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E04449: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of martyrs, in which he encourages his congregation to follow their example, explains that they are friends of God, but were human and so can be imitated. Sermon 335H, delivered in Hippo (North Africa) on an unspecified date c. 415/420.

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posted on 2017-12-11, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 335H

[In die natali martyrum

'On the birthday of some martyrs']

1. Omnes sollemnitates beatissimorum martyrum admonent nos quantum sit contemnenda uita praesens, et quantum sit futura quaerenda.

'All the feasts of the most blessed martyrs remind us what little regard we should have for this present life, and how much we should set our hearts on the life to come.'

After a passage focusing on Christ, who is the 'chief of the martyrs' Augustine admonishes the congregation to follow their example.

2. Vos ergo, fratres, admoneo hortor atque obsecro, ut quomodo celebratis deuote sollemnitatem martyrum, sic ametis sanctos mores martyrum. Martyres sunt, sed homines fuerunt. Orationibus adiuuant nos, sed hoc erant quod nos. Nolite ergo desperare merita eorum. Qui enim donauit illis, potest donare et nobis. Non enim eos tamquam deos colimus, sed eos propter deum honoramus, eum uero deum colimus, qui et noster dominus est, et illorum. Illi gratia eius amici sunt eius, nos simus uel serui eius.

'So then, I'm admonishing you, brothers, urging and begging you, that just as you are celebrating the feast of the martyrs with great devotion, so you should love the holy conduct of the martyrs. They are martyrs, yes; but they were human beings. They help us with their prayers, but they were just what we are. So don't despair of equaling their merits. The one who endowed them can also endow us. You see, you are not worshipping them like gods, but honouring them on God's account, while the God we worship is the one who is both our Lord and theirs. They are his friends by grace, let us, at least, be his servants.'

Text: Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum, 830-831. Translation: Hill 1994, 246-247. 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 - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon is tentatively dated to AD 416-20 on the basis of intertextual references, but this dating is far from being sure. It was certainly preached in Hippo, for the end of the sermon is directed to Augustine's congregation. The preacher admonishes those who are not baptised yet, to enrol for baptism.


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).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity