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E02218: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of *Fructuosus, Augurius and Eulogius (martyrs of Tarragona, S00496), at the memorial shrine of *Theogenes (bishop and martyr of Hippo, S01133), and refers to the reading of their Martyrdom. He emphasises that, though martyrs like these, as well as *Agnes (virgin and martyr of Rome, S00097), are superior to pagan heroes, they are honoured, not worshipped by Christians. Sermo 273, preached at Hippo Regius (North Africa), probably c. AD 396.

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posted on 2017-01-04, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 273

[In natali martyrum Fructuosi episcopi, Augurii et Eulogii diaconorum

'On the feast of the martyr Fructuosus, bishop, and Augurius and Eulogius, deacons.']

Beati sancti in quorum memoriis celebramus diem passionis illorum: illi acceperunt pro temporali salute aeternam coronam, sine fine immortalitatem; nobis dimiserunt in istis solemnitatibus exhortationem. Quando audimus quomodo passi sunt martyres; gaudemus et glorificamus in illis deum: nec dolemus quia mortui sunt. Etenim si mortui pro Christo non essent, numquid usque hodie uiuerent? Quare non faceret confessio, quod factura fuerat aegritudo? Audistis persequentium interrogationes, audistis confitentium responsiones, cum sanctorum passio legeretur.

'Blessed are the saints in whose memory we are celebrating the day they suffered on; they have received an eternal crown, immortality without end, in exchange for temporal well-being; in these solemn celebrations they have left us lessons of encouragement. When we hear how the martyrs suffered, we rejoice and glorify God in them, nor do we grieve because they are dead. Even if they hadn’t died for Christ, would they be still alive today? Why should confession of faith not do what sickness would eventually do in any case? You heard the interrogations of the persecutors, you heard the replies of the confessors, when the passion of these saints was being read.'

Augustine refers to a dialogue from the account of the martyrdom of Fructuosus and his deacons.

6. Beati quorum passio recitata est. Beata Agnes sancta, cuius passionis hodiernus est dies. Virgo quae quod uocabatur, erat. Agnes latine agnam significat; graece, castam. Erat quod uocabatur: merito coronabatur. Quid ergo, fratres mei, quid uobis dicam de hominibus illis quos pagani pro diis coluerunt, quibus templa, sacerdotia, altaria, sacrificia exhibuerunt? Quid uobis dicam? non illos esse comparandos martyribus nostris?

'Blessed are those whose passion has been related; blessed too is saint Agnes, who also suffered on this same day; a virgin who was what she was called. Agnes means "lamb" in Latin, "chaste" in Greek. She was what she was called; she was deservedly rewarded with a martyr's crown. So then what, my brothers, what am I to say to you about these men whom the pagans worshipped as gods, for whom they instituted temples, priesthoods, altars, sacrifices? What am I to say to you? That they are not to be compared to our martyrs?'

Martyrs are superior to pagan heroes. Agnes, a thirteen-year-old girl was much stronger that Juno, and Fructuosus was better than Hercules.
7. Et tamen, charissimi, nos martyres nostros, quibus illi nulla ex parte sunt conferendi, pro diis non habemus, non tanquam deos colimus. non eis templa, non eis altaria, non sacrificia exhibemus. Non eis sacerdotes offerunt: absit. Deo praestantur. Imo Deo ista offeruntur, a quo nobis cuncta praestantur. Etiam apud memorias sanctorum martyrum cum offerimus, nonne deo offerimus? Habent honorabilem locum martyres sancti. Aduertite: in recitatione ad altare Christi loco meliore recitantur; non tamen pro Christo adorantur. Quando audistis dici apud memoriam sancti Theogenis, a me, uel ab aliquo fratre et collega meo, uel aliquo presbytero: offero tibi, sancte Theogenis? aut offero tibi, Petre? aut, offero tibi, Paule? Nunquam audistis. Non fit: non licet. Et si dicatur tibi, numquid tu Petrum colis? Responde quod de Fructuoso respondit Eulogius: ego Petrum non colo, sed Deum colo, quem colit et Petrus.

''‘And yet, dearly beloved, while the gods are in no way at all to be compared to our martyrs, we don’t regard our martyrs as gods, or worship them as gods. We don’t provide them with temples, with altars, with sacrifices. Priests don’t make offering to them; perish the thought! These things are provided for God; or rather these things are offered to God, by whom all things are provided for us. Even if me make an offering at the shrines of the holy martyrs, don’t we offer it to God? The holy martyrs have their place of honour. Notice, please; in the recitation of names at the altars of Christ, their names are recited in the most honoured place; but for all that, they are not worshipped instead of Christ. When did you ever hear said by me at the shrine of Saint Theogenes, or by any of my brethren and colleagues, or by any priest, "I am offering to you, Saint Theogenes"? Or, "I am offering to you, Peter," or "I am offering to you, Paul"? You never did, it doesn’t happen, it is not permitted. And if you should be asked, "Do you, then, worship Peter?", answer what Eulogius answered about Fructuosus: "I do not worship Peter, but I worship God, whom Peter also worships".'

Text: Patrologia Latina 39, 1248 and 1251. Translation: Hill 1994, 17 and 20.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Fructuosus, Auguris and Eulogius, bishop and his two deacons, martyrs of Tarragona (Spain), ob. 259 : S00496 Agnes, martyr in Rome (ob. c. 304) : S00097 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Theogenes, bishop and probably martyr a

Saint Name in Source

Petrus Fructuosus, Augurius, Eulogius Agnes Paulus Theogenes

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


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

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


The sermon was certainly delivered in Hippo Regius. Its dating to c. 396 (or slightly earlier period) is based on the fact that Augustine refers to other presbyters as his brothers and colleagues, which suggest that he was not yet a bishop (he became one in AD 397).


The fact that Theogenes had a memorial shrine at Hippo suggests that he was a martyr. He probably can be identified with the bishop of this city, present at the council in Carthage in AD 256, see: Sententiae episcoporum numero LXXXVII de haereticis baptizandis (Concilium Carthaginiense sub Cypriano anno 256 habitum) 14. The feast of Fructuosus was celebrated at Hippo, but the evidently did not have their own place in this city, and so the commemoration was held in a memorial shrine of other martyr.


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 8. Sermons 273-305A for the Saints ‬(New York: New City Press, 1994). Dating: Kunzelmann, A., "Die Chronologie der sermones des hl. Augustinus," Miscellanea Agostiniana, vol. 2 (Rome: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1931), 417-452.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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