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E00875: Anonymous Latin sermon on *Romanos (martyr of Antioch, S00120). Probably written in Gaul in the 5th c. Part of the collection of Gallic sermons known as 'Eusebius Gallicanus'.

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posted on 22.11.2015, 00:00 by dlambert
Eusebius Gallicanus, Sermon 57: On Saint Romanus the Martyr (De sancto Romano martyre)

Summary:

(§ 1) The preacher begins by introducing 'the blessed martyr Romanus, whose wonderful triumph the present festivities of the jubilant church celebrate' (beatus martyr Romanus, cuius admirabilem triumphum praesentia exsultantis ecclesiae festa concelebrant).

(§ 2) Romanus was not a newcomer to the church, but one who had lived for a long time in the greatest piety. The devil therefore hoped to destroy him through persecution.

(§ 3) The preacher juxtaposes the martyr's external suffering with his inward possession of faith.

(§ 4) Romanus is led before the tribunal and subjected to all kinds of tortures in an attempt to make him say something impious, but the words he speaks reflect only his pious mind.

(§ 5) The persecutor (the Latin word used is persecutor) then orders the removal of Romanus' tongue. This was a confession of failure, since it showed that the he had given up hope that Romanus would repudiate Christ.

(§§ 6-7) Romanus' voice is miraculously restored.

(§§ 8-9) The persecutor then orders the interrogation of an untaught child, but the child spontaneously proclaims that Christ is the one God and Lord of heaven and earth.

(§ 10) The persecutor orders the child to be beaten and killed. The preacher ends the sermon by exclaiming: 'How great are your gifts, God, highest judge! You offered your Romanus a martyr before [his] martyrdom' (Quanta sunt dona tua, summe arbiter deus! Prius Romano tuo martyrem quam martyrium praestiti).

Text: Glorie 1971. Summary: David Lambert.

History

Evidence ID

E00875

Saint Name

Romanos from Caesarea, martyr in Antioch, ob. 303 : S00120

Saint Name in Source

Romanus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

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

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius Gallicanus

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracles experienced by the saint

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Children Officials Pagans

Source

The sermon was preached in Gaul, probably at some point in the 5th century, though a date in the 6th century is not impossible. It survives as part of the 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. In some manuscripts this sermon is headed 'sermon of St. Faustinus' (sermo s. Faustini) which may be an error for Faustus of Riez (ob. c. 485), who definitely wrote at least some sermons in the Eusebius Gallicanus collection. However, such manuscript attributions of sermons are often unreliable.

Discussion

Sermon on the martyr Romanos. Though the preacher says nothing about the place or date of his martyrdom, it is clear from the details provided (tongue cut out and speech miraculously restored, the simultaneous martyrdom of a child) that the subject of the sermon is the Romanos martyred at Antioch during the Diocletianic persecution (S00120). It was preached on his feast day (presumably the canonical date of 18 November). Romanos was a deacon from Caesarea in Palestine who was martyred at Antioch in 303, during the Diocletianic persecution. His martyrdom is described by Eusebius in Martyrs of Palestine (E00298). Romanos' defining characteristic as a martyr was that his tongue was cut out, but he miraculously retained the power of speech. By the end of the 4th century, the story of his martyrdom was known in the West, since he was the subject of a poem in Prudentius' Peristephanon (E00946). The poem by Prudentius includes the story (not in Eusebius) of how Romanos suggests that the persecuting prefect test people's natural understanding of religion by questioning a young, uneducated child. The child proclaims that Christ is the one God, and the prefect first orders him to be beaten, and then killed. The inclusion in the sermon of the story of the child suggests that Prudentius' poem may have been the preacher's source, although there are no direct verbal parallels between the two texts. There is nothing improbable in the use of Prudentius as a source by a cleric in 5th or 6th century Gaul, given the wide circulation of his poems. The sermon presents a very abbreviated version of the poem: in effect it gives a summary of its main plot points without reproducing the detail or the poem's long speeches. The one piece of direct speech in the sermon, the exclamation of the child that Christ is the only God, is very close to the corresponding passage in the poem in content, but does not use the same words. The sermon makes no reference to the place of Romanos' martyrdom (Antioch) or to its occasion during the Diocletianic persecution, presenting it as a timeless confrontation between a martyr and a persecutor. The lack of detailed textual correspondences between the sermon and Prudentius' poem may indicate that the preacher was working from memory, or via an intermediate source. The sermon was preached on Romanus' feast day, as is specifically mentioned in its opening passage. This shows that while Prudentius may be the source for much of the content, veneration for Romanos was established in Gaul at the time of the sermon's composition: the composition of a sermon on Romanos was not simply a personal choice by the preacher.

Bibliography

Edition: Glorie, F., Eusebius 'Gallicanus'. Collectio Homiliarum II (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 101A; Turnhout: Brepols, 1971), 659-662.

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