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E05504: Leo the Great preaches a Latin sermon in Rome in 453 on the feast of Epiphany in which he praises the *Innocents (children killed on the orders of Herod, S00268).

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posted on 2018-05-22, 00:00 authored by frances
Leo the Great, Sermon 38


Leo tells his congregation that on this day they must consider the children whom Herod ordered to be killed. These children should be praised. Indeed, 'in the killing of all the infants a pattern of martyrdom was set' (in occisione infantium cunctorum martyrum forma praecesserit).

Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Innocents, children killed on the orders of Herod : S00268

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Leo the Great (pope)

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Leo the Great’s sermons were composed and delivered to the congregation in Rome throughout his papacy, between 440 and 461. The vast majority of these sermons were delivered at St Peter’s at the Vatican. The most recent editor of these sermons, A. Chavasse, argues that Leo edited and circulated a collection of 59 sermons, composed between 441 and 445, and that a second group of sermons from the latter part of his papacy were edited and circulated shortly after his death in 460. It is possible that these sermons were intended to provide a model for other bishops or to educate priests and the lower clergy.


Text: Chavasse, A., Sancti Leonis Magni Romani Pontificis tractaus (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 138, 138A; Turnhout, 1973). Translation: Freeland, J. and Conway, A., St Leo the Great Sermons (Fathers of the Church 93; Washington D.C., 1996). Further Reading: Demacopoulos, G.E., The Invention of Peter: Apostolic Discourse and Papal Authority in Late Antiquity (Philadelphia, 2013). Salzman, M.R., "Leo’s Liturgical Topography: Contestations for Space in Fifth-Century Rome," Journal of Roman Studies 103 (2013), 208-232. Wessel, S., Leo the Great and the Spiritual Rebuilding of Rome (Leiden, 2008).

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