Tekst uit een boek van het onderzoek PASSIM
Tekst uit een boek van het onderzoek PASSIM

PASSIM project

Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages
1 January 2019 until 30 June 2024
Project type

Project description

The dissemination, manipulation and interpretation of late-antique sermons in the medieval Latin West

PASSIM studies 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 executes the first large-scale analysis of the formation and spread of patristic sermon collections in medieval Europe. The project is developing a digital network of manuscripts, using well-tried principles from the field of textual criticism. Building on this network, PASSIM is pursuing three lines of inquiry: the customising 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 bridges 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 is introducing patristic preaching as a vibrant strand in the tapestry of the medieval religious tradition.

The PASSIM project is currently compiling a metadata database of medieval manuscripts that contain collections of patristic sermons. This database goes beyond a central repository for currently dispersed information. The manuscripts are integrated in a digital network, which allows for complex queries and network visualizations of the data.


For every manuscript the database contains a detailed analysis of its content as well as information on the date, origin (if known), and provenance. For every sermon the database contains incipit, explicit, attributed author(s), numbering(s) in different reference works. The data are sourced from heuristic tools, manuscript catalogues both digital and in print (e.g. BnF, e-codices), relevant databases (e.g. IRHT Medium, 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.



  • Boodts, S., ‘Navigating the Vast Tradition of St. Augustine’s Sermons: Old Instruments and New Approaches’, Augustiniana, 69 (2019), 83-115 (Link).
  • R. Macchioro, 'The PASSIM Project (Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages): Towards a Virtual Research Environment for the Study of Patristic Sermon Collections, in Ancient Manuscripts and Virtual Research Environments', Classics@, 18 (2021) (Link). 
  • Schmidt G. & S. Boodts, ‘Sermon / Homiletics’, in D.G. Hunter, P.J.J. van Geest, B. J. Lietaert Peerbolte (eds), Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online. First published online: 2022 (Link).
  • Denis I. & S. Boodts, ‘The pseudo-Augustinian S. App. 121 and its medieval textual connections. A testcase for the development of network visualizations in the PASSIM research tool’, Journal of Historical Network Research, 9 (2023), 1-35.

Virtual Launch

You are cordially invited to a virtual presentation of the PASSIM research tool, a digital database and web application for the study of late-antique sermons and their medieval manuscript transmission. The presentation will consist of a tour of the web application and demonstration of its functionalities. There will be the opportunity to ask questions as well. The event takes place on 27 June, 15.00-16.30 (CET). Please sign up via this form.

Sign up

 Upon registration, a Teams link will be provided.


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.

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