Despite fierce opposition, Damasus was an energetic bishop and a devoted (if ruthless) leader of his riotous flock. He disseminated the Christian message through all media available, to increase the influence of his see and to promote ecclesiastical unity. By the second half of the fourth century, Christianity began to penetrate the highest levels of Roman society, and in the last decade of the century large numbers of Roman aristocrats became Christians.68 The period from 370 until the end of the fifth century was the golden age of Christian euergetism in Rome, as the largesse of Christian aristocrats gradually replaced imperial donations.69 The tituli (churches whose clergy were charged with pastoral care of the growing Christian population) that were founded were provided with liturgical apparatus (e.g., vestments, vessels), but more significantly with landed property in and around Rome, in Italy, in Sicily and even as far away as North Africa and Illyricum. These are the beginnings of the patrimonium of the Roman church whose administration must have been quite difficult during the troubled times of the fifth and sixth centuries.70 Its revenues paid for the upkeep of the buildings and the stipends of the clergy. During the time of Damasus, a pagan aristocrat could joke about the papacy as an attractive career option.71

This new patronage enabled Damasus and his successors to carry forward an ambitious building programme that transformed the urban landscape. Rome first benefited from Constantine's munificence in315,72 and for several decades imperially sponsored projects outclassed papal efforts. The popes began to establish a network of tituli. The beginnings were modest, with a few small churches like the titulus Silvestri, the titulus Marci or the two basilicas erected possibly by Pope Julius I. The building activity continued under Pope Liberius with a basilica on the Esquiline Hill, and intensified under Pope Damasus and his successors. Damasus decorated the apse of S. Anastasia and built a baptistery in St Peter as well as the titulus Damasi (S. Lorenzo in Damasi),73 the titulus Fasciolae (SS Nereo ed Achilleo), and the titulus Pudentis (S. Pudenziana) which were probably erected during his episcopate. The foundation of churches continued during the fifth century, despite a difficult economic situation, a

69 C. Pietri,'Euergetisme'.

70 The extant correspondence of Gregory the Great (590-604) gives us some insight into the management of the patrimonium; see Markus, Gregory the Great, 112-24.

71 Jerome, Against John 8. And yet, in the middle of the fourth century, the patrimonium yielded no more than 10% of the income of the super-rich, see Pietri, 'Euergetisme', 822 -3 .

72 See V Fiocchi Nicolai, Strutture funerarie, H. Brandenburg, Ancient churches of Rome, and the discussion in ch. 29, below.

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