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E02417: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of the birthday (nativitas) of *John the Baptist (S00020). He emphasises that it is the only earthly birthday of a man other than Christ which the Church celebrates, and explains why it falls on the summer solstice. Sermon 288, preached probably in AD 401 in Carthage (North Africa).

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posted on 2017-02-21, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 288

1. Diei hodiernae festiuitas anniuersario reditu memoriam renouat, natum esse Domini praecursorem ante mirabilem mirabiliter; cuius natiuitatem considerare nos et laudare maxime hodie conuenit. Ad hoc enim et dies anniuersarius huic miraculo dedicatus est, ut beneficia Dei et excelsi magnalia non deleat obliuio de cordibus nostris.

'Today's feast reminds us, as it comes round every year, that the Lord's forerunner was born in a wonderful way before the Wonderful one. Today especially it is fitting for us to reflect and to praise his birth. The reason, after all, why this anniversary is dedicated to this miracle, is to ensure that forgetfulness does not erase from our hearts the benefits of God and the might works of the Most High.'

What follows presents John the Baptist's role as the Voice in relation to that of Christ, the Word. At the end Augustine emphasises that the feast of John the Baptist falls on the summer solstice as a sign of John's humility, since from this day on the days get shorter.

Text: Patrologia Latina 38, 1302. Translation: Hill 1994, 110. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Baptista

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


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

Carthage 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


The sermon is dated to AD 401 on the basis of intertextual references and its place in the collection of Augustine's sermons. Augustine was then in Carthage.


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 on 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.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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