Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages

The Latin sermons preached by the great patristic preachers – Augustine, Gregory, Leo – and their contemporaries had an impact that went far beyond their Late-Antique origin. Patristic sermon collections traveled the medieval world, not just as relics of early-Christian authorities, but as integral parts of medieval religious life.

The PASSIM and ALANUS projects aim to chart this dynamic tradition via a database of manuscripts that transmit Latin patristic sermons. This database will form the basis for further inquiries into the dissemination, manipulation, and reinterpretation of patristic preaching in the medieval Latin West.

Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages

The dissemination, manipulation and interpretation of late-antique sermons in the medieval Latin West

PASSIM will study the medieval reception of the Latin sermons preached by the Early Church Fathers, using a digital network of manuscripts.

The sermons of Augustine, Gregory the Great and other patristic preachers were transmitted throughout medieval Europe in the form of sermon collections, preserved in thousands of manuscripts. Nearly every manuscript contains a new combination of sermons, attesting to a continuous, widespread engagement with the authorities of the Early Church. The dynamic tradition of reorganising and rewriting the patristic heritage is largely overlooked by scholars of medieval religious practices, who concentrate on medieval preachers, and by scholars of Early Christianity, whose focus is the patristic context.

Medieval collections of patristic sermons were part of the liturgical life of the monastery, but also of an intellectual tradition. They offer unique insights into medieval attitudes toward authority, techniques of appropriation, church organisation, monastic networks and knowledge exchange. PASSIM will execute the first large-scale analysis of the formation and spread of patristic sermon collections in medieval Europe. The project will develop a digital network of manuscripts, using well-tried principles from the field of textual criticism. Building on this network, PASSIM will pursue three lines of inquiry: the customizing of standard liturgical collections as indicative of individual purposes and contexts, the impact of transmission on the popularity of patristic sermons, and pseudo-epigraphic sermons as revelatory of medieval perceptions of the Church Fathers.

PASSIM will bridge two disciplinary divides, between patristic and medieval sermon studies and between textual criticism and reception studies. Developing an interdisciplinary methodology with a wide applicability in the study of intellectual history, this project will introduce patristic preaching as a vibrant strand in the tapestry of the medieval religious tradition.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No ERC-2018-stg 802210.

On the trail of Alanus of Farfa

Tracing the formation of Augustine’s authority in medieval sermon collections for the liturgy

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) is one of the great authorities of the Early Church. His impact on western civilisation, during the Middle Ages in particular, cannot be overstated. Today, he is associated mainly with the Confessions and City of God, staples of the western canon. However, throughout the medieval period, his most widely disseminated works were his sermons.

This project will investigate the development of Augustine’s authority and his formative role in medieval culture, not through the lens of the grand treatises that were admired by the intellectual elite, but through an analysis of the circulation, manipulation, and appropriation of his sermons, which were copied in hundreds of medieval manuscripts and read daily as part of the liturgy.

The anchor point will be the influential 8th-century sermon collection of Alanus of Farfa. Tracing its presence as part of a transnational European network of manuscripts, the project will investigate how the Augustinian nucleus in Alanus’ collection was customized in liturgical sermon collections from the 8th to the 15th century. This investigation will follow a key-thread in the tapestry of the medieval religious tradition, showing how ever-changing purposes and contexts determine the selection, alteration, and interpretation of the Augustinian heritage.

Overturning the traditional notion that medieval adaptations are a regrettable contamination of the antique original, this project will demonstrate that the dynamic medieval engagement with the authorities of Late Antiquity is the key to their perception then and now.

This project has received funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) under the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme: VENI, under grant number 016.Veni.195.127.



Shari Boodts is Principal Investigator of the PASSIM and ALANUS projects and Senior Researcher at the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH) at Radboud University Nijmegen. She is a specialist of the manuscript transmission of Augustine’s preaching, as well as of medieval florilegia and compilation commentaries of patristic materials. She published a new critical edition of Augustine’s Sermones ad populum 157-183 in the Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina (Brepols, 2016) and co-edited Preaching in the Patristic Era. Sermons, Preachers, Audiences in the Latin West (Brill, 2018).

Riccardo Macchioro is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH) at Radboud University Nijmegen. Textual criticism and philology of medieval Latin literature are his main fields of study, with a special focus on translations from the Greek and manuscripts as collections of texts. His recent publications include Le redazioni latine della Passio Tryhphonis martyris. Traduzioni e riscritture di una leggenda bizantina (S.I.S.M.E.L., 2019).

