I’ve just completed my translation of this early 12th century sermon, from the Speculum Ecclesiae or Mirror of the Church by Honorius Augustodunensis. I’ve included the Latin text. This text is the origin of the fragments BHL 6173 and 6175. Here it is:
- Honorius Augustodunensis – Sermon on St Nicholas (PDF)
- Honorius Augustodunensis – Sermon on St Nicholas (Microsoft Word .docx)
As usual I make these files and their contents public domain. Do whatever you like with them, personal, educational or commercial. I’ve also uploaded it to Archive.org here.
The text is not that long, so I thought I would include the translation below. Have fun!
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- “The righteous shall be in eternal remembrance: he will not be afraid of hearing bad news”. All things that happen here, in the land of oblivion, are consigned to oblivion, and everything that happens under the sun slips out of memory as if dead from the heart. For in whose memory does the once rich glory of kings and tyrants now circulate? Who now remembers the magnificent cities which they built, or the celebrated inscriptions of the noble triumphal monuments which they erected? Where now are the pomps or riches in which they abounded, and where are the executions or tortures which they inflicted on the saints? They all have passed away like shadows, and they themselves have inherited the fire and the worm. But those who earnestly worshipped God** shall be in eternal remembrance. Their works flourish throughout all generations, and their names will live forever. For he is one spirit with God**, who adheres to him through love, and, united to him through spirit, remains with him for eternity. Of whom Saint Nicholas is in eternal memory, because he is both famous to men on earth, and to the angels in the life eternal. He shall not fear hearing the bad news, that is, “Depart from me, O accursed, into eternal fire”, but he shall rejoice forever at the sweet word, “Come, O blessed ones”.
- This man, born of a noble lineage of the Greeks, shone with many miracles, the illustrious bishop of Myra. When newly born, he was placed in Pelium to be washed, but he stood for one hour held by no one, because obviously he was setting out on the path of the virtues. At once the man of good character began to return home through abstinence to where our first parent was exiled from through gluttony. For on Wednesdays and Fridays he drank only once a day from the nipples, and so the riches of the heavenly grace flowed generously to him. But once the boundary of childhood passed, he swallowed with a thirsty heart the secrets of the heavenly life from the rivers of scripture. Then as an adult he was bereaved of both parents, and himself was selected as the heir in accordance with the rules of inheritance. Then in the same city there lived a noble man, who, from the greatest riches, had come down to the deepest poverty. He determined that his three daughters, outstanding in their appearance, should be prostituted, so that through them he might at least earn a living. Nicholas redeemed them with gold, and he kindly took away indeed the poverty of the father, and infamy from the girls, but he acquired heavenly riches for himself. In the meantime the church of Myra was widowed by the death of its shepherd, but the devout flock demanded from God that a worthy shepherd should be placed in charge of it. But the Good Shepherd quickly comforted the desolate flock, suggesting to a certain saint that Nicholas was designated by God as the bishop. By the election of the clergy and the people, he was established as a wise and faithful steward over the Lord’s family, and soon the brightness of his virtues was diffused everywhere. His delightful reputation was also spread throughout the world, through which people were drawn in droves to see him from every quarter.
- A ship laden with people was brought to him by sail, which, battered by a fierce storm, threatened the sailors with the danger of shipwreck. Agitated they called upon Nicholas, and, appearing to them immediately, he calmed the sea from the fury of the abating storms. And they all gave thanks to him whom the winds and the sea obey.
- This saint demolished the temple of Diana, because the devil tried to avenge himself by means of a strategem of the following sort. A ship filled with a crowd going to him [St N] was sailing the sea, when, behold!, the devil brought to it a vessel of oil in the shape of Diana, piteously begging them to convey this liquid to repair the lamps for his saint, and complaining that there were many things that hindered him from going to him himself. They accepted the oil and were rowing into the middle of the sea, when, behold! a voice cried out from above, that they should throw away the oil given by the woman, and know that the giver of it was the devil. But as soon as the oil was thrown out, it instantly caught fire in a wave of unnatural flames. Then while they were crying out in fear, Nicholas appeared, and immediately the fraud disappeared. Then the people sang praises to him, who rescued them from the boiling pot of the sea.
