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E07574: Caesarius bishop of Arles (southern Gaul) delivers four sermons (Sermons 223-226) on the feast days of unnamed martyrs; one of them enjoins his congregation to dress well, but with moderation, at their festivals. Written in Latin at Arles, 503/542.

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posted on 2019-05-24, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
Caesarius of Arles, Sermons 223-226

Four sermons that their editor, Morin, attributes in whole, or in part, to Caesarius. They contain generic injunctions to imitate the martyrs and to behave at their feasts with due decorum.

In Sermon 224, after criticising those who dress up splendidly for the feasts of martyrs, but within are morally corrupt, Caesarius continues:

Sed existit aliquis, et dicit: Ergo veteribus ac sordidis vestimentis in sanctorum sumus sollemnitatibus induendi? Non ita est, fratres carissimi: habenda sunt vestimenta nitida, honesta et rationabiliter et mediocriter praeparata, non pro vanitate saeculi nimium pretiosa [...]

'Now someone may step forward and say: Should we, then, be clothed with old and stained garments on the feasts of the saints? This is not true, dearest brethren. Our clothing should be bright, becoming and reasonably and moderately provided, and not, through worldly vanity, over-costly ...'

Text: Morin, vol. 2, 881-97, quotation at 886. Translation: Mueller, vol. 3, 881-97, quotation (modified) at 149-50.


Evidence ID


Major author/Major anonymous work

Caesarius of Arles

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

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).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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