Friday, December 04, 2009
Peter Chrysologus, (c. 380 - 450)
Peter Chrysologus is not well known but what little is known about him is certainly worthy of remembrance. Although he is given the Greek name "Chrysologus" or "golden-worded" for his homilies he was from Italy. Originally ordained a deacon he eventually became archbishop of Ravenna in about A.D. 433, a position he held until he died.
He was involved in upholding orthodox Christianity. He wrote to Eutyches to submit to Leo, the bishop of Rome. He spoke against Arian and Monophysite teachings which he condemned as heresies.
His homilies are of interest for their content, elegant style, pastoral approach and historical value. He explained a number of topics including the Apostles' Creed, John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the mystery of the Incarnation. He advocated daily reception of Holy Communion and urged confidence in the forgiveness of sins through Christ.
His homilies also provide documentation of the liturgy and culture of his area. Quasten, citing Saenz, writes, "A more complete picture of the course of the liturgical year is not to be found in the works of any other bishop of the time." (Quasten, IV, 576-7)
In the 8th century, Felix preserved 176 of his homilies and in 1729 he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIII. Traditionally, his feast day is today.