Fulgentius of Ruspe

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Sixth-century African bishop and theologian; b. Telepte, North Africa, 467; d. Jan. 1, 533. Fulgentