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E00756: Anonymous Latin Sermon on *Maximus (bishop of Riez, ob. 452/462, S00424). Preached at Riez (south-east Gaul), probably soon after Maximus' death. Part of the collection of Gallic sermons known as 'Eusebius Gallicanus'.

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posted on 01.10.2015, 00:00 by dlambert
Eusebius Gallicanus, Sermon 35: On the Holy Maximus, Bishop and Abbot (De sancto Maximo episcopo et abbate, BHL 5852)

Sermon preached to the people of Riez.


(§ 1) Maximus displayed holiness from his earliest childhood. He was a stranger to the world even while engaged in a secular career.

(§ 2) Everyone was stunned when he abandoned everything he had, as if he was Abraham leaving his homeland.

(§§ 3-5) He took refuge at the monastery of Lérins. He gained the knowledge and experience with which he would later enrich the people of Riez. The preacher describes him as Lérins's 'gift' (munus) to Riez, and compares him to a merchant travelling abroad to gain wealth with which to enrich his homeland.

(§ 6) Honoratus chose Maximus to succeed him as abbot of Lérins, in the way that Elijah was succeeded by Elisha and Moses by Joshua.

(§ 7) Maximus' demeanour and his manner to those who knew him. His personal virtues, especially humility.

(§ 8) Maximus shunned recognition. When the city of Fréjus sought to make him their bishop, he fled and hid in the woods for three days to escape them.

(§§ 9-10) He attempted to flee when his native city of Riez sought to make him bishop, but in vain. The very zeal with which he tried to avoid the office showed how suitable he was for it.

(§ 11) His foundation of a church in Riez.

(§ 12) He brought Lérins to Riez through his teachings and studies. 'And he who had long conducted himself like a bishop when he was abbot, afterwards maintained the abbot in the bishop' (Et qui iamdudum in abbatem pontificem gesserat, postmodum abbatem in pontificem custodiuit).

(§ 13) His personal asceticism; his otherworldliness.

(§ 14) The preacher ends by calling on the congregation to seize whatever they can of Maximus' virtues, and pursue his merits.

Summary: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Maximus, Bishop of Riez : S00424

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Riez 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 - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


This sermon was preached to a congregation at Riez in Provence, the city of which Maximus had been bishop, probably on his saint's day (27 November). Maximus died between 451 and 462. It is likely that the sermon was preached soon after his death; it is unlikely to have been preached many years later, since the preacher remarks at one point (§ 9) that the congregation remembers when Maximus became bishop (in 433/4). The sermon is anonymous. However, there is a strong circumstantial case that the preacher was Faustus of Riez, Maximus' successor both as abbot of Lérins (from 433/4 until Maximus' death) and bishop of Riez (from Maximus' death until Faustus' own, in the mid 480s). Most obviously, such a sermon is likely to have been given by Maximus' successor as bishop, which Faustus was until long after any plausible point at which it could have been delivered. In addition, the preacher mentions on two occasions (§§ 5, 8) that he had himself been at Lérins (one of these specifically when Maximus was abbot). Faustus is also mentioned as the author of a work on Maximus in the 6th century Life of Maximus by Dynamius ($E00852), admittedly in terms which do not make it entirely clear that this sermon is the work Dynamius was alluding to. Stylistic and other parallels to Faustus' writings have also been identified (Morin 1935, 106). 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.


Maximus was a native of the territory of Riez, who, apparently after spending some time in a secular career (§ 1), became a monk at Lérins. In 426/7, when the founder of Lérins, Honoratus, left to become bishop of Arles, he chose Maximus to succeed him as abbot. After seven years in this office (§ 4), Maximus became bishop of his native city of Riez (433/4). He died at some point between 452 and 462. This sermon was probably preached not long after Maximus' death, quite possibly on the first anniversary (given its length and rhetorical intensity). The preacher pays most attention to Maximus' achievements as an ascetic; he says very little about his actions as bishop, beyond mentioning the foundation of a particular church (§ 11), and nothing about his relations with the people of Riez. The main rhetorical emphasis in the sermon is on the unity between Maximus' life as a monk at Lérins and as a bishop: because Maximus came from Riez, the preacher is able to portray Lérins as shaping him and training him, before returning him to bestow on his native city the spiritual riches that he obtained as a monk (§§ 4-5, 12). One notable aspect of the sermon is the absence of the miraculous. The preacher is vehement in his praise of Maximus' piety, renunciation, learning, and other virtues, and compares him to biblical figures such as Abraham, Jacob, and Joshua, but makes no reference to any miracle by Maximus, or to supernatural events of any kind. It is interesting to compare this to the Eusebius Gallicanus sermon on Honoratus (E00781), in which the preacher does refer to miracles, but deprecates their importance compared to spiritual achievement (E00722, E00851). There is an extant Life of Maximus, dating from the late 6th century, in which numerous miracles are attributed to him (E00852); a posthumous miracle at his tomb is described by Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Confessors 82 (E02715).


Edition: Glorie, F., Eusebius 'Gallicanus'. Collectio Homiliarum I (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 101; Turnhout: Brepols, 1971), 401-412. Further Reading: Bailey, L.K., “Building urban Christian communities: sermons on local saints in the Eusebius Gallicanus collection,” Early Medieval Europe 12 (2003), 1-24. Bailey, L.K., Christianity's Quiet Success: The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul (Notre Dame IN, 2010). Borgard, P., and Heijmans, M., “Riez,” in: F. Prévot, M. Gaillard, and N. Gauthier (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 16: Quarante ans d'enquête (1972-2012): 1. Images nouvelles des villes de la Gaule (Paris, 2014), 234-242. Guyon, J., "Riez," in: N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 2: Provinces ecclésiastiques d'Aix et d'Embrun (Narbonensis Secunda et Alpes Maritimae); Corse (Paris, 1986), 35-41. Leyser, C., “"This Sainted Isle": Panegyric, Nostalgia, and the Invention of Lerinian Monasticism,” in: W.E. Klingshirn and M. Vessey (eds.), The Limits of Ancient Christianity: Essays on Late Antique Thought and Culture in Honor of R. A. Markus (Ann Arbor, 1999), 188-206. Morin, G., “La collection gallicane dite d’Eusèbe d’Émèse et les problèmes qui s’y rattachent,” Zeitschrift für neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 34 (1935), 92-115.

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