Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2225
Latin inscription recounting the martyrdom of the Presbyter Hippolytus (died in early 3rd c.) composed by Pope Damasus. Found in the Cemetery of Hippolytus, Via Tiburtina, Rome, AD 366/384.
hippolytus fertur premerent cum iussa tyranni
presbyter in scisma semper mansisse novati.
tempore quo gladius secuit pia viscera matris,
devotus christo peteret cum regna plorum,
quaesisset populus ubinam procedere posset,
catholicam dixisse fidem sequerentur ut omnes
sic noster meruit confessus martyr ut esset.
haec audita refert damasus probat omnia xps.
Hippolytus, when the tyrant’s commands were bearing down, is said
to have steadfastly remained, a presbyter, in the schism of Novatus.
At that time when persecution’s sword cut at our mother’s pious innards,
when, devoted to Christ, he sought the realms of the righteous,
(and) the people asked where they might be able to assemble,
it is reported that he told all to follow the universal faith.
Having thus confessed, he won the right to be our martyr.
These things, which he heard, Damasus relates; Christ verifies all.
Text and translation: Trout 2015, 144-145, no. 35.


Hippolytus of Rome was active in the city during the late second and early third centuries, as a presbyter and then as a bishop in competition with the bishop Pontianus. They were exiled to Sardinia by the imperial authorities in AD 235, where they were most probably martyred and then their relics were brought back to Rome. Damasus’ stress on Hippolytus’ change of heart and return to catholic faith probably overwrote the history of doctrinal conflict in the early third-century community with a tale of contrite reintegration. Damasus through his works tried not only to promote Hippolytus as an example of unity for his own troubled community, but also to provide a specific counterbalance to the nearby shrine of Novatian, which together with the cult of Hippolytus had emerged as a rallying point for his Ursinian and Luciferian opponents.
(by Katarzyna Wojtalik)

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Rome

About the source:

Title: Epigramata damasiana
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The Damasan inscriptions comprise c. 60 poems in honour of saints and martyrs, composed by pope Damasus I (366-384), and executed on large marble plaques with very fine, usually red, lettering by the talented 4th c. calligrapher Furius Dionysius Filocalus. The inscriptions were displayed in Rome, at saints' and martyrs' tombs, and were an important part of the programme of monumentalisation of the sites of saintly cult, initiated by the pope. The remains of many of these inscriptions have been found, but others are known only through manuscript transmission. Those which are fragmentary can be completed from the manuscript copies – especially syllogae that are medieval collections of copies of metrical inscriptions from the city’s late antique suburban martyria and basilicae as well as its urban churches. For Damasus’ epigrams the most important syllogae are: the sylloge Laureshamensis (Vat. Pal. 833) from the ninth-tenth centuries; the sylloge Centulensis (of cod. Petropolitano F XIV 1) from the eighth-ninth centuries; and the sylloge Turonensis derived from a seventh-century exemplar and surviving in several later manuscripts (e.g. Closterburgensis 723 and Gottweihensis 64). For more about the manuscripts containing Damasus’ poems see Trout 2015, p. 63-65.
This inscription was composed in hexameters. The script is Philocalian. The text is preserved by the sylloge Centulensis. It was probably in the fifteenth century that the tablet was cut into circular and geometrically shaped pieces and inserted into the pavement of the Lateran basilica of Saint John. They were rediscovered during renovations at the Lateran between 1936 and 1938.
The subterranean basilica in the Cemetery of Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina housing the tomb of Hippolytus was first excavated in the early 1880s. Damasus perhaps constructed the original underground basilica, though the extent of his intervention is not clear.
(by Katarzyna Wojtalik)
K. Wojtalik, Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity, E07187 (
Edition and translation :
De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 7: Coemeteria viae Tiburtinae (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1980), no. 19932.
Ferrua, A., Epigramata damasiana (Rome: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1942), no. 35.
Ihm, M., Damasi epigrammata (Anthologiae Latinae Supplementa 1, Leipzig: Teubner, 1895), no. 37.
Trout, D., Damasus of Rome: The Epigraphic Poetry: Introduction, Texts, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 144-145, no. 35.
Further reading:
Trout, D., Damasus of Rome: The Epigraphic Poetry: Introduction, Texts, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 145-147 (with further bibliography).


Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Novatianist
Change of denomination
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Fame of sanctity
Reverenced by
Pastoral activity - Teaching
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2225,