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E05340: Gaudentius of Brescia composes a Latin sermon (Sermon 21) in Brescia, northern Italy, after 399, in praise of his predecessor, *Philastrius (bishop of Brescia, ob. 384/397, S02009). He uses hagiographic tropes to characterise the bishop and states that he preaches yearly on this day in honour of Philastrius.

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posted on 2018-04-16, 00:00 authored by frances
Gaudentius of Brescia, Sermon 21


On this day, the congregation should bestow honour on Philastrius, who is a companion of the biblical patriarchs, an imitator of them in life and similar to them in virtues. Gaudentius goes on to praise Philastrius’ virtues, focusing on his preaching, in which he imitated the Apostle *Paul (S00009). He battled with Jews, pagans and heretics, such as Auxentius, the (Homoian/Arian) bishop of Milan. He taught on the Christian faith in Brescia. He was humble, forgiving, patient, kind, and showed great purity of mind.

Pauca haec de virtutibus hominis dei (beatissimi videlicet Filastrii, egregii patroni nostri, cuius hodie festa celebrantur,) brevissimo sermone memoravi, ne dies iste celebritatis, quo ad superna migravit, tristi silentio inglorius praeteriret. Nam cum multa meritorum eius praeconia quattuordecim iam per annos solemnitatis huius cultum renovans auditui vestro intulerim, plura, quae praedicari adhuc oporteat, intacta perspicio. Quinto decimo autem Kalendarum Augustarum exuit hominem et migravit ad eum, quem dilexit.

‘In this very brief sermon I have recalled these few virtues of this man of God, (that most blessed Philastrius, our distinguished patron, whose feast is celebrated today), so that this day of glory, on which he departed for on high, might not pass by inglorious in sorrowful silence. Although, in repeating the cult of this solemnity now for fourteen years, I have brought to your hearing many proclamations of his merits, I perceive many yet untouched which ought to be proclaimed. On the fifteenth day before Kalends of August [18 July] he cast off the man and went to him whom he loved.’

If they venerate Philastrius they will more readily obtain what they ask for.

Text: Glück 1936. Translation: Boehrer 1965, lightly adapted.
Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Philastrius, bishop of Brescia, ob. 384/397 : S02009

Saint Name in Source


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)

Brescia Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gaudentius of Brescia

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Heretics


A sermon of Gaudentius of Brescia. Gaudentius was ordained bishop of Brescia by Ambrose of Milan at some time between 384 (the earliest possible date of the death of his predecessor, Philastrius) and 397 (the year of Ambrose’s death). He was bishop of Brescia for at least fourteen years. During this time, he authored several tracts, many of which were intended to be preached to his congregation in Brescia. This sermon was preached fourteen years after Philastrius’ death. We can therefore be sure it was preached at some time after 398. F. Marx, the nineteenth century editor of Philastrius’ works, argued that this sermon was not composed by Gaudentius, but instead was created in the eighth or ninth century. Yet in the first decade of the twentieth century both H. Ianuel and C. Knappe convincingly demonstrated this sermon was a genuine work of Gaudentius.


This sermon provides some evidence for Philastrius’ early cult, promoted by Gaudentius. Although he provides a very specific feast day for Philastrius (18 July), Philastrius’ name does not appear on this day in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum on this date, suggesting that devotion to Philastrius was not widespread (E04885). This passage provides an example of the practice in late 4th century Italy of characterising the saints as patrons or defenders of a community. We can see this in Paulinus’ representation of *Felix (priest and confessor of Nola, southern Italy, S00000) as the patron (patronus) of Nola (southern Italy) (see E04767), or Ambrose’s treatment of *Gervasius and Protasius (martyrs of Milan, S00313) (see E05211).


Text: Glück, A., Tractatus XXI. Gaudentius Brixiensis (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 68; Vienna, 1936). Translation: Boehrer, S., Gaudentius of Brescia: Sermons and Letters (Studies in Sacred Theology Second Series: Doctoral Dissertation, 165; Washington D.C., 1965) Further Reading: Lizzi, R., "Ambrose’s Contemporaries and the Christianization of Northern Italy," Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990) 156-173. 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). On the dating of Tract 21: Ianuel, H. "Ex Gaudentii sermonibus ultimum esse genuinum demonstratur," in: Commentationes philologicae in Zenonem Veronensem, Gaudentium Brixiensem, Petrum Chrysologum Ravenatem 2 (Regensburg, 1906). Knappe, C., "Ist die 21. Rede des h. Gaudentius echt? Zugleich ein Beitrag zur Latinität des Gaudentius," in: Jahresberich des Gymnasium Carolinum (Innsbruck, 1908) 3-66. Marx, F. (ed.), Sancti Filastrii episcopi Brixiensis diversarum hereseon liber (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 38; Vienna, 1898).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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