinney, ‘Instances of Appropriation in Late Roman and Early Christian Art’, Essays in Medieval Studies 28 (2012), 1–22 [online journal], at: <> or <>, last accessed 20 January 2017; and the comments by Elizabeth Marlowe in ‘CAA Reviews’, online at: < CrossRef DOI: 10.3202/>, last accessed 20 January 2017. For detailed observations on the fabric and archaeology of the Lateran with rather different interpretations from those offered by Hansen, see Brandt, Olaf and Guidobaldi, Federico, ‘Il Battistero lateranense. Nuove interpretazioni delle fasi strutturali’, Rivista di archeologia cristiana 84 (2008), 189282.

51 Handy details of all these churches and their inscriptions are given in Webb, Matilda, The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide (Brighton, 2001); for illustrations, see Brandenburg, Hugo, Die Frühchristlichen Kirchen Roms vom 4. bis zum 7. Jahrhundert. Der Beginn der abendländischen Kirchenbaukunst (Milan and Regensburg, 2004), 3752.

52 LP 1: 233 (Davis, Pontiffs, 35).

53 McKitterick, Rosamond, ‘The Representation of Old Saint Peter's Basilica in the Liber Pontificalis’, in eadem et al., eds, Old Saint Peter's, Rome, British School at Rome Studies (Cambridge, 2013), 95118.

54 Meaghan McEvoy, ‘Late Roman Imperial Christianity and the City of Rome in the Fifth Century’, ibid. 119–36; Goodson, Caroline, ‘To be the Daughter of Saint Peter: S. Petronilla and Forging the Franco-Papal Alliance’, in West-Harling, Veronica, ed., Three Empires, Three Cities: Identity, Material Culture and Legitimacy in Venice, Ravenna and Rome, 750–1000 (Turnhout, 2015), 159–82.

55 Davis, Pontiffs, xxxix.

56 Webb, Churches and Catacombs, 210.

57 ‘THEODOSIUS COEPIT PERFECIT HONORIUS AULUM DOCTORIS MUNDI SACRATAM CORPORE PAULI’; ‘PLACIDAE PIA MENS OPERIS DECUS OMNE PATERNI GAUDET PONTIFICIS STUDIO SPLENDERE LEONIS’; ET ibid. 212. For an illustration of the arch and inscriptions, and two of the extant fresco portraits, see Brandenburg, Die frühchristlichen Kirchen, 127–9.

58 Stuart, Meriwether, ‘How were Imperial Portraits Distributed throughout the Roman Empire?’, American Journal of Archaeology 43 (1939), 601–17; see also Coates-Stephens, Robert, ‘The Reuse of Statuary in Late Antique Rome and the End of the Statue Habit’, in Bauer, Franz Alto and Witschel, Christian, eds, Statuen in der Spätantike (Wiesbaden, 2007), 171–88.

59 See my discussion with reference to the earlier literature: McKitterick, Rosamond, ‘Narrative Strategies in the Liber pontificalis: St Paul and San Paolo fuori le mura’, Rivista di storia del cristianesimo 10 (2013), 115–30; see also the classic study by Bruyne, Lucien de, L'antica serie di ritratti papali della basilica di S. Paolo fuori le mura, Studi di antichità cristiana 7 (Rome, 1934).

60 Now Vatican City, BAV, Barberini MS lat. 4407.

61 For a scholarly reconstruction of elements of the old basilica, see McKitterick et al., eds, Old St Peter's, Rome.

62 BAV, Barberini Lat. 2733; published as Grimaldi, Giacomo, Descrizione della basilica antica di S. Pietro in Vaticano: Il codice Barberini 2733, Biblioteca apostolica Vaticana, ed. Niggl, Reto (Vatican City, 1972), 138–57 and figs 52–8; Proverbio, I cicli affrescati palaocristiani, ch. 2.


64 See LP 1: 279 (Davis, Pontiffs, 49). The portrait of Felix is a seventeenth-century reconstruction; see Webb, Churches and Catacombs, 126–9, including the inscription and translation. For illustrations, see Brandenburg, Die frühchristlichem Kirchen, 223; and the important new interpretations of the Felix portrait as well as other papal representations in Thunø, Apse Mosaic.

65 See Cooper, ed., Roman Martyrs, 273–396.

66 LP 1: 309 (Davis, Pontiffs, 59). For details of the inscriptions and building, see Webb, Churches and Catacombs, 240–5; for illustrations, see Brandenburg, Die frühchristlichen Kirchen, 236–7.

67 ‘SURSUM VERSA NUTU QUOD CUNCTIS CERNITUR UNO PRAESUL HONORIUS HAEC VOTA DICATA DEDIT VESTIBUS ET FACTIS SIGNATUR ILLIUS ORA LUCET ET ASPECTUM LUCIDA CORDA GERENS’: LP 1: 323 (Davis, Pontiffs, 62). For details and the inscription, see Webb, Churches and Catacombs, 246–8; for illustrations, see Brandenburg, Die frühchristlichen Kirchen, 244–6, who identifies the second episcopal figure as Pope Gregory I (590–604).

