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St. Fulgentius

Name: St. Fulgentius
Date: 2 January

Born in Africa of illustrious and Catholic parents, Fulgentius was an excellent student oflanguages and of various other practical disciplines. His father had died while still young, andFulgentius soon became the support of his mother and younger brother. He was appointed at anearly age procurator of his province at Carthage; but this elevation in the world’s esteem wasdistasteful to him, and he was enlightened by the Spirit of God to see the vanity of the world.

At the age of twenty-two, having read Saint Augustine’s treatise on the Psalms, he resolved toembrace monastic life, and began to prepare for it by mental prayer, fasting, and other penancespracticed in secret. When he was accepted into a monastery by a holy bishop named Faustus, hismother hoped to change his mind; but when she arrived he remained firm and did not accept tosee her. Such are the austerities of the Saints, called to accomplish much for God. He laterrenounced all his goods on behalf of his mother and younger brother.

After six years of peace, his monastery was attacked by Arian heretics, and Faustus, Fulgentiusand the other monks were driven out, destitute, into the desert. Fulgentius entered anothermonastery on his Superior’s advice, and there he shared the duties of the Superior, to the latter’sgreat consolation, until that house was attacked by barbarians. In the refuge to which he thenrepaired he was persecuted, held captive, and tortured by an Arian priest, but sought novengeance when authorities offered him support if he would enter a complaint. Fulgentius and hisSuperior, who was with him, decided to build another monastery in the province they hadabandoned.

For a time Fulgentius remained there, but he desired solitude and set out on a journey to the holyplaces of Rome. There the imperial splendors he beheld spoke to him of the greater glory of theheavenly Jerusalem, his final goal. And at the first lull in the persecution, he returned to hisAfrican cell in the year 500.

Elected bishop of Ruspe in 508, he was summoned to face new dangers, and was shortlyafterwards banished by the Arian king, with some sixty other Catholic prelates, to Sardinia.Though the youngest of the exiles, he became the spokesman of his brethren and the support oftheir orphaned flocks. By his books and letters, which are still extant, he confounded bothPelagian and Arian heresiarchs, and strengthened the Catholics in Africa and Gaul. He prayed forall his compatriots in exile: “You know, Lord, what is most expedient for the salvation of oursouls; assist us in our corporal necessities, that we may not lose the spiritual goods.” On the deathof the Arian king, the bishops returned to their flocks. Saint Fulgentius was welcomed amid thegreatest joy, after eighteen years of exile. He labored with his fellow bishops in the synods as theirchosen leader, and re-established discipline. When he felt his end was near, he retired to an islandmonastery, where after a year’s preparation he called for his clergy and religious, and with theiraid distributed all his goods to the poor. He died in peace in the year 533.

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris,

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