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E05342: Zeno of Verona composes a sermon (Sermon 1.39) in Latin in Verona (northern Italy) in 362/380, in honour of the feast day of *Arcadius (martyr of Caesarea in Mauritania, S01859).

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posted on 2018-04-17, 00:00 authored by frances
Zeno of Verona, Sermon 1.39

Dum beati Archadii martyris gesta annalibus triumphanda mandamus, in agonem immortalis laudis christianus semper ardor animatur.

‘On this anniversary, we consider the triumphal deeds of the blessed martyr Arcadius. While we do this, in the midst of struggle, the immortal flames of the Christian fire are always enlivened by praise.’

The author continues to praise the martyrs in general terms before turning to the specifics of Arcadius’ case. The entire population of an unnamed city (urbs) was required to make a sacrifice to the gods. Arcadius hid when he was required to make the sacrifice, but after one of his kinsmen (propinquus)was found and tortured, Arcadius revealed himself. He offered himself up to the governor of the province (provinciae rector) and gave an account of his reasons for refusing to make a sacrifice. Seeing that the promise of punishment and suffering would not deter Arcadius, the official responded thus:

Incidantur, ait, ab articulis manus, a cruribus pedes; uiuum se cadauer inspiciat.

'‘Cut my hands from their limbs and my feet from my legs’, he said, ‘so that he can inspect his living corpse’.

In response, Arcadius told him:

‘Amputandam linguam mandare nesciti, quae in conluctantione martyria prior solet domino confiteri’

‘You did not know to order them to cut out my tongue, which is accustomed to first confess the Lord in the sufferings of martyrdom.’

Arcadius was led to the place of execution, and his hands and feet were duly removed from his body. He continued to profess his faith through this suffering in pools of blood. The preacher ends by praising Arcadius, comparing him to the *Maccabean martyrs (pre-Christian Jewish martyrs of Antioch, S00303) and Old Testament priest Eleazar. The author ends by stating:

Archadius beatissimus martyr adhuc demoratur in saeculo et iam martyr recitatur in caelo.

‘Arcadius, the most blessed martyr, was delayed till now in the world, but now is declaimed in heaven.’

Text: Löfstedt 1971. Translation and Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Arcadius, martyr of Caesarea in Mauritania : S01859

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)

Verona Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Zeno of Verona

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 Relatives of the saint Torturers/Executioners


A sermon of Zeno of Verona. Zeno was most likely born in north Africa and was bishop of Verona between c. 362 and 380, where he preached a number of sermons that have been preserved (the majority associated with the Easter cycle). Our sermon is part of the evidence that Zeno came from in north Africa, as Arcadius was poorly known elsewhere. The attribution of this sermon to Zeno has been questioned over the years (Monceaux 1905; Montorsi 2001), but other studies (Löfstedt 1971; Dumler 2013) persuasively argue that it was indeed by him.


This sermon contains many similar details to Arcadius' Martyrdom, which was composed at an unknown date in Italy (E04777). It is not clear whether one of these works drew on the other, whether they were both authored by the same individual, or whether they both drew on a common source.


Text: Löfstedt, B., Zeno Veronensis, Tractatus (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 22, Turnhout: Brepols, 1971). Further reading: Dumler, B., Zeno von Verona zu Heidnischer Kultur und Christlicher Bildung (Tübingen, 2013). Lanéry, C., "Hagiographie d'Italie (300-550). I. Les Passions latines composées en Italie”, in Philippart, G., (ed.), Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, volume V (Turnhout, 2010), 15-369, at 328-329. Lizzi, R., "Ambrose’s Contemporaries and the Christianisation of Northern Italy," Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990), 156-173. Monceaux, P., "Zénon de Vérone," Journal des Savants (1905), 659-666. Montorsi, W., Nel sedicesimo centenario del "Natale" de San Ferminiano (394-1994) (Modena, 1991). Truzzi, C., Zeno, Gaudenzio e Cromazio. Testi e contenuti della predicaione Cristiana per le chiese di Verona, Brescia e Aquileia (360 – 410 ca.) (Brescia, 1985).

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