- At a certain time a very strong famine had invaded the country, and it had afflicted the people of Nicholas as much as possible. In the meantime royal ships laden with wheat were passing through the country, from which the man of God had obtained several bushels of wheat. Out of this he distributed abundantly to all the people, and the sailors arriving at the shore found that the quantity of wheat was the same as if they had given nothing. In this he imitated He who fed many thousands of people with a few loaves of bread, and from the fragments left over there was more than was supplied.
- Again at another time, three young men, unjustly accused by the proconsul, out of anger, or rather avarice, were condemned to death. On hearing this, the bishop of God came as quickly as possible, and delivered them from imminent destruction. At another time, three noble men were accused of a plot to the emperor Constantine, because of envy, and by the emperor they were condemned. They were put in prison, and cried out to Nicholas, and he immediately placated Constantine in his dreams with threats and terrors concerning their destruction. The emperor awakened and called together the nobles, revealed the vision, and ordered the youths to be released without delay. But they praised the mercy of the deliverer who had rescued them from the hand of a more powerful man.
- With these and many other glorious signs brought to completion, he is associated with the King of Glory in eternal glory. But it is related that the marble of his tomb perspires, with liquid oil. If anyone who is sick is anointed with it, immediately sickness is expelled and health is restored. O wonderful power of Christ! As far as the east is from the west, and as far as the light differs from the darkness, so far are the rewards of the righteous different from reprobates. For just as oil is said to seep from his tomb, so the sarcophagus of Julian the apostate is said to sweat a foul and putrid tar. At a certain time the bishop of the same see was driven out of the city because of envy, and immediately the drop of the sacred liquor was restrained; and once he was received in his own seat, at once the healthy flow of drops was restored to those rejoicing.
- Also a certain powerful man ordered a noted goldsmith to make a golden vessel, which he assigned to be offered to St. Nicholas in fulfilment of a vow. As the artist carved it in a wonderful manner, and set it with various gems, the man admired the remarkable work, and decided to retain it for his own uses. And he wanted another vessel to be made, just like the former, which he assigned to be taken to St. Nicholas. The goldsmith, however, used the utmost care, but in no way could he adorn it in the same way as the former. But when the work had not progressed at all, the man took the same gold, and entered the ship with his wife and son, and many others, and he thought to offer the gold to St. Nicholas instead of the vessel. But having passed through the greatest part of the ocean, he was thirsty, and he wished to drink from the golden vessel which he had wrongfully kept for himself. His son, accepting that only he was allowed to touch this, kept washing it in the waves. But it slipped from the hand of the unwary youth, and he, trying to catch it, was drowned by the waves of the sea. After this accident, they all reached the harbour in great sorrow, and sadly they entered the basilica of St. Nicholas. The master laid the offering on the altar, but, rejected by God, it bounced off a long way. Everyone was astounded, and he recounted in order how he had retained for himself the vessel promised, and for this reason he had lost his son with the vessel at sea, and then the saint refused to accept the offering. Wherefore, when all were praising God and Saint Nicholas, while the father and mother were weeping heavily for their guilt and the loss of their son, and were multiplying their vows, behold, suddenly the young man rushed in alive with the vessel, who, to the astonishment of all, said that Saint Nicholas had appeared to him in the waters, and had taken him out while he was sinking in the sea, carried him unharmed to the shore, and had led him to his church. All of them, astonished, praised God again and again in all things, who alone does wonderful things. And so the father of the young man presented the vessel with precious gifts to St. Nicholas, and happily returned home with his family.
