University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E07561: In his Sermon 47, Another warning against the evil of drunkenness, Caesarius bishop of Arles (southern Gaul) inveighs against those who drink to angels and saints, thinking they are honouring them. Written in Latin at Arles, 503/542.

online resource
posted on 2019-05-20, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 47, Item ammonitio contra ebrietatis malum

5. [...] iam transacto convivio et expleta siti, cum amplius bibere nec possint nec debeant, tunc quasi novelli, et qui ipsa hora supervenerint, diversis nominibus incipiunt bibere, non solum vivorum hominum, sed etiam angelorum et reliquorum antiquorum sanctorum, aestimantes quod maximum illius honorem inpendant, si se in illorum nominibus nimia ebrietate sepeliant: ignorantes quod nullus tam gravem iniuriam sanctis angelis vel sanctis hominibus agnoscitur inrogare, quam illi qui in eorum nominibus bibendo per ebrietatem suas animas probantur occidere.

'When the banquet is ended and their thirst satisfied, they cannot and should not drink any more. However, as if starting all over again, together with any people who may have arrived at that hour, they begin to drink to different names, not only of living men, but even of the angels and of other saints of old, thinking that they are paying them the highest honour by burying themselves in drunkenness in their name. They do not know that no one inflicts so serious an injury upon the holy angels or holy men as those who, by drinking in their name, seek to kill their own souls by drunkenness.’

Text: Morin, vol. 1, 214. Translation: Mueller, vol. 1, 241, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Angels, unnamed or name lost : S00723 Saints, unnamed : S00518

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Arles Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Major author/Major anonymous work

Caesarius of Arles

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)


After an early career as an ascetic monk, first at the island monastery of Lérins, Caesarius became bishop of Arles in 503, and held this post, through many political vicissitudes, until his death in 542 (for his Life see E06283). Caesarius acquired a considerable reputation as a preacher, delivering sermons in a straightforward style and language, with limited use of rhetorical effects; most of his sermons address issues of Christian morality and practice, and the handful that he delivered on the feast days of saints are often concerned with proper behaviour at their festivals. His sermons were popular, and are widely attested in the manuscript tradition. Germain Morin, the most recent collector and editor of his sermons, attributed nearly 250, in whole or in part, to Caesarius; many, according to Morin, are reworkings of earlier sermons, with additions by Caesarius. Although Morin's attributions are not always certain, we have accepted them without question, since to look into this issue is beyond the scope of our project. Morin divided the sermons into five groups: sermons or admonitions on various topics (1-80), sermons on Scripture (81-186), seasonal sermons (187-213), sermons on the saints and feast days (214-232), and sermons to monks (233-238).


For a discussion of this passage, where popular practice diverged from the ideals of high churchmen, see Klingshirn 1994, p.198. We are grateful to Lucy Grig for drawing our attention to this sermon.


Edition: Morin, G., Sancti Caesarii Arelatensis sermones: nunc primum in unum collecti et ad leges artis criticae ex innumeris mss. recogniti (Corpus christianorum. Series Latina, 103-104; Turnholti: Brepols, 1953). Translations: Caesarius of Arles, Sermons, vol. 1-3, trans. M. Mueller (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 31, 47 and 66; Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2004). Césaire d’Arles, Sermons au peuple, vol. 1, ed. and transl. M.-J. Delage (Sources Chrétiennes, Volume 175; Paris: Éd. du Cerf, 1971), 13-216. Further reading: Klingshirn, W.E., Caesarius of Arles: the Making of a Christian Community in Late Antique Gaul (Cambridge, 1994).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager