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E04081: Augustine of Hippo delivers a Latin sermon on the feast of a group of martyrs, probably the *Twenty Martyrs (of Hippo, S00703), stigmatising the custom of dancing and drinking, probably during saints' festivals. Sermon 326, preached probably in Hippo, at an unknown date between 391 and 430.

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posted on 2017-09-25, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 326

[In natali martyrum

'On the birthday of the twenty Martyrs']

1. Solemnitas beatissimorum martyrum laetiorem nobis reddidit diem. Laetamur, quia de terra laboris ad regionem quietis martyres transierunt: sed hoc non saltando, sed orando; non potando, sed ieiunando; non rixando, sed tolerando meruerunt.

'The solemn feast of these most blessed martyrs has brought us a happier day than usual. What makes us happy is that the martyrs have passed over from this land of labour and toil to the territory of peace and quiet; but they earned this not by dancing but by praying; not by drinking, but by fasting; not by being quarrelsome, but by their endurance.'

In what follows Augustine tells about the martyrs' desire to be in heaven and quotes parts of a dialogue between the martyrs and the judge.

Text: Patrologia Latina 38,1449. Translation: Hill 1994, 165-166. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Twenty martyrs, ob. at an unknown date at Hippo Regius : S00703

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

Hippo Regius

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

Hippo Regius 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 - Activities Accompanying Cult

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

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon cannot be dated with any certainty; it is described as preached on the feast of the Twenty martyrs only in three manuscripts, see Hill 1994, 171.


Text: Migne, J.P., Patrologia Latina 38 (Paris, 1865). Translation: Hill, E., The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, vol. III 9. Sermons 306-340A for 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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