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St. Balbina



Memorials of a St. Balbina are to be found at Rome in three different spots which are connected with the early Christian antiquities of that city. In the purely legendary account of the martyrdom of St. Alexander (acta SS., Maii, I, 367 sqq.) mention is made of a tribune Quirinus who died a martyr and was buried in the catacomb of Praetextatus on the Via Appia. His grace was regarded with great veneration and is referred to in the old itineraries (guides for pilgrims) of the Roman catacombs. Tradition said that his daughter Balbina, who had been baptized by St. Alexander who had passed her life unmarried, was buried after death near her father in the same catacomb. The feast of St. Balbina is celebrated 31 March. Usuardus speaks of her in his martyrology; his account of St. Balbina rests on the record of the martyrdom of St. Alexander. There is another Balbina whose name was given to a catacomb (coem. Balbinae) which lay between the Via Appia and the Via Ardeatina not far from the little church called Domine quo vadis. Over this cemetery a basilica was erected in the fourth century by Pope Mark. There still exists on the little Aventine in the city itself the old title of St. Balbina, first mentioned in an epitaph of the sixth century and in the signatures to a Roman council (595) of the time of Pope Gregory I. This church was erected in a large ancient hall. Its titular saint is supposed to be identical with the St. Balbina who was buried in the catacomb of Praetextatus and whose bones together with those of her father were brought here at a later date. It is not certain, however, that the two names refer to the same person.

J.P. KIRSCH








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