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Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church, c.406-450

 PETER CHRYSOLOGUS, a native of Imola, Italy, was baptized, educated, and ordained a priest by Cornelius, the bishop of that city. In many of his writings Peter speaks of Cornelius with affection and gratitude as his spiritual father. Peter was elected bishop of Ravenna sometime between 425 and 429. The city was the imperial residence of Galla Placidia, mother of the emperor Valentinian III. From this time it began to be an important civil, political, and ecclesiastical center.

 When he arrived in Ravenna, Peter found the demoralizing effects of paganism rampant in that city. He urged his people to receive the Holy Eucharist frequently as a means of combating vice. He pressed for complete obedience to the commands of the pope, made apparent through the counsels of the priests.

 Although Saint Peter's charity toward the poor of his diocese was outstanding, he is most noted for his sermons and treatises, which were collected by Felix, archbishop of Ravenna from 708 to 724. His chief works contain explanations of biblical texts and treatises defending the Incarnation, which he wrote to denounce the heresy of Eutyches. He dedicated some homilies to the Blessed Virgin, asserting the truth of the Immaculate Conception. Not so much because of his eloquence as because of the fervor and devotion of his sermons, he was given the name Chrysologus, meaning "golden speech."

 Saint Peter died in 451 in the city of Imola, and was buried in the Church of Saint Cassian. Examination of his discourses and their lasting influence led Pope Benedict XIII to declare him a Doctor of the Church in 1729.

 The Gradual of the Mass for a bishop and confessor serves as the highest praise for this holy priest: "Here was a great priest whose life was acceptable to God. Where shall we find another to keep the law of the Most High as he kept it?"



Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved