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E02294: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of *Marianus and Iacobus (martyrs of Numidia, S01132). He compares the mother of Marianus to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) and encourages his audience to imitate the martyrs. Sermon 284, preached probably either in AD 397 or 418 in Carthage (North Africa).

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posted on 2017-01-30, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 284

[In natali Martyrum Mariani et Iacobi

'On the birthday of Marianus and Iacobus']

1. Hodierno die reddendi nostri debiti, propitio deo, tempus illuxit. Cum ergo deuoti sint debitores, quare tumultuantur exactores? Si omnium mentes quietas habeamus, ad omnes potest peruenire quod reddimus. De passione et gloria sanctorum martyrum sermo debetur. Quoniam ergo illi gloriosissime passi sunt, patientiam nobis indicunt.

'Today the time has come, by the grace of God, for me to pay the debt. So since the debtors are committed to payment, why are the debit collectors making such a noise? If we have everyone quiet and calm of mind, then what I am paying back can reach everyone? What is owing to you is a sermon on the passion and the glory of the holy martyrs. So, as they suffered so gloriously, they are enjoying patience upon us.'

2. Augustine reminds that some relatives of diverse martyrs-to-be tried to discourage them from martyrdom.

Non ex illis erat Mariani mater, non ex illis male suadentibus, carnaliter blandientibus, amando decipientibus: non erat ex illis sancti Mariani mater. Nomen non inane portabat, non frustra Maria uocabatur. Mulier quidem illa, non uirgo, non intacta de spiritu sancto, sed tamen pudica de marito, tale pignus pepererat, quod ad gloriosissimam passionem suis potius exhortationibus deducebat, quam inde suis malis blanditiis reuocabat. O sancta et tu Maria, impar quidem merito, sed par uoto. Felix et tu. Peperit illa martyrum principem, peperisti tu principis martyrem: peperit illa testium iudicem, peperisti tu iudicis testem. Felix partus, felicior affectus.

'Not of their sort, however, was the mother of Marianus, not of their sort with their misguided attempts to persuade, their pleading of close kinship in the flesh, their misplaced way of loving; not of their sort was saint Marianus' mother. She bore a by no means significant name, it was not for nothing she was called Mary. It's true, she had given birth as a woman, not as a virgin, not by the Holy Spirit as a maiden, but still by her husband as a chaste wife; but she had given birth to such a marvelous pledge of love, whom she accompanied with her encouragement to his glorious passion, instead of trying to deflect him from it with her misjudged pleas. Yes, you too, Mary, are holy (sancta), not your namesake's equal of course in merit, but her equal in desire. Blessed are you also. She have birth to the Prince of martyrs, you gave birth to a martyr of the Prince. She bore the Judge of witness, you bore a witness of the Judge. a blessed childbirth, an even more blessed mother love.'

In the following Augustine tells about the martyrs and martyrdom in general, but does not refer to Marianus and Iacobus until the final phrase of the sermon, which runs as follows:

6. ... Ex gratia Domini imitare conseruum, imitare Stephanum, imitare Marianum et Iacobum. Homines erant, conserui erant; sicut tu nati, sed ab illo qui non sic natus est, coronati.

'... By the grace of the Lord, then, imitate your fellow servants, imitate Stephen, imitate Marianus and Iacobus. They were only human, they were fellow servants of yours; born just like you, but crowned by the one who was not born in that way.'

Text: Patrologia Latina 38, 1288-1293. Translation: Hill 1994, 87-93. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Marianus and Iacobus, clerics and martyrs in Numidia, ob. c. 258 : S01132 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Saint Name in Source

Marianus, Iacobus Maria Stephanus

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 Latin North Africa

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Hippo Regius Carthage

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

Hippo Regius Carthage Carthago Karthago قرطاج‎ Qarṭāj Mçidfa Carthage Carthage Carthage Carthago Karthago قرطاج‎ Qarṭāj Mçidfa Carthage

Major author/Major anonymous work

Augustine of Hippo

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Oral transmission of saint-related stories

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon is tentatively dated either to AD 397 or 418 on the basis of intertextual references and its place in the collection of Augustine's sermons. If the former date is correct the debt which Augustine mentions refers to his Sermon 256 (E01193). If either of these dates is true the sermon was preached in Carthage, where Augustine attended a synod.


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 9. Sermons 306-340A 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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