Honorius of Autun

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Writer; b. c. 1080 or 1090; d. c. 1156. Notwithstanding his traditional association with Autun, cumulative evidence indicates Regensburg as the main scene of his activity. Honorius has been identified as a monk of Regensburg who concealed his name from envious critics under the pseudonym Augustodunensis, "the hill (dunum ) of Augustus," i.e., the site of a supposed victory of Charlemagne before Regensburg. He has been distinguished from Honorius "the solitary," and identified with Honorius, a priest of Autun, who later joined the Irish Benedictines at Regensburg.

His success as a Christian teacher is attested by the numerous manuscripts and early printings of his theological manual, the Clarification (Elucidarium ), as well as by medieval versions of it in French, Provençal, Italian, Old Norse, Swedish, Gaelic, English, and a German compilation of materials taken from the Philosophia mundi of william of conches and from several of Honorius's works. Though devoted to tradition, Honorius was an original thinker. A zealous defender of the Real Presence and of moral standards for the clergy (see his Offendiculum ), he claimed that a Sacrament confected by a priest of evil life is valid by the power of Christ but invalid should the priest be ex-communicated. The body of the Lord that an unworthy recipient of the Eucharist appears to receive is restored inviolate to the substance of Christ.

Honorius teaches that God is an invisible Spirit beyond the grasp of any creature, but He contains them all and is "the substance of all things" (Endres, 100). Everything created is good, and the term "good" is convertible with "substance" and "nature." Evil, less a nature than the perversion of nature, is the nothing opposed to substance. A freely corrupted will is no longer nature and is rightly termed "sin." The divine motive in tolerating evil in the universe is an aesthetic one: like an artist, God renders the just the more glorious with the contrast. In comparison with God, the created universe is, as it were, nothinga kind of falsity in juxta-position to the Truth that is God. At best, the world is a shadow of God who is Life and Truth Itself.

About man he taught that the reprobate have been created for the sake of the elect. Both Scripture and reason show that the creation of man is more than a device to supply for fallen angels. If man had not been created for his own sake, his dignity would be less than that of a worm, whereas the glory of his combat gives him a dignity greater than that of angels. Freedom of choice is the power of guarding "rectitude of will for the sake of rectitude itself" (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 187890) 172:1200C). A captive now, man can neither desire nor move toward a good without the prior grace of God. Predestination is two-fold, to glory or to punishment, but it is prepared eternally according to the merits of each one. Not the fall, but the predestination of man to deification is the cause of the Incarnation, for sin can be the cause of nothing good. At death the mortal Body will be changed into a spiritual one and what is spiritual into deity, its own substance perduring.

The derivative quality of much of his material shows Honorius to be a valuable witness to the learning considered respectable by his contemporaries. At the same time, his use of dialectic to expound the faith, at once daring and awkward, makes him a modest collaborator with the great 12th-century theologians.

Bibliography: Omnia opera: Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 187890) 172; the Philosophia Mundi (Patrologia Latina 172:39102) belongs to William of Conches, while Honorius's Cognitio vitae is among the works of Augustine (Patrologia Latina 40:100332). y. lefÈvre, L'Elucidarium et les Lucidaires (Bibliothèque des Ècoles Françaises d'Athènes et de Rome 180; Paris 1954). e. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables Générales 1951) 7.1:139158. j. a. endres, Honorius Augustodunensis (Kempten 1906). e. m. sanford, "Honorius, Presbyter and Scholasticus," Speculum 23 (1948) 397425. Miscellanea Giovanni Mercati, 6 v. (Rome 1946); Studi e Testi 121126. 2:220258. p. delhaye, Catholicisme 5:929932. h. menhardt, "Der Nachlass des Honorius Augustodunensis," Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur 89 (1959) 2369. p. rousset, "À propos de l'Elucidarium d'Honorius Augustodunensis: Quelques problèmes d'histoire ecclésiastique," Zeitschrift für schweizer Kirchengeschichte 52 (1958) 223230.

[e. a. synan]