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E04442: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of a martyr. He claims that even the earthly glory of martyrs is greater than that of the great men of old and to illustrate this point alludes to emperors visiting the tomb of *Peter (the Apostle S00036). Sermon 335C, delivered on an unspecified date, possibly between 405 and 411, in an unknown city in North Africa, possibly in Hippo.

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posted on 07.12.2017, 00:00 by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 335C

[De uno martyre sermo beati Augustini episcopi

'Sermon of the blessed Augustine on a martyr']


Quia beati martyris natalis illuxit dies quem uoluit nos Dominus celebrare uobis cum aliquid donante illo de martyrum gloria et patientia disseramus.

'Seeing that the birthday has dawned of the blessed martyr, whom the Lord willed that we should celebrate with you, let me hold forth a little, if the Lord grants me to say, about the glory and the patience of the martyrs.'


In what follows Augustine preaches vaguely about heavenly and earthly love without any reference to the saint until he returns to the martyrs comparing them to people who sought the glory of this world:

11. Si terrena ab eis quaererentur, quid huic gloriae addi potest qua eorum natalicia celebrantur. Insanierunt pro gloria multi uiri fortes, et pro patria sanguinem fundendum esse dixerunt, nec fundere dubitauerunt, scientes transire quidem ipsam uitam sed remanere uel immortalem in illis gloriam. Quae illorum gloria gloriae martyrum comparatur? Quis potuit inuenire in gloria huius terrae, quis potuit inuenire in gloria humanarum rerum, quis potuit inuenire dictator quod potuit inuenire piscator? Virorum fortium qui pro patria perierunt sepulchra sunt Romae. Ad cuius sepulchrum intrare dignatus est imperator? ecce si terrena gloria fuerat concupiscenda, nec ipsa fraudati sunt qui honorem tantum inter angelos quaesierunt. Videmus eorum glorias in terris et stupemus. Quid pateremur si in caelo uideremus? Quantum nos stupor admirationis apprehenderet si uideremus martyres inter angelos gloriantes, quorum natalicia uidemus populos celebrantes?

'Who has ever been able to find in the glory of this earth, who has ever been able to find in the glory of human annals, which great leader has ever been able to find what a fisherman has been able to find? The tombs of the great men who died for their country are there in Rome. To whose tombs has an emperor even deigned to pay a visit? There you are; if early glory was to be desired, those who looked for honour only among the angels were not even done out of that. We see their glory renowned on earth, and we are amazed. What would we experience if we could see it in heaven? What amazement and wonder would overwhelm us if we could see the martyrs triumphing among the angels, as we see whole populations celebrating their birthdays!'


Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum 2, 750 and 753. Translation: Hill 1994, 221 and 225. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.

History

Evidence ID

E04442

Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

391

Evidence not after

430

Activity not before

391

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

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Source

The sermon is tentatively dated to AD 405-411 on the basis of intertextual references, but this dating is far from being sure. It was possibly preached in Hippo, Augustine's episcopal see.

Discussion

Augustine obviously refers to the tomb of Peter at Rome, but it is difficult to say which emperor he has in mind.

Bibliography

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, vol. III 9. Sermons 306-340A on the Saints (New York: New City Press, 1994).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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