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E02768: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon for the feast of the beheading of *John the Baptist (S00020). Sermon 307, preached in Hippo Regius (North Africa), possibly c. 414/415.

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posted on 07.05.2017, 00:00 by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 307

[In decollatione beati Ioannis Baptistae

'On the beheading of John the Baptist]

Augustine starts the sermon with a short reminder of the story of John the Baptist's death and then focuses on the oath of Herod who promised to give Salome whatever she would ask for. Starting from this episode he preaches against the custom of taking oaths.

Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Ioannes Baptista

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

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon is tentatively dated to 414-415 on the basis of intertextual references and its place in the collection of Augustine's sermons. In § 5 the preaches addresses the congregation which knows him well, thus the sermon was certainly pronounced in Hippo.


According to the early 6th century Calendar of Carthage on the 27 of December the Church of this city celebrated the feast 'of of saint John the Baptist and of the apostle James whom Herod killed'. That was most probably the feast of the beheading of John. One needs to remark, however, that if the sermon refers to the reading about the death of John it does not mention the feast which is named only in the lemma. This lemma can be then be a later addition. If it were so, the sermon originally would not have been preached for the feast. See also E02815. Augustine preaches against the custom of taking oaths, but does not suggest in any way that people swore by saints.


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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