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E02596: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008), addressing the question of why the memorial shrines (memoriae) of these apostles, of *Laurence (deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037), and of other martyrs did not save Rome from being captured by its enemies in 410. Sermon 296, preached most probably in Carthage (North Africa) in 411.

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posted on 2017-03-23, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 296

[In natali apostolorum Petri et Pauli

'On the birthday (natalis) of the apostles Peter and Paul']

Augustine refers to the reading which preceded the sermon and other New Testament passages about Peter.

6. Iacet Petri corpus Romae, dicunt homines, iacet Pauli corpus Romae, Laurentii corpus Romae, aliorum martyrum sanctorum corpora iacent Romae: et misera est Roma, et uastatur Roma: affligitur, conteritur, incenditur; tot strages mortis fiunt, per famem, per pestem, per gladium. Ubi sunt memoriae apostolorum? quid dicis? ecce hoc dixi: tanta mala roma patitur: ubi sunt memoriae apostolorum? Ibi sunt, ibi sunt, sed in te non sunt. Utinam in te essent, quisquis ista loqueris, quisquis ista desipis, quisquis uocatus in spiritu carnem sapis, quisquis talis es: utinam in te essent memoriae apostolorum, utinam tu cogitares apostolos. Videres utrumnam eis terrena felicitas promissa fuerit, an aeterna.
6. '"Peter's body lies in Rome", people are saying, "Paul's body lies in Rome, Laurence's body lies in Rome, the bodies of other holy martyrs lie in Rome; and Rome is grief-stricken, and Rome is being devastated, afflicted, crushed, burnt; death stalking the streets in so many ways, by hunger, by pestilence, by the sword. Where are the memorial shrines (memoriae) of the apostles?
     What's this you're saying?
     "Here's what I'm saying; Rome is suffering such enormous evils; where are the memorial shrines of the apostles?"
     They are there, they are there, but they are not in you. If only they were in you, whoever you are that are saying these things, whoever you are, foolish enough to think these things, whoever you are, called in the spirit and savouring the flesh, whoever you may be of that sort! If only the memorial shrines of the apostles were in you, if only you really gave a thought to the apostles! Then you would see whether they promised an earthly felicity or eternal.

In what follows, Augustine explains that the promises of the apostles concerned the life to come, and not security in this world. He also discusses the issue of the reintegration of the Donatists within the Catholic communities.

Text: Morin 1930, 404-405. Translation: Hill 1994, 206. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Laurence, martyr of Rome, ob. 258 : S00037 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Anonymous martyrs : S00060

Saint Name in Source

Laurentius Petrus Paulus

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

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


This sermon was most probably preached at the feast of the Apostles, ten months after the sack of Rome by Alaric in August 410 and shortly after the 'Conference' in Carthage (411), which was to decide which of the two Churches in Africa, Donatist or 'Catholic', was legal. Augustine was probably still in this city.


The important issue of the responsibility for the sack of Rome is also widely discussed in the City of God, in which Augustine shows that actually the shrines of martyrs gave asylum to those who sought it there, see E01041.


Text: Morin, G., Sancti Augustini Sermones post Maurinos reperti (Miscellanea Agostiniana, vol. 1, Rome: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1930). Translation: Hill, E., The Works of Saint Augustine. A Translation for the 21st Century, vol. III 9, 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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