Historical region of Country
Although Damasus’s work in the field of liturgy is not known, his intervention seems to have been decisive for the organization of the cult of the martyrs. While a theology of martyrdom was developing, his elogia martyrum placed on martyrs’ tombs marked out venerated sepulchres, already indicated in the Roman ordinary of 336, thus making new cults official in most of the cemeteries that had become communal, except perhaps that of via Latina.
During his time three tituli of Anastasia, Fasciola and Damasus were built, and the sites of S. Clemente and S. Pudenziana prepared. At St. Peter’s, the entrances to the basilica and a baptistery were organized; he intervened a number of times in the catacombs esp. San Jose Metro Map in the Appian zone, and it is likely that he founded the large three-aisled semipogea basilica dedicated to Sts. Nereus and Achilleus in the area of the cemetery of Domitilla on the via Ardeatina.
Damasus’s relations with the other churches marked a real turning point in papal policy. At first in Italy he attempted to win back the homoian episcopate that existed from Milan to Illyricum: a council of the Nicene bishops at Rome 368372 forcefully confirmed the condemnation of Auxentius of Milan Ep. 1: PL 13, 748. In 378 another Roman council asked that the pope could be judged directly by the emperor in criminal matters; but Damasus refrained from intervening at the Council of Aquileia 381, organized by Ambrose. Damasus, who would not accept an invitation sent by Priscillian, addressed the first common decretal to Gaul ed. Babut, Paris 1904, a small disciplinary manual for a missionary church, in response to a request. Pressing entreaties gradually began to arrive from the East, where the emperor Valens favored Arianism: Damasus finally delegated the priest Evagrius 374 and entered into communion with the little church of Paulinus at Antioch, ignoring Meletius, who was supported by Basil of Caesarea; but he broke with Vitalis, an Antiochene priest favorable to the ideas of Apollinaris of Laodicea, and, after many attempts by the envoys of Basil and the East, called a Roman council 377, which published, in the presence of Peter of Alexandria, a list of anathemata Ep. 4, ed. C. Turner; see CPL 1633, in fact a volume which sketched out a refutation of Apollinarism and the pneumatomachi.
In 380 the emperor Theodosius issued an edict CTh XVI, 1,2 imposing communion with Damasus and Peter of Alexandria as a test of Catholic unity; the Council of Constantinople, however, to which Damasus delegated Acholius of Thessalonica, marked the restoration of an orthodox episcopate in the East, centered on Constantinople, which claimed the rights of a second Rome. Damasus responded in a Roman council 382, where the pericope Mt 16:18 was explicitly applied to Roman primacy for the first time.
A. Ferrua, Epigrammata Damasiana, Vatican City 1942; see also the recension of A. Vaccari, Biblica 24 1943 190-194: M.A. Norton, Pope Damasus: Leaders of Iberian Christianity, ed. J. Marique, Boston 1962, 13-80; A. Lippold, Ursinus und Damasus: Historia 14 1965 105-128; Ch. Pietri, Roma Christiana, Recherches sur l’‰glise de Rome 311 440, I, Rome 1976, ch. VI-X; Patrologia III, 260-264; J. Fontaine, Naissance de la Posie dans l’Occident chrtien, Paris 1981, ch. VII; Saecularia Damasiana. Atti del convegno internazionale per il XVI centenario della morte di Papa Damasus I 11-12-384 1012-12-1984, Vatican City 1986; EPapi I, 349-372; G. Pilara, Problemi ancora aperti nel pontificato damasiano. Lo scisma ursiniano e i concili romani nel pontificato di Damaso: Clio 281 2002 115-133; R. Lizzi Testa, Senatori, popolo, papi. Il governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani, Rome 2004.