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E04445: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of martyrs, in which he condemns the practice of drinking on such occasions. Sermon 335D, delivered in Hippo (North Africa) on an unspecified date c. 400/430.

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posted on 2017-12-08, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 335D

[De martyribus

'On some martyrs']

When commenting upon Ps 36:8 ("They will get drunk on the plenty of your house") Augustine refers this verse to the "holy drunkenness" of the martyrs, which has noting to do with the custom of drinking at their feasts:

2. Ecce qualem ebrietatem desiderant qui se in locis martyrum inebriant, et quos illi persecuti sunt lapidibus, persequuntur calicibus; insuper etiam saltant et membra christi ad ludendum daemonibus donant, et putant se placere martyribus dum placent inmundis spiritibus. Quanta ista dicimus? ipsos certe adtendant ad quorum memorias se inebriant: si ista dilexissent, martyres non essent.

'That, I suppose, is the kind of drunkenness those of you desire who get drunk at the shrines of the martyrs, and who persecute with their cups the ones those people persecuted with stones; and go even to dance and give the members of Christ over to the demons of play; and they think they are pleasing the martyrs, when in fact they are pleasing unclean spirits. How many times do I have say these things? They should surely turn their attention to those at whose memorial shrines (memoriae) they get drunk; if they approved this sort of behaviour, they wouldn't have been martyrs.'

In what follows Augustine argues that if the persecutions ceased, the temptations are still dangerous. Drunkenness is one of them, visiting astrologers, diviners, and charm-makers is another. People can imitate the martyrs when they are ill but refuse to accept amulets.

Text: Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum, 777. Translation: Hill 1994, 229. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

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 - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


This sermon was evidently preached at Hippo and not at the be beginning of Augustine's career as a preacher, since the audience was already familiar with his admonitions against the custom of drinking at saints' feasts.


For other sermons by Augustine against drunkenness at the feats of martyrs see E02842, E02859, E03305, E04081, E04279, E04423, E04445, E01837, E02340, E02740.


Text: Hamman, A., Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum, vol. 2 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1960). Translation: Hill, E., The Works of Saint Augustine. A Translation for the 21st Century, vol. III 9, Sermons 306-340A on the Saints (New York: New City Press, 1994).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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