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Maximus of Turin, St.


Bishop; place and date of birth unknown; d. c. 40823. The only source for Maximus' life and work apart from the evidence contained in his own extant sermonsis an early one, gennadius's (d. c. 492505) De viris illustribus 41. This brief notice lists 24 of Maximus's sermons by title, referring to others as "many," and states that Maximus died in the reign of Honorius and Theodosius the Younger. However, Bp. Maximus of Turin signed the acts of the Council of Milan in 451 and those of the Council of Rome in 465. In the light of this evidence, baronius identified the Maximus of Gennadius with the Maximus of the conciliar acts and maintained that Gennadius was in error about the date. The view of Baronius was widely accepted until the end of the nineteenth century, but since that time it has been rejected. It is now universally recognized that there were two bishops of Turin bearing the name of Maximus. Around the nucleus of the 24 sermons known by title, a large number of others came to be assigned to Maximus in the course of the MS tradition. B. Bruni was the first to attempt to separate the genuine from the false in his edition (Rome 1784; repr. in Patrologia Latina [Paris 187890] 57), but of the 240 sermons and treatises accepted as genuine, a large number, including 40 by the Arian bishop Maximinus, were wrongly assigned to Maximus of Turin.

A critical edition of Maximus by A. Mutzenbecher (1962) made it possible to evaluate Maximus and his work satisfactorily for the first time. On the basis of the converging evidence furnished by 16 carefully chosen criteria, the editor has included 119 sermons in his edition, but this number includes two belonging to St. jerome, one belonging to basil (in Latin translation), five that must be regarded as dubious, and six that are labeled as spurious. Mutzenbecher's introduction covers the life and work of Maximus, the history of earlier editions, the MS collections and their relations, and concordance tables indicating the listing and order of the sermons in the MS collections and the printed editions.

Maximus may be described as a zealous and effective pastor of souls. His Latin is clear and direct, if somewhat rhetorical in keeping with the taste of his age. His imagery is rich, vivid, and concrete. He shows a fondness for allegorical interpretation and for seeking Old Testament prototypes for all persons and events in the New Testament. His Lenten and paschal sermons are valuable for the history of contemporary ecclesiastical practice, and his repeated warnings against pagan superstitions and usages indicate that paganism was still very much alive in his area. Sermon 37 employs the story of Ulysses bound to the mast as a symbol of Christ bound to the cross, identifying the cross as the mast that has saved the human race.

Feast: June 25.

Bibliography: a. mutzenbecher, ed., Maximi Episcopi Taurenensis Sermones (Corpus Christianorum. Series latina. 23; Tournhout 1962), with bibliog. vixiii. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef (New York 1960) 545546. h. rahner, Greek Myths and Christian Mystery, tr. h. battershaw (New York 1963), esp. 382383. c. de filippis cappai, Massimo: vescovo di Torino e ilsuo tempo (Turin 1995). m. modemann, Die Taufe in den Predigten des hl. Maximus v. Turin (Frankfurt am Main 1995). a. merkt, Maximus I. von Turin (Leiden 1997).

[m. r. p. mcguire]

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