Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo


A theologian, philosopher, and encyclopedic writer who lived in the first half of the twelfth century. Honorius has been correctly described as one of the most mysterious personages in all the medieval period. All that can be stated with certainty is that he flourished between the years 1106 and 1135, that he spent the greater part of that time in Southern Germany, and that he wrote a very large number of works, most of which have come down to us. He is generally said to have been a native of Autun in Burgundy, and in one of his works (De Luminaribus Ecclesiæ) he styles himself " priest and head of the school ( scholasticus ) of Autun ". On the other hand, his references to contemporary events in Germany, the frequency of German glosses in his writings, and the possibility of reading "Augustodunensis" to mean "a native of Augst" (near Basle) or "of Augsburg " (in Swabia), have induced some historians to conclude that he was a German. In recent times it has been suggested that he was a monk of St. Augustine's at Canterbury, in which case "Augstodunensis" should be read "Augustinensis". Agam, it is generally supposed that he was a Benedictine monk, and yet some of the oldest Manuscripts describe him as solitarius . This, of course, could mean " monk "; by some, however, it is taken literally to mean a hermit or inclusus , and one at least of the recent writers on the subject (Endres, "Honorius Augustodunensis", Munich, 1906) does not hesitate to associate Honorius with the Irish inclusi who were in the neighbourhood of Ratisbon in the twelfth century. It is interesting to find that Honorius is well acquainted with John the Scot, imitates his style, borrows his definition of philosophy, writes a compendium of one of his books, and generally betrays the influence of a writer who was not considered worthy of study by the majority of Honorius's contemporaries. Curiously enough, he calls John the Scot "Joannes Scotus vel Chrysostomus ", the latter name being probably a personal tribute to the eloquence of the great Irish philosopher.

The list of Honorius's writings is a very long one. In Pez's "Thesaurus" ("Diss. isagog.", in vol. II, p. 4) we find as many as thirty-eight titles. Of these the most important are the following: —

  • I. Philosophical works: "Imago Mundi, de Dispositione Orbis a treatise on cosmography, astronomy, meteorology, and chronology ; "De Philosophiâ mundi", which treats of God, the world, heaven and earth, the soul, education ; "Clavis Physicæ, de Naturis Rerum", which, as the incipit of the Manuscript indicates, is a compilation "excerptus ab Honorio solitario de quinque libris cuiusdam Chrisotomii ", that is from John the Scot; "De libero arbitrio" (two distinct works), and several short treatises on the soul.
  • II. Theological works: "Elucidarium", a summary of all Christian theology in the form of a dialogue, which was translated into French in the thirteenth century by the Dominican Jeffrey of Waterford, and into German some time before the fifteenth century; "Sigillum Beatæ Mariæ", an exposition of the Canticle of Canticles ; "Gemma Animæ", a treatise on the Divine Office ; "Eucharistion", a work on the Body and Blood of Christ; "Speculum Ecclesiæ", a book of sermons, and a work "De incontinentiâ clericorum seu offendiculum".
  • III. Works of general educational value, such as "De luminaribus Ecclesiæ", "Summa totius Historiæ", "Series Romanorum Pontificum", etc. Honorius composed a commentary on the "Timæus of Plato, of which unfortunately only a fragment has come down to us. This fragment is published in Migne's edition of Honorius's works (P. L., CLXXII) from Cousin's edition of it in the introduction to the "Ouvrages inédits d'Abélard".

Honorius does not pretend to observe a distinction between the province of philosophy and that of theology. In his work "Philosophia Mundi" he treats of the mystery of the Trinity, and in the treatise "De Hæresibus" he enumerates the " heretics of pagan times", Stoics, Pythagoreans, Platonists, etc. The distinction, which seems so natural to us, was not acknowledged generally until the time of St. Thomas. Honorius, as has been said, borrows his definition of philosophy from John the Scot. "Philosophy", he says, "is the comprehension of things visible and invisible" (eorum quæ sunt et non videntur et quæ sunt et videntur comprehensio). True to the inspiration of the Platonists, he begins with the invisible, uncreated, incorporeal, and proceeds to the consideration of the visible, created, corporeaL But, unlike the Platonists, he has a proper appreciation of the value of concrete knowledge. Consequently, he devotes much space in philosophy to the description of the actual world, and in his theological speculations he is far from overlooking the value of institutions, ceremonies, and the organization of religious truth in the life and career of the Church. He thus marks one öf the first epochs in the history of the relation betweEn speculative and positive teaching in the Middle Ages . At the same time he does not overlook the mystical element in Christian thought. In fact, he is an author whose importance has been too generally ignored in the history of Christian philosophy and theology.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 3:14-21
14 This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father,15 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
1 Shout for joy, you upright; praise comes well from the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:49-53
49 'I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 20th, 2016 Image

St. Paul of the Cross
October 20: St. Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in the ... Read More