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E02605: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008), explaining why the martyrs are greater than other people. Sermon 297, preached probably c. 416-420 at an unknown location in North Africa, possibly in Hippo Regius.

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posted on 2017-03-24, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 297

1. Hodiernum nobis diem festum fecit sanguis apostolorum.

1. 'It was the blood of the apostles that made today a feast for us.'

Augustine deals first with Peter. He remarks that Peter did not want to die, but still decided to follow Christ.

3. "Alter te cingit, et fert quo tu non uis." Consolatur Dominus de hoc, transfigurans in se infirmitatem nostram, et dicens: "tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem". Inde martyres magni, quia dulcedinem huius mundi calcauerunt: inde martyres magni, quia amarae mortis asperitatem durissimam pertulerunt. Nam si facile est mortem ferre, quid magnum martyres pro domini morte pertulerunt? Unde magni, unde excelsi, unde caeteris hominibus multo florentius coronati? Unde, quod norunt fideles, distincti a defunctis loco suo martyres recitantur; nec pro eis oratur, sed eorum orationibus ecclesia commendatur? Unde hoc, nisi quia mors, quam pro dominica confessione elegerunt suscipere, quam christum negare, utique amara est?

'"Another girds you, and carries you where you do not wish". The Lord reassures us about that sort of thing, and transposes to himself our weakness, when he says, "My soul is sorrowful until death" (Mark 14:34). This is what makes martyrs great, that they trampled on the sweetness of this world; this is what makes martyrs great, that they endured the harsh brutality of a bitter death. I mean, if it is easy to face death, what great thing did the martyr endure in exchange for the Lord's death? What makes them great, what raises them high above the rest of Christians, crowned with fresher laurels? What is it, as the faithful know, that the martyrs' names are recited in their own place, quite distinct from the faithful; and that the Church doesn't pray for them, but commends itself to their prayers? Why all this, if not because death which they chose to endure for confessing the Lord rather than denying Christ, is of course something bitter?'

In what follows, Augustine deals with Paul and then instructs his audience how they should follow the apostles.

Text: Patrologia Latina 38, 1359 and 1360. Translation: Hill 1994, 216 and 217. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Peter the Apostle : S00036

Saint Name in Source

Paulus Petrus

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

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon is dated to the years 416-420 on the basis of intertextual references, especially to the Pelagian controversy, and its place in the collection of Augustine's sermons.


In § 3 Augustine refers to the custom of reciting martyrs' names during the mass.


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.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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