The Latin sermons preached by the great patristic preachers, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Leo Magnus, and their contemporaries, had an impact that went far beyond the Late-antique context in which they were first preached. Patristic sermons traveled in manuscript form throughout the medieval world. These sermon collections were not just copied as relics of the authoritative voices of the Early Church. They were reorganized, manipulated, rewritten and added to.

The PASSIM and ALANUS projects will provide access to this dynamic and complex tradition via a database and digital network of the manuscripts transmitting patristic sermon collections. This database will make possible the first large-scale analysis of the reception of patristic sermons in the Middle Ages and illustrate how the medieval interpretation and recontextualization of late-antique sermons colored the perception of the Church Fathers then and now.

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 Institute for Historical, Literary, and Cultural Studies (HLCS) at Radboud University Nijmegen. 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).

Iris Denis is Research Assistant of the PASSIM and ALANUS projects. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in Classics and a MA in Literary studies at Radboud University Nijmegen, during the course of which she specialized in Latin literature, reception 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.

Two postdoctoral researchers and a PhD student will be hired over the course of the next two years to complete the team.

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 will develop a 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 visualize the proximity between manuscripts based on shared content and thus allow for the reconstruction of the sermons’ transmission patterns.

For every manuscript the database will contain a detailed analysis of its content, structural features (e.g. capitula), date and place of origin (if known), provenance, bibliography, and links to digitized images. For every sermon the database will contain incipit, explicit, attributed author(s), numbering(s) in different reference works, keywords, liturgical occasions, manuscript witnesses.

The data needed to construct this network will be sourced from heuristic tools, manuscript catalogues both digital and in print (e.g. BnF, e-codices), relevant databases (e.g. IRHT Medium, Early medieval monasticism, 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.

This page will, in due course, come to contain links to projects, publications, databases that may be of use to scholars working on patristic sermons.


Job offer - Postdoctoral research in Medieval Manuscript Studies

Radboud University, Nijmegen, 3 July 2019

Radboud University Nijmegen is advertising a position for a Postdoctoral Researcher in Medieval Manuscript Studies (0.8fte) to be part of the research team of the ERC-funded project Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages. The dissemination, manipulation and interpretation of Late-Antique sermons in the Medieval Latin West (PASSIM). The Postdoctoral Researcher will study the customization of patristic sermons collections for use in the liturgy and Divine Office in medieval manuscripts from the 7th to the 15th century, with a particular emphasis on the Carolingian homiliary of Paul the Deacon and its reception.

Location: Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Duration: 3 years
Starting date: 1 January 2020 (negotiable)
Contract type: 0,8 FTE
Deadline for the application: 18 August 2019
Interviews: 16 September 2019

Full details of the job offer can be found here.


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)

For enquiries about the project, please contact us using the details below:

Dr. Shari Boodts
Institute for Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies
Faculty of Arts
Radboud University

Visiting address:
Erasmusplein 1
6525 HT Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Postal address:
Postbus 9103
6500 HD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

+31 (0)24 3612198
s dot boodts at let dot ru dot nl

Project partner: