Saint Peter Chrysologus



Doctor of Homilies


    The thirteenth Doctor in a chronological series on the Doctors of the Church was born at the turn of the 5th Century and, like his predecessor colleagues in the great academy of Doctors, strove with his every breath and magnificent oratory skills to uphold and preserve the Sacred fidei depositum . So great was his eloquence in conveying the Faith in all its beauty and simplicity that he is remembered, even though few of his sermons have survived the annals of history, as "Doctor of Homilies." He was Saint Peter Chrysologus.

    Born in Emolia, Italy in the year 400, Peter was nourished in the Faith by his parents and grew in grace, being ordained a deacon by his bishop and then, gaining great favor in the most reverent sense from the Roman Emperor Valentinian III who made him an archdeacon. Through the influence of Galla Placida, the emperor's mother, Peter was made Archbishop of Ravenna by Pope Sixtus III through a vision the Holy Father had from Heaven. It was Placida who gave Peter the surname "Chrysologus" - "golden voice" to him to which he would ever be known.

    His loyalty to the Vicar of Christ knew no bounds for he steadfastly was loyal to Holy Mother Church in the face of Monophysite heresy. He personally confronted the leading proponent of the heresy Eutyches and advised him to cease trying to justify the Monophysite teaching out of obedience to the Synod of Constantinople in 448 which had condemned Monophysism, and to submit to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff. Though Peter's stern rebuke was not popular, he would not compromise.

    Throughout his tenure as Archbishop of Ravenna, he sought to reform the lax discipline that had preceded him and to root out the pagan influence that had so crippled the see in the past. He treated all with equal respect, preaching the love of neighbor for love of God, not for love of man. His homilies focused on the Gospels and he preached with the love of Christ.

    That love was illustrated in his fatherly reception of Saint Germanus of Auxere whom Peter took in and cared for until his death in the summer of 448. After preaching Germanus' funeral, Peter preserved the saints hooded sackcloth habit and the ashes that Germanus had covered himself with in penance. Both Peter and Germanus' example harvested many fruits.

    Historians say Peter was given a vision of his death and thus, returned to the place of his birth in Emola or, as it is known by some Emelia. There, at the age of 50 he joined the Church Triumphant on July 31, 450. Other than a handful of short sermons, very little survived of his works. Nevertheless, in 1729 Pope Benedict XIII found enough evidence to proclaim him a Doctor of the Church.


Note: [editor's bold, brackets and italicized for emphasis]



DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH Series