Virginis Filio Ipse Virgo Adhesit: Honorius on St. John the Belovèd

In his sermon on the feast of St. John the Evangelist (27 December) in the Speculum Ecclesiae, Honorius picks up the old tradition that John was the bridegroom at the wedding in Cana.

On the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, if the church is dedicated to St. John, let this be the word of the one who preaches about him:

Who are these, that fly as clouds, and as doves to their windows?[1] Clouds carry rain and water the dry earth. Doves, as they look out through the windows,[2] do not desire to tear other birds to pieces like the raptors. My dearly beloved, the holy apostles were clouds who drench dry hearts with the abundant rain of doctrine, rejoicing to see a fat harvest grow whence they hoped to reap a hundred fold in joy.[3] They look upon the things of this world through the windows of their eyes, because they looked upon women not with the lustful gaze of illicit love but with a simple and chaste regard, and they desired no things of this earth. St. John the Evangelist was one of them, a copiously flowing cloud, who showered the four-cleft regions of the globe all over with his honeyed teaching. He had no bile of avarice, like the simple dove, so he was placed by the Lord in his temple, which is the Church, as a steadfast column.[4] His life was radiant with a special purity of chastity. He lit up all the churches with his teachingand miracles.[5] Hence what the scriptures say about all the saints in general is specially spoken about him: The voice of thy thunder in a wheel. Thy lightnings enlightened the world.[6] The thunder stands for the Church’s loud preaching. The wheel is a figure that refers to this world which ever spins swiftly about like a wheel. In this wheel the voice of God’s thunder rings out when the majestic noise of John the Evangelist thunders out to the world. The lightnings of God enlightened the whole worldwhen Christ’s miracles were made known to the world by John.

It is written that a spring rises in paradise, and is divided into four heads.[7] Paradise which is called the Garden of delights stands for the Church, which contains the delights of the scriptures and has been invited to God’s house where there are glory and riches.[8] A spring rises in that Paradise when Christ, source of all good gifts,[9] is born of a chaste virgin. The four rivers that derive from it are the four evangelists, who watered the whole Garden of the Church with their copious flood of doctrine.These four spiritual rivers gives the Church these delicacies: One gives milk for nourishment, a second oil for soothing, a third wine for taste, a fourth honey for sweetness. Babies are fed milk. Milk is secreted from Matthew’s Gospel for the Church, when he proclaims that Christ became a child for us and was fed milk. Oil cures the infirm. Oil is poured from Luke’s Gospel when he relates to us how Christ’s blood healed our infirmities. Wine makes us merry. Mark’s Gospel plies the Church with wine when he tells how the apostles were made merry by Christ’s resurrection.[10] John’s Gospel drips with honey when it teaches the divinity, which is the sweetness of angels.

The Prophet foresaw all these significations in them, and so described them in the figures of four animals.[11] Matthew is figured as a man, because his pen wrote of Christ’s humanity. Luke is designated as a calf, because he proclaims Christ as the fattened calf who was slain for us. Mark is denoted by the figure of a lion, because he tells how Christ rose from the dead like the lion.[12]John is declared by analogy in the eagle, because he made manifest how Christ took flight up to the Father’s glory.

The four regions of the world intimate the same truth about the evangelists, when we consider them in a figurative manner. The north, where the sun lies under the earth, expresses Matthew, who describes how Christ’s divinity was concealed beneath his flesh. The west, where the sun goes down, stands for Luke, who says that Christ the Sun went down in death. The east, where the sun rises every day, is understood to be Mark, who teaches us that Christ the Sun of Justice has risen from the dead. The south, where the sun blazes in the middle of the sky, signifies John, who expounds how the Eternal Sun shines in the majesty of his divinity.[13]

They are the four gold rings used to carry the Ark of the Covenant.[14] The ark is holy Church, the rings the four Gospels used to carry it into everlasting dwellings.[15] They are Aminadab’s chariots, which carry the Ark of God back from foreign lands to the home of the fatherland.[16] The Ark of God was captured by foreigners, but brought back to Jerusalem in the chariots of the priest Aminadab. The Ark of God is the Church, which was captured by foreigners when it was a slave to idols. Jesus our true Priest drove it back from enemy territory to Jerusalem in chariots, when he bore it to the heavenly homeland through the doctrine of the four evangelists. John was the chief among them, he who soaked the whole world with his preaching.

About this John, we read that he was the son of our Lord’s maternal aunt. He invited Christ and his mother to his wedding, but when the wine ran out Christ changed water into wine and made the feasters merry.[17] At the sight, John left his bride and, still a virgin, he cleaved[18] to the son of the Virgin. Because John renounced a fleshly union for love of him, Christ loved him more than all the disciples. Hence during the Last Supper when he gave his body and blood to his disciples, John leaned on Jesus’ breast,[19] and at that moment he drank from the Fount of wisdom[20] what he later uttered[21] to the world, the unspeakable things of the Word who was hidden in the Father,[22] for in Jesus’ breast are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.[23]Later as he was offering himself on the altar of the Cross as a victim to God the Father for the sake of the world and making his triumph over the prince of death, seeing his mother standing beside the cross next to John, he thought it was best to commend the Virgin to a virgin. Then as Christ left behind the prison of this world, returned to the heavenly palace, and sent the Holy Spirit from the paternal see to his disciples, John, full of the Holy Spirit, entered the Lord’s Temple along with Peter and healed a lame man in the name of Jesus Christ, and thereafter baptized the many Jews were were converted to the faith through their words. When on this account the high priests had them and other apostles punished with heavy floggings, they rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer such things for the name of the Lord.[24]

After the stoning of Stephen, when Samaria had received the Word of the Lord through the preaching of Stephen’s fellow deacon Philip, the apostles sent Peter and John to confirm those who had been baptized, as bishops in the Church still do today. But after the faithful received the Holy Spirit through their laying on of hands, they condemned Simon Magus, who wished to buy this grace, along with all his followers. Having accomplished these things, John passed into Asia and drew all of it to the Lord’s grace by his word and example, great wonders and signs.[25]

The reins of empire were held at that time by Domitian, who ordered the Apostle arrested and brought to Rome, where in the presence of the Senate he had him cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, but God’s grace intervened to protect him and he came out unharmed.[26] Then the emperor banished him to the isle of Patmos, where our Lord visited him often through an angel and revealed to him all the mysteries that were to come in the Church. Later, at the Senate’s decree, the emperor was butchered by gladiators, and the Apostle was honorably restored to God’s Church. He taught the churches all over the world by his writing and preaching, and crushed all heresies everywhere they had sprung. All the while he shone with many spectacular miracles, gleaming before the world like a sun in the darkness.[27] Indeed he changed forest sticks into gold and pebbles on the seashore into gems, and then restored the gold to its former nature as sticks and the gems into rocky matter. He raised a certain widow from the dead, and restored a dead young man to life. A glass vase that had shattered into a thousand pieces he restored to pristine wholeness. He not only drank poison in Christ’s name without being harmed, but also brought some who had died from it back to life.[28]

And so that no one of you lose heart on account of the magnitude of his offences, but rather are strengthened in God’s mercy and entrust yourselves to St. John’s prayer, I want to tell you one brief story about him that I hope will make your spirits merry.[29]

St. John gave a certain youth to a bishop for his upbringing. The bishop baptized him and took every care to educate him. Later on he began to govern him less strictly and, as old men will, ceased to correct him entirely. The boy, as he felt the reins of discipline slacken, straight away threw off our Lord’s yoke and rushed headlong into the crooked ways of vice. He was first tarnished by a voracious gluttony and drunkenness, then ensnared by the wiles of strumpets, and then he joins a band of thieves, and at last as a violent robber himself, he is made the head of a group of robbers. When some time had passed, and John had come invited to the same church and settled all the things he had come for, he asked the bishop to show him the boy he had entrusted to him to be brought up for the heavenly kingdom. With tears the bishop declared that he was dead, because he dwelt with thieves in the mountain passes as a prince of robbers. Hearing this, John groaned heavily, and poured forth abundant tears. Presently he ordered a horse and guide to be brought, and hastened with speed into the mountains. Suddenly a band of robbers surrounded him, but he, undaunted, asked for a conference with their leader. Advancing savage and armed, as soon as got close enough to recognize John, he began to flee. John pursued him, releasing his horse, shouting: “My son, why do you flee an unarmed old man! Why do you dread your own father? Stop, son, stop, and wait; I have to render an account to God for your soul. I would gladly meet death for your sake, as Christ bore it for the sake of the world. Only stop a moment, do not despair. I promise you, you will receive remission of your sins from God.” When he heard this, he suddenly toppled from his horse and John fell on his knees; he baptized himself again in a river of tears, hiding his right hand that was guilty of crime. John drew it forth, kissed it, and with many soothing words urged his fierce spirit to repentance. He convinced him to come to the church, he kept vigils and fasts with him, and gave him back to Mother Church a changed man, and giving an example of the divine mercy, he made the erstwhile cruel thief a noble pastor of that church.

My beloved, if St. John gave so much aid to sinners while living still in fragile flesh, how much more powerfully must he intercede for all who call upon him now that he is reigning with Christ? 

When he was an old man, our Lord appeared to him along with his disciples, and invited him to the heavenly feast. John, giving thanks that Christ invited him to the angelic banquet, ordered a ditch to open next to his altar, and calling together all the people he celebrated mass, and communicated them all in the Lord’s sacraments. Then he got into the ditch and immediately a great light from heaven shone over him. Ever since that time, the only thing found in that ditch is manna, which to this day gives salvation to any soul who asks for it in faith. Hence it is thought that St. John was rapt up into heaven by the angels in that light, and in that rapture he paid the debt of all flesh by his death, then was immediately restored to life. This is what the Church believes will happen on the last day to all the just who are still living in the flesh, namely that they will be rapt into the air to meet Christ and in that rapture shall die and be instantly restored to life.[30]

His dormition took place on the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, but the Church, enlightened by his teaching,[31] holds the solemn feast today because the noble office of the homonymous John the Baptist, who surpassed all other saints, falls on this day,[32] or because it was already honored as the day of his return from exile, and venerated as the day of the dedication of his church.

My beloved, invoke him to your aid, knock on his door with constant prayers,[33] that John whose name means “God’s grace”[34] may obtain the grace of almighty God for you and all Christians in the fatherland above, so that at this life’s end you may exult with him forever in that glory that eye hath not seen, etc.[35]

[1] Isaiah 60:8, text of a Vespers Responsory in the Common of Evangelists and a Matins responsory in the Common of Apostles (Cantus Index 007484).

[2] See Song of Songs 2:9. For a more extended meditation on the qualities of doves, see the Speculum’s Sermon for Pentecost.

[3] Psalm 125

[4] Apocalypse 3:12: “He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.”

[5] Cf the Collect for the feast, Ecclesiam tuam, Domine, benignus illustra, which evokes the main theme announced in the Prologue of John’s Gospel: Erat lux vera quae illuminet omnem hominem.

[6] Psalm 76:19, used as a responsory text for John’s feast in some medieval uses (Cantus Index 7921).

[7] Genesis 2:10.

[8] See Psalm 111:3.

[9] fons omnium bonorum: A phrase frequent in Augustine. On the pleasures of heaven, see Elucidarium 19 (PL 172:1171c).

[10] In fact the apostles were accused of being drunk in Acts.

[11] See Ezekiel 1.

[12] For more on the lion, see Speculum, Sermon for Easter.

[13] Prologue.

[14] See Exodus 25:12.

[15] Luke 16:9.

[16] The episode as told in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13 has Amindab use a ‘cart’ (plaustrum) to bring the Ark to the ‘home’ of Obed-edom, but Song of Songs 6:11 speaks, by way of poetic epithet, of ‘Aminadab’s chariots’ (quadrigas Aminadab).  

[17] See John 2 and Psalm 103:15: vinum laetificet cor hominis.

[18] Genesis 2:24. The Genesis passage tells how man will leave his family to “cleave” to his wife (Virago); but here John leaves his wife to “cleave” to Christ, the New Adam, and son of the Virgin (Virgo).

[19] John 21.

[20] See Ecclesiasticus 1:5.

[21] Psalm 44:2: Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum.

[22] See 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:26.

[23] Colossians 2:3.

[24] See Acts 5:41

[25] Acts 6:8.

[26] Both Jerome (In Jovianum 1)  and Tertullian (Proscriptions against heretics 36) report the story.

