Saint NameMartyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Sermons/Homilies
Evidence not before380
Evidence not after450
Activity not before380
Activity not after450
Place of Evidence - RegionItaly north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Sardinia
Major author/Major anonymous workMaximus of Turin
Cult activities - Liturgical Activity
Cult activities - Festivals
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsComposing and translating saint-related texts
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceMaximus 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.
DiscussionIt is not clear whether this is a feast day dedicated to all the saints, or just several whose names have been lost. A feast dedicated to all the martyrs, on the Friday after Easter, was celebrated in Syria in a similar period (E01469). It is possible this is an early western attestation of this practice. See also E05324 for another sermon, certainly composed by Maximus, which celebrates the feast of multiple – perhaps all – martyrs.
Mutzenbecher, A., Maximi episcopi Taurinensis Collectionem sermonum antiquam (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 23; Turnhout: Brepols, 1962).
Ramsey, B., The Sermons of Maximus of Turin (Ancient Christian Writers 50; Westminster MD: Newman Press, 1989).
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).