« Christopher, martyr of universal fame Chromatius, bishop of Aquileia Chrysippus, guardian of the Holy Cross »

Chromatius, bishop of Aquileia

Chromatius, bp. of Aquileia, one of the most influential Western prelates of his day, the friend and correspondent of Ambrose, Jerome, Rufinus, and other leading ecclesiastics, and a warm supporter of Chrysostom against his Oriental assailants. He was a native of Aquileia, where he resided under the roof of his widowed mother, together with his brother Eusebius and his unmarried sisters. Jerome, writing c. a.d. 374, congratulates the mother on her saintly offspring (Hieron. Ep. xliii. [vii.]). He was still a presbyter when he took part in the council held at Aquileia, against the Arians Palladius and Secundianus, a.d. 381 (Ambrose, Gest. Concil. Aquil. tom. ii. pp. 834, § 45; 835, § 51; 843, § 76). On the death of Valerian, Chromatius became bishop of his native city. The date is placed by Baronius towards the end of a.d. 388.

It was at his request that St. Ambrose expounded the prophecy of Balaam in an epistolary form (Ambros. Ep. lib. i. ep. 50, § 16). To his importunities, together with those of Heliodorus, bp. of Altino, and the liberality with which they both contributed to the expenses, we owe several of Jerome's translations of and commentaries on the books of O.T. (e.g. Tobit, Prov., Eccl., Cant., and Chron.). In a.d. 392 he dedicated to Chromatius his two books of Commentaries on Habakkuk (Prolog. ad Habacc.), and c. 397 yielded to his urgency and undertook the translation of Chronicles (Praef. in Paralip.).

Chromatius was also an early friend of Rufinus, who, whilst an inmate of the monastery at Aquileia, received baptism at his hands c. a.d. 371 (Rufin. Apolog. in Hieron. lib. i. p. 204). When, on the publication of Rufinus's translation of Origen's de Principiis, the friendship between Jerome and Rufinus was exchanged for violent animosity, Chromatius maintained his friendship with both, and did his best to reconcile them. Chromatius imposed on Rufinus the task of translating the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius into Latin, together 157with Origen's Homilies on Joshua (Rufin. Hist. p. 15).

In the persecution of Chrysostom, Chromatius warmly embraced his cause. The position he held in the West is shewn by Chrysostom's uniting his name with those of Innocent bp. of Rome and Venerus bp. of Milan in the protest addressed to the Western church (Pallad. c. ii. ad fin.). Chromatius sent Chrysostom a letter of sympathy by the hands of the Western deputation (ib. c. iv.), and a.d. 406 received from him a letter of grateful thanks (Chrys. Ep. clv.). Chromatius also wrote in Chrysostom's behalf to Honorius, who forwarded his letter to his brother Arcadius as an evidence of the sentiments of the Western church (Pallad. c. iii. iv.). He died c. 407.

We have under his name 18 homilies on "the Sermon on the Mount," commencing with a Tractatus Singularis de Octo Beatitudinibus, followed by 17 fragments of expositions on Matt. iii. 15–17; v.; vi. His interpretation is literal, not allegorical, and his reflections moral rather than spiritual. Galland. Bibl. Vet. Patr. viii. c. 15; Migne, Patr. Lat. xx. 247 seq.; Tillemont, Mém. eccl. xi. pp. 538 seq.; Cave, Hist. Lit. i. p. 378.

[E.V.]

« Christopher, martyr of universal fame Chromatius, bishop of Aquileia Chrysippus, guardian of the Holy Cross »





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