[27] Cf. John 1:5

[28] The miracles recounted here are told in the Acta Iohannis and Pseudo-Abdias’s 6th century Virtutes apostolorum. Bede also retells some of these miracles in Homilies I.9 (PL 94:47b,c).

[29] Again, Honorius plays with John’s various associations with wine.

[30] See Honorius’ doctrine on the rapture of John, Mary, and all mankind on the last day in Elucidarium 3.11 (PL 172:1164C)

[31] From the feast’s Collect, Ecclesiam tuam.

[32] The idea that the dormition of St. John the Evangelist occurred on the same day as the nativity of St. John the Baptist seems first to appear in a later extension of St. Isidore’s De ortu et obitu patrum, originally , PL 83:1289.

[33] Cf. Matthew 7:7: Petite, et dabitur vobis: quaerite, et invenietis: pulsate, et aperietur vobis.

[34] See also Speculum, “On John the Baptist” (PL 172:968c).

[35] 1 Corinthians 2:9. Honorius invariably ends his sermons with this closing doxology evoking eternal glory.

Source manuscripts:


A: Admont, Benediktinerstift, cod. 131, ff. 9v
Gr: Graz, Univ. Bibl., Cod. 173, ff. 7v
SG: St. Gall, Stiftsbibl. 1075, pp. 207, pg 
Go: Göttweig, Benediktinerstift, Cod. 104 (rot) / 47 (schwarz), f. 20r
L: Lilienfeld, Stiftsarchiv und Stiftsbibliothek, HS 140,  p. 18

In festo sancti Iohannis euangelistę. Si ęcclesia est in honore sancti Iohannis, ista sit uox de eo predicantis.[1]

Qui sunt hii qui ut nubes uolant et quasi columbę ad fenestras suas? Nubes pluuiam portant et aridam terram irrigant. Columbę autem, cum per fenestras prospiciunt, alias aues non ut accipitres lacerare cupiunt.[2] Sancti apostoli, karissimi, nubes fuerunt, qui arida corda habundanti doctrinę pluuia largiter irrigauerunt, ubi gaudebant messem multam succrescere, unde sperabant se fructum centuplum in gaudio metere. Quasi columbę ad fenestras suorum oculorum mundana prospexerunt, quia mulieres, non ad concupiscendum ut adulteri, sed simplici et casto intuitu aspexerunt, et nichil de terrenis ut auari desiderauerunt. Ex quibus sanctus Iohannes euangelista erat nubes affluentissima, qui sua doctrina melliflua ubique perfudit orbis climata quadrifida. Erat[3]etiam felle carens inuidię, ut simplex columba, unde a Domino in templo suo, id est in Ęcclesia, locatus est ut firma columna.[4]Precipua[5] castitatis mundicia radiabat; uita, doctrina, miraculis cunctas Ęcclesias illustrabat. Vnde quamuis de omnibus apostolis generaliter, de eo pronunciat Scriptura specialiter: Vox tonitrui tui, Deus, in rota. Illuxerunt coruscationes tuę in terra tota.[6] Per tonitruum altisona Euangelii predicatio notatur. Per rotam hic mundus figuratur qui celeri circuitione[7] ut rota iugiter uolutatur. In hac rota uox tonitrui Dei personat, dum grandisonus Iohannis Euangelii clangor mundo intonat. Coruscationesquoque Dei orbi[8] terrę illuxerunt, dum per Iohannem miracula xpi mundo innotuerunt.

Legitur quod in paradyso fons oriatur, qui in quatuor capita diuidatur.[9] Per paradysum qui hortus deliciarum dicitur, Ęcclesia accipitur, in qua sunt Scripturarum delicię, et quę est uocata ad domum Dei[10] ubi sunt gloria et diuicię. In tali paradyso fons oritur, dum xpc fons omnium bonorum de casta Virgine nascitur. Quatuor flumina quę inde oriuntur, iiiior euangelistę intelliguntur, quia largifluo dogmate perfuderunt totum hortum Ęcclesię. Hii iiiior fluuii spiritales,[11] dant Ęcclesię sapores tales. Vnus quidem lactis[12] nutrimentum, alter autem prebet olei fomentum, tercius uini saporem, quartus exhibet mellis dulcorem.[13] Lacte infantes nutriuntur. De Mathei Euangelio lac Ęcclesię manat, dum xpm pro nobis[14] paruulum factum et lacte nutritum clamat. Oleo infirmi curantur. De Lucę Euangelio oleum Ęcclesię funditur, dum xpi cruore nostrę infirmitates curatę ab eo referuntur. Vino[15] bibentes letificantur. Marci Euangelium Ęcclesiam uino potat, dum xpi resurrectione apostolos letificatos memorat. De Iohannis Euangelio mel distillat, dum diuinitatem, quę est dulcedo angelorum, dulciter Ęcclesię insinuat. 

Quod quia propheta in eis significari preuidit, eos in iiiior animalium figuris describit.[16] Per formam hominis Matheus figuratur, per quem humanitas xpi stilo exaratur. Per uituli speciem Lucas notatur, per quem xpc uitulus saginatus pro nobis mactatus predicatur.[17] Per leonis figuram Marcus monstratur,[18] a quo xpc a mortuis[19] ut leo resuscitatus memoratur. Per aquilę similitudinem Iohannes declaratur, a quo xpc in gloriam Patris conuolasse manifestatur.

Hoc etiam iiiior mundi plagę de eis intimant, dum considerantibus hoc[20] figuraliter insinuant. Per aquilonem, ubi sol sub terra latet, Matheus exprimitur, a quo diuinitas xpi sub carne latuisse describitur. Per occidentem, ubi sol occumbit, Lucas accipitur,[21]a quo sol xpc in morte[22] occubuisse dicitur. Per orientem, ubi[23] sol cottidie surgit,[24] Marcus intelligitur, a quo xpc Sol iusticię a mortuis resurrexisse traditur. Per meridiem ubi sol in centro cęli feruet, Iohannes innuitur, a quo sol ęternus in maiestate diuinitatis clarescere exponitur.

Hii sunt iiiior circuli[25] aurei, quibus portabatur[26] arca testamenti. Arca est sancta Ęcclesia, circuli[27] iiiior Euangelia, quibus portatur ad ęterna tabernacula. Hii sunt quadrigę Aminadab, quibus arca Dei de alienigenis reuecta est ad domum patrię. Arca Dei capta est ab allophilis, sed reducta[28] est Ierusalem in sacerdotis[29] Aminadab quadrigis. Arca Dei est Ęcclesia quę capta est ab allophilis, dum[30] subdita fuit idolis. Quam uerus sacerdos ihc de hostibus ad Ierusalem in quadrigis reuexit, dum eam doctrina iiiior[31] euangelistarum ad cęlestem patriam subuexit. Ex quibus hic Iohannes precipuus fuit, qui totum mundum sua predicatione perfudit.

De hoc legitur Iohanne, quod fuerit filius domini materterę. Qui nuptias celebrans xpm cum matre sua inuitauit, sed deficiente uino xpc aquam in uinum commutans conuiuas letificauit. Hoc uiso Iohannes sponsam suam deseruit, Virginis filio ipse uirgo adhesit. Et quia carnis copulam eius amore despexit, xpc eum pre omnibus apostolis dilexit. Cum enim in ultima cena[32] corpus et sanguinem suum discipulis suis tradidit, Iohannes supra pectus ihu[33] recubuit, et de hoc fonte sapientię tunc potauit, quod postmodum mundo eructauit archana[34] uerbi[35] in Patre[36] reconditi, quia in pectore ihu sunt omnes thesauri sapientię et scientię absconditi. Denique in ara crucis cum se xpc hostiam Deo Patri pro mundo[37] ymmolaret, et de principe mortis triumpharet, cernens comminus matrem suam cum Iohanne cruci astare, optimum duxit Virginem uirgini commendare.[38]Postquam vero xpc, carcerem huius mundi deserens, cęleste palacium reuisit et Spiritum sanctum de paterna sede discipulis misit, Iohannes cum Petro Spiritu sancto plenus templum Domini intrauit, et claudum in nomine ihu xpi sanauit, ac multos Iudeos proinde per uerba eorum ad fidem conuersos baptizavit.[39] Cumque summi pontifices eum et alios apostolos ob hoc plurimis flagris affecissent, gaudebant quod talia pro nomine Domini pertulissent.

Cum uero post lapidationem Stephani, Samaria recepisset uerbum Domini per predicationem Phylippi, Stephani condiaconi, miserunt apostoli Petrum et Iohannem ut baptizatos confirmarent, sicut adhuc episcopi in Ęcclesia facere solent. Postquam fideles per impositionem manuum eorum Spiritum sanctum acceperunt, Symonem Magum, qui hanc gratiam emere uoluit, cum omnibus suis sequacibus dampnauerunt. His transactis migrauit Iohannes in Asyam, et uerbo atque exemplo, signis et prodigiis totam traxit ad Domini[40] gratiam. 

Eo tempore tenuit Domicianus monarchiam, qui Apostolum comprehendi et duci iussit Romam, ubi presente senatu eum in dolium feruentis olei misit, sed Dei[41] gratia eum[42] protegente illesus exiuit. Deinde in Pathmos insulam eum exilio relegauit, ubi eum Dominus per angelum suum crebro uisitauit, et ei omnia Ęcclesię mysteria futura reuelauit. Postea imperator a gladiatoribus consultu senatus trucidatur, et Apostolus Ęcclesię Dei cum honore redonatur. Qui scripto et predicatione ubique Ęcclesias instruxit, omnes hereses undique destruxit. Interea multis preclaris miraculis fulsit, quibus mundo ut sol in tenebris luxit.Virgas namque siluestres in aurum et litorea saxa in gemmas commutauit, et rursum aurum in uirgarum naturam et gemmas in saxorum substantiam restaurauit. Viduam quandam de morte resuscitauit, iuuenem nihilominus defunctum ad uitam reparauit. Vas uitreum quod in multas particulas dissiluit pristinę sanitati restituit. Venenum in xpi nomine non solum illesus ebibit, sed etiam inde extinctos rursum uitę reddidit.

Et[43] ut[44] nullus uestrum de magnitudine facinorum suorum diffidat, sed firmetur in misericordia Dei et orationem[45] sancti Iohannis confidat, uobis uolo unum de eo breuiter narrare, quod spero[46] animas uestras letificare.

Quendam iuuenem sanctus Iohannes cuidam episcopo nutriendum commendauit, quem episcopus baptizatum[47] cum omni diligentia educauit. Deinde paulatim cepit eum remissius habere et, ut senes solent, in nullo adolescentem corrigere. Ille ut sensit sibi frena disciplinę abstracta,[48] iugo Domini mox excusso, totus preceps fertur per uiciorum anfracta.[49] Et primo quidem uoracitate et ebrietate delinitur, deinde meretricum illecebris irretitur,[50] exin furibus associatur, ad extremum latronibus ipse uiolentus latro principatur. Euoluto tempore, cum Iohannes ad eandem ęcclesiam uocatus uenisset et omnia propter quę uenerat oportune dispossuisset,[51] ab episcopo poscit sibi iuuenem representari[52] quem commendasset ad cęleste regnum educari. Episcopus cum lacrimis[53] eum mortuum protestatur, quia in faucibus montium cum latronibus princeps latronum moratur. Iohannes hoc audiens[54] grauiter ingemuit, lacrimas uberrimas fudit. Mox sibi equum et uię ducem dari postulat,[55] ad montana festinus properat.[56] Quem protinus caterua latronum circumdedit, sed ipse intrepidus colloquium principis eorum petiit. Ipse truculentus et armatus ueniens, ut eminus Iohannem recognouit, fugam iniit. Quem Iohannes insequitur emisso equo, talia uociferando: «Cur, fili, fugis inermem senem? Cur exhorres tuum patrem? Sta, fili, sta, et expecta; racionem Deo redditurus sum pro anima tua. Certe libenter pro te mortem excipio,[57] sicut xpc eam pertulit pro mundo. Sta tantum,[58] ne desperes; promitto tibi, remissionem peccatorum a Deo recipies.» Hoc audito confestim de equo decidit,[59] Iohannis ad genua procidit, denuo se baptizat[60] lacrimarum flumine, occultans dextram consciam de crimine. Quam Iohannes protrahit,[61] osculatur, multis blandiciis ferocem eius animum ad penitentiam cohortatur. Secum ad ęcclesiam prouocat,[62] uigilias et ieiunia cum eo[63]continuat, et bene emendatum reddidit matri Ęcclesię, atque adiungens exemplum diuinę clementię, prius crudelem latronem eidem ęcclesię prefecit nobilem pastorem.

