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E05318: Maximus of Turin composes a Latin sermon in Turin, northern Italy, between c. 390 and 408/423 in honour of the feast day of *Laurence (deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037).

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posted on 12.04.2018, 00:00 by frances
Maximus of Turin, Sermon 4

Summary:

Maximus asks his congregation if they are familiar with Laurence’s martyrdom, ‘the anniversary of which we celebrate today’ (natalem hodie celebramus). Laurence illuminates the world by the flames with which he was killed: he was slowly and painfully killed on an iron grate laid over burning coals. The ardour of his heart was set alight by these flames. Laurence’s suffering is them compared with that of the biblical figures Ananiah, Azariah and Mishael (Daniel 3:19-24), who walked over the flames intended to burn them. The congregation should imitate Laurence in conquering the fire of Gehanna.

Summary: Frances Trzeciak.

History

Evidence ID

E05318

Saint Name

Laurence/Laurentius, deacon and martyr of Rome : S00037

Saint Name in Source

Laurentius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

408

Evidence not after

423

Activity not before

390

Activity not after

423

Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Turin

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Turin Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Maximus of Turin

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Torturers/Executioners

Source

Maximus was bishop of late antique Turin, but the exact dates of his episcopate has been contested over the centuries. Gennadius of Marseille, writing in the late-fifth century, refers to a prominent bishop of Turin – called Maximus - who composed sermons on a variety of topics. According to Gennadius (De viris illustribus 41), this Maximus died in the reign of Honorius and the younger Theodosius, which would place Maximus’ death between 408 and 423. This was challenged in the early 17th century. Cardinal Baronius believed that the author of the sermons was the same Maximus who signed the acts of the Council of Milan in 451 and the Council of Rome in 465. He claimed that there was a mistake in Gennadius’ account: Maximus did not die, but instead ‘flourished’ (claruisse) between 408 and 423. Although this view was held until the end of the 19th century, it is now widely accepted that there were two bishops of Turin called Maximus, and that the author of the sermons did in fact die between 408 and 423. For a full overview of this argument, see Mutzenbecher’s preface to her critical edition of Maximus’ sermons. Mutzenbecher’s edition contains 119 sermons, of which 106 are viewed as authentic. 89 of these apparently constituted the collection available to Gennadius in Marseille at the end of the fifth century. These sermons were preached to the congregation in Turin on a variety of different topics. Many of them were preached to celebrate the feast day of a specific saint. Andreas Merkt has identified three main motivations guiding Maximus’ sermons on the saints. Firstly, he argues that Maximus preached on saints to provide examples for his congregation to follow. Secondly, that Maximus uses stories of martyrdom to communicate messages about the importance of Christ’s passion and the nature of the Eucharist to his congregation. Thirdly, Merkt argues that the saints Maximus focused on reflect his view on the ideal structure of the Church: he emphasises the primacy of Peter and Paul and the Roman church.

Bibliography

Edition: Mutzenbecher, A., Maximi episcopi Taurinensis Collectionem sermonum antiquam (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 23; Turnhout: Brepols, 1962). Translation: Ramsey, B., The Sermons of Maximus of Turin (Ancient Christian Writers 50; Westminster MD: Newman Press, 1989). Further Reading: Lizzi, R., "Ambrose’s Contemporaries and the Christianisation of Northern Italy," Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990), 156-173. Merkt, A., Maximus I. von Turin. Die Verkündigung eines Bischofs der frühen Reichskirche im zeitgeschichtliche liturgischen Kontext (Leiden:Brill, 1997).

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