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E02986: Peter Chrysologus, bishop of Ravenna (attested 448/449, died before 458), preaches a Latin sermon in Ravenna, perhaps for the feast of *John the Baptist (S00020).

online resource
posted on 2017-06-13, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 89

This sermon has no title, but Olivar added ‘A Fourth on Zachariah’, because this sermon would seem to share the same topic as the preceding sermons in his edition.

It starts discussing creation and the Creator, Christ. It then comes to the reading of the Gospel about John’s death and comments briefly on it in general terms. It refers back to another sermon in which the virtues of John and the crimes of Herod were discussed, and plans now to concentrate on the reasons for the death of John, who was sent as an angel on earth (§§ 1-3). The narrative of John’s birth in Luke 1:5-6 is then cited and commented on. This takes up the remainder of the sermon, Peter apologising for not having time to discuss John’s death and postponing the discussion to another day (§ 8).

Text: Olivar 1981, 548-553. 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 - 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.


It is somewhat uncertain on what occasion this sermon was preached, but plausible that it was for John the Baptist’s feast (as argued by Sottocornola 1973, 90-96). Indeed, the Gospel passage read that day was most probably the narrative of John’s death, either in Matthew or Mark, and Peter planned to discuss it, despite eventually lacking for time. Although less likely, the sermon could also have been preached during the Christmas season, as Peter comments on John’s birth preceding Jesus’ (as suggested by Olivar 1962, 266). The three preceding sermons are focused on the story of John's birth to Zachariah, but do not contain evidence that Zachariah had cult at Ravenna.


Edition: Olivar, A., Petrus Chrysologus, Sermones (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 24A; Turnhout, 1981), 548-553. Translation: Palardy, W.B., Peter Chrysologus, Selected Sermons. Volume 2 (Fathers of The Church 110; Washington D.C, 2005), 73-78. Further reading: Olivar, A., Los sermones de San Pedro Crisologo: estudio critico (Montserrat, 1962), 266-268 and 302-304. Sottocornola, F., L’anno liturgico nei sermoni di Pietro Crisologo (Cesena, 1973), 90-96.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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