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E00722: Anonymous Latin sermon preached at Lérins (southern Gaul) in the mid 5th century in commemoration of *Honoratus (founder of Lérins and bishop of Arles, ob. 429/430, S00438); insists that Honoratus' ability to help people spiritually was as valuable as the miracles of saints who heal the sick or raise the dead. Part of the collection of Gallic sermons known as 'Eusebius Gallicanus'.

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posted on 21.09.2015, 00:00 by dlambert
Eusebius Gallicanus, Sermon 72: On the Burial of the Holy Bishop Honoratus (De depositione sancti Honorati episcopi), § 11

Laudetur ab aliis quicumque sanctorum in opere uirtutum: qui daemones ex aliorum carne depulerit. Mihi uero iste laudandus est: qui spiritus immundos non de membrorum latibulis, sed de ipsis mentibus et cordibus effugabat – tot expellens daemones quot curauerat passiones. Laudetur, inquam, ab aliis: defuncta iam spiritu atque anima uacua corpora uitae reddit. Sed non minus iste laudandus est: qui mortuas saepe in corporibus animas suscitauit – nam, etsi minus in aliquem defunctum uisa est per eum haec fragilis uita reuocari, plus est quod perpetuam docuit inueniri.

'Let him be praised by others, whoever is among the saints in power of miracles who expels demons from other people’s flesh. For me that man is truly to be praised who drove out unclean spirits not from hiding places in people’s limbs but from their very minds and hearts – expelling demons as often as he cured suffering. Let him be praised, I say, by others, who returns to life bodies that are already dead in spirit and emptied of the soul. But no less is that man to be praised who often revived souls dead inside their bodies – for, even if this fragile life seemed to be called back less by him into some dead person, it is more that he taught perpetual life to be discovered.'

Text: Glorie 1971, 779. Translation: David Lambert.

History

Evidence ID

E00722

Saint Name

Honoratus, founder of Lérins and bishop of Arles, ob. 429/30 : S00438

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

434

Evidence not after

460

Activity not before

429

Activity not after

460

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Lérins

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Lérins Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius Gallicanus

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Miracles

Observed scarcity/absence of miracles

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - bishops

Source

This sermon was preached to a congregation of monks on the island monastery of Lérins, off the coast of Provence (the present-day island of Saint-Honorat, off Cannes). It commemorates the burial (depositio) of the community's founder, Honoratus. It was preached no earlier than 434, since it dates from after the death of the Lérins monk Caprasius, which is known to have taken place in that year or later, but probably not much later. The sermon is anonymous, but is probably the work of Faustus of Riez, abbot of Lérins from 434 until some point in the 450s: it was almost certainly delivered when Faustus was abbot, and it is the abbot who would normally have delivered such a sermon. There are also parallels of style, use of the Bible, etc., between this sermon and Eusebius Gallicanus 35 (on *Maximus of Riez, $E00756), which contains more substantial evidence of Faustus' authorship. The sermon survives as part of a large collection of anonymous Gallic sermons known as the 'Eusebius Gallicanus' collection. This was compiled in southern Gaul at some point between the late 5th and early 7th centuries, but the precise date and circumstances remain uncertain. For an overview of this sermon as a whole, see $E00781.

Discussion

Honoratus founded the monastic community at Lérins in the early 5th century, probably in the decade 400-410, and served as its abbot until 426/7, when he became bishop of Arles. He died at Arles in 429/30, and was buried there. In the quoted passage, the preacher insists that Honoratus' ability to heal the spiritually sick was as valuable as the ability of other saints to perform physical healings and to raise the dead (in opere uirtutum = 'in the power of miracles'). Early Lerinian hagiography, most obviously in this context the Life of Honoratus by Hilary of Arles, which predates this sermon, is notable for the absence of miracles. Two miracles were attributed to Honoratus at the time of the founding of Lérins: banishing snakes from the island and causing a spring of fresh water to appear: Life of Honoratus 15, 17 (E06073); Eusebius Gallicanus s. 72.8 (E00851). He was not, however, credited with any healing miracles, or indeed any miracles at all in the later and more public years of his life. The defensive tone of the preacher suggests a certain anxiety that this might make others regard Honoratus' spiritual powers as insufficient, and compromise his claim to sainthood. It is probable that the model of monastic sainthood against which the preacher feared Honoratus might seem wanting was that of *Martin of Tours (S00050), as portrayed in the writings of Sulpicius Severus.

Bibliography

Edition: Glorie, F., Eusebius 'Gallicanus'. Collectio Homiliarum II (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 101A; Turnhout: Brepols, 1971), 775-779. Further Reading: Bailey, L.K., Christianity's Quiet Success: The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010).

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