Gleb Schmidt is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH) at Radboud University Nijmegen. Having defended his thesis about Honorius Augustodunensis’ Elucidarium in 2021, he is working in the field of medieval Latin literature, manuscript, and reception studies with a particular accent on dissemination of “bestselling” texts in the High Middle Ages.

Iris Denis is PhD-candidate in the PASSIM project. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in Classics and an MA in Literary studies at Radboud University Nijmegen, during the course of which she specialized in Latin literature, reception and manuscript studies. Her project examines the transmission and reception of pseudo-epigraphic patristic sermons in homiliaria compiled between 500 and 800AD.

Menna Rempt is Research Assistant for the PASSIM and ALANUS projects. She completed a BA in Celtic Languages and Culture and an RMA in Medieval Celtic Linguistics at Utrecht University, during the course of which she specialized in late medieval Irish obstetric charms, medieval Latin and manuscript studies.

Thijs Hermsen is scientific programmer of the Technical Service Group of the Radboud University's Faculty of Arts. Together with Erwin Komen, he is responsible for the development of the projects’ database and digital network.

Erwin Komen is scientific programmer of the Technical Service Group of the Radboud University's Faculty of Arts. Together with Thijs Hermsen, he is responsible for the development of the projects’ database and digital network.

Ger Groothuijsen is a volunteer within the PASSIM project. He evaluates and improves user experience for the PASSIM database.

Giulia Biagioni is a volunteer within the PASSIM project. She is responsible for cataloguing Italian manuscripts that contain patristic sermon collections.

Dr. Lidia Buono (Università degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale)

The Rev Dr Zachary Guiliano (Assistant Chaplain, Jesus College Cambridge)

Dr. Eugenia Russo (Università degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale)

Prof. Paolo Chiesa (Università degli Studi di Milano, SISMEL)

Prof. Emanuela Colombi (Università di Udine, TRAPAT)

Prof. Max Diesenberger (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Universität Wien)

Prof. Anne-Marie Turcan-Verkerk (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, IRHT)

Prof. Clemens Weidmann (Universität Salzburg, CSEL)

The PASSIM project is currently compiling a metadata database of medieval manuscripts that contain collections of patristic sermons. This database will go beyond a central repository for currently dispersed information. The manuscripts will be integrated in a digital network, which will allow for complex queries and network visualizations of the data. For every manuscript the database will contain a detailed analysis of its content as well as information on the date, origin (if known), and provenance. For every sermon the database will contain incipit, explicit, attributed author(s), numbering(s) in different reference works. The data will be sourced from heuristic tools, manuscript catalogues both digital and in print (e.g. BnF, e-codices), relevant databases (e.g. IRHT Medium, Mirabile), critical editions, studies of the manuscript transmission of the Church Fathers (e.g. HUWA), Claves, and case studies in the field’s major journals.

Boodts, S., ‘Navigating the Vast Tradition of St. Augustine’s Sermons: Old Instruments and New Approaches’, Augustiniana, 69 (2019), 83-115 (PDF)

R. Macchioro, The PASSIM Project (Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages): Towards a Virtual Research Environment for the Study of Patristic Sermon Collections, in Ancient Manuscripts and Virtual Research Environments, «Classics@», 18 (2021), (ISSN: 2327-2996), open access (


Call for papers

International conference Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages: Collections, Mediators and the Practice of Compiling

Rome, 17-20 October 2023

On 17-20 October 2023, the ERC-funded project PASSIM (Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages), based at Radboud University Nijmegen, will organise an international conference on the medieval reception and transmission of patristic sermons and the collections in which they are compiled. The conference will take place at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR).

The sermons preached by the Latin Church Fathers – Augustine, Leo, Gregory, and their contemporaries – had a dynamic afterlife. Throughout the medieval period, they were widely copied, manipulated, and (re)organised in a wide array of collections. These processes of transmission are important not only because they reveal medieval attitudes to the patristic heritage, but also because the medieval mediation of this corpus has greatly impacted which sermons survived and in what shape they reached modern times. When, why and how were patristic sermons combined, (re)organised, and adapted to their medieval contexts?

The conference aims to give due attention to the mediators in the transmission of patristic sermons in the middle ages: the often-inconspicuous compilers and scribes whose creative intellectual activities formed crucial conduits for the transmission of late-antique sermons to new audiences. We intend to go beyond the reconstruction of the original form and context of individual sermons, and to focus mainly on medieval collections and manuscripts in their own right, as well as the practices of compilation that shaped them.