68 ‘MARTYRIBUS XPI DNI [Christi domini] VOTA JOHANNES REDDIDIT ANTISTES SANCTIFICANTE DEO’: LP 1: 330 (Davis, Pontiffs, 64); see Webb, Churches and Catacombs, 47–8. For illustrations, see Brandenburg, Die frühchristlichen Kirchen, 53.

69 ‘Fecit vero et imagines per diversas ecclesias quas, quicumque nosse desiderat in eis eius vultum depictum repperiet’: LP 1: 385 (Davis, Pontiffs, 86).

70 See Antonella Ballardini and Paola Pogliani, ‘A Reconstruction of the Oratory of John VII (705–7)’, in McKitterick et al., eds, Old St Peter's, Rome, 190–213; and the illustration of John VII's mosaic in Andoloro, Maria, ed., Santa Maria Antiqua tra Roma e Bisanzio (Rome, 2016), 249, and discussion, 250–9.

71 See Augenti, Andrea, ‘Continuity and Discontinuity of a Seat of Power: The Palatine Hill from the Fifth to the Tenth Century’, in Smith, Julia M. H., ed., Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West: Essays in Honour of Donald A. Bullough (Leiden, 2000), 4354.


73 Liber pontificalis, Life 100.9, LP 2: 54; ET Davis, Raymond, The Lives of the Ninth-Century Popes (Liber pontificalis): The Ancient Biographies of Ten Popes from A.D. 817–891, TTH 20 (Liverpool, 1995), 1011. For details of the church and the inscription, see Webb, Churches and Catacombs, 68–71; for full discussion, see Goodson, Caroline J., The Rome of Paschal I: Papal Power, Urban Renovation, Church Rebuilding and Relic Translation, 817–824 (Cambridge 2010). On the significance of the square nimbus, see Osborne, John, ‘The Portrait of Pope Leo IV in San Clemente, Rome: A Re-Examination of the so-called “Square” Nimbus in Medieval Art’, Papers of the British School at Rome 47 (1979), 5865.

74 ‘XYSTUS EPISCOPUS PLEBI DEI’: Webb, Churches and Catacombs, 64, for the inscription; see also the virtual tour, online at: <>, last accessed 20 January 2017.

75 See the useful maps in Krautheimer, Richard, Rome: Profile of a City, 312–1308 (Princeton, NJ, 1980), 32, 51, 74. For full documentation, see idem, Corbett, Spencer and Frankl, Wolfgang, Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae. Le basiliche cristiane antiche di Roma (sec. IV–IX) / The Early Christian Basilicas of Rome (IV–IX cent.), 5 vols, Monumenti dell'antichità cristiana 2nd ser. 2 (Vatican City, 1937–77).

76 ‘Culmen apostolicum cum caelestinus haberet. Primus et in tot fulgeret episcopus orbe’: Life 46.9, LP 1: 235 (Davis, Pontiffs, 38); see Webb, Churches and Catacombs, 173; for an illustration of figures of ecclesia and synagoga, see Brandenburg, Die frühchristlichen Kirchen, 174.

77 LP 1: 220 (Davis, Pontiffs, 32).

78 LP 1: 150, 164, 238 (Davis, Pontiffs, 9, 13, 38–9). On Lucina, see Cooper, Kate, ‘The Martyr, the Matrona and the Bishop: The Matron Lucina and the Politics of Martyr Cult in Fifth- and Sixth-Century Rome’, EME 8 (1999), 297318.

79 ‘[Q]uam sacrosanctam ecclesiam caput et verticem omnium ecclesiarum in universo orbe terrarum dici, coli, venerari et praedicari sancimus, sicut per alia nostra imperialia decreta statuimus’; ‘quamque Romae urbis et omnes Italiae seu occidentalium regionum provincias, loca et civitates saepefato beatissimo pontifici, patri nostro Silvestrio, universali papae, contradentes atque relinquentes eius vel successorum ipsius pontificum potestati . . . disponenda atque iuri sanctae Romanae ecclesiae concedimus permanenda’: MGH Fontes iuris 10, 84, 93–4; ET Edwards, M., Constantine and Christendom: The Oration to the Saints; The Greek and Latin Accounts of the Discovery of the Cross; The Edict of Constantine to Pope Silvester, TTH 39 (Liverpool, 2003), 107, 113. For a useful survey of recent interpretations, albeit offering a later date for the composition of the text than I favour here, see Goodson, Caroline J. and Nelson, Janet L., ‘Review Article: The Roman Contexts of the “Donation of Constantine”’, EME 18 (2010), 446–67.

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