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.