The Preacher and his Audience – Sermon Collections and Homilies in the Early Middle Ages


The focus of this project are sermon collections and homiliaries in the early Middle Ages, the contexts in which they were produced and used, their social, moral and theological aspects, and the role they played in building or consolidating communities. In many cases, homiletic and exegetical texts from Late Antiquity, especially those written by the Church Fathers, were compiled, re-written, and recombined with other texts in early medieval collections. The compilers, very often anonymous, used the rich resources of biblical and patristic texts to create tools for the preachers to teach, edify, and direct their flocks; thereby they were part of and informed the religious, moral, and political discourse of their times.

The Carolingian abbot and archbishop Hrabanus Maurus who, besides his many exegetical and theological works, also produced two homiliaries, forms one extensive case study.

The so-called Eusebius Gallicanus collection from the end of the 5th century comprises a second one. Here, the sermons composed for the commemoration of specific saints are especially interesting, since they show how these saints could be employed to create and strengthen Christian communities within the cities of Gaul.