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E04537: In his Sermon 375B, preached in Latin in Hippo Regius (North Africa) on Easter of an unknown year between 397 and 430, Augustine, the bishop of this city, refers for the sake of theological argument to the martyrs, and mentions *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030) and Phokas, either *Phokas, martyr of Sinope (S00052) or *Phokas, martyr of Antioch (S00413).

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posted on 2017-12-30, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 375B

Ut autem similitudinem demus, unde celerius quod dicimus aduertatis, sicut uerbi gratia, quando Stephanus martyr, et Focas uel aliquis alius passus est et occisus et sepultus, caro eorum sola occisa et sepulta est, animae autem eorum neque occidi neque sepeliri potuere, et tamen rectissime dicimus, mortuus est Stephanus, uel Focas, uel quicumque alius pro nomine Christi, ita, quando passus et occisus et sepultus est Dei unigenitus, caro utique eius sola occisa et sepulta est: anima autem, et multo magis diuinitas eius occidi non potuit.

'But let us provide a comparison, from which you may grasp more quickly what I am saying; for example, when the martyr Stephen, or Phocas, or any other suffered and was killed and buried, it was their flesh alone that was killed and buried, while their souls could be neither killed nor buried; and yet we are quite right is saying, "Stephen or Phocas or anybody else died for the name of Christ." In the same way, when the only-begotten Son of God suffered and was killed and buried, it was of course only his flesh; but his soul, and much more his divinity, could not be killed.'

Text: Lambot 1930, 27. Translation: Hill 1995, 335.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Phokas, martyr of Antioch : S00413 Phokas, martyr of Sinope : S00052 Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Saint Name in Source

Focas Focas Stephanus

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 - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The sermon was preached at Easter of an unknown year, in Hippo, Augustine's episcopal see.


St Stephen was an exemplary martyr and there is no wonder that Augustine mentioned him, but Phokas is puzzling. There is no other evidence of the cult of any saint of this name is Africa, but the Augustine most probably had in mind Phokas of Sinope, whose cult, according to Asterius of Amaseia, was popular in the West, probably in Rome (E01963). It is worth emphasising that the congregation in Hippo was evidently familiar with this saint, for Augustine does not explain who he was.


Text: Morin, G., Sancti Augustini Sermones post Maurinos reperti (Miscellanea Agostiniana, vol. 1; Rome: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1930). Translation: Hill, E., The Works of Saint Augustine. A Translation for the 21st Century, vol. III 10, Sermons 341-400 On Various Subjects (New York: New City Press, 1995).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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