List of non-extant papal tombs

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Despite his being regarded as martyred into the Black Sea, multiple churches have laid claims to the translated relics of Pope Clement I. Saintclementmartyr.png
Despite his being regarded as martyred into the Black Sea, multiple churches have laid claims to the translated relics of Pope Clement I.

This is a list of non-extant papal tombs, which includes tombs not included on the list of extant papal tombs. Information about these tombs is generally incomplete and uncertain.


Chronologically, the main locations of destroyed or unknown papal tombs have been: the obscure tombs of the first two centuries of popes near Saint Peter, the repeated waves of translations from the Catacombs of Rome, the demolition of the papal tombs in Old St. Peter's Basilica, and the 1306 and 1361 fires in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran.

Translation (relic) movement of a holy relic from one location to another

In Christianity, the translation of relics is the removal of holy objects from one locality to another ; usually only the movement of the remains of the saint's body would be treated so formally, with secondary relics such as items of clothing treated with less ceremony. Translations could be accompanied by many acts, including all-night vigils and processions, often involving entire communities.

Catacombs of Rome Church building in Rome, Italy

The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places under Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, people of all the Roman religions are buried in them, beginning in the 2nd century AD, mainly as a response to overcrowding and shortage of land. The Etruscans, like many other European peoples, used to bury their dead in underground chambers. The original Roman custom was cremation, after which the burnt remains were kept in a pot, ash-chest or urn, often in a columbarium. From about the 2nd century AD, inhumation became more fashionable, in graves or sarcophagi, often elaborately carved, for those who could afford them. Christians also preferred burial to cremation because of their belief in bodily resurrection at the Second Coming. The Park of the Caffarella and Colli Albani are nearby.

Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran Church in Rome, Italy

The Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran – also known as the Papal Archbasilica of Saint John [in] Lateran, Saint John Lateran, or the Lateran Basilica – is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome in the city of Rome and serves as the seat of the Roman Pontiff.

Papal tombs have also been destroyed by other instances of fire, remodeling, and war (most recently, World War II). Others are unknown due to creative or geographically remote methods of martyrdom, orin the case of Pope Clement I both. Burial in churches outside the Aurelian Walls of Rome (Italian: fuori le Mura)in the basilicas of Paul or Lorenzo have not generally survived.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Martyr person who suffers persecution and death for advocating, refusing to renounce, and/or refusing to advocate a belief or cause, usually a religious one

A martyr is someone who suffers persecution and death for advocating, renouncing, refusing to renounce, or refusing to advocate a religious belief or cause as demanded by an external party. In the martyrdom narrative of the remembering community, this refusal to comply with the presented demands results in the punishment or execution of an actor by an alleged oppressor. Accordingly, the status of the 'martyr' can be considered a posthumous title as a reward for those who are considered worthy of the concept of martyrdom by the living, regardless of any attempts by the deceased to control how they will be remembered in advance. Originally applied only to those who suffered for their religious beliefs, the term has come to be used in connection with people killed for a political cause.

Pope Clement I 4th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Clement I, also known as Saint Clement of Rome, is listed by Irenaeus and Tertullian as Bishop of Rome, holding office from 88 to his death in 99. He is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church, one of the three chief ones together with Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch.

Main locations

The main locations of destroyed or lost papal tombs include:

Pope Linus 2nd pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Saint Linus was the second Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff (Pope) of the Catholic Church.

Pope Anacletus 3rd Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Anacletus, also known as Cletus, was the third Bishop of Rome, following Saint Peter and Pope Linus. Anacletus served as pope between c. 79 and his death, c. 92. Cletus was a Roman, who during his tenure as Pope, is known to have ordained a number of priests and is traditionally credited with setting up about twenty-five parishes in Rome. Although the precise dates of his pontificate are uncertain, he "...died a martyr, perhaps about 91". Cletus is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the mass; his feast day is April 26.

Pope Evaristus 5th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Evaristus was Bishop of Rome of the Catholic Church, succeeding Clement I and holding office from c. 99 to his death c. 107. He was also known as Aristus. He is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy. He is usually accorded the title of martyr; however, there is no confirmation of this. It is likely that He was the Bishop of Rome when John the Apostle died, marking the end of the apostolic Age.

Other destroyed or unknown tombs

1st century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
88/92–97/101 StClement1.jpg Clement I
Saint Clement
Desjatynna westerfeld.jpg According to doctrine, translated to the Church of the Tithes (Kiev) [6] According to doctrine thrown into the Black Sea near Crimea, translated to the Church of the Holy Apostles, then Basilica di San Clemente, then the Church of the Tithes. [6]

2nd century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
105/107–115/116 Pope Alexander I.jpg Alexander I
Saint Alexander
Competing claims (involving translation): [7]
115/116–125 SixtusI.jpg Sixtus I
Saint Sixtus
Competing claims (involving translation and a finger): [8]
174/175–189 Eleutherius.jpg Eleuterus
Saint Eleutherus
Competing claims: [9]

5th century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
31 July 432–March/August 440 Sixtus III
Saint Sixtus
San Lorenzo fuori le mura - facade.jpg San Lorenzo fuori le Mura [10] Then called San Lorenzo al Verano; sarcophagus destroyed, possibly in 1943 [10]
19 November 461 - 29 February 468 Nuremberg chronicles - Hilarius, Pope (CXXXVIv).jpg Hilarius
Saint Hilarius
San Lorenzo fuori le mura - facade.jpg San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, crypt [11] Then called San Lorenzo al Verano
13 March 483 - 1 March 492 Felix3.jpg Felix III (Felix II)
Saint Felix
Either San Paolo fuori le Mura or the crypt of Santissima Concenzione near Piazza Barberini [12]

