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E04467: Augustine of Hippo preaches in Latin a sermon on the feast of martyrs, possibly the *Martyrs of Massa Candida (S00904) and *Quadratus (martyr and bishop of Utica, one of the *Martyrs of Massa Candida S00904). Sermon 335E, delivered possibly in Utica (North Africa) on an unspecified date c. 400/430.

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posted on 2017-12-15, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 335E

[De martyribus

'On some martyrs']

1. Beatorum martyrum sollemnem diem uoluit nos dominus celebrare uobis cum. Hinc ergo aliquid loquamur, quod donauerit dominus, qui arcam in qua figurauit ecclesiam lignis quadratis uoluit fabricari. Quadratum enim quacumque in puluerem, stantem inuenis. Mira res et quasi impossibilis sed tamen aduertite et inuenietis: quadratus deici potest, cadere non potest. Deiecti sunt martyres in terra humilitatis sed non ceciderunt, quia in caelo sunt coronati. Nullus martyr fuit qui non fuerit ueritate quadratus.

'The Lord has willed that I should celebrate the feast of the blessed martyrs with you. So let me say something about this, as the Lord may grant me, whose will it was that the ark, by which he had the Church represented, should be constructed of squared timbers. Throw a squared timber down in the dust, you see, any way at all, you will find it standing upright. It's a wonderful fact, and seems almost impossible, but all the same just watch, and you'll find it's true; a squared timber can be thrown down, it can't fall. The martyrs were thrown down on the earth of humiliation, but they didn't fall, because they were crowned in heaven. There has never been a martyr who was not, in truth, squared.'

In what follows Augustine reflects generally on the martyrs, emphasising that their suffering were the seeds of the faith, but does not name specific personages or form of their cult.

Text: Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum 2, 781; Hill 1994, 324. Summary: Robert Wiśniewski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs of Massa Candida (Utica), ob. c. 258 : S00904

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


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

Utica 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


This sermon cannot be dated with any certainty. It is clear from the first paragraph that Augustine preached it outside Hippo, his episcopal see. Also in this paragraph he seems to allude to bishop and martyr Quadratus (or the 'squared' martyr). If so, the sermon could have been delivered in Utica, where Quadratus had been a bishop and was buried, and the feast was possibly that of the Martyrs of Massa Candida who belonged to his congregation.


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