Confirmed speakers include Emanuela Colombi, Moshe Lavee, Rosamond McKitterick, Clemens Weidmann.

Interested scholars are requested to send in an abstract (max. 300 words) and a short CV (max. 1 page) to Iris Denis. Deadline for submissions is 15 January 2023; acceptance will be communicated within six weeks of the deadline. Early career researchers are particularly encouraged to apply.

Call for papers (pdf)


Program available

International Medieval Congress

"Visions of Authority". Sessions series organized by the ERC PASSIM

Leeds 4-7 July 2022

Program (pdf)


Program available

International Workshop On the Way to the Future of Digital Manuscript Studies

Nijmegen 27-29 October 2021

Program (pdf)


Call for papers

International Workshop On the Way to the Future of Digital Manuscript Studies

Nijmegen 27-29 October 2021

On 27-29 October 2021, the ERC Project PASSIM will organize the International Workshop On the Way to the Future of Digital Manuscript Studies.

Over the last decades, the ability to exploit digital potential has radically impacted research in the field of manuscript studies. From the most basic facilities, such as the increasing availability of digitized images and documents, to sophisticated attempts at automatizing the entire process of critical editing, the development of digital tools is extraordinary: it has created unprecedented opportunities to mine the data, achieve innovative results, and display them, in ways which previously could only be imagined. In such a dynamic context, the number of valuable enterprises continues to grow: the time is ripe for a consideration of the achievements already obtained, and of the foundations that our current work is laying for long-term development of the field. Through the organization of this workshop, the ERC Project PASSIM seeks to provide an occasion to pursue this goal.

Scientific Committee: Mariken Teeuwen (Utrecht Universiteit - Huygens ING-KNAW), Olivier Hekster (Radboud Universiteit - KNAW), Shari Boodts (Radboud Universiteit), Gleb Schmidt (Radboud Universiteit), Riccardo Macchioro (Radboud Universiteit).

Confirmed Speakers include Marjorie Burghart, Mike Kestemont, Thomas Köntges, Inka Moilanen, Elena Pierazzo, Matthieu Pignot, Philipp Roelli, Dominique Stutzmann, Mariken Teeuwen, Anne-Marie Turcan-Verkerk, Martin Wallraff.

If you would like to deliver a lecture at the Workshop, please send your paper proposal (abstract of ca. 350 words and a concise CV of max. 1 page), to Riccardo Macchioro and Gleb Schmidt before 10 May 2021. Acceptance will be communicated by 15 May 2021.

Early career scholars and scientists (Ph.D. and Post-Doc) are particularly encouraged to apply.

Call for papers (pdf)


Call for papers - Ministerium Sermonis IV. An International Colloquium on St. Augustine's Sermons

Hollands College, KU Leuven, 27-29 May 2020

On 27-29 May 2020, the research units History of Church and Theology and Literary Studies: Latin Literature of KU Leuven will organize, in collaboration with the C1-project Magnum opus et arduum: Towards a History of the Reception of Augustine’s De civitate Dei and the ERC-project Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages: The Dissemination, Manipulation, and Interpretation of Late-Antique Sermons in the medieval Latin West , based at Radboud University Nijmegen, the fourth edition of:


This conference will bring together scholars who have recently made important contributions to the study of Augustine’s sermons. The main focus will be on three areas of research: (1) The transmission and reception of Augustine’s sermons, (2) Augustine’s argumentation (doctrine, exegesis and rhetoric), (3) Political doctrine(s) and praxis in Latin Patristic sermons. Committed keynote speakers and respondents include: Isabelle Bochet, Johannes Brachtendorf, James Patout Burns, Gillian Clarke, Jérémy Delmulle, Max Diesenberger, François Dolbeau, Marie Pauliat, Els Rose, Clemens Weidmann. The conference is organised by Gert Partoens (KU Leuven), Anthony Dupont (KU Leuven), and Shari Boodts (Radboud University Nijmegen).

If you would like to deliver a lecture during this conference, please send the provisional title, abstract (max. 500 words) and a concise CV (max. 500 words) before 31 May 2019, to Shari Boodts.

Call for papers (pdf)

Dr. Shari Boodts

Department of Medieval History

Radboud Institute for Culture and History

Radboud University

+31 (0)24 3612198

s dot boodts at let dot ru dot nl