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E02702: Augustine of Hippo (North Africa), preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of the *Maccabean Martyrs (pre-Christian Jewish martyrs of Antioch, S00303), referring to the reading of their history and admonishing his audience to participate in the feast of the martyrs rather than in the theatrical shows. Sermon 301A, preached c. 399 in Bulla Regia (North Africa).

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posted on 2017-04-13, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 301A

[In solemnitate ss. Machabeorum

'For the feast of the holy Maccabees']

The first part of the sermon does not refer to the feast.

7. Modo spectauimus magnum certamen septem fratrum et matris illorum. Quale certamen, fratres mei, si nouerunt mentes nostrae spectare. Comparate huic sancto spectaculo uoluptates et delicias theatrorum. Ibi oculi inquinantur, hic corda mundantur: hic laudabilis est spectator, si fuerit imitator; ibi autem et spectator turpis est, et imitator infamis. Denique amo martyres, specto martyres: quando leguntur passiones martyrum, specto ... Opportune de spectaculo sanctorum Machabaeorum, quorum uictoriae memoriam hodie celebramus, de spectaculis theatricis admonenda uisa est mihi caritas uestra. O fratres Bullenses, circumquaque prope in omnibus ciuitatibus uicinis uestris lasciuia inpietatis obmutuit. Non erubescitis, quia apud uos solos remansit turpitudo uenalis?

'7. We have just now been spectators of the great contest of the seven brothers and their mother. What a contest, my brothers and sisters, if only our minds knew how to watch it! Compare with the holy spectacle the pleasures and delights of the theaters! There the eyes are defiled, here the heart is purified; here spectators are to be praised, if they become imitators; while there the spectator is base, and the imitator infamous. Well, anyway, I love the martyrs, I go and watch the martyrs; when the passions of the martyrs are read, I am a spectator, watching them ... The spectacle of the holy Maccabees, the memory of whose victory we are celebrating today, seemed to me to provide just the right opportunity for admonishing your graces about theatrical shows and spectacles. O my brothers of Bulla, all round about, in practically all your neighbouring towns, this kind of licentious impiety had fallen silent. Are you not ashamed that among you alone the obscenity has remained up for sale?'

In what follows Augustine preaches against theatrical shows.

Text: Morin 1930, 87. Translation: Hill 1994, 295-26. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Maccabean Brothers, 2nd-century BC Jewish martyrs in Antioch : S00303

Saint Name in Source


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 Bulla Regia

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

Hippo Regius Carthage Carthago Karthago قرطاج‎ Qarṭāj Mçidfa Carthage Bulla Regia 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

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon is tentatively dated to 399 on the basis of intertextual references and its place in the collection of Augustine's sermons. It was certainly preached at Bulla Regia, since Augustine addresses his audience as Bullenses.


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 306-340A 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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