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E02289: Augustine of Hippo preaches a sermon on the feast of *Perpetua and Felicitas (martyrs of Carthage, S00009), emphasising their womanhood. Sermon 282, preached in Latin, possibly at Hippo Regius (North Africa), 391/430.

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posted on 28.01.2017, 00:00 by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 282

1. Duarum sanctarum martyrum festum diem hodie celebramus, quae non solum eminuerunt excellentibus in passione uirtutibus, uerum etiam pro tanto labore pietatis mercedem suam caeterorum que sociorum propriis uocabulis signauerunt. Perpetua quippe et Felicitas nomina duarum, sed merces est omnium.

'Today we are celebrating the feast of two holy martyrs, who were not only outstanding for their surpassing courage when they suffered, but who also, in return for such a great labour of their piety signified by their own names the reward awaiting them and the rest of their companions. Perpetua, of course, and Felicitas are the names of two of them, but the reward of them all.'

Augustine emphasises the fact that the two women accompanied each other in their martyrdom.

3. In hoc insignis gloriae comitatu etiam uiri martyres fuerunt, eodem ipso die etiam uiri fortissimi passione uicerunt; nec tamen eumdem diem suis nominibus commendauerunt. Quod non ideo factum est, quia feminae uiris morum dignitate praelatae sint: sed quia et muliebris infirmitas inimicum antiquum miraculo maiore deuicit, et uirilis uirtus propter perpetuam felicitatem certauit.

'In this remarkable and glorious company there were men too who were martyrs, very brave men who conquered by their sufferings on the same day; and yet they haven't stamped their names on this day. The reason this had happened is not that the women were ranked higher than the men in the quality of their conduct, but that it was a great miracle for the female weakness to overcome the ancient enemy, and that manly strength engaged in the contest for the sake of perpetual felicity.'

Text: Patrologia Latina 38, 1285-86. Translation: Hill 1994, 81-82 (slightly altered). Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.

History

Evidence ID

E02289

Saint Name

Perpetua, Felicitas and their companions, martyrs in Carthage, ob. 203 : S00009

Saint Name in Source

Perpetua, Felicitas

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

397

Evidence not after

430

Activity not before

397

Activity not after

430

Place of Evidence - Region

Latin North Africa

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Hippo Regius

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

Hippo Regius Carthage Carthago Karthago قرطاج‎ Qarṭāj Mçidfa Carthage

Major author/Major anonymous work

Augustine of Hippo

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Oral transmission of saint-related stories

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Source

This sermon was possibly preached in Hippo, Augustine's episcopal see. Its dating is uncertain.

Discussion

We cannot check what the feast celebrated on 7 March was officially called in Africa, for the relevant part of the early 6th century Calendar of Carthage is not extant. Yet in the Roman Calendar of 354 it is indeed called the commemoration of 'Perpetua and Felicitas'. Their male companions are not mentioned (see E01052).

Bibliography

Text: Migne, J.P., Patrologia Latina 38 (Paris, 1865). Translation: Hill, E., The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, vol. III 9. Sermons 306-340A for the Saints ‬(New York: New City Press, 1994). Dating: Kunzelmann, A., "Die Chronologie der sermones des hl. Augustinus," Miscellanea Agostiniana, vol. 2 (Rome: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1931), 417-452.

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