Possidius, bp. of Calama
Possidius, bp. of Calama, a town of Numidia, S. W. of Hippo, between
it and Cirta, but nearer Hippo (Aug. c. Petil. ii. 99; Kalma, Shaw,
Trav. p. 64). His own account represents him as a convert from paganism,
becoming on his conversion an inmate of the monastery at Hippo, probably
c. 390. Thenceforward he lived in intimate friendship with St. Augustine
until the latter's death in 430 (Possid. Vita Aug. praef. and cc. 12,
31). About 400 he became bp. of Calama. He seems to have established a monastery
there, and, probably early in his episcopate, consulted Augustine on (a)
the ornaments to be used by men and women, and especially earrings used as amulets;
(b) the ordination of some one who had received Donatist baptism (Aug.
Epp. 104, 4, and 245). In 401 or 402 a council was held at Carthage,
at which Possidius was present, and challenged in vain Crispinus, Donatist bp.
of Calama, to discuss publicly issues between the two parties. After this Possidius,
though he modestly conceals his own name, while going to a place in his diocese
called Figulina, was attacked by CRISPINUS,
a presbyter, and narrowly escaped alive (Aug. Ep. 103; Possid. Vit.
12). In 407 he was one of a committee of seven appointed by Xanthippus, primate
of Numidia, at the request of Maurentius, bp. of Tubursica, to decide a question,
of whose nature we are not informed, but which was at issue between himself
and the seniors of Nova Germania (Morcelli, Afr. Chr. iii. 34; Bardouin,
Conc. ii. 922; Bruns, Conc. i. 185). In 408 Possidius was again
in trouble and personal danger, in consequence of the disturbances at Calama
described above. In 409, on June 14, a council was held at Carthage, and a deputation
of four bishops, Florentinus, Possidius, Praesidius, and Benantus, was appointed
to request the protection of the emperor against the Donatists. On
855this occasion Possidius conveyed a letter from Augustine to Paulinus
of Nola, but nothing more is known as to the journey of the deputation or their
interview, if any, with the emperor, who was then at Ravenna. In 410, however,
an edict was issued by Honorius on or about the day on which Rome was taken
by Alaric, viz. Aug. 26, to Heraclian, count of Africa, to restrain by penalties
all enemies of the Christian faith, and another of a similar nature on Oct.
14, 410, to Marcellinus, the president of the conference in 411 (Aug. Ep.
95, i.; 105, i.; Cod. Theod. xvi. 5, 51, and ii. 3; Baron. 410, 48, 49).
At the conference Possidius was one of the seven Catholic managers (Coll.
Carth. ap. Mon. Vet. Don. liii. 1; ii. 29; iii. 29, 148, 168, ed. Oberthür).
He was with Augustine at Hippo in 412 (Aug. Ep. 137, 20) and in 416 signed
at the council of Mileum the letter sent to pope Innocent concerning the Pelagian
heresy (Aug. Ep. 176). He also joined with Augustine, Aurelius, Alypius,
and Evodius in a letter to the same on the same subject (ib. 181, 182,
183). He was at the meeting or council of bishops held at Caesarea on Sept.
29, 418. St. Augustine mentions that Possidius (c. 425) brought to Calama and
placed in a memorial building there some relics of St. Stephen, by which many
cures were wrought (Civ. D. xii..8, 312, 20). When the Vandals invaded
Africa, he took refuge in Hippo with other bishops, and there attended on St.
Augustine in his last illness until his death,
a.d. 430, in the third month of
the siege. He has left a biographical sketch of Augustine, whose unbroken friendship
he enjoyed for 40 years, being his faithful ally and devoted admirer. This sketch
gives many particulars of great interest as to Augustine's mode of life, and
a description, simple but deeply pathetic and impressive, of his last days and
death. Though few men's lives are written in their own works more fully than
that of Augustine, yet history and the church would have greatly missed the
simple, modest, and trustworthy narrative, gathered in great measure from Augustine
himself, which Possidius has left us. It was apparent ly published, not immediately
after the death of Augustine, but before 439, as he speaks of Carthage and Cirta
as still exempt from capture by the barbarians, and in Oct. 439 Carthage was
taken by Genseric (Possid. c. 28; Clinton, F. R.). Possidius has also
left a list of Augustine's works which, though very full and compiled with great
care, does not pretend to be complete and of which some have not yet been discovered.
It is given in the last vol. of Migne's ed. of Augustine's works. Prosper relates
in his Chronicle that Possidius, together with Novatus, Severianus, and
other bishops of less note, resisted the attempts of Genseric to establish Arian
doctrine in Africa, and was driven with them from his see
a.d. 437. Baron. 437, i.; Morcelli,
Afr. Chr. iii. 140; Ceillier, ix. 564; Tillem. vol. xiii. 354.