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E02978: A pseudepigraphic sermon, wrongly attributed to Peter Chrysologus, bishop of Ravenna, is preached for the feast of *Cyprian (bishop and martyr of Carthage, S00411), perhaps in Carthage (North Africa) during Late Antiquity.

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posted on 2017-06-13, 00:00 authored by mpignot
(Pseudo-) Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 129, De natale sancti Cypriani (‘On the feast of saint Cyprian’)

§ 1: Quoniam hodie deo natale sancti martyris Cypriani convenimur, in qua miro certamine diabolum triumphavit, et quia nobis virtutum suarum gloriosum reliquit exemplum, ideo exultare nos convenit et laetari.

‘Today we have assembled in the sight of God on the birthday of St. Cyprian the Martyr. On this date he triumphed over the Devil in an admirable struggle. Moreover, he has left us a glorious example of his virtues. For these reasons it is proper for us to exult and rejoice.’

The sermon continues, explaining that when speaking of the birth of saints, it does not mean natural birth but birth into heaven. It then exhorts the audience not to think that the feasts of martyrs should be celebrated only by meals and banquets but rather by imitating them. It alludes to the great numbers present in church for the feast that day, contrasting it to the crowd that attacked Cyprian. The preacher continues noting that the birthday of martyrs should be celebrated every year in memory of them, so that everybody knows about them and nobody forgets. He ends by exhorting the audience to imitate the martyrs and focus on heavenly rewards.

Text: Olivar 1982, 793-795. Translation: Ganss 1953, 213-214.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (Africa) and martyr, ob. 258 : S00411

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


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 Crowds


This sermon, although critically edited among the sermons of the bishop of Ravenna, Peter Chrysologus, by Olivar 1982, has been widely rejected as inauthentic. Olivar in particular argued against attributing the sermon to Peter (see Olivar 1962, 196-197 and Olivar 1982, 792). For Olivar, the sermon is late antique, perhaps preached in Carthage in North Africa, where the feast of Cyprian was particularly important. Although noting that there is no straightforward evidence for this, Olivar wonders whether the comparison of the crowds assembling to beat Cyprian with the crowds assembling in church to hear the sermon, might allude to the fact that the sermon was preached at the site of Cyprian’s tomb. Olivar also notes that the sermon shares elements with Augustine's Sermon 310 (E02839).


Edition: Olivar, A., Petrus Chrysologus, Sermones (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 24B; Turnhout, 1982), 793-795. Translation: Ganss, G.E., Saint Peter Chrysologus, Selected Sermons, and Saint Valerian, Homilies (Fathers of the Church 17; New York, 1953), 208-213. Further reading : Olivar, A., Los sermones de San Pedro Crisologo: estudio critico (Montserrat, 1962), 196-197.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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