- A certain rich merchant also lived lavishly and imprudently, whose carelessness brought him to the last poverty. He asked a Jew to give him money as a loan. The Jew said to him that, if he put down security, he would lend him the money as he asked. He said that he did not have security, unless perhaps he was willing to accept Nicholas as a guarantor. The Jew said, “I hear that Nicholas is trustworthy; I accept this guarantor.” So he gave gold to the Christian man, keeping Nicholas as security. But after that abundance of money grew, the Jew demanded back the money given. He asked him for a delay in repaying, and the Jew still consents, waiting for three repayments. Then he refused to return the money, and swore that he had returned it [already]. The matter was aired before the judges, and it was promulgated by law that he should either pay the money now, or be denied the sacrament. And so the Christian handed the gold received, cunningly enclosed in a staff, to the Jew to carry, and went with him and a crowd of all the people to the church of St. Nicholas to swear an oath. When he arrived at the altar, which he had given as security, he swore that he had given back the gold that he had received as a loan. But then the Jew said, “I trust that Nicholas will vindicate me.” Then he received the staff from the Jew, and he returned home laughing with his family. He was immediately punished by divine retribution, because he was priding himself on his neighbour’s injury. For on the journey a great drowsiness seized him, so that he thought that he would breathe out his soul unless he slept a little. And so he placed himself to sleep at the crossroads, placing the staff beside him. And behold, an laden wagon arrived, which could not turn aside in either direction. And when the cowherds were unable to rouse the snoring man either by shouting or beating, they carried on over the one held down by a lethal sleep with the vehicle, and crushed the cast-down soul and the fraudulent [staff]. When they saw that gold glittered from the broken staff, the matter was revealed to all, and for which crime he lay dead by the judgement of God. As people came together from all sides, the gold was returned to the Jew. He entered the church with the people, and praises resounded to God and St. Nicholas. Then he bound himself with an oath that, if his rival’s life was restored, he himself would immediately be washed in baptism. O the mercy of Jesus Christ! O the merits of St. Nicholas! After they sang these praises, the man, with all his limbs broken in death, walked in alive, and he confessed his guilt before all. On seeing this, the Jew, with all his household, was united to our faith. Christ the Lord and his faithful servant Nicholas were praised by all with loud voices.
- Likewise, a pagan tax-collector had an image of St. Nicholas, to whom, going out on a certain day, he entrusted his money. But in the night the robbers came and took away all the man’s money. When he returned to find the money taken away, he filled the house with great howls. Then, taking a whip, he cut down the image, and demanded back the money from it. Meanwhile, as the robbers were dividing the plunder, St. Nicholas appeared, and by threats and terrors forced them to carry back everything in the night. Then the tax-collector, on rising in the morning, and seeing his money, was filled with joy, and embraced the image and kissed it. St Nicholas appeared to him and warned him about the salvation of his soul. He was immediately baptized with all his people, and having built a church in honour of St Nicholas, he became a servant to Christ the Lord with praises.
- While the body of this excellent pontiff was being transferred from Myra to Bari, it was glorified by many glorious miracles. Indeed in less than a week, the blind, deaf, dumb, lame, withered, demoniacal and those exhausted by other ailments, to the number of a hundred and twelve men were restored to health by his merits. Whom God thus magnified among men, and exalted among the saints. Let us call upon him, dearest, with praises, and seek access to him with prayers, so that God may not destroy our souls with the wicked, and our lives with men of blood, but that we may hear the voice of praise with the saints, and be able to tell of all the wonderful things of the Lord. What the eye has not seen…
 Ps. 111:7.
 Matt. 25.
 Matt. 25.
 Matt. 8.
 In the full-length version of the story, the devil disguised himself as an old woman unable to go on pilgrimage.
 The 1531 edition has a different text for this sentence. “At another time the army of the Emperor Constantine had ravaged the country, had captured three noble young men, and condemned them to death.”
 In the 1531 edition, this sentence is replaced by: “They were surrendered by the Emperor’s army and were treated with due honour. But in the course of time they were made the subject of an accusation out of envy, and by the Emperor condemned.”
 Ps. 135.
 I.e. “But, as it is written: What the eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” – 1 Cor. 2:9
 This added by me.
4 thoughts on “Honorius Augustodunensis, “Sermo de S. Nicolai” now online”
If you want your work to be truly available to everyone, long-term, may I suggest that addition to two proprietary (albeit widely supported) formats, Word and PDF, plus HTML, you also make it available as plain text and/or rtf?
Hmm. Could do. What’s your thinking?
How about uploading this to Tertullian.org?
Well I could, but what’s the advantage? I think about this sometimes.