Inscription of Istefanus archipresbiter

The Sardinian ecclesiastical structure only became clear in the 5th century A.D. Findings of epigraphs help to outline the church hierarchy that includes all the roles, starting with the lowest. Nuns, Abbesses, clerics, lectores, deacons, presbyterians, archipresbyterians and bishops are all named. A inscription from San Saturnino, comprising a marble slab now in two parts, states an archipresbiter (figs. 1-3)

This is the funeral titulus funerario (i.e. an inscription in memory of a dead person), in Latin, of the archipresbiter Istefanus, a high role in the sancta ecclesia Kalaritana, also stated as the Bishop Bonifacio (see sheet on finding no. 1), in the cemetery adjacent to the main sanctuary in the city, then elected to be the official cemetery of the Cagliari church. The epigraph, which was on the left of the main entrance to the church of San Saturnino for a long time (fig. 4) is now in the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari.

Fig. 1 - Inscription of Istefanus (Archive photo G. Sotgiu, tab. XIII).
Fig. 2 - The transcription of the epigraph.
Fig. 3 - Detail of the epigraph.
Fig. 4 - The basilica of San Saturnino (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).


  • A.M. CORDA, Breve introduzione allo studio delle antichità cristiane della Sardegna, Ortacesus 2007.
  • A.M. CORDA, Le iscrizioni cristiane della Sardegna anteriori al VII secolo (Studi di antichità cristiana 55), Città del Vaticano 1999.
  • G. SOTGIU, Le iscrizioni latine della Sardegna (Supplementum al Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, X e all'Ephemeris Epigraphica VIII), I, Padova 1961.
  • G. SOTGIU, Nuove iscrizioni inedite sarde, in Annali delle facoltà di lettere, filosofia e magistero dell'università di Cagliari, 1969, vol. 32.
  • L. PANI ERMINI, Iscrizioni cristiane inedite di S. Saturno a Cagliari. Contributo allo studio del "'Defensor Ecclesiae" nell’antichità cristiana, in Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia, XXIII, 1969, pp. 18 s. nr. 3.