Fulgentius, St, Fabius Claudius Gordianus
Fulgentius, St., Fabius Claudius Gordianus bishop of Ruspe, called "the Augustine of the 6th century," was born at Telepta (Leptis), in the province of Byzacena, North Africa, A.D. 468. His father dying in his childhood, the care of his education fell on his mother, who had him carefully instructed in the Greek language. It is said that when a boy he could repeat the whole of Homer. In early manhood he was made procurator of his native place, but, disgusted with the world, he threw up his office and devoted himself to the monastic life, against his mother's will. He first entered a monastery at Byzacena, but in the disorder of the times he was compelled to abandon it, and retired to Sicca, where he was severely treated by the Arians. Afterwards he resolved to go into Egypt, but was dissuaded by Eulalius, bishop of Syracuse, because the monks of the East had separated from the Catholic Church. He went from Sicily to Rome about A.D. 500, and then returned to Africa and founded a new monastery. The see of Ruspe becoming vacant, he was ordained bishop, much against his will, in the year 504. "Though become a bishop, he did not change either his habit or manner of living, but used the same austerities and abstinence as before. He defended his faith at once boldly and respectfully against his Arian sovereign. He speaks thus to the king in an apologetic treatise which the monarch himself had called for (Lib. iii ad Trasimundum): 'If I freely defend my faith, as far as God enables me, no, reproach of obstinacy. should be made against me, since I am neither forgetful of my own insignificance nor of the king's dignity; and I know well that I am to fear God and honor the king, according to Ro 13:7; 1Pe 2:17. He certainly pays you true honor who answers your questions as the true faith requires.' After praising the king in that he, the monarch of a yet uncivilized people, showed so much zeal for the knowledge of scriptural truth, he says: 'You know well that he who seeks to know the truth strives for far higher good than ihe who seeks to extend the limits of a temporal kingdom.' He was banished twice to Sardinia. 'There he was the spiritual guide of many other exiles, who united themselves to him. From hence he imparted counsel, comfort, and confirmation in the faith to his forsaken Christian friends in Africa, and to those from other countries who sought his advice in spiritual things and in perplexities of the heart' (Neander, Light in Dark Places, N.Y. 1853, 31 sq.). After the death of Thrasimund, he and all the other expelled bishops were recalled by Hilderic, son of Thrasimund (A.D. 523). Fulgentius thenceforward enjoyed the quiet possession of his see till A.D. 533, when he died, "full of honor, and renowned for piety, learning, and every Christian virtue." He is counmemorated in the Church of Rome as a saint on the list of January. His writings are mostly controversial, against Arianism and Pelagianism. The most important are, against Arianism: Libri iii ad Trasimundum: —De TrinitateLiber: — Contra Sermonem Fastidiosi Ariasi; against Pelagianism: Libri Tres ad Monemum: — De Veritate Praedestinationis et gratia Dei: — Liber de Praedestinatione et Gratia. Fulgentius was led to write against Pelagianism by the writings of Faustus of Rhegiums (q.v.), which were laid before him for his judgment. He explained "the system of Augustine with logical consisnteney, but in doing this he carefully avoided the harsh points of the Praedestinatian view of the matter. He severely censuring those who talked of a predestination to sin. He spoke, indeed, of a teaofold predestination (praedestinatio duplex), but by this he understood either the election to eternal happiness of those who were good by the grace of God, and the predestination of those who were sinners by their own choice to deserved punishment" (Neander, Ch. Hist. 2:650. See also Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, § 114). Editions of his writings: Basel, 1556, 1566, 1587; Antwerp, 1574; Cologne, 1618; Lyons, 1633, 1652, 1671; best, that of Paris, 1684, 4to; reprinted at Venice, 1742, fol.,: and in Migne, Patrologia Latina, t. 65 See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 4:627; Wetzer [Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 4:249; Ceillier, Auteurs Sacres (Paris, 1682), 11:1 sq.; Dupin, Eccles. Writers, 5:13 sq. Fleury, Hist. Eccles. lib. 30, 11.