The Catechumenate in Anonymous Sermons from the Late Antique West

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In late Antiquity, individuals wanting to become Christian went through a progressive integration called the catechumenate by modern scholars. In ancient sources from the Latin West, it was organised in two stages: converts would first become members of the community as catechumeni, while full belonging was acquired by petitioning for the status of fideles and receiving baptism after intense preparation. Although this organisa-tion is still little known because of the lack of sources, in the West, the preaching of bishops in the fourth and fifth centuries provides the most visible and studied evidence, in the form of catechetical lectures and occasional, often dispersed references to catechu-mens in ordinary sermons. However, after the 460s, only few collections of sermons with authentic authorship have been preserved. After a brief presentation of the late antique catechumenate, the objective of this article is to highlight the need of more research on neglected texts by exploring little-studied anonymous sermons preserved from the period. Many of them, often found among the pseudo-Augustinus, pseudo-Chrysostomus, and pseudo-Fulgentius modern editions, have much to offer on rites of initiation and cateche-sis implemented during the catechumenate. Beginning with preliminary remarks on methodological issues confronting researchers interested in these texts, this article then describes a few sermons that can be situated in the late antique West, thus providing a brief account of their potential contribution to our understanding of the catechumenate in late Antiquity. This investigation more broadly reflects on the impact of these sermons on the broader history of initiation as told by better-known patristic sources.
Translated title of the contributionLe catéchuménat dans des sermons anonymes de l'Occident tardo-antique
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBecoming Christian in the Late Antique West (3rd-6th Centuries)
EditorsMatthieu Pignot, Ariane Bodin, Camille Gerzaguet
Place of PublicationLeuven
Number of pages22
VolumeStudia Patristica LXXVII
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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