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E03660: Augustine of Hippo tells how a man's own account of his miraculous healing at the relics of *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030) in Hippo Regius (North Africa) is read out there during the mass on Easter Tuesday. The account presents a story of siblings seeking healing in diverse holy places, including shrines of *Laurence (deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037) in Ravenna (northern Italy), and of Stephen in Ancona (central Italy) and Uzalis (North Africa). The account, written in Latin, is preserved as Augustine's Sermon 322, delivered c. 425 in Hippo.

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posted on 01.09.2017, 00:00 by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 322

1. Hesterno die libellum promisimus charitati uestrae, ubi de illo sanato audire etiam possitis, quae uidere non potuistis. Si ergo placet charitati uestrae, imo quia placere debet quod et mihi placet, ambo fratres stent in conspectu uestro: ut qui illum non uiderant, in isto uideant quid ille patiebatur. Stent ergo ambo, unus cui donata est gratia, et alter cui petenda est misericordia.

'Yesterday I promised your graces a written account (libellus), in which you can hear things about the man who was cured which you have not been able to see. So, if it pleases your graces – or rather because what pleases me ought to please you – let brother and sister both stand up in your sight, so that those of you who had not seen him, may see in her what he suffered from. So let them both stand up, one to whom grace has been given, the other for whom mercy must be begged.'

The healed man then addresses Augustine:

2. Rogo, domine beatissime papa Augustine, ut hunc libellum meum, quem ex praecepto tuo obtuli, sanctae plebi iubeas recitari.
 
'I beg you, most blessed Lord, Father (papa) Augustine, to command that this written account of mine, which I have presented on your orders, should be read out to the people.'

There follows the story of a brother and sister, whom in The City of God Augustine names as Paulus and Palladia. They came from Caesarea in Cappadocia, and, together with their other sibling were cursed by their mother whom one of them insulted. Within a year all the siblings were punished by a trembling of the limbs, and the mother committed suicide. The siblings scattered through various regions.

Ex nobis autem omnibus decem fratribus, qui nascendi quoque ordine primum sequitur ad gloriosi martyris Laurentii memoriam, quae apud Rauennam nuper collocata est, sicut audiuimus, meruit sanitatem. Ego autem qui nascendi ordine sum sextus illorum, cum hac sorore mea, quae me aetate subsequitur, ubicumque gentium, ubicumque terrarum loca esse sacra, in quibus operaretur deus miracula, comperissem, magno desideratae sanitatis amore carpebam iter. Sed ut de caeteris celeberrimis sanctorum locis taceam, etiam ad Anconam, Italiae ciuitatem, ubi per gloriosissimum martyrem Stephanum multa miracula dominus operatur, eadem circuitione perueni. Sed ideo alibi curari non potui, quia huic loco diuina praedestinatione seruabar. Nec Uzalim ciuitatem Africae praetermisi, ubi beatus martyr Stephanus magna praedicatur frequenter operari.

'Out of us ten children, the one who follows the first in the order of birth was found to be worthy, so we have heard to be restored to health at the shrine of the glorious martyr Lawrence, which was recently set up at Ravenna. As for me, who am sixth in the order of birth, together with this sister of mine, who comes next after me, I picked my way, with a great desire for the health I have longed for, among whatever peoples, through whatever lands I ascertained that there were holy places, in which God was working miracles. But to say nothing of other very celebrated places of the saints, in the course of these wanderings I even reached Ancona, an Italian city where the Lord works many miracles through the most glorious martyr Stephen. But the reason I was unable to be cured there is that I was being kept by divine predestination for this place. Nor did I leave out the African city of Uzalis, where the blessed martyr Stephen is reported frequently to work great miracles.'


Then Paulus says that three months before he and his sister saw in a vision a venerable man, whom he recognises now as Augustine, who foretold that he would be healed in three months time. The vision was repeated in different places. Two weeks before he and his sister came to Hippo.

Orabam ego quotidie cum magnis lacrymis in loco ubi est memoria gloriosissimi martyris Stephani. Die autem dominico paschae, sicut alii qui praesentes erant, uiderunt, dum orans cum magno fletu cancellos teneo, subito cecidi. Alienatus autem a sensu, ubi fuerim nescio. Post paululum assurrexi, et illum tremorem in corpore meo non inueni. Huic itaque tanto dei beneficio non ingratus, hunc libellum obtuli; in quo etiam quae de nostris calamitatibus ignorabatis, et quod de mea incolumitate et salute cognouistis, exhibui: ut et pro mea sorore orare dignemini, et pro me agere deo gratias.

'I used to pray every day with many tears in the place where the memorial shrine (memoria) is of the most glorious martyr Stephen. But on Easter Sunday, as others who were present could see, while I was holding the railings as I prayed with loud weeping, I suddenly fell down. I lost consciousness, and did not know where I had been. After a little while I got up, and experienced none of that trembling in my body. And so, being not ungrateful for such a great favour from God, I have offered this written account, in which I have also presented both things you were ignorant of about our misfortunes, and what you have observed for yourselves about my cure and restoration to health; so that you may also have the goodness both to pray for my sister and to give thanks to God for me.'

(The story is continued in Sermon 323, $E03851.)


Text: PL 38, 1443-1444; Translation: Hill, 159-160 (lightly modified).

History

Evidence ID

E03660

Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030 Laurence, deacon and martyr of Rome : S00037

Saint Name in Source

Stephanus Laurentius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

424

Evidence not after

430

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

426

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 - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops Foreigners (including Barbarians)

Source

This sermon was certainly preached after the discovery of the relics of *Stephen in Caphargamala (Palestine) in 415, and their arrival in Africa c. 420 and in Hippo c. 424, for relics of the saint were evidently present in the church in which Augustine is preaching. It was preached before the composition of Book 22 of The City of God in c. 426/7, which refers to this same episode (see E01135).

Discussion

This short sermon was preached on Easter Tuesday, the day after Sermon 321 (E03632) and two days after Sermon 320 (E03631). The written account, produced by the healed man himself, is a fascinating document, as ostensibly the unmediated text of one who was cured at a saint's shrine. However, one has to appreciate that it was a literary text, most probably translated into Latin (Paulus and Palladia, being Cappadocians, were presumably Greek-speakers), and one that had almost certainly undergone editing by Augustine or some other cleric.

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, 1994).

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