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E02976: Peter Chrysologus, bishop of Ravenna (attested 448/449, died before 458), preaches a Latin sermon in Ravenna, for the feast of *John the Baptist (S00020).

online resource
posted on 2017-06-13, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 127, De natale sancti Iohannis Baptistae ('On the feast [literally, birthday] of saint John the Baptist')

The sermon discusses the narrative of John the Baptist’ death in Matthew 14:3-11, contrasting the figures of John and Herod. At § 10 it exhorts the audience to celebrate the feast with decency, avoiding dancing, music, and more broadly worldly pleasures. At § 11 Peter contrasts John’s birth in Heaven on the day of his death, and Herod's death on the day of his birthday.

Text: Olivar 1982, 782-788. Summary: M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

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

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Ravenna Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Peter Chrysologus

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Peter Chrysologus was bishop of Ravenna in the second quarter of the 5th century. The chronology of his life remains uncertain: he is attested as bishop in 448/449 and he died before 458 when there is evidence of his successor Neo receiving a letter from pope Leo the Great: see PCBE 2, 'Petrus Chrysologus 9', pp. 1728-9. While most of Peter's sermons were transmitted in a collection put together by bishop Felix of Ravenna in the 8th century, the current body of sermons attributed to him has been established and critically edited by Olivar, who rejected a number of sermons from Felix's collection as spurious and added 15 sermons not transmitted in the collection but which he considered authentic. All the sermons were preached in Ravenna, generally on specific topics or liturgical feasts that can be identified. Most, however, do not bear indications of their date, although Olivar has attempted to find chronological units within Felix' collection. For an overview of these sermons and hypotheses on their chronology, see A. Olivar, Los sermones de San Pedro Crisologo: estudio critico (Montserrat, 1962); F. Sottocornola, L’anno liturgico nei sermoni di Pietro Crisologo (Cesena, 1973); V. Zangara, “I silenzi nella predicazione di Pietro Crisologo”, Rivista di storia e letteratura religiosa 32 (1996), 225-265, and further bibliography in W.B. Palardy, Peter Chrysologus: Selected Sermons, vol. 2, (Fathers of the Church 109; Washington DC, 2004), xiii-xvi. The authenticity of this sermon, which is found in Paul the Deacon's homiliary (II, 71) under the name of “bishop John” and consequently had a significant manuscript transmission outside Felix' collection, has been disputed: the issue is discussed by Olivar 1962, concluding in favour of the attribution to Peter. On the manuscript transmission see Olivar 1982, 780-781.


This sermon provides evidence for the celebration of John the Baptist's feast in Ravenna (for other similar sermons of Peter attesting this feast see E02983, E02984, E02985, E02986).


Edition: Olivar, A., Petrus Chrysologus, Sermones (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 24B; Turnhout, 1982), 782-788. Translation: Palardy, W.B., Peter Chrysologus, Selected Sermons. Volume 3 (Fathers of The Church 110; Washington D.C, 2005), 187-191. Further reading: Olivar, A., Los sermones de San Pedro Crisologo: estudio critico (Montserrat, 1962), 189-196.

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