Si beatus Iohannes karissimi adhuc in fragili carne manens in tantum potuit peccatoribus subuenire, quanto magis nunc cum xpo regnans cunctis eum inuocantibus preualet[64] interuenire? 

Huic[65] Dominus iam grandeuo cum discipulis suis apparuit, et eum ad cęleste conuiuium inuitauit. Ille gratias agens xpm se ad angelicas epulas inuitare,[66] fossam sibi aperiri iubet iuxta[67] altare, conuocatoque uniuerso populo missas celebrauit, omnes dominicis sacramentis communicauit, deinde fossam descendit, et subito lux inmensa de cęlo super eum resplenduit. Post hęc[68]in fossa illa non nisi manna inueniebatur, de quo usque hodie cunctis fideliter petentibus salus prestatur. Vnde creditur sanctus Iohannes in illo lumine ab angelis ad cęlestia raptus fuisse, et in ipso raptu carnis debita per mortem soluisse, moxque uitę restitutum, quod Ęcclesia de omnibus iustis in ultimo die in carne uiuentibus credit futurum, quod scilicet obuiam xpo in aera rapiantur, et in ipso raptu moriantur ac protinus uitę restituantur.

Huius[69] dormitio in natiuitate[70] sancti Iohannis Baptistę contigit, sed eam Ęcclesia, eius doctrina illustrata, hodie sollempniter recolit ob excellens equiuoci sui Iohannis Baptistę officium, qui aliis sanctis fuit incomparabilis, seu quod ob reuersionem eius ab exilio hic dies fuit honorabilis, seu ob dedicationem ipsius ęcclesię uenerabilis.

Hunc,[71] karissimi, in auxilium uestrum inuocate, hunc assiduis precibus pulsate, ut quia Iohannes sonat «Dei gratia», uobis et omnibus xpianis obtineat omnipotentis Dei gratiam in superna patria, quatinus post huius uitę terminum exultetis cum eo in perpetuum in illa gloria quam oculus non uidit &c.

[1] Sic A

[2] non permittunt SG

[3] omit. PL

[4] columba PL

[5] Praecipue PL

[6] in terra tota] SG orbi terre.

[7] circuitu SG

[8] omit. PL

[9] diuiditur SG

[10] ad domum Dei] SG domus dei.

[11] spirituales SG, PL

[12] lacus PL

[13] dulcedinem PL

[14] bonis PL

[15] Vinum SG, PL

[16] preuidit Gr

[17] describitur PL

[18] demonstratur SG

[19] a mortuis] SG mortuus

[20] hec SG, PL

[21] exprimitur PL

[22] omit. L; moriendo PL

[23] vero PL

[24] oritur SG, Go; per hunc add. PL

[25] anuli SG, Go, PL. Gr habet anuli in marg.

[26] gestabatur SG

[27] anuli SG, Go, PL

[28] reuecta SG

[29] sacerdotibus SG

[30] cum A

[31] omit. SG

[32] in ultima cenaRegina austri PL

[33] domini SG, suum L

[34] archanum SG, Go, L, PL

[35] scilicet add. PL. The expression archana uerbi, appears in the episcopal blessing on the feast of St. John in Grimald of St. Gall’s Benedictionale (PL 121:0860D), in Eriugena’s commentary on the prologue of St. John’s Gospel, and a collect for the feast of John’s nativity in the Gelasian sacramentary: Deus, qui per os beati apostoli tui Ioannis evangelistae, Verbi tui nobis arcana reserasti, praesta, quaesumus, ut quod ille nostris auribus excellenter infudit, intelligentiae competentis eruditione capiamus (PL 74:1060a).

[36] in Patre omit. SG

[37] pro mundo omit. A

[38] John 19

[39] Acts 3

[40] Dei SG

[41] Domini Gr

[42] omit. A, PL

[43] omit. PL

[44] omit. SG

[45] in oratione PL

[46] possit SG

[47] baptizauit SG

[48] relaxari SG

[49] amfractus SG

[50] utitur SG

[51] disponeret PL

[52] presentari SG

[53] cum lacrimis omit. PL

[54] audito SG

[55] postulauit SG

[56] properauit SG

[57] suscipio SG

[58] omit. SG

[59] cecidit A; descendit SG

[60] baptizando SG

[61] erigens SG

[62] reuocat SG

[63] cum eo] SG secum

[64] potuit SG

[65] Apocrifum notat Go in margine

[66] gaudebat add. A, Gr. SG, Go, PL

[67] ante PL

[68] hoc A, Gr

[69] Cuius A, Gr

[70] natali PL

[71] Nunc PL

The Just is Delivered Out of Distress: Honorius on the Feast of St. Stephen

For Christ the Good Shepherd, who came from heaven to earth to seek the stray sheep, and having found it to carry it back to the flock of the heavenly court upon his own shoulders, caught the villainous wolf by means of the sheep, and not only made him a sheep, but placed him over the sheep as their shepherd. Stephen was meek as a sheep, Paul was restlessly savage as a wolf. But when the sheep died, the Shepherd put the wolf in its place.

In the Speculum‘s elegant sermon for the feast of Stephen, Honorius invites the preacher to embellish the account of Stephen’s martyrdom given in Acts, interweaving it with the legends found in New Testament apocrypha. So, Paul and Stephen were old classmates together under Gamaliel the Elder, and split over Stephen’s preference for spiritual exegesis. Rising in the ranks of Jewish scholars, Stephen finds himself a player in the 8th century legend Tiberius restored to health: A sick Emperor Tiberius sends for Jesus after hearing that he is a great healer, but finds that Pilate has already executed him. Pilate deflects blame, and the Jews are put on trial. They hire Stephen as their defense attorney, but he says he can’t plead a case in which the defendants are so clearly guilty. The Jews are eventually punished, and Tiberius gets his cure after all by touching Veronica’s veil.

The story is peppered with some moral reflections and conceits from a sermon of Augustine: e.g., the notion that Stephen (a sheep) is devoured by Paul (a “wolf” from the tribe of Benjamin) but prays and obtains his salvation.

A PDF with the English and Latin texts will be published soon.

St. Stephen, Giotto de Bondone, c. 1320.

The just is delivered out of distress: and the wicked shall be given up for him.[1] Saint Stephen, dearly beloved, whose feast we celebrate today, was delivered from the distress of this wretched life, and Paul, who was at that time wicked, was given up to distress for him. For Christ the Good Shepherd, who came from heaven to earth to seek the stray sheep, and having found it to carry it back to the flock of the heavenly court upon his own shoulders,[2] caught the villainous wolf[3] by means of the sheep, and not only made him a sheep, but placed him over the sheep as their shepherd. Stephen was meek as a sheep, Paul was restlessly savage as a wolf. But when the sheep died, the Shepherd put the wolf in its place. For Paul later shed his blood for Christ’s flock, having earlier consented to the death of Stephen[4] and now rejoices in the glory of the saints with him whom he once rejected as impious. 

O how sweet, dearly beloved, is the friendship of the saints, how delightful the society of the blessed, where none seeks vengeance for an injury once done to him, and none who does injury fears the embarrassment of rebuke from his fellow heir! For now Paul is not ashamed of stoning Stephen, but Stephen is glad for Paul’s salvation and fellowship. Paul attained this glory by stoning Stephen, and Stephen drew him to glory by his prayer.

O how sweet, dearly beloved, is the friendship of the saints, how delightful the society of the blessed, where none seeks vengeance for an injury once done to him, and none who does injury fears the embarrassment of rebuke from his fellow heir! For now Paul is not ashamed of stoning Stephen, but Stephen is glad for Paul’s salvation and fellowship. Paul attained this glory by stoning Stephen, and Stephen drew him to glory by his prayer.

Some say that they were both students together in Jerusalem, under the instruction of Gamaliel: Stephen the native, Paul the foreigner, and both renowned for their nobility and wisdom, but very different in their manners. Stephen had a meek and patient soul, Paul a ferocious and turbulent one; Stephen was mild and sweet in his words, Paul was excessive and passionate and spoke with harsh words. Stephen thought that the Law and Prophets spoke in a spiritual mode, Paul had a taste only for the carnal sense in every part. Wherefore they often disputed questions about Scripture, which Stephen resolved with distinction, but Paul stubbornly refused to concede.[5] What’s more, Stephen’s comeliness was highly praised, and his beauty was like that of the angels.[6]

In those days Tiberius ruled the republic, and suffered a chronic illness that his doctors could not cure.[7] When it was told to him that there would come a healer in Judea named Jesus, who would soothingly expel every illness not by confection of herbs or the bite of iron, but by his own verbal command, he sent one of his closest friends to Judea, ordering him to bring back the said healer to cure him. So the man departed for Judea in a boat at great expense, but was received with the greatest honor by Pilate, at that time the Roman governor in Jerusalem.[8] He soon revealed to Pilate the cause of his embassy, namely that Caesar had ordered the healer Jesus to be brought before him. Upon hearing this, Pilate was greatly afraid, and told him that the man had died. But when the legate learned that he had been condemned to death by Pilate, he charged him with the crime of lèse-majesté, since he had without a decree from the Senate sentenced to death a man who could have done great good for the republic. Pilate, deflecting the crime from his own person, made out the Jews to be the guilty party, arguing that he had given his assent to the execution under duress. Meanwhile, as the people told the legate about Christ’s many works, among which the fact that he even raised the dead had come to life on command, the legate declared that one who could give life to the dead was not a healer but a god. Therefore he brought a charge against the Jews for having killed a god, ordering that if they could not acquit themselves of this accusation, then according to the law of the Romans all their goods should be forfeit to the state, and they should be sentenced to sundry punishments.

Meanwhile, the legate was told of a certain image of the Lord that had great healing powers. Veronica had had it painted on a cloth for love of Christ after he healed her from an issue of blood when she touched the hem of his garment.[9] The legate obtained it with difficulty after many entreaties and brought it to the emperor in Rome, whose illness was cured as soon as he saw it. Forthwith he addressed the Romans in an edict, declaring that a man whose very image caused the sick to regain their health should be adored as a god. But since the Senate did not assent, many suffered the sword and exile.  

Veronica’s veil and the Roman Emperor, c. 1550 (Flanders).

Now the Jews, having obtained a stay of judgment, met and agreed on how to plead their case. They would say that it is impossible for God to die; what they had actually done was to punish a man who had insolently broken the statutes of their law and destroyed their reputation with the people by publicly confuting them. Since Stephen was a man of high birth among their number and a skilled speaker, they asked him to report this plea to the legate and to obtain their acquittal from the alleged crime. But Stephen advised them to convene wise Jews from all over the world for a council and to come up with a stronger plan after getting better advice. For it seemed to him that the Romans had made true allegations against them, since Jesus showed himself to be God by such clear miracles, especially since everything that he had done was foretold by the Law and prophets. 

Though his words vexed them, they decided to convene Jews from every region of the world. Meanwhile Peter and the apostles, having heard Stephen’s reply, summoned him in secret and taught him the faith, regenerated him in the baptismal font, and enjoined upon him the word of preaching. The Holy Spirit immediately filled him and he did great wonders and signs among the people.[10] 

St. Stephen is ordained a deacon, Onofre Falcó, c. 1555.

And so the Jews gathered from every part of the world and many argued and disputed with Stephen on this question, but he gave powerful and conclusive arguments from the scriptures, because the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that spoke in him prevailed over them. Incensed they seized him and led him to the council, and said that he had blasphemed against the Law and prophets. When the high priest gave him permission to speak, in their presence he discoursed openly on the Law and prophets, how they had written about Christ. In the end he brought forward why certain rebels[11] against the Law and the Holy Spirit had not accepted that Jesus was God, even though his deeds harmonized with the scriptures on all counts. Then he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and him standing on the right hand of God and summoning me to the heavens.”

The Disputation of St. Stephen with the Jews, Vittore Carpaccio, 1514

In sooth, all of the Jews were initially struck with wonder at the statements Stephen put forth and admired his angelic countenance as he spoke. But when they heard his conclusion about Christ, they gnashed their teeth at him and rushed against him hollering. They gave over their garments for Paul to keep for them and cast Stephen out of the city, where they stoned him. Once the rocks had broken up his body’s joints and he no longer had the strength to stand, he sunk down on the ground, got on his knees, and poured out prayers to the Lord for them. And just as the Lord upon the cross prayed for his crucifiers, so did Stephen for his stoners, and just as Christ’s prayer had the power to obtain the salvation of all people by the shedding of his blood, so Stephen’s prayer profited Paul, who was then hastening to kill him, but later labored to save all peoples.[12]

The Lapidation of St. Stephen, fresco formerly in the church of Sant Joan in La Vall de Boí (Catalonia), now in the Art Museum of Barcelona.

