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E02773: Augustine of Hippo (North Africa), preaches in Latin a sermon for the feast of the *Martyrs of Massa Candida (S00904), emphasising that it is the right cause, not just the violent death, which makes a martyr. Sermon 306A, preached probably c. 405, possibly at Carthage.

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posted on 2017-05-08, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 306A

[In natali Massae Candidae

'On the birthday of Massa Candida (the White Mass)']

Diem sollemnem beatorum martyrum atque multorum, hoc est Massae Candidae, celebramus.

'We are celebrating the feast day of the blessed and numerous martyrs, that is, of the White Mass.'

In what follows Augustine emphasises that it is the proper cause, not just the violent death, that makes a martyr.

Text: Morin 1930, 645. Translation: Hill 1994, 26. 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, 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 - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Acceptance/rejection of saints from other religious groupings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon is tentatively dated to 405 on the basis of intertextual references and its place in the collection of Augustine's sermons. If this dating is right, it was probably preached in Carthage.


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, or the White Mass, referred to a pit of lime into which the martyrs were thrown. The emphasis on the cause that the martyrs suffered for aims to demonstrate that the Donatists who were killed in the conflict with the Catholics or sentenced to death for their violent crimes cannot be considered martyrs.


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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