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E03609: Sermon by Valerianus, bishop of Cimiez (southern Gaul), in praise of the *Maccabean Martyrs (pre-Christian Jewish martyrs of Antioch, S00303). Written in Latin at Cimiez in the mid 5th century.

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posted on 2017-08-28, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Valerianus of Cimiez, Sermon 18

This sermon is built around the Maccabees, especially the mother of the seven Maccabee brothers, who is praised for willingly accepting the martyrdom of all her sons, before being martyred herself (§ 1). The sermon describes the successive torture and killing of each of the brothers (§§ 2-3), and how in each case their mother was concerned only with encouraging her sons to endure martyrdom, including the youngest of them (§ 4). It ends with a description of the mother's own martyrdom, accompanied by an exhortation to treat her and her sons as models because of the contempt for the world they displayed (§ 5).

Text: PL 52, 746-749. Translation: Ganss 1953, 415-420. Summary: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Maccabean Brothers, 2nd-century BC Jewish martyrs in Antioch : S00303

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Cimiez Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops


Valerianus was bishop of Cemelium in Provence (Cimiez, now part of Nice) in the mid 5th century: his name appears several times in episcopal letters and the records of church councils between 439 and 455. Only the first of the twenty sermons now attributed to Valerianus of Cimiez was actually transmitted under his name (although in most manuscripts it is attributed to Augustine). The others survive in a single, anonymous manuscript (now BnF Lat. 13387) and were attributed to Valerianus by the 17th-century scholar Jacques Sirmond on the basis of stylistic similarities with the first (on the attribution, see Quantin 2013, 700-705). Sirmond's identification of the author of these sermons as Valerianus continues to be accepted by scholars.


Unlike his other sermons on martyrdom (E03604, E03607, E03608), this deals not with a local martyr, but with the Hellenistic Jewish martyrs, the Maccabees. The general lesson, as in the other sermons, is to use the example of the martyr as an inspiration to despise earthly goods.


Edition: Migne, Patrologia Latina 52, 746-749. Translation: Ganss, G.E., Saint Peter Chrysologus, Selected Sermons, and Saint Valerian, Homilies (Fathers of the Church 17; New York, 1953). Further reading: Quantin, J.-L., "Philologie et querelle de la grâce au XVIIe siècle: Sirmond, Valérien de Cimiez et le Saint-Office," in: J. Elfassi, C. Lanéry, and A.-M. Turcan-Verkerk (eds.), Amicorum Societas. Mélanges offerts à François Dolbeau pour son 65e anniversaire (Florence, 2013), 700-739.

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