This Stephen is called the standard-bearer of the martyrs, because he was the first to enter heaven with the palm frond of victory after the Lord, indeed in the very same year. The Jews exposed his body, already mangled by the stones, to be torn apart by birds and beasts, but an angel of God stood guard over it and it remained intact. Gamaliel fetched it away at night and buried it honorably.

Saint Stephen Mourned by Saints Gamaliel and Nicodemus, follower of Carlo Saraceni, c. 1615, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

After these events the Romans avenging the Lord: they destroyed Jerusalem, laid waste to the entire region, and slayed some of the Jews with divers torments and sold the rest into slavery all over the empire. But once the Roman princes bent their necks beneath the yoke of the faith, and all peoples began to adore Christ as their only Lord, God showed the Christians through visions where Saint Stephen’s body lay hidden. God magnified the joys of this discovery with seventy-three miracles. His passion is believed to have occured in the month of August, but Stephen’s feast is held today with greater celebration, the date of the invention of his body. For he used to have but one feast in the course of the year, and so both his passion and invention were commemorated on this day. Out of devotion to him, however, the moderns decided to commemorate his invention on the day of his passion, since they deemed it impious to change the Church’s universal practice, and since whatever the faithful do in honor of the saints in whatever season is entirely reckoned as praise of God, whom we are commanded to praise in his saints[13] and magnify and bless in all seasons.[14]  

And so dearest brethren, beg you now Saint Stephen to be your intercessor before God, that you may imitate him in praying for your enemies,[15] so that as Stephen means “crowned one,” you may merit to be crowned with him in that glory that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what God hath prepared for them that love him. Amen.[16]

St. Stephen’s body is exposed to wild beasts, Brussels, c. 1500 (now in the Musée de Cluny)

[1] Proverbs 11:8.

[2] See Luke 15.

[3] Like King Saul before him, Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5), the “ravenous wolf” (Genesis 49:27), whose sons committed the atrocity at Gibeah (Judges 19-21); St. Paul’s early legacy of violent persecution of the Church lives up to the crimes of his ancestors who ‘scattered’ the concubine’s body throughout Israel. 

See Augustine, Sermons 31, Sermon 215.5.

[4] Cf. Acts 7:59, 22:20.

[5] The language of this paragraph casts Stephen and Paul’s as 12th-century school boys engaging in disputations regarding the senses of Scripture. Stephen disputes with Jewish elders in Acts 6.

[6] Acts 6:15.

[7] The following story about Pilate is précis of the early medieval Cura sanitatis Tiberii, a common addendum to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. It is related to the Vindicta Salvatoris. The critical edition is by E. Dobschütz, Christusbilder: Untersuchungen zur christlichen Legende(Leipzig, 1899). A PDF of the text without apparatus is available here and a recent English translation by Tuomas Levänen here.

[8] A praeses was a low-ranking provincial governor in the late Roman and Carolingian empires.

[9] See Luke 8.

[10] Acts 6:8.

[11] In the 12th century, anyone proven guilty of heresy was declared an outlaw and rebel, guilty of a grave civil crime and automatically incurring the penalty of excommunication. See Andrew Willard Jones, Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX(Steubenville, 2017).

[12] See Augustine, Sermons 31, Sermon 215.3.

[13] Psalm 150:1.

[14] See Psalm 33:2, 4.

[15] The substance of the day’s collect Da nobis, quaesumus, Domine, imitari quod colimus: ut discamus et inimicos diligere; quia eius natalicia celebramus, qui novit etiam pro persecutoribus exorare Dominum nostrum Jesus Christum.

[16] 1 Corinthians 2:9. Honorius invariably ends his sermons with this closing doxology evoking eternal glory. 

Laetentur coeli: A Christmas Sermon from the Speculum Ecclesiae

Now, my dear ones, with the utmost brevity, I will unlock the mysteries of the Nativity for you: why God’s Only-Begotten should have visited the world in this way. The prepotent emperor Augustus who set the bridle of his power over every nation signifies that newborn King who had already arranged to draw the whole world under the yoke of the Gospel with the reins of faith.

After a long time away from the blog—much of it spent preparing the Gemma animae and Voyages Liturgiques for publication—we are pleased to offer another installment in our series (see below) of translations from Honorius Augustodunensis’ Speculum Ecclesiae:

On Christmas day, Honorius offers us a rich and varied feast of themes carefully culled from Patristic, Carolingian, and modern writers. Orosian history, the sermons and Moralia of Bede and Gregory, and some animal lore from the Physiologus are all set in his signature rhymed prose, and performed with an Eriugenan ear for the symphonic interplay of the microcosm and macrocosm as the heavens and earth join in praising the newborn King.

The sermons conclude with some remarks on the commemorations of Saints Anastasia and Saint Eugenia, which were done on Christmas day in many mediæval uses.

As usual, the English translation is below and a PDF with the English and Latin texts may be downloaded

The Mystic Nativity, Botticelli, 1500

Give praise, O ye heavens, and rejoice, O earth, ye mountains, give praise with jubilation: because the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy on his poor ones.[1] How fittingly the heavens are told to give praise today, since today they were found worthy to be irradiated with a new light and a new joy. For today the King of the heavens visited the land through his presence, and deigned to repair, by means of men, the damage wrought in heaven by the angels’ fall.[2] As a sign of their allegiance to the King, the heavens promptly gave expression to their merriment by sending out the brightest of stars. Fittingly too the earth is urged to rejoice today, because today the Truth, sprung out of the earth,[3] comes to free her from the curse and to unite her progeny, mankind, to the angels in the heavens. She made her great joy known to the world when, gushing up from her bowels, she brought forth a stream of oil for the God newly-born in her bosom.[4] The mountains too are exhorted to sing sweet melodies in God’s praise. The mountains are the patriarchs and prophets, who overclimbed the rest of mankind’s merits by their holy living as mountains tower over the flat places of the earth by their height.[5] Today they jubilated in God’s praise, exulting to see fulfilled today what the patriarchs foretold in their figures and the prophets in their scriptures: namely the Gentile people thatwalked in the darkness of ignorance have seen today the great light of eternal Wisdom; and to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, that is Hell, light is arisen:[6] forsooth Christ, Splendor of the eternal Father,[7] is born, and after he went down to them and snatched them from the darkness, he carried them out into light eternal.[8]

Furthermore, the just are called “heavens” because God dwells in them,[9] for the sun of wisdom, the moon of eloquence, and the stars of the virtues gleam within them.[10] These heavens gave praise today, because they perceived that the desire they long yearned for in many prayers is today fulfilled in Christ’s Nativity, and that their reward is drawing nigh. The earth, on the other hand, stands for sinners, in whom the thorns and thistles of sins have sprung up.[11] Today they are urged to exult, because they are summoned by Christ to forgiveness. I have not come, he says, to call the just, but sinners.[12] Now the mountains are the angels, who made a sweet and joyful melody[13] in God’s praise today when with loud voices they raised the hymn Glory to God in the Highest[14] to their King newly-born upon the earth. The same angels merrily sang peace to men of good will, from whose number, as they have now grasped, their diminished ranks are to be restored.

Mosaic of the Nativity, Santa Maria Maggiore (Rome), 13th century.

The sun wreathed itself in a new splendor today, rejoicing to see that he shone upon the Sun of justice who arose in the lands he bathes with light. Verily, a brilliant circle of light gleamed forth far and wide about the sun’s splendorous orb today,[15] a clear allusion to the Sun of justice, who rose in the darkness of death and proceeded to array the world in the royal purple of his blood. Some say a dumb beast spoke with a human voice today obviously signifying that the mouth of the Gentiles, formerly dumb, had to open and give God praise; and the Gentiles marveled to see the star and made ready to offer gifts to the newborn King.

Today all creation stirred itself to gladness because the Son of the King of Heaven came from heaven’s palace today into the prison of the world[16] to find the lost servant, delivering joy to the whole globe. Full rightly, then, the whole world put on a new mirth today, for the Lord has comforted his people. His people are the meek, humble, chaste, modest, merciful, long-suffering, and those who love God and neighbor. Those who had been sad at being so long separated from heavenly happiness today receive comfort from our Lord, when Christ not only swung open for them the gates of paradise that had been closed on account of inobedience but even the doors of heaven. This is also promised to them by an angel, who says, “he will save his people from their sins.[17] And he will have mercy on his poor ones.” His poor ones are those who, like me, have not faithfully kept God’s commandments, and have insatiably clung to grave sins all their life long. Such people bewail their misery and naked injustice, and yearn deeply to be freed from the misery of sins and punishment. They are his poor ones, because they know none can be saved except by the grace of God alone. Therefore God has mercy on them, promising them the hope of forgiveness, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”[18] The just and sinners, therefore, share the glad merriment of today’s light: the just are promised a crown if they shall persevere in justice, and sinners shall be granted forgiveness if they fly swiftly from sin to penance.

The Nativity, Edward Burne-Jones, 1888.

My dearest brethren, let it not seem burdensome to you if this sermon is extended a bit longer. If a foreigner from a strange land came here to reside in this place as an exile,[19] and one of his countrymen that was known to him passed through, he would lend him an attentive ear and hear without boredom what he had to tell of his land, his friends, and his countrymen. All of you here are exiles and pilgrims, and so you should listen with great attention to what is reported to you regarding your fatherland, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and what is told you regarding your Father, your Mother the Church, and your fellow citizens the angels and saints. Nevertheless, as today you are tired by the unusually long office, and some of you are gripped by the severity of this rather bitter cold, I desire to intimate, as briefly as possible, how the Son of God came into this world to free the human race from the devil’s power.

As the Gospel relates,[20] in those days Augustus Cæsar ruled the Roman empire, having subdued to his sway all the kingdoms that crowded round the ocean’s girdle with their sturdy walls. He issued an edict ordering the whole world to be enrolled in the census. He promulgated the decree in such terms that every man should have to return to his fatherland whence his family originated, and there, if any man had unjustly lost possession of his patrimony, he should receive it back without fee; and each should recite his family’s genealogy to the principal judge, and with that he should be marked down for the census by the scribe’s authority. At that time there was a man from Bethlehem, named Joseph, who was betrothed to a holy virgin of God, who, though born of poor parents, was a descendant from the royal family. Driven by poverty, he had migrated from Judaea to Galilee and settled in the town of Nazareth to seek his bread. And thus, as the whole population of the globe travelled, under the compulsion of the emperor’s edict, each to the land of his birth, Joseph too set out to declare the census with his spouse Mary to the town of King David called Bethlehem, because he and the Virgin were descended from the nobility of David’s family. Since there was no room in the whole city that was not occupied by the large crowds of lodgers who were flooding in from near and far, since at that time they were from a poor family and there was no room for them, they stayed in the street.[21] Then came that fullness of time when God had determined to look forth from heaven upon the earth,[22] and on that night the Blessed Virgin bore, without birth pangs or uncleanness,[23] a child who held the whole world in the hollow of his hand.[24] She wrapped him in swaddling clothes against the weather and lay him in the pen that Joseph or perhaps some of their neighbors had set up in the street for their animals.[25] Forthwith, the heavens gratefully made known his birth through a new star, and so did the earth in merriment, instantly gushing forth streams of oil from its hidden places. The angels too appeared to men in an overwhelming light, and with their joyous hymn proclaimed that Heaven’s King was born on earth. Such are the solemnities of this sacred day, so festively observed by angels and men.

The Nativity, detail from the altar frontal of the church of Santa Maria in Avià, Catalonia, 12th century.

