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E04525: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the anniversary of the death of an unnamed just man, emphasising that the purpose of this commemoration is not to honour this man, but to reflect upon his example. Sermon 335L, delivered in an unknown city in North Africa, possibly in Hippo, c. 391/430.

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posted on 23.12.2017, 00:00 by CSLA Admin
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 335L

[Sermo unius iusti

'In memory of a just man']

1. Memoriam iusti hodie celebramus. Hic ergo sermo uestrae caritati nostro ministerio debetur, ut aliquid loquamur ex eo quod Domino consentiente corde et ore cantauimus: in memoria aeterna erit iustus, ab auditu malo non timebit.Psalmus quippe iste lectus est ut nos commemoraret cui bono fiat ista sollemnitas. Non enim, quia dies extremos eorum qui de hoc saeculo exeunt iustorum atque sanctorum ecclesia sancta anniuersario reditu celebrat, ideo hinc illis iustis honor augetur, sed nobis imitandi exemplum proponitur.

'Today we are celebrating the memory of a just man. So in this sermon that I owe you your graces in carrying out my ministry, I must say something about what we have been singing to the Lord with full and harmonious hearts and voices: "The just man will be held in eternal memory, he will not be afraid of an evil hearing" (Ps 112:6-7). The psalm, clearly, was read in order to remind us what good purpose is served by this sort of solemn celebration. The reason that the holy Church celebrates every year the anniversary of the last days of the just and holy people who have departed from this world, is not thereby to increase the honour enjoyed by these just persons, but to set before us an example to be imitated.'

In what follows Augustine encourages his audience to live their lives in such a way as to earn heaven.

Text: Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum 2, 821. Translation: Hill 1994, 260 (slightly changed). Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


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 name in other Language(s)

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 - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


It is impossible to determine the date on which this sermon was preached.


This sermon was delivered at the death anniversary of a man who was certainly not a martyr. We cannot say if he was a cleric or layman, but one has an impression that he was known to the congregation (possibly that of Hippo). As in the case of Sermon 335K (E04512) and 335M (E04531) this commemoration does not imply a developed cult: it suggests at best an early stage a of such development. Yet one has to remember that Augustine, especially in the early years of his clerical career, often emphasised that the saints, including martyrs, should be not so much venerated as imitated. It is thus perfectly possible that the audience had more 'cultic' attitude toward the man praised in this sermon that the preacher.


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). Further reading: Rapp, C., Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

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