December 2, 2017

Saint Chromatius, Bishop of Aquileia (+ 409)

St. Chromatius of Aquileia (Feast Day - December 2)

Saint Chromatius was probably born at Aquileia, and grew up there. His father died when he was an infant. He was raised by his mother and his large group of older siblings. At a young age he became a monk and had Heliodorus, future Bishop of Altino, as a disciple. He is mentioned for the first time in the acts of the Synod of Aquileia of 381, where he was noted for his profound theological erudition.

Chromatius became Bishop of Aquileia in about 387 or 388, after the death of Valerianus, Bishop of Aquileia. In 389 he consecrated the new church of Concordia, deposited the relics of the Holy Apostles there, and consecrated the first bishop of the city. He was one of the most celebrated prelates of his time and was in active correspondence with contemporaries Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, and Tyrannius Rufinus.

As a scholarly theologian, he urged these friends to produce learned works. Saint Ambrose was encouraged by him to write exegetical works; Saint Jerome dedicated to him translations and commentaries, which he had written at his suggestion (translations of the Books of Paralipomenon, Tobit, the books of Solomon, commentaries on the Prophecy of Habakkuk). In the bitter quarrel between Saint Jerome and Rufinus concerning Origenism, Chromatius, while rejecting the false doctrines of Origen of Alexandria, attempted to make peace between the disputants.

Bust with the relics of St. Chromatius

He maintained ecclesiastical communion with Rufinus and induced him not to answer the last attack of Saint Jerome, but to devote himself to new literary works, especially to the translation of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius.

Chromatius opposed Arianism with much zeal and rooted it out in his diocese. He gave loyal support to Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, when unjustly oppressed, and wrote in his favour to Honorius, the Western emperor, who sent this letter to his brother, Arcadius. This intercession, however, availed nothing.

Chromatius was also active as an exegete. Until the modern age only seventeen treatises were known to be authored by him on the Gospel of Matthew (iii, 15-17; v-vi, 24), besides a fine homily on the Eight Beatitudes (counted as an eighteenth treatise). In 1969 researcher Henri LemariƩ discovered and published thirty-eight sermons.

Saint Jerome calls Chromatius "the holiest and most learned of bishops. In his teaching, he always starts from the word of God and returns to it constantly." Saint Chromatius probably reposed in 409.