Now, my dear ones, with the utmost brevity, I will unlock the mysteries of these things for you: why God’s Only-Begotten should have visited the world in this way. The prepotent emperor who set the bridle of his power over every nation signifies the newborn King who had already arranged to draw the whole world under the yoke of the Gospel with the reins of faith.[26] The fact that that world was brightened by profound peace points to the fact that Christ, our true Peace,[27] has appeared, come to dissolve the enmities between God and men[28] and raise human nature to angelic dignity by his blood.[29] Everyone going back to their fatherland signifies that all had to go return to Paradise, our fatherland, through Christ. Stolen patrimony is returned to them, because through Christ believers recover possession of Paradise. Each person is recorded by family lineage and entered into the census because believers who profess through faith and works that their land of origin is Paradise deserve to be certified for the kingdom of heaven by Christ through an anointing of chrism oil.[30]

We also read that some who did not know the sequence of their generations were killed, and that is because those who do not undergo the Church’s rite of regeneration perish in an eternal death. People paid Caesar a penny that had to be stamped with his image and weigh ten pounds of coins, because whoever longs to be reformed in the image of the Creator must above all not tarry to fulfill the Ten Commandments of the Law.[31] That Christ willed to be born in the street means that having been made an exile from his heavenly fatherland for our sake he came unto what was not his own. Although all things are his and he came unto his own,[32] nevertheless, being so full of troubles, this world was most alien to his glory. He is born at night because, whereas later God will come manifestly,[33] now, coming in secret, he is not recognized. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes and our apron, woven from the fig leaves of our sins, is untied by his death.[34] He is laid in a pen, amidst animal fodder, because his body is given to the faithful as the food of life. An ass and ox stood over the pen, the story goes, and surely that is because the Gentile people, signified by the ass, and the Jewish people, signified by the ox, are led by faith to feed on Christ’s Body. A star shone brighter than the rest, because today the Holy of Holies lit up the world.[35] In Rome a fountain of oil erupted from the earth and ran in great streams into the river Tiber, for today the pure Virgin bore a fountain of mercy that copiously watered the human race.[36] Angels showed themselves to men singing hymns in a great glow of light, foretelling how mankind would come to the undying light and perpetual praise of the Creator through the King who was born today. These are the sacrosanct mysteries Holy Church honors today, delighting in the Lord along with the angels. The fact that three masses are celebrated today signifies that mankind is saved by Christ’s birth throughout three ages; to wit, the patriarchs before the Law, the prophets under the Law, and believers under grace. Today the day’s light begins to lengthen, and the darkness of night to shorten, because the Splendor of eternal light appeared today and put to flight the darkness of vice and sin among the human race, and shone upon the world with the rays of virtue, and called it forth toward the undying light.

Palatine Chapel, Palermo (Sicily), c. 1150

Finish here if you wish. Otherwise, add the following:

This singular birth, dearly beloved, was anticipated in the first man, who was created singly from the pure earth,[37] and soon predicted this birth as well, saying, “A man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife.[38] That is to say, Christ left his Father in heaven and his mother on earth, the Synagogue, and cleft to his wife, who is the Church. This birth was also prefigured by the patriarchs, when an angel foretold that Isaac would be born from a barren old woman. Isaac, whose name means “joy” is Christ, who is the full joy of the faithful. All the prophets foretold this birth in sundry ways; even the very beasts expressed through figures that it would come to pass.

Unicorn tapestry, Musée de Cluny

The unicorn is a very fierce beast, with only one horn.[39] To catch one, a young maiden is placed in a field. When the beast comes to her and lies in her lap, it is caught. This beast expresses Christ, and its horn his insuperable strength. When he lay in the Virgin’s womb he was captured by hunters, which is to say he was found in human form by those who loved him.

My dearest brethren, because the Son of God willed to come from heaven down to your prison and purchase you out of the Tyrant’s captivity, refrain with all your might from entering the service of the dark lord, who deals out nothing but endless punishments to his serfs; and bind yourselves with great confidence to the domain of the best Master, who rewards those who serve him with eternal joys.[40] God the Father had not but one Son, and since he did wish him to be his only heir, he dispatched him into exile to go after the runaway serf, intending to bestow the royal palace upon the serf when he returned with his Son. Run now toward him, all of you, with all your strength, serve him as best you possibly can, so that one day you may celebrate these temporal feasts with the angels in eternity. Amen.

On Saint Anastasia

Statue of Saint Anastasia in the church of Sant’Anastasia al Palatino (Rome), F. Aprile and E. Ferrata, 17th century.

Today the commemoration of the blessed martyr Anastasia increases for us the joys of this holy day. She was one of the most noble women in Rome, but forsook all her riches for the love of Christ and began to visit Christians in prison, ministering to all their needs. Then she was arrested by the pagans, afflicted by many torments, and finally beheaded for Christ’s sake.

On Saint Eugenia

Saint Eugenia, from the retable of the eponymous church in Astudillo, Castille, 15th century.

A companion joins her today, the holy virgin and martyr Eugenia. Her father Philip was sent from Rome to Alexandria as prefect[1] and ruled all of Egypt. Her daughter, however, secretly abandoned her palace with two personal slaves, Protus and Hyacinth, and, wearing men’s clothing, entered a men’s monastery. She was eventually made its abbot and shone with many miracles. No one realized she was a woman, and so a certain matron impiously tried to seduce her. When Eugenia rejected her advances, the matron accused her before the judge, who was Eugenia’s own father. He bound all Christians in chains together with her, who was led to torment for attempting seduction. After a long exchange with her father, she tore open the robe she was wearing for the glory of Christ, manifesting to the prefect that she was his daughter. He was soon converted to God with all his household and then became bishop, and not much later was beheaded for Christ over the altar as he celebrated mass. A heavenly fire, meanwhile, devoured Eugenia’s accuser and all her household. Thereafter, Eugenia’s mother Claudia went to Rome with her daughter, her two sons Sergius and Bacchus, and her eunuchs Protus and Hyacinth. Sergius and Bacchus became proconsuls and converted many to the faith. Claudia converted many matrons, and Eugenia many maidens. Yea, Protus and Hyacinth converted many soldiers who were slain for Christ’s name. Eugenia, meanwhile, having suffered many trials and divers torments, shed her blood today, immolated as Christ’s victim. And since Christ willed to come down to earth, he gave men, even tender maidens, the power to go up to heaven.

Commend yourselves to these and all saints, so that after this wretched life you might merit by their merits to exult with them in the everlasting feast.

[1] Isaias 49:13.

[2] Saints Augustine (Civitas Dei 22, Enchiridion 29) and Anselm (Cur Deus Homo 18) famously argued that the elect make up for the number of rebellious angels expelled from heaven. See Elucidarium 6, where God the praepotens rex predestines nine ranks of angels to staff his palace guard (PL 172:1113b,c).

[3] Psalm 84:12. Antiphon for the Nativity, Cantus Index 005368.

[4] The seventh of Rhabanus Maurus’s “Miracles of the Nativity,” discussed in his Christmas homily on the Genealogy of Christ (Homily 163, PL 110:468b), and summarized by Honorius in Elucidarium 19 (PL 172:1124a,b). Honorius uses Maurus’ list but interprets the miracles uniquely.

[5] See Augustine, In psalmos 39.6 (CCL, 38:429): “By hills we understand the Church’s great and famous spiritual men.”

[6] Isaias 9:2. Selections of Isaias 9, 61, and 52 were read at the three masses of Christmas in many medieval uses.

[7] See Hebrews 1:3.

[8] See perhaps Isaias 60:19.

[9] See Psalm 122:1: Ad te levavi oculos meos, qui habitas in coelis.

[10] We sense the Eriugenan doctrine of microcosm here, where superlunary elements of the cosmos are said to be inside man. See Elucidarium 11 (PL 72:1116).

[11] A reference to the curse of the earth in Genesis 3:18. A gloss, perhaps following Rhabanus Maurus, identifies the thorns as the vices (vitiorum).

[12] Matthew 9:13.

[13] See Job 38:7 and Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram 4.24, where Augustine teaches that the light created before the world (Genesis 1:3) represents the angels, whose “morning knowledge” is contrasted with our “evening knowledge.”

[14] The words of the angelic hymn given in Luke 2 were expanded into the prose hymn Gloria in excelsis sung on Sundays and at festive liturgies in the Latin rite.

[15] The sixth miracle of Christmas according to Rhabanus Maurus, Homily 163 (PL 110:468a). Cf. Elucidarium 19 (PL 172:1124a).

[16] The notion of the world as a prison, for men or angels or both, was a patristic theme. The Fathers’ reflections stand in the philosophic tradition of antiquity, especially Platonism, which viewed the human body, and by extension the whole material world, as a prison encasing the spiritual soul, tormenting it with the pains of mortality and impeding its flight to the divine realm.

[17] Matthew 1:21.

[18] Matthew 3:2.

[19] The dynamic of pilgrimage and return is central to Augustine’s conception of Christian life and the two cities. See City of God, esp. 1.35; 15.15, 18, 20-21, 26-27. Existentially, it expresses the soul’s “alienation” in this life, and may be translated as “wandering, ” “banishment,” “pilgrimage,” or “exile,” as the context demands. Honorius seems to be appropriating a tropological interpretation of the Augustan census from Bede’s Commentary on Luke (PL 92:329a-329d), deploying it here as a rhetorical tactic to keep his audience interested.

[20] The following account summarizes Luke 2:1-20.

[21] Cf. Gregory’s Homily 8, read during Christmas Matins in medieval uses, part of which appears in a marginal gloss on Luke 2:7: Qui non in parentum domo, sed in via nascitur, ut profecto ostenderet, quia per humanitatem suam quam assumpserat quasi in alieno nascebatur. Alienum videlicet non secundum potestatem dico, sed secundum naturam. Nam de potestate eius scriptum est: In propria venit. In natura etenim sua ante tempora natus est, in nostra venit ex tempore. Honorius adopts Gregory’s allegory below.

[22] Psalm 101:20.

[23] See Elucidarium 14 and 19 (PL 172:1118b, 1123c).

[24] An abridgement of Isaiah 40:12 found in Gregory and Bede. For an exhaustive study of the phrase, see Sabatier, Vetus latina : die Reste der altlateinischen Bibel, vol. 12.2.

[25] Rather than the traditional “stable,” Honorius interprets praesaepium as a pen or fold, according to its root in the verb saepio which means to fence in. The medieval imagination felt quite free to “vernacularize” biblical stories to make them accessible to contemporary audiences.

[26] The mighty emperor Augustus’ (praepotens rex) use of coercive violence (imposuit) to subjugate the world’s peoples with a curb or bit (frena) is contrasted with the gentle invitation of the child-king (Rex natus) who draws (trahere) the world under the ‘sweet yoke’ (iugum suave) of the Gospel. There is a great history of expanding Christ’s metaphor of the yoke into an image of the Church. On Christ’s chariot, see Gemma 1.6. On the ‘plowing servant,’ see Gemma 1.17. The expression “reins of faith” (loris fidei) comes from Gregory I (Moralia 12).

[27] Christ is called “our peace” in Ephesians 2:14, with which the whole sentence resonates. The coincidence of the pax Romana and Christ’s birth is the second miracle of Christmas.

[28] Cf. the reflection on Christ “our peace” in Ephesians 2:14-16, where the ‘enmities,’ however, are between Jew and Gentile.

[29] Cf. Ephesians 2:19: “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners; but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God.”

[30] The verb firmo could mean ‘to strengthen or encourage’ (as in the sacrament of confirmation), or in a legal sense ‘to declare, confirm, or attest,’ as the scribe who administers the census certifies the Roman subject’s identity in the official record. If, in addition, Honorius means to pun census and chrisma, he is going far out on an unsturdy limb. For Honorius’ notion of being ‘enrolled’ in the Kingdom of heaven through various sacraments, see Gemma 3.54-56. The idea of heavenly tablets bearing the names of the elect comes from Exodus 32:32, Daniel 12:3, Luke 10:20, and Revelation 3:5.

[31] This fact and interpretation are taken from Bede, Homily 31 (PL 94:335a). Cf. Bede, In Luc. (PL 122:470a).

[32] John 1:11

[33] A phrase from Psalm 49:3 that appears in several office propers of Advent.

[34] Adam and Eve weave fig-leaf “aprons” (DR), in other versions “loincloths”, out of shame to hide their private parts (see Genesis 3:7: perizomata), giving rise to our expression “a fig-leaf of shame.” In a gloss, Hippolytus, bishop and martyr says: Folia fici signa peccatorum fuerunt. Augustine agrees in Tractates on the Gospel of John 124 (PL 35:1448): Folia ergo ficulnea intelliguntur peccata.

[35] As an expansion of scripture’s astronomical symbolism that makes Christ the Sun of Justice, the saints were often portrayed as the stars, shining with the holiness of virtue. See esp. Gemma 2.49-50. In another layer of complexity, Honorius argues that Christ is the “Holy of Holies,” which may also be rendered “Saint of the saints” or “Most Holy One,” hence also the brightest of the stars. A gloss on Matthew 2:1 attributed to Jerome argues that Daniel’s prophecy concerning the Most Holy One (Daniel 9:24) is fulfilled in Christ, when Pompey transferred rulership of Israel from the high priest-king Hyrcanus to the Hasmonean dynasty (63 B.C.).

