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E00781: Anonymous Latin sermon preached at Lérins (southern Gaul) in the 5th century in commemoration of *Honoratus (founder of Lérins and bishop of Arles, ob. 429/430, S00438). Part of the collection of Gallic sermons known as 'Eusebius Gallicanus'. Overview entry.

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posted on 14.10.2015, 00:00 by dlambert
Eusebius Gallicanus, Sermon 72: On the Burial of the Holy Bishop Honoratus (De depositione sancti Honorati episcopi)

Summary:
(§§ 1-4) The sermon begins with an introductory expression of inadequacy by the preacher, followed by praise for Honoratus' modesty and humility. He says that the most fortunate were those who knew Honoratus personally, but that others who take him as a model will meet him in eternity.

(§§ 5-7) The preacher describes how Honoratus took the holy man Caprasius as a colleague and mentor, and always relied on his advice. He compares Honoratus and Caprasius to Moses and Aaron. He praises Honoratus' love of doctrinal correctness, obedience, and humility.

(§ 8) The preacher refers to Honoratus' miracles, when founding Lérins, of banishing serpents from the island and bringing forth a stream of fresh water. He mentions that he knows about these from reading. He argues that Honoratus' ability to drive away spiritual wild beasts in those to whom he ministered is at least equally worthy of veneration. (For detailed discussion of this passage, see $E00851.)

(§§ 9-10) The preacher compares Honoratus', for his effect on those he taught, to a mother bear, who gives birth to her young unformed and then (literally) licks them into shape. He praises Honoratus' charity and discernment.

(§ 11) The preacher insists that Honoratus' ability to help people spiritually was as valuable as the miracles of saints who heal the sick or raise the dead. (For detailed discussion of this passage, see E00722.)

(§ 12) The preacher insists that Honoratus' burial at Arles, and Arles's possession of his body is worth less than his spiritual legacy to Lérins. (For detailed discussion of this passage, see E00724.)

(§ 13) While at Lérins Honoratus followed in the footsteps of Abraham and Moses, at Arles merely of Jacob and Aaron.

(§ 14) The sermon concludes with an appeal for Honoratus to obtain God's mercy for Lérins and the members of its community.

Summary: David Lambert.

History

Evidence ID

E00781

Saint Name

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

Saint Name in Source

Honoratus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

434

Evidence not after

460

Activity not before

429

Activity not after

450

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Miracle with animals and plants Observed scarcity/absence of miracles

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

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 after 451: 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.

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. This sermon was preached at Lérins on the anniversary of his burial (depositio). Its date is uncertain, but was no earlier than 434, since the preacher refers to the monk Caprasius as already deceased, an event which is known to have taken place in that year or later (the evidence is Life of Hilary 12). It probably dates from not long after, however, since the preacher implies that many of the congregation had known Honoratus personally, and also since it is evident that there was still sensitivity surrounding the fact that Honoratus had left Lérins for Arles, and that his tomb was at Arles. The sermon post-dates the Sermon on the Life of Honoratus (E06026) by Hilary of Arles (c. 430), with which the preacher was clearly familiar. Some of his material is derived from Hilary's work, such as its account of the miracles attributed to Honoratus at the time of the founding of Lérins, which he explicitly acknowledges he knows about through reading. The sermon is notable for its argument that the possession of Honoratus' physical remains by the church at Arles is inferior to the spiritual legacy he had left to Lérins (for detailed discussion, see E00724), and its insistence that his ability to transform the spiritual lives of the members of his community was as at least as important as the power to work miracles (see E00722 and E00851).

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). 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: University of Michigan Press, 1999), 188-206.

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