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Titulus

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For information about the titular churches of Cardinals, see titular church.

A titulus (pl. tituli), or house churches were the first churches in Rome, in the homes of Christians. St Paul the Apostle mentioned such a church in Romans 16, 3-5 where he greeted Prisca and Aquila and «the church which is in their house». St Paul himself had such a church in his home according to Acts 28, 30. The practise continued for some time, and St Justin (100-165) mentioned that Christians met in their homes to celebrate the mysteries.

Such as a church was known as a domus ecclesia, or house church. The name of the owner was usually inscribed in a slab by the door, and such as slab was called a titulus. Therefore, it became common to refer to a church as a titulus and to distinguish between the different churches by referring to the owner's name.

Parish churchesEdit

The Liber Pontificalis, a collection of biographies of the popes, explains that Pope Cletus (76-88) ordained 25 priests and that Pope Evaristus (97-105) assigned them to 25 tituli. These churches became the first parish churches of Rome.

Titular churches of cardinalsEdit

Pope Marcellus (308-309) confirmed the tituli as religious community centres and seats of Church administration. A church synod in 499 lists the churches and approves their special position in the church administration.

It was these parish priests, together with the deacons and suburbican bishops, who formed a college of advisors to the Holy Father. They became known as cardinals (from Latin cardo, "hinge"). The number of cardinals grew, but the practise of assigning them to titular churches was retained, although it is now a more symbolical act.

List of the ancient tituliEdit

Titulus Present name
Titulus Aemilianae Uncertain, probably Santi Quattro Coronati
Titulus Anastasiae Sant'Anastasia
Titulus SS Apostolorum Santi Apostoli
Titulus Bizantis / Titulus Pammachi Santi Giovanni e Paolo
Titulus Callisti / Titulus Julii Santa Maria in Trastevere
Titulus S Ceciliae Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
Titulus Clementis San Clemente
Titulus Crescentianiae Uncertain, probably San Sisto Vecchio
Titulus Crysogoni San Crisogono
Titulus Cyriaci Uncertain; theories include Santa Maria Antiqua, Santa Maria in Domnica or San Ciriaco (last is the present consensus)
Titulus Damasi San Lorenzo in Damaso
Titulus Equitii San Martino ai Monti
Titulus Eudoxiae San Pietro in Vincoli
Titulus Eusebi Sant'Eusebio all'Esquilino
Titulus Fasciolae Uncertain, probably Santi Nereo e Achilleo
Titulus Gaii / Titulus Susannae Santa Susanna, or San Caio in Via Porta Pia (or even two different tituli).
Titulus Iulii See Titulus Callisti
Titulus Lucinae San Lorenzo in Lucina
Titulus Marcelli San Marcello al Corso
Titulus Marci San Marco
Titulus Matthaei San Matteo in Merulana, destroyed in 1810
Titulus Nicomedis Uncertain; possibly Santi Marcellino e Pietro, or over the catacomb of St Nicomede on the Via Nomentana outside the Porta Pia (no trace of any church here, however).
Titulus Pammachi See Titulus Bizantis
Titulus Praxedis Santa Prassede
Titulus Priscae Santa Prisca
Titulus Pudentiana Santa Pudenziana
Titulus Romani Very uncertain; perhaps the same as Titulus Cyriaci, or Santa Maria Antiqua
Titulus S Sabinae Santa Sabina
Titulus S Susannae See Titulus Gaii
Titulus Tigridis Uncertain, perhaps Santa Balbina Vergine
Titulus Vestinae San Vitale

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