25 Jan: St. Theogenus…ummm… Saint who?

Today the great Sts. Timothy and Titus overshadow all others who are listed in the Roman Martyrology.

2. Hippone Regio in Numidia, sancti Theogenis, martyris, de quo sanctus Augustinus sermonem habuit. .. At Hippo Regius in Numidia (N. Africa), [the feast] of Saint Theogenus, about whom Saint Augustine gave a sermon.

Hmm…. I think not. St. Augustine mentioned St. Theogenus, but he doesn’t really give a sermon about him. And he mentions him in more than one sermon, and a letter also.

Let’s take a look at this fellow.

St. Theogenus was a former bishop of Hippo Regius. He was martyred. He may have been a contemporary of Cyprian and attended the Council of Carthage in 256. The very name "Theo-genus" harks to rebirth in God by baptism. In ancient times, the newly baptized, called infantes, took names which reflected their new state of spiritual rebirth and adoption, their new sonship, e.g., Adeptus, Regeneratus, Renatus, Deigenitus, Theogonus.

The Council of Carthage in 256 seems to have quoted St. Theogenus in Sententiae episcoporum numero 87 de haereticis baptizandis:

Theogenes ab Hippone Regio dixit: Secundum sacramentum dei gratiae caelestis, quod accepimus, unum baptismum, quod est in ecclesia sancta, credimus. … Theogenus from Hippo Regius said: According to God’s sacrament of heavenly grace, which we received, we believe to be one sacrament, which is in the Holy Church.

In one of Augustine’s newly discovered letters, ep. 26*,1 we find that there was a church of Hippo dedicated to St. Theogenus where a certain Donantius of Suppa, who had fraudulently attempted to get himself ordained a deacon, was placed as Porter, in order to keep him out of trouble, but when Augustine was gone, the priests threw him out. Oh well… moving right along….

In s. 272B shows that on the day of Pentecost, there was a service at the Church of St. Theogenus in Hippo, almost as at a Roman "station", and a passage was read from the Book of Tobit. Theogenus is probably connected with other martyrs, like St. Fructuosus.

In s. 273 St. Theogenus is mentioned among others by St. Augustine in order to make a point about how Christians actually honor God when the honor martyr saints. This is worth reviewing. We have heard the accusations of ignorant protestants about Catholic veneration of saints.

7. And yet, dearly beloved, while those [pagan] gods are in no way at all to be compared to our martyrs, we don’t regard our martyrs as gods, or worship them as gods. We don’t provide them with temples, with altars, with sacrifices. Priests don’t make offerings to them; perish the thought! These things are provided for God; or rather these things are offered to God, by whom all thigs are provided for us. Even when we make the offereing at the shrines of the holy martyrs, don’t we offer it to God? The holy martyrs have their place of honor. Notice please; in the recitation of names at the altar of Christ, their names are recited in the most honored place; but for all that, they are not worshiped instead of Christ.

When did you ever hear it said by me at the shrine of St. Theogenus, or by any of my brethren and colleagues, or by any priest, "I am offering to you, St. Theogenus"? Or, "I’m offering to you, Peter," or "I am offering to you, Paul"? You never did; it doesn’t happen, it is not permitted. And if you should be asked, "Do you, then, worship Peter?" answer what Eulogius answered about Fructuosus: "I do not worship Peter, but I worship God, whom Peter also worships." The Peter loves you. Because if you want to treat Peter as God, you stumble over the rock, and take care you don’t break your foot by stumbling over the rock.

Oh… by the way… today is also the anniversary of the death of St. Paula (+404), the friend and patroness of St. Jerome, living in Jerusalem.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jordan Potter says:

    “Oh… by the way… today is also the anniversary of the death of St. Paula (+404), the friend and patroness of St. Jerome, living in Jerusalem. ”

    St. Paula is my wife’s patron saint, so today is a special day fo rus.

  2. Alexei MIchaelenko says:

    I have been reading articles on this blog off and on for a month, and have been deeply impressed by Fr. Z’s scholarship and breath of knowledge of just about everything about the Church.
    I just which some of the articles we’vre read about the “Moto Proprio” and other strict rulings of the Pope would come to pass.

    I have been impressed by the love of Catholic traditions, and art, music and culture on this site.

    I think Fr. Z would make a wonderful Bishop, and a fantastic example for priests to follow….so many of whom in the USA at least whom I bet don’t even pray their Divine Office, or even own the text at all.

  3. Tom says:

    Alexei, I’ve heard it said that it is OK for lay folks to write to the congregation for Bishops and offer humble positive recommendations. I think EWTN.com has the address and format on line.

  4. Andrew says:

    “… about whom Saint Augustine gave a sermon. – Hmm … I think not.”

    Tua pace, Pater: “sermonem habere” is not the same as “to give a sermon”. The Martyrologium is not mistaken. Possumus habere sermonem de diversis rebus (we can talk about many things).

  5. Andrew: “…about whom Augustine spoke…”

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