The Codex Calendar of 354 CE

For modern readers, the Codex-Calendar of354 C.E. is an indispensable document for charting the growth of the Christian church in fourth-century Rome. It was also the fundamental calendrical model for Pope Damasus as he developed a Christian cycle of festivals to support his claim that Rome was the sedes Petri, "episcopal seat of Peter," and the primate see of the Christian church.

The Codex was produced for a wealthy Roman Christian aristocrat named Valentinus by the talented Christian calligrapher Furius Dionysius Filocalus. Perhaps the most important pages in the Codex were those of the illustrated public Roman calendar of the year 354 C.E., which listed the pagan holidays (ferialia), rituals, and certain astrological phenomena. This is a principal source of fourth-century Roman pagan religious rituals. In addition to the calendar identifying the important pagan religious practices, the Codex also recorded chronologies and lists of secular and civic offices in the city. Among these, there are also three important Christian chronologies: (1) the Depositions of Bishops, a list of the burial dates of Roman bishops from 254-352 C.E.; (2) the Depositions of Martyrs, a list of commemorations for martyrs from Pope Callistus (222 C.E.) through the persecution of Diocletian in 305 C.E., including the feast of the Nativity of Christ and the Anniversary of the Chair of Peter; and (3) a list of bishops. These separate lists of Christian chronologies reveal the first attempts to name and recognize Christian bishops and martyrs.

The Codex-Calendar was made by and for a Christian. By the latter fourth century some Christian holidays were already a part of the fabric of daily life in Rome, yet Christian holidays were not included in the calendar. Instead, the calendar seems to have been important as a pagan Roman historical artifact. For Damasus, however, the imperial pagan past preserved in the Codex would guarantee Rome's renovatio, "rebirth," as a Christian capital. He simply applied Christian holy time to the pagan religious calendar to create a new calendrical cycle of Christian holy days.

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