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E05301: Chromatius of Aquileia preaches a sermon in Latin in Concordia (near Aquileia, northern Italy) between 388 and 407, at the consecration of a church in Concordia. The relics of the apostles *John (S00042), *Andrew (S00288), *Thomas (S00199); *Luke (the Evangelist, S00442); and *John (the Baptist, S00020) are all deposited in the altar. Chromatius refers translation of Thomas' relics to Edessa (Upper Mesopotamia).

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posted on 2018-04-09, 00:00 authored by frances
Chromatius of Aquileia, Sermon 26


The basilica dedicated to the saints is now finished, and so relics of the saints will be deposited there as part of its consecration. Chromatius states that the virtues of the apostles whose relics will be placed in the church are numerous and the fame of these saints has spread across the earth. He asserts the sanctity of John the Apostle and Evangelist, and of John the Baptist, whose relics are present. He then turns to the Apostles Andrew and Thomas, and the Evangelist Luke, whose relics are also present. He describes Andrew as the brother of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036), claiming that the brothers were 'equals in suffering, because they were equals in faith' (aequales in passione, quia aequales in fide). He focuses particularly on Thomas, whose doubt affirmed the faith of the church. In particular, he affirmed the bodily resurrection of Christ, thus proving Marcion and the Manichees wrong. He then describes Thomas’s mission to India and the later translation of Thomas’s relics from India to Edessa.

The sermon continues, but the remaining passages do not survive.

Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020 John, the Apostle and Evangelist : S00042 Andrew, the Apostle : S00288 Luke, the Evangelist : S00442 Thomas, the Apostle : S00199

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Iohannes Andreas Lucas Thomas

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Aquileia Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Chromatius of Aquileia

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Heretics

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Transfer, translation and deposition of relics


Two sermons of Chromatius, the bishop of Aquileia between 388 and 407. Chromatius’ sermons were unknown for centuries after his death and were only rediscovered in the mid-twentieth century by Joseph Lemarié and Raymond Étaix. This sermon was preached to Chromatius’ congregation at some point during his episcopate. Before he was bishop, Chromatius took an active role in the 381 Council of Aquileia. This was one of the councils which condemned Arius' teachings as heretical. Chromatius was also a correspondent of several prominent figures in the late fourth-century church, including Jerome, Rufinus of Aquileia and Ambrose of Milan. In the late fourth century, Aquileia was a lively and diverse port town at a crossroads of the empire. It had strong links to the east and prominent Jewish and pagan communities. Chromatius’ sermons provide a view of the Nicene community of Aquileia in this dynamic time.


The presence of relics of John in Aquileia is attested in Sermon 22 (see E05300). The precise origin of these relics at Concordia is not known. The celebration of the translation of relics of several of these saints, and of the martyr *Euphemia (martyr of Chalcedon, S00017), to Aquileia was apparently celebrated in the city in later years. Joseph Lemarié argues that this event is the same as the one commemorated in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum on 3 September (E04940). This consecration should be viewed in the context of other, similar consecration ceremonies which took place in northern Italy in the later 4th century. In each case, the relics of saints were deposited in the altar of the church. See, for example, references to Ambrose consecrating churches in this way in Milan (E05211) and Florence (E05209); or Gaudentius consecrating a church in this way in Brescia (E05338). The treatment of the apostles is interesting here: John is the first of the apostles to be named, and Andrew is listed as the brother and equal of Peter. In contrast to other northern Italian churchmen of the later fourth century, Chromatius does not praise Peter at length (see E05217 and E05316). It is possible this reveals some ambivalence about Peter's position amongst the apostles.


Text, French translation and commentary: Lemarié, J. (ed.), and Tardif, H. (trans.), Chromace d’Aquilée, Sermons. 2 vols. (Sources Chrétiennes 154, 164; Paris: Cerf, 1969-71). Further Reading: Beatrice, P.F. (ed.), Chromatius of Aquileia and His Age: Proceedings of the International Conference Held in Aquileia, 22-24 May 2008 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011). Lizzi, R., "Ambrose’s Contemporaries and the Christianization of Northern Italy," Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990) 156-173. McEachnie, R., Chromatius of Aquileia and the Making of a Christian City (London: Routledge, 2017). Thélamon, F., "Reliques et mérites de saints: une lecture spirituelle de Chromace d’Aquilée lors de la dédicace de la basilique de Concordia (Sermon 26)," in: Beatrice, P.F. (ed.), Chromatius of Aquileia and His Age: Proceedings of the International Conference Held in Aquileia, 22-24 May 2008 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 321-338. Truzzi, C., Zeno, Gaudenzio e Cromazio. Testi e contenuti della predicaione Cristiana per le chiese di Verona, Brescia e Aquileia (360 – 410 ca.) (Brescia: Paideia, 1985).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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