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E02718: Augustine of Hippo (North Africa), preaches in Latin a sermon for the feast of *Laurence (deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037), quoting his story and referring to benefits which people who pray, most probably at the martyr's shrine, obtain. Sermon 302, preached c. 400s, in North Africa, probably in Hippo.

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posted on 19.04.2017, 00:00 by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 302

1. Beati martyris Laurentii dies sollemnis hodiernus est. Huic sollemnitati sanctae lectiones congruae sonuerunt. Audiuimus et cantauimus, et euangelicam lectionem intentissime accepimus. Martyrum ergo uestigia imitando sectemur, ne sollemnitates eorum inaniter celebremus. Cuius autem meriti sit memoratus martyr, quis ignorat? Quis ibi orauit, et non impetrauit? quam multis infirmis meritum eius etiam temporalia beneficia praestitit, quae ille tempsit.

Concessa sunt enim, non ut precantium permaneret infirmitas, sed ut de terrenis concessis, amor fieret ad appetenda meliora. Quaedam enim plerumque parua et ludicra concedit pater paruulis filiis, quae maxime, nisi acceperint, plorant. Benigna et paterna indulgentia haec impertit, haec donat, quae non uult permanere in filiis suis iam grandiusculis, iam proficientibus. Donat ergo pueris nuces, quibus seruat hereditatem.

'Today is feast of the blessed martyr Laurence. Readings suitable to this holy solemnity were heard. We have heard them and sung them, and followed the reading of the gospel with the greatest attention. So let us follow in the footsteps of the martyrs by imitating them, or else we will be celebrating their festivities in no purpose. Is there anyone who doesn't know about the powerful merits of this particular martyr? Did anybody ever pray there, and not obtain the favour asked for? To how many of the weaker brethren have his merits granted even the temporal benefits which he himself scorned!

They were conceded, you see, not so that those who prayed for them might remain in their weakness, but so that by being granted inferior benefits, their love might be stimulated to seek the better ones. A father, after all, often concedes trivial playthings to his small children, which they cry loudly about if they don't get them. A kindly and fatherly indulgence shares things, allows things, which he wouldn't like his children to remain attached to as they grow bigger, as they grow up. So he gives nutts to little boys for whom he is keeping an inheritance.'

Augustine urges his audience not to love the present, temporal life, but to follow the example of the martyrs who were the lovers of the other life.

8. Sanctus Laurentius archidiaconus fuit. Opes ecclesiae de illo a persecutore quaerebantur, sicut traditur; unde tam multa passus est, quae horrent audiri. Impositus craticulae, omnibus membris adustus est, poenis atrocissimis flammarum excruciatus est: uincens tamen omnes corporis molestias magno robore caritatis, adiuuante illo qui talem fecerat.

'Saint Laurence was an archdeacon. The treasures of the Church were demanded of him by the persecutor, as the tradition states. Which is why he suffered such dreadful torments, it is quite horrifying to hear about them. Placed on a gridiron, he was scorched all over his body, tortured with the most excruciating pain by fire. Yet he overcame all these bodily afflictions with the sturdy strength of his charity, helped by the one who had made him like that.'

In what follows Augustine admonishes his audience to be like the martyrs and not to rage against bad people. At the end of the sermon (ch. 22) he refers to the habit of seeking asylum at the church, though does not refer specifically to the shrines of martyrs.

Text: Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum 1, 100 and 104. Translation: Hill 1994, 300 and 304. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Laurence, martyr of Rome, ob. 258 : S00037

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

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

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Seeking asylum at church/shrine

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Unspecified miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon is tentatively dated to 400 on the basis of intertextual references and its place in the collection of Augustine's sermons. It was probably preached in Hippo, Augustine's episcopal see.


Text: Hamman, A., Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum, vol. 2 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1960). Translation: Hill, E., The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century III/8. Sermons 273-305A for the Saints ‬(New York: New City Press, 1994).

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