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E05317: Maximus of Turin, in a Latin sermon composed in Turin, northern Italy, between c. 390 and 408/423, rebukes his congregation for their poor attendance at the feast day celebration of the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008).

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posted on 2018-04-12, 00:00 authored by frances
Maximus of Turin, Sermon 3

Dicite enim mihi, si non dolendum fuerit hoc peccatum sic uos salutis uestrae inmemores tunc fuisse, ut beatissimis apostolis Petro et Paulo honorificentiam minime redderetis, cum ipsos esse sciatis doctores gentium auctores martyrum principes sacerdotum, nec uolueritis eorum natalem nobis cum festiuissimum celebrare atque illi caelesti interesse conuiuio, in quo pro martyrum suorum tanta laetitia substantiam uitae ipse nobis dominus ministrauit! 

‘Tell me if this sin should not be lamented – that you were then so unmindful of your salvation that you did not honour the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, although you knew that they were the teachers of the nations, the first of the martyrs, and the princes of the priests; that you did not wish to celebrate their most solemn anniversary with us and partake of that heavenly banquet in which, for the sake of his martyrs’ pleasure, the Lord himself ministered to us the substance of his life.’

Maximus continues to relate the spiritual benefits his congregation were deprived of. He claims they would readily walk ten miles to celebrate a nobleman’s son’s birthday and that they should be as willing to celebrate the feast day of the Apostles. In rejecting Peter and Paul, they also reject God.

Text: Mutzenbacher 1962. Translation: Ramsey 1989.
Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Peter the Apostle : S00036

Saint Name in Source

Paulus Petrus

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)

Turin Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Maximus of Turin

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Uncertainty/scepticism/rejection of a saint

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Maximus was bishop of late antique Turin, but the exact dates of his episcopate has been contested over the centuries. Gennadius of Marseille, writing in the late-fifth century, refers to a prominent bishop of Turin – called Maximus - who composed sermons on a variety of topics. According to Gennadius (De viris illustribus 41), this Maximus died in the reign of Honorius and the younger Theodosius, which would place Maximus’ death between 408 and 423. This was challenged in the early 17th century. Cardinal Baronius believed that the author of the sermons was the same Maximus who signed the acts of the Council of Milan in 451 and the Council of Rome in 465. He claimed that there was a mistake in Gennadius’ account: Maximus did not die, but instead ‘flourished’ (claruisse) between 408 and 423. Although this view was held until the end of the 19th century, it is now widely accepted that there were two bishops of Turin called Maximus, and that the author of the sermons did in fact die between 408 and 423. For a full overview of this argument, see Mutzenbecher’s preface to her critical edition of Maximus’ sermons. Mutzenbecher’s edition contains 119 sermons, of which 106 are viewed as authentic. 89 of these apparently constituted the collection available to Gennadius in Marseille at the end of the fifth century. These sermons were preached to the congregation in Turin on a variety of different topics. Many of them were preached to celebrate the feast day of a specific saint. Andreas Merkt has identified three main motivations guiding Maximus’ sermons on the saints. Firstly, he argues that Maximus preached on saints to provide examples for his congregation to follow. Secondly, that Maximus uses stories of martyrdom to communicate messages about the importance of Christ’s passion and the nature of the Eucharist to his congregation. Thirdly, Merkt argues that the saints Maximus focused on reflect his view on the ideal structure of the Church: he emphasises the primacy of Peter and Paul and the Roman church.


Edition: Mutzenbecher, A., Maximi episcopi Taurinensis Collectionem sermonum antiquam (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 23; Turnhout: Brepols, 1962). Translation: Ramsey, B., The Sermons of Maximus of Turin (Ancient Christian Writers 50; Westminster MD: Newman Press, 1989). Further Reading: Lizzi, R., "Ambrose’s Contemporaries and the Christianisation of Northern Italy," Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990), 156-173. Merkt, A., Maximus I. von Turin. Die Verkündigung eines Bischofs der frühen Reichskirche im zeitgeschichtliche liturgischen Kontext (Leiden:Brill, 1997).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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