[36] See Orosius, Historiae 31 (PL 31:1054B), where the miracle actually happens in 29 B.C., when Augustus celebrated his triumphs that marked the end of the civil wars. Orosius interprets the event as a prophecy of Christ’s universal dominion.

[37] The pun is on singularis (singular, extraordinary, unequaled) and singulariter (singly, alone).

[38] Genesis 2:24.

[39] The ancient Greek Physiologus, in its medieval Latin versions, used scripture to explain the unicorn’s importance, drawing particularly from Deuteronomy 33:17, John 10:30 and 1:14, Luke 1:69, Psalm 22:21, Matthew 11:29, and Romans 8:13.

[40] The choice facing the Christian hearer is presented in terms of feudal economics that Honorius’ audience knew and experienced intimately, since in the early 12th century, many whether rich and poor were bound in service to a feudal lord, as servants or serfs. One may “work for the Devil” a harsh master who deals out fierce punishments, or serve on God’s estate, where one is assured of a happy life.

This tapestry, from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, shows a small white unicorn leaping onto the lap of the Virgin Mary (Credit: CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)

Beloved of God and Men: A Sermon for Martinmas

In his Speculum Ecclesiae, Honorius Augustodunensis includes a sermon on the feast of St. Martin of Tours as well as a few words about St. Brice to add if St. Martin’s feast fell on a Sunday. We offer our readers a translation into English below, or

He was beloved of God and men, whose memory is in benediction.[1] Saint Martin, dearly beloved, was beloved of God, and so he was chosen to rule over his people as a glorious pontiff. He was beloved of men, for, in sooth, his patronage guards God’s people from enemies of body and soul. Therefore his memory is in benediction, since men throughout the whole world and the blessed spirits in heaven bless him in glory everlasting. Today, too, the whole Church blesses the name of Jesus Christ through him who has been set as such a powerful patron over her. He is called the jewel of priests,[2] for the priestly dignity throughout the entire world is made fair by his precious life and shining miracles. 

Hence from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,[3] Martin’s praiseworthy name is celebrated and invoked to succour all who labour. Yea, he quickly lends help to all who invoke him, and God grants every petition by virtue of his merits. For, besides the numerous miracles that make God worthy of glory, he raised three men from the dead through Martin. 

The Apotheosis of St. Martin, Church of St. Martin, Castelnau-d’Estrétefonds, late 18th century.

He was born in Pannonia to Roman but pagan parents and educated in Italy. At twelve years of age, he desired with all his heart to retire to the desert, but his father, who was a military tribune, quashed his pious desire with his threats. Thereupon he was put in chains and, against his will, forced into military service. He had not yet been washed by the waters of baptism, and nevertheless he alacritously carried out works of mercy, feeding the needy and assisting the downtrodden in their distress so far as he was able. He was content with only one servant, often serving him himself in turn. 

Once during wintertime, when Martin was on the road with his fellow soldiers, he came upon a poor naked beggar asking passersby for mercy. While all the others ignored the wretch, Martin seized his sword, sliced apart the cloak he was wearing, and gave part of it to the beggar. The following night, our Lord appeared to Martin with a host of angels and, shewing them the piece of cloak Martin had given, told them how he had received it from Martin, a man who was not even baptized. Inspired by this vision and emboldened by a desire for an even greater grace, Saint Martin was immersed in Christ’s font in his thirty-eighth year, and soon gave himself entirely to God’s service.  

St. Martin and the Beggar, El Greco, c. 1578.

Meanwhile, Julian, so hateful to God, was hastening to battle and offering soldiers a bonus for re-enlisting. Martin refused enlistment and the bonus, so the tyrant ordered him to be imprisoned, intending to cast him unarmed to the enemy. But the loving Lord, heedful of the advantage of all, delivered his faithful soldier from danger, by taking away the need to fight. Verily, the next day the enemy sued for peace, and subjected themselves and all their men to the emperor. 

St. Martin refuses to fight for Emperor Julian, Simone Martini, San Martino Chapel in the Basilica of Assisi, 14th century.

After this, Martin abandoned arms and took up the monkish habit under Hilary, bishop of Poitiers. After Martin had stayed with him for some time, he went to his parents, but the devil accosted him on the way and swore to oppose him in all things. As Martin entered a forest, he was seized by thieves who tied him up and brought him to their hiding-place, where one of them was set to guard him. This man believed in God through Martin’s words, freed him, and led him back to the road. He forswore thievery and joined Martin as his faithful companion and disciple. 

Martin made his way back to his parents and converted his mother to the Lord, but was unable to convert his father. Then he returned to Hilary and the heretics afflicted him with many pains. At that time, a certain catechumen who had joined Martin died unbaptized while Martin was away. When he returned, Martin was moved to tears, but the Lord consoled him and quickly turned his sadness in joy.[4] Verily, forthwith through his prayers he raised up the dead man, and men wondered to see him alive again. 

St. Martin Converts His Mother, Bernard Benezet, 1896, Church of St. Martin, Buzet-sur-Tarn.

Another time, while Martin was passing by a certain village, there came to his ears a mournful cry. When he asked the cause of this plaint, he was told that a certain man had torn out his own soul by hanging himself. And so Martin pitied the wretch and commanded everyone to depart while he poured out prayers to the compassionate and merciful Lord. O how close is the Lord to all that call upon him in truth![5] The dead man instantly returned to life and walked about alive with Martin to the amazement of all. O how much merit this man had before God, bringing back to life one who did not balk at killing himself!

These marvellous miracles made him known to the world, and by God’s will Martin was raised to the mitre as the bishop of Tours. He ruled the flock committed to him[6] with marvellous humility and care, instructing his subjects with sweet doctrine and living example. He adorned his age with signs and wonders and like a golden column[7] held up the entire church steadfastly.

When Martin entered a church the demons therein let out a bellow, and clerics sensed the bishop’s approach by the reaction of the energumens. Evildoers were tortured by the presence of this prelate worthy of God. As soon as he covered himself in haircloth and laid upon ashes, the band of filthy spirits would be expelled from the possessed. 

On a certain solemnity, when Martin was sitting in the sacristy about to celebrate mass, lo! a certain beggar asked him for clothing. Martin immediately sent the deacon to get clothes for the beggar. Since he tarried, Martin removed his own clothes and vouchsafed them to the beggar. When the deacon returned, he urged the bishop to celebrate mass, saying that the people were tired of waiting so long. Martin replied that the beggar should be clothed first, and thus God’s service would be performed. The dyspeptic deacon purchased a short black garment from a nearby shop with a few coins, and angrily cast them at the bishop’s feet. But Martin, not at all bothered, ordered the deacon to leave and secretly put on the clothes he had brought. And so he went up to mass with his arms half bared, but the Lord made the merit of this illustrious prelate manifest before the assembled people. For as he celebrated mass a fiery sphere rose from his head and its flames grew reaching up to the highest heaven.[8] Often, too, during the mass Martin’s hands seemed to shine with jewels and to crackle with gold and electrum. 

St. Martin’s Miraculous Mass, San Martino Chapel in the Basilica of Assisi, 14th century.

At another time, while Martin was in a field preaching to a group of pagans, a certain child was crushed to death by the packed crowd. His mother’s wailing drew the holy man’s attention, and  in the sight of all she soon merited to receive her child back alive by his prayers. Together with all the people she believed and gave thanks to God. Thus did the Holy Trinity glorify his elect before men by bringing three dead men back to life through him.

St. Martin Resurrects a Baby, Simone Martini, San Martino Chapel in the Basilica of Assisi, 14th century.

So much has been written about the extraordinary signs this blessed man performed that no sermon can relate them all. And so let these things suffice, lest a lengthier sermon bore you. 

A certain Postumianus[9] traveled around the world, visiting the holy Fathers in Egypt, Judea, and Greece. When he returned home, he recounted to his brethren many marvellous things worthy of telling, and Martin was discovered to have surpassed all these Fathers in merits and deeds and in miracles and holiness, and none of them even matched him. For Martin returned sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and speaking to the mute, and restored cleanness to lepers, walking to the lame, and restored strength to a number of people struck with palsy. He broke a burning fever, expelled raging demons, and not only did he accomplish many signs by himself, but many performed miracles in Martin’s name. Oil blessed by Martin banished all sickness; letters sent by him cured pains and restored health; and birds, beasts, and serpents obeyed his commands. Touching his clothing or the bed on which he slept expelled demons or any illness and swiftly restored health. His cape was borne as a banner before the kings of France when they went to war, lending them victory over their enemies, and today chaplains (capellani) are so called after the keepers of this cape. Angels often spoke to Martin, and saints frequently held conversation with him. He always raised up his eyes and hands to heaven, and he manifested Christ in heart and word. He forcefully gave orders to kings, and overcame heretics with great authority. He patiently bore the injuries committed by subjects resentful of their bishops, and gave an example of holiness to everyone in all things.

He foreknew his death long before it happened, and foretold his brethren the day of his passing. And so when the Lord decided to reward the glorious merits of blessed Martin and to crown this old soldier with an everlasting garland after his many trials, the man was wracked with bodily pain. Thus, he was at once delivered from pain and death, and happily entered the joy of his Lord[10] to the singing of angels and saints. Many heard this heavenly melody: when Martin’s soul left his body and sped to the heavenly temple, Bishop Severin of Cologne, renowned for his many virtues, was going around the monasteries to pray with his deacon Eberigisil,[11] who later also became bishop of Cologne. Severin heard an angelic symphony, and when his deacon asked what it could mean, he replied that Bishop Martin of Tours had passed from this life and the choirs of angels were welcoming his soul; that a band of demons had  met him on the way, but since they found nothing belonging to them, they departed in confusion, and hence the heavenly host broke into a song of praise with much exultation. 

The Death of St. Martin, Derick Baegert, 1490.

Alas, dearly beloved, what will become of us wretches, begirt by all sins, if a band of demons lay in wait for Martin, who blossomed with all virtues? This blessed man, repairing to heaven, also appeared to Severus,[12] who published his Life.

Martin left the prison of the body and the world and entered the lofty palace of heaven on a Sunday. On that very day, Bishop Ambrose of Milan, remembered in all churches for his sanctity and bountiful teaching, was standing at the altar about to celebrate mass. He was taken up by the Holy Ghost and carried away to Tours to bury Martin’s body. After the burial, Ambrose returned to himself, and explained what had happened to all, much to their surprise and amazement. 

St. Ambrose celebrates the funeral of St. Martin, Simone Martini, San Martino Chapel in the Basilica of Assisi, 14th century.

Therefore, dearly beloved, we must all praise and venerate blessed Martin, singing sweet melodies with the angels to the man Our Lord and the angels appeared to while he was still a pagan soldier. Once he became a Christian and an abbot, the dead were brought back to life through him. When he was exalted to the pontifical dignity, he was adorned with virtues and miracles. A queen rescued him, and when a king refused to rise for him, his throne was engulfed by flames. When Martin was beaten by the king’s servants, he made them and their animals stand like fixed statues by the river, but once they repented he allowed them to cross. He cut down trees dedicated to demons and stopped them from falling upon him without harm to himself. He beheld the shadow of a slain thief, listened to his words, and destroyed an altar and other sacred sites dedicated to him. He stopped a crowd of pagans carrying a corpse, and then allowed them to continue. He froze a pack of dogs in their tracks, rescuing a little rabbit from their bite. He healed those bitten by serpents, removing the venom; he denounced the deceptions of tricksters; he extinguished a fire raging around him; he made a three-day-old baby speak. By the power of his name a dog whose barking savagely was silenced. A possessed man was tied to his mat by nuns and his demon was expelled. He commanded serpents to leave a river, and water-birds to migrate from a river into the desert. He foretold his death long before it happened, and made peace between those who quarrelled. When he died a host of angels went to meet him, the choir of the saints hailed him with harmonious acclamations,, the heavens were opened as he entered, and all heaven-dwellers rejoiced. 

Emperor Valentinian’s throne catches fire after he refuses to rise for St. Martin, Simone Martini, San Martino Chapel in the Basilica of Assisi, 14th century.

