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E02745: Augustine of Hippo (North Africa), preaches in Latin a sermon for the feast of the *Martyrs of Massa Candida (S00904), Sermon 306 , preached in an unspecified place in North Africa, c. 397/430.

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posted on 2017-04-28, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 306

[In natali martyrum Massae Candidae

'On the birthday of the Martyrs of Massa Candida']

In ths sermon Augustine encourages his audience to follow the example of the martyrs, but refers to the specific martyrs of Massa Candida only twice (§§ 2 and 10) without giving any further particulars.

2. ... Haec est prima martyrum causa, haec est candida martyrum massa. Si causa candida, et massa candida. Massa enim dicta est, de numeri multitudine; candida, de causae fulgore.

'That is the primary cause of the martyrs, that's what makes this mass of martyrs white. They are called the mass, after all, from their large numbers; called white from the splendor of their cause'

10. ... Massae ergo Candidae solemnitatem candida conscientia celebremus; et uestigia martyrum sectantes caputque martyrum et nostrum intuentes, si ad tam magnum bonum uenire concupiscimus, iter durum non timeamus.

'So let us celebrate the festival of the Shining White Mass with shinning white consciences. And as we follow in the footsteps of the martyrs, and keep our eyes fixed on the head both of the martyrs and of ourselves, if we are really eager to attain to such a great good, let us not be afraid of a hard journey.'

Text: Patrologia Latina 38, 1400 and 1405. Translation: Hill 1994, 18 and 23. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs of Massa Candida (Utica), ob. c. 258 : S00904

Saint Name in Source

Massa Candida

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 name in other Language(s)

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

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified


It is impossible to establish the date of this sermon and the place in which it was delivered. The Martyrs of Massa Candida were venerated particularly in Utica, but it is hard to say whether Augustine preached in that city.


The martyrs of Massa Candida, close to Utica, are known mostly from short mentions in a few sermons by Augustine. See E01760 and E01836. The term Massa Candida referred to a pit of lime into which the martyrs were thrown.


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.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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