6th century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
1 June 536 - 11 November 537 Silverius.jpg Silverius
Saint Silverius
Isola Palmaria.jpg Palmaria [13] Non-contemporary shrine extant on Ponza Island [14]
29 March 537 - 7 June 555 Vigilius.jpg Vigilius Either San Marcello on the Via Salaria (Oxford Dictionary of Popes) or San Silvestre over the Catacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria (Catholic Encyclopedia) [15]

7th century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
July 649 - 16 September 655 Pope Martin I.jpg Martin I
Saint Martin
Chersonesos columns.jpg Church of our Lady (Blachdernæ), near Chersonesus No trace of the Church or tomb remains [16]

9th century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
25 January 817 - 11 February 824 Pope Paschalis I. in apsis mosaic of Santa Prassede in Rome.gif Paschal I
Saint Paschal
Unknown, but likely destroyedAlleged to have been buried in the chapel of St. Zeno of Santa Prassade (disproved by modern research); possibly buried under the altar of the oratory of Saints Processus and Martiniano and lost when the oratory was moved in 1548 or 1605. [17]

10th century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
July 903–September 903 Pope Leo V.jpg Leo V Unknown but destroyedEither cremated and thrown in the Tiber, buried (and thus destroyed) in Old Saint Peter's, or buried whole in Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran [18]
1 October 965 - 6 September 972 John XIII Roma San Paolo fuori le mura BW 1.JPG Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls Destroyed [19]

11th century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
June 1003–December 1003 Papa Joao XVII.jpg John XVII Unknown but destroyedEither San Paolo fuori le Mura, Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran or Santa Sabina [20]
25 December 1003–July 1009 Ioannes XVIII.jpg John XVIII Unknown but destroyedEither San Paolo fuori le Mura or Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran [21]
1032–1044 Pope Benedict IX Illustration.jpg Benedict IX Grottaferrata-abbazia01.jpg Abbey of Grottaferrata Discovered on March 4, 1739; destroyed during World War II [22]
1045 Silvestro3.jpg Sylvester III Unknown [23]
13 April 1055 – 28 July 1057 Vicii bild.jpg Victor II Santa Maria Rotunda (Ravenna)Destroyed; claimed reburied in San Reparata (Florence) unsupported by evidence [24]
2 August 1057 – 29 March 1058 B Stephan IX.jpg Stephen IX , O.S.B. Duomo Firenze Apr 2008 (12).JPG Santa Reparata (Florence)Tomb discovered in 1357 during the laying of the foundation for the new Duomo [24]
6 December 1058 – 27 July 1061 Papa Nicolau II.jpg Nicholas II Duomo Firenze Apr 2008 (12).JPG Santa Reparata (Florence)Possibly reburied in the outer left aisle of St. Peter's; no remains of tomb in either today [24]
30 September 1061 – 21 April 1073 Papa alessandro II.jpg Alexander II Unknown but lostEither Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran or St. Peter's [24]

12th century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
21 October 1187 – 17 December 1187 B Gregor VIII.jpg Gregory VIII , Can. Reg. PisaDuomoSunset20020322.JPG Pisa Cathedral, Chapel of Our LadyDestroyed in the fire of 1600; [25] ordered the desecration of the tomb of Antipope Victor IV in Lucca on his way to Pisa, where he died

13th century

PontificatePortraitCommon English nameTombSculptorLocationNotes
18 July 1216 – 18 March 1227 Interior of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Venice) - Honorius III by Leandro Bassano.jpg Honorius III SantaMariaMaggiore front.jpg Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore No longer extant [26]
12 December 1254 – 25 May 1261 B Alexander IV.jpg Alexander IV Duomo di viterbo, esterno 01.jpg Viterbo Cathedral Destroyed in 1490; [27] no longer extant [28]


  1. Reardon, 2004, pp. 23-26.
  2. Reardon, 2004, p. 23.
  3. Reardon, 2004, pp. 10-11.
  4. Reardon, 2004, pp. 272-277.
  5. Reardon, 2004, pp. 70-109.
  6. 1 2 Reardon, 2004, pp. 23–24.
  7. Reardon, 2004, p. 24.
  8. Reardon, 2004, pp. 24–25.
  9. Reardon, 2005, p. 26.
  10. 1 2 Reardon, 2004, p. 40.
  11. Reardon, 2004, p. 41.
  12. Reardon, 2004, 41–42.
  13. Reardon, 2004, p. 44.
  14. Reardon, 2004, p. 270.
  15. Reardon, 2004, p. 45.
  16. Reardon, 2004, p. 53.
  17. Reardon, 2004, p. 61.
  18. Reardon, 2004, p. 69.
  19. Reardon, 2004, p. 73.
  20. Reardon, 2004, p. 79.
  21. Reardon, 2004, p. 80.
  22. Reardon, 2004, p. 81.
  23. Reardon, 2004, p. 82.
  24. 1 2 3 4 Reardon, 2004, p. 85.
  25. Reardon, 2004, p. 98.
  26. Reardon, 2004, p. 100.
  27. Reardon, 2004, p. 103.
  28. Frothingham, A. L., Jr. (1891). "Notes on Roman Artists of the Middle Ages. III. Two Tombs of the Popes at Viterbo by Vassallectus and Petrus Oderisi". The American Journal of Archaeology and of the History of the Fine Arts, 7(1/2): 38.

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