It is also said about Martin that he revealed to a certain hermit that, on his feast day, as many souls would be delivered from purgations as men should come together to celebrate the festivity. O truly blessed pontiff blessed in all things, worthily praised by all the churches in all things, by whose blessed merits blessed joys are granted to souls! Let us ask, dearly beloved, with devout hearts, that by Martin’s prayers we might come to reign in the heavenly fatherland with Christ, where eye hath not seen &c.

On this Sunday, add about St. Brice:[14]

Today, dearly beloved, let us beg Saint Brice to be favourable to our prayers, since his intercession is powerful with God. Brice, indeed, learned by his own sufferings how much help there is for those who find themselves subject to misfortunes. Forsooth, virtue is always accompanied by envy, as is so manifest in this example. 

When Saint Martin shone like the sun with signs and virtues, and his sweet fame spread far and wide, many bishops, alas! desirous of his praises but unwilling to be adorned with his holiness of life, schemed to bring down by some ruse him whom God’s right hand had raised up. Meanwhile, a certain woman bore a child conceived in sin, but the identity of the evildoer was unknown. And so the bishops, seeing an opportunity for their mad design, held a council and agreed with the woman to accuse Martin of the crime. Martin, however, ordered the little baby brought to him and holding him in his arms sweetly said to him, “My son, my son.” But the child, who was not yet a week old, broke into a clear voice saying, “Thou art not my father! John the merchant is.” All were astounded and fell to their knees begging for forgiveness. The worthy priest of God kindly pardoned the injury, baptized the infant, and named him Brice.

Once Brice grew to adulthood, he embraced the monastic discipline and Martin ordained him a priest. Brice committed many affronts against him, but Martin asked God to raise him to the episcopate as his reward. And so when Martin passed on to the Lord, Brice was made head of the church, and on the thirtieth year of his episcopate he was forced to requite what he had sinned against his master. For an unhappy woman begot a child out of wedlock and the entire people accused their bishop of the crime. Brice, following the example of his master, ordered the month-old child brought to him. Before all the people, Brice charged the baby to say openly if he was his father, and the child denied in a clear voice that Brice was his father. But since the people deemed this was done by art of magic and called him a fornicator and a sorcerer, Brice carried burning charcoals in his cloak around the city and displayed them before Saint Martin’s tomb. Brice’s clothes were unburnt, but the raging people refused to believe him and deposed him from the episcopate, since he had received it from Martin’s favour. Brice lamenting went to Rome and the pope received him with honours. After seven years, he was sent back to his see and was received by the entire people with great honour and joy. Having fulfilled his office worthily he is today joined with the saints in glory.

Let us pray with all our hearts that we might join him, where eye hath not seen &c.[15]

St. Brice carries embers to the tomb of St. Martin, former high altarpiece of the Church of Saint Martin in Cserény, now in the Museum of Fine Arts of Budapest.

[1] Ecclesiasticus 45:1. The first phrase in the Epistle in the Common of Abbots.

[2] In two antiphons (CI 3713 and 3715), as well as an introit (CI 1044), none of which survive in the Tridentine liturgy.

[3] Psalm 112:3

[4] John 16:20

[5] Cf. Psalm 144:18.

[8] Responsory Dum sacramenta (CI 006558.1) and Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum PL 71:393. 

[9] One of the interlocutors in St. Sulpitius Severus’ first Dialogue

[10] Matthew 25:21.

[11] Gregory of Tours, De miraculis S. Martini 1.4. Severin had the habit of going through different churches on Sundays after Matins.

[13] If Martinmas falls on a Sunday, Honorius counsels the preacher to remember St. Brice, since his feast fell in the same week (viz. on 13 November).

[14] 1 Corinthians 2:9. Honorius invariably ends his sermons with this closing doxology evoking eternal glory. 

I Shall Make Jerusalem of Precious Stones: A Sermon for All Saints

We herewith offer our readers a translation of Honorius Augustodunensis’ sermon on the upcoming feast of All Saints, as it appears in his Speculum Ecclesiae. Please find the text below, or

The heavens shall confess thy wonders, O Lord: and thy truth in the church of the saints.1 The heavens daily display God’s wonders, lighting the earth through the sun, moon, and stars. The assembly of the saints praises his truth when the congregation of the just gives thanks for all things, made through Christ, who is the Truth. The heavens shall confess God’s wonders when, along with the stars and every creature, they are changed in incomparable splendour. Then shall the assembly of the saints praise God’s truth since the generation of the righteous shall be blessed2 by Christ in the Last Judgment. The heavens declare God’s wonders because the angels, in whom God dwells, unendingly jubilate God’s mighty deeds. His truth the assembly of saints confesses, because the gathering of the blessed in the Heavenly Jerusalem raises a perpetual hymn to Christ’s good works. And so, my best beloved, as we celebrate today the Solemnity of All Saints, let the hearts and mouths of this congregation sing together with the angels Christ, God’s truth, and let us magnify his saints with worthy laudations, so that aided by their merits we may rejoice eternally in the joy of the Lord.

In the first place let us magnify the Lord our Lofty God in the voice of exultation and jubilation,3 because in his majesty he built the whole world, which the angelic symphony, whose praise is sweet to the assembly of the saints,4 jubilates without end. Let us devoutly call to mind the Trinity’s unity, and humbly adore the Unity’s trinity, by which the worshipful angels are elevated, and lowly man is raised up to heavenly things. Again today we must praise the Holy of Holies in his Hallows, whose holiness sanctifies the faithful people, rewards them with eternal life, and blesses them with glory everlasting.

Next let us praise the Glorious and Ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God with our highest praises, for she restored a fallen world to life, she is the Queen of Heaven honoured by all the angels, she the Mistress of the World venerated by all the saints. On this day let us jubilate a sweet harmony to Mary as the gate of life, who opened the way to us to eternal life.

Next we must glorify the awesome nine-fold ranks of blessed spirits, who have been imprinted with the stamp of God’s likeness, and who enjoy the full and happy glory of supreme blessedness. These are worthy to look always upon the face of the Father, and because the sun and moon marvel at his beauty, they gaze into him unceasingly. Three of them, to wit Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael designate the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in their names. The others express the Holy Trinity in their three by threefold number. If we give worship to them by joining their praises through noble living, we shall surely be made equal to them in true life, joining their hymn to the Lord with all the saints.

Then in hymns today it is meet to praise the humans who are the angels’ fellow citizens,5 those who are already friends of the angels in the heavens, who praise the Great God along with them, as we aver. Of their number let the files of patriarchs be mentioned first in our praises, them from whose seed sprung Christ the glory of all the saints and the joy and happiness of the angels. They prefigured Christ and his Church in types and acted out, as it were, the mysteries of the Church with their very lives and works. For Adam is created from the clean earth, and from his side the woman is formed; in this he is a type of Christ, who is conceived of a chaste maiden, from whose side the Church is built. The other twelve chief patriarchs foreshadow the Apostolic Senate. By them, to wit through Seth, Enoch, Noe, Melchisedech, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Job, Samuel, and David, who are mentioned by name,6 the faithful before the Law were propped up as it were on sturdy columns.

Thereafter we must recall the prophets and loudly herald their names, for they foretold Christ’s mysteries as present realities, and in their own passions glorified Christ’s coming Passion for the sake of the world. Among whom Elias and Eliseus foretoken Christ, the former by raising the dead, the latter by entering heaven still living. Four outstanding prophets, namely Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, and Daniel, prefigure the four evangelists by filling the four corners of the world with their reams of writings. The other twelve, to wit Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zacharias, and Malachias, expressed the twelve apostles when in their writings and example they instructed the people under the Law with a view toward eternal life. John the Baptist, the greatest among them that are born of women,7 shone brightest among the prophets, when anticipating the true Sun like the Day-star he heralded the everlasting Day. He was worthy to point out the Lamb of the Father who would take away the sins of the world, and to plunge him under the waters whose coming the choir of prophets prophesied of old.

Now, dearly beloved, let us with a sweet melody resound the preachers of the new grace, the heralds of eternal life, judges of the world, and princes of the churches: I speak of the apostles and evangelists. Let us celebrate with utmost devotion those who were worthy to see the Word, coëternal with the Father,8 incarnate for our sake, with their own eyes, to touch him with their hands, hear him with their ears,9 learn from his own mouth the secrets of the Father, see him who was God himself, climb up to the Father’s throne, and speak all manner of tongues through the Holy Ghost, who adorned the Church, Christ’s bride, as it were with jewels and necklaces by their miracles and writings, washed her with their own blood, placed her upon the skiff of the Holy Rood and like strong sailors brought her in through the billows of this world to the harbour of life and like Thereafter the four evangelists drove her like a chariot with their teaching from the four corners of the world to the heavenly palace. Among them Peter was crucified for Christ in Italy, Andrew condemned to the gibbet in Achæa, John was plunged into a cauldron of burning oil in Rome, James was slain by the sword in Judæa, Thomas was pierced with a spear in India, Bartholomew was flayed and beheaded in western India, Philip was stoned to death while crucified in Asia, James was killed with a lance in Jerusalem after being flung down from the Temple, Simon and Jude were put to death in Persia, Matthew was dispatched to the stars by the sword in Ethiopia and Matthias in Judæa by the blade. Paul withal, who toiled more than all of them,10 did not hesitate to stick his neck out for Christ in Rome.

They, friends of the Great God, these supreme emperors and glorious senators, now proudly triumph in the angelic court. By their verdict, those who imitate and truly praise them are assigned to revel in the lot of the just.

After them we must praise the choir of martyrs, by whose entreaties the world seated in wickedness11 shall be saved. These worthy soldiers of the eternal King shed their blood fighting for their donative,12 and, having obtained victory over their enemies, have merited a triumph in the heavens wearing a green garland crown. Of their ranks, their standard-bearer Stephen was stoned, his attendant Laurence was roasted alive, George was butchered on the wheel, Maurice was pierced by the sword, and today13 Cæsarius was cast into the sea. Others suffered various torments, some stabbed by the blade, others suffocated by the noose, the flames, or the waves, others torn apart by wild beasts, others killed by hunger, by scourges, or the precipice. They were all in divers ways made a mockery to the world,14 but now clothed with white robes in sight of the Lamb15and bearing palms they have merited to become messmates with the angels. Let us give them praises that we might someday be made worthy to march alongside them under the Lamb through praise.

Thence let us extol the Church’s lamps, namely the confessors, illustrious painters of God’s house. Let us proclaim with befitting praise the merits of those who watered the entire Church with the streams of Scripture and adorned her with extraordinary miracles and good examples. Among them Martin, Nicholas, Remigius, Ulrich,16 and many others shone with glorious miracles as lights to the world. Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, and many others watered God’s garden like the four rivers of paradise with their copious writings, and gladdened the city of God with the streamof their preaching. Because they watchfully awaited our Lord’s return from the wedding,17 they have merited to be placed over all his goods in the joy of the Lord.18

To theirs we join praises for the band of monks and hermits, who crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences,19 and therefore as joint heirs with Christ20 have already received a hundredfold.21 The world detested their way of life, and recoiling in horror from them, spewed them out like a filthy refuse. And they enlightened the world with their life and deeds and withdrew from it with their whole heart and soul. Fleeing the company of men, they dwelt together with beasts in solitude and so were worthy to enjoy the sight and conversation of the angels. Among them Benedict shone foremost with wondrous miracles and prodigies like with a volcanic radiance, and leading the way before us with his marvellous teaching, he nobly proffered light g to those hastening on the way to eternal life. Among their college Anthony, Pachomius, Hilarion, Macharius, and numberless others shone like stars in the dark night of this world by their miracles and examples of holy life, and dragged many who imitated them from the shipwreck of this age to the true light. Since they were once held in derision and in reproach, their life was thought madness, and their end extinction, lo! they are now reckoned among the sons of God.22

Next it is meet that we turn our melodies to the sparkling white virgins and sound their praises with loud voices. They vanquished the world and their sex, spurned fleshly allurements and earthly pomps, contemned the threats and bribes of tyrants, and by divers torments attained the embrace of their Bridegroom they had yearned for so long. And so now they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth23andsing a new song no one else can sing. Among them Thecla was exposed to the beasts and tortured with fire, Agatha had her breasts severed and was rolled upon burning sherds, Agnes was thrust into the flames and then stabbed in the throat, Cæcilia was put in a boiling bath and then slain by the sword, Margaret was torn apart by sundry torments, and Lucy was put into a bonfire and killed by the blade. Other numberless virgins were tortured and, meeting similar fates, went forth to Christ the Son of the Virgin. Others still joined them through pious meditation and thus reached his Virgin Mother. Because they met their coming Bridegroom with lighted lamps,24 they shall go with him to the wedding. To their praises we join the widows, who for Christ’s sake did not remarry. Among them Felicity offered herself as a living sacrifice with her seven sons, Symphorosa gave herself up as a victim for Christ with as many sons, and Theodota merited to be immolated for Christ with her three sons, as did Sophia with her three daughters. Thus many others attained the kingdom of heaven by being afflicted with divers torments. Others still zealously keeping continence with pious works now rejoice with the prudent virgins.

Let us now loose our tongues to ring out for the married and render due honour to those by whose procreation the world is repaired and who serve Christ daily in his members. Among them Hadrian suffered death for Christ at the exhortation of his wife, Marcellian and Mark forsook their wives at the instigation of Sebastian and offered themselves up to the judge, and Eustace underwent death today with his wife and sons.25 Yet numberless others obtained incomparable riches26 for their good works.

With them let us praise the penitents who zealously follow the examples of those who redeemed their sins with alms27and covered their past trespasses with later good works. Among them he who was deceived by the beauty of a nun but got back the letter he had handed to the devil through Basil; Theophilus, who became an apostate through ambition, but as a penitent got back through God’s mother the contract he had made with the devil through God’s mother; Mary of Egypt, Pelagia, Thaïs,28 and the hermit’s sister,29 once living in the squalor of prostitution, through penance became Christ’s passionate lovers. And many others without number were granted the gift of life when they did penance.

Let us conclude by adding to our praises all the faithful people, and try to be one of their number, who cleaved to the Church through faith as limbs to a body and through good works now have reached Christ the Head. Among them many soldiers shed their own blood regularly fighting in defence of Mother Church, many farmers wear out their bodies in the effort to feed her, numerous women are steadfast in chastity, and so many children flourish by honouring their parents. Since the impious taunted them as they travailed in the Lord’s vineyard, now they revel in God’s praise in their rest.

All of them adorned God’s garden like so many flowers, and transpired the odour of eternal life in their words and deeds. Hence when Isaac blessed Jacob, he said these words: Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which the Lord hath blessed.30Isaac blessed Jacob because Christ assigned a blessing to the faithful. The plentiful fieldis the whole world imbued with the odour of the saints. The divers flowers are the divers manners of life of the just. Among them the patriarchs blossomed in faith like daffodils, the prophets gleamed in hope like hyacinths, the apostles excelled in charity like branches of the true Vine sprouting the flower of the grape,31 the martyrs flushed like roses in their long-suffering, the confessors shone like crocuses in their wisdom, the virgins glimmered like lilies in their chastity, the monks sported the royal purple of humility like violets, and the married and other believers expressed by other flowers were radiant in their virtues. All of them rejoicing feast in the sight of God and are delighted in gladness.32 They no longer hunger or thirst,33 but abound in all manner of delights as their reward, and shall yet have a double joy when they shall in both body and soul see the King of glory in his beauty.34 Then, forsooth, they shall shine as the sun35 and be peers of the angels.36

If you wish, you can stop here. But if possible, add the following:

The Lord promises this happy union of angels and men in the prophetic words: Behold I shall make Jerusalem of precious stones.37 Jerusalem, which means vision of peace, is the joint dwelling of angels and men who behold Christ the true Peace face to face in the Father. It shall be made of precious stones because Jerusalem shall be built as a city38 out of the elect in their precious virtues. I will lay its stones in order.39 Jerusalem’s stones shall be laid in order when the elect are sorted into the angelic orders for their merits. Its walls of emeralds. Jerusalem’s emerald walls are the nine orders of angels, who continually flourish in their vision of God and glisten with everlasting glory. Its foundations of sapphires. The foundations of the Church were the patriarchs who founded her by prefiguring heavenly deeds, and hence shone like the sapphire in its heavenly colour. Its bulwarks of jasper. The prophets are the bulwarks of the Church, since their writings are safe defences against the demons and heretics. They were like verdant jaspers, when they lived a beautiful springtime through their faith. Its doors of graven stones. The doors are the apostles, through whose doctrine we enter the Church and at whose verdict we shall be admitted into glory. They are built of graven stones, because the apostle’s good examples, as it were sculpted in their writings and deeds, are represented to the faithful. All its borders of desirable stones. All the borders of the church are every people, every tongue, every nation, every station, every condition, every age, and every sex. They are made of desirable stones, because those suitable for God’s edifice are chosen from all of them. All thy children shall be taught of the Lord. All the Church’s children shall be taught by the Lord when they see all things in God in that future life. Nothing shall be hidden from them when they look upon God, in whom all things are contained. Great shall be the peace of thy children. In that place the Church’s children shall possess a great peace, since a torrent of peace from every sort of glory shall overflow upon them. Thou shalt be founded in justice. This city shall be founded in justice, since it shall be set in Christ, who shall justly remunerate the merits of each. I will make peace thy visitation.40 When Our Lord visits us here below, we are chastised for our sins; there, however, our visitation shall be an increase of peace. And thy overseers justice. When our ecclesiastical superiors here below justly evaluate our deeds, they rightly subject us to punishments; there, however, we shall be given justice when Christ who is Justice shall be given to us as our reward. Iniquity shall no more be heard in thy land, since there everlasting righteousness shall reign. There shall be no wasting nor destruction in thy borders, since there sweet consolation and charity abound. Salvation shall possess thy walls, and praise thy gates, since the angels and the saints admitted there by the apostles shall joyfully delight in their eternal salvation. Thou shalt no more have the sun for thy light by day, nor the brightness of the moon by night, but the Lord shall be unto thee for an everlasting light, and thy God for thy eternal glory. Thy sun shall go down no more, and thy moon shall not decrease, since the Lord shall be fixed as an everlasting light for you. And thy people shall be all just, they shall inherit the land for ever, where they shall have secure happiness and joy. The voice of weeping shall no more be heard in thee, nor shall the voice of crying be thine any longer, but rather the voice of salvation and exultation41 and the voice of songs of joy and delectation. Yea verily, the saints’ organs constantly resound in this city, and the company of angels jubilate a sweet never-ending hymn with delightful melody. This city is itself called The Lord, because there God shall be the same in all the elect. The angels remained in this glory through charity, and all the saints attain it through faith and good works. Neither of these can exist without the other; together they carry man to eternal life. For without faith it is impossible to please God,42 and faith without works is said to be dead.43 The Law was given to the people of God in two tablets, since man is saved by faith and works. In one tablet were contained three commandments relating to God, expressing the Trinitarian faith. In the other were promulgated seven commandments relating to one’s neighbour which taught good works.

We also read that Jacob married two sisters, and did service for seven years for each. He begot seven children from one and only two from the other. Jacob represents the faithful people who attain the inheritance of eternal life through two lives, namely the active and the contemplative. Lia, in sooth, is life in the world. She bore seven children as she strove to perform the seven works of the Gospel, to wit by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, harbouring strangers, visiting the sick, and consoling the imprisoned and all in affliction. Jacob served seven years for this wife when the devout Jewish people strove to fulfil the seven precepts of the Law, namely to honour father and mother, to kill no one by hand or tongue, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to give false testimony, not to desire another’s property, and not to take his wife or anything belonging to him. Rachel, now, is the spiritual life. She bore two sons when she continually endeavoured to read, pray, hear God’s word, or preach unto others.44 Israel laboured for her for seven years when the faithful people eagerly suffer the yoke of the seven evangelical works of mercy; when they strive to be poor in spirit, meek, mournful, thirsty for justice, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers.45

And that they might merit to flourish in these works, they are imbued with the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and they pray to attain them by the seven petitions of the Lord’s prayer. For through the spirit of fear they are voluntarily poor that they might be able to be freed from evil and seize the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. By the spirit of piety they are meek lest they be led into temptation and that they might be held worthy to possess the land of the living. By the spirit of knowledge they mourn for their neighbour’s infelicities and forgive those who trespass against them so their own trespasses might be absolved and they might be consoled by having their sadness turned into joy. By the spirit of fortitude they are afflicted with a hunger and thirst for justice, and hence they shall be nourished with the daily or supersubstantial bread. By the spirit of counsel they try to be merciful so that God’s will might be done on earth with men as it is in heaven with the angels, and so that they themselves might attain Christ, who is Mercy. By the spirit of understanding they are pure of heart so that God’s kingdom might come to them and they might see God face to face as he is. By the spirit of wisdom they are peacemakers so that the Father’s name might be hallowed in them, and they themselves might be called sons of God. And since in each of these things they suffer persecution for justice’s sake, they are allotted the kingdom of heaven as their birthright in the highest blessedness with the angels. And since men reproach and curse them, and lyingly say every evil of them for God’s name,46 they shall be blessed, since they shall have a rich reward in joy and exultation.

You must also know, my brethren, why this solemnity was instituted. There was in Rome an ancient temple called the Pantheon in honour of all the gods, nay, of all the demons. In May, Pope Boniface cleansed it of every idolatrous filth and dedicated it in honour of Mary, Mother of God, and all Martyrs. Originally the feast only commemorated Blessed Mary and the martyrs, but as time passed and the Christian religion grew, a solemnity for confessors was also instituted. Thus a certain Pope Gregory ordered a festivity in honour of all saints celebrated on this day, so that whatever human fragility neglected in the celebrations of the saints throughout the year could be absolved today by their merits.

And so, dearly beloved, ask for the merits and suffrages of all the saints today by praying to the Lord, and seek his face always47 by living well, and you shall find rest for your souls48 in everlasting glory. Invoke all saints in word and heart, commend yourselves to them with vows and praises, so that Christ, Saint of all saints, might absolve you of whatever you did against the Christian religion throughout the year by their intercession. And since the same Christ, King of glory, came to be made wonderful in all his saints,49 and made one commonweal of angels and men, by this union may you merit to reign together in the most illustrious palace of his kingdom, and to sing a never-ending Alleluia with all the choirs of angels and saints in the nuptial feast of the Bridegroom and bride, which eye hath not seen &c.50


1 Psalm 88:3

2 Psalm 111:2

3 Psalm 41:5

4 Psalm 149

5 Cf. Ephesians 2:19

6 He may be referring to a local Litany of the Saints that included these twelve names.

7 Matthew 1:11, Luke 7:28

8 Cf. John 1.

9 Cf. 1 John 1:1-3

10 1 Corinthians 15:10

11 1 John 5:19

12 In ancient Rome, a largesse given by the emperor to each soldier of the army, at his accession or majority, or other extraordinary occasion.

13 November 1 was also the feast of St. Cæsarius of Terracina.

14 1 Corinthians 4:9.

15 Apocalypse 7:19.

16 St. Ulrich, bishop of Augsburg (893 – 973). These four saints appear together in many German diocesan litanies. In place of Ulrich, other MSS read St. Rupert of Salzburg (660 -710), a bishop and abbot who was active in Regensburg and the area of Salzburg, where he is buried. Both were highly venerated in South Germany.

17 Cf. Matthew 25:21.

18 Matthew 24:47.

19 Galatians 5:24.

20 Romans 8:17.

21 Matthew 19:29.

22 Wisdom 5:3-5.

23 Apocalypse 14:4.

24 Cf. Matthew 25:1-13.

25 St. Eustace was commemorated on 1 November in Regensburg.

26 Cantus index 007141b.

27 Daniel 4:24.

28 St. Thais (4th century), an Alexandrian courtesan who repented and joined the nuns of the Egyptian desert.

29 From a story found in the Apophthegmata Patrum and notably represented in Hrotsvit’s play Abraham.

30 Genesis 27:27.

31 Cf. John 15.

32 Psalm 67:4.

33 Apocalypse 7:16.

34 Isaiah 33:17.

35 Matthew 13:43.

36 Cf. Luke 20:36.

37 Cf. Isaiah 54:11-12.

38 Psalm 121:3.

39 Isaiah 54:11.

40 Isaias 60:17.

41 Psalm 117:15.

42 Hebrews 11:6.

43 James 2:20.

44 In the context of the Gregorian Reform, Honorius argued that monks should maintain a pastoral and preaching rôle.

45 Cf. Matthew 5.

46 Matthew 5:11.

47 Psalm 104:4.

48 Matthew 11:29.

49 2 Thessalonians 1:10.

50 1 Cor 2:9. Honorius ends all sermons in this collection with an evocation of eternal glory, culminating invariably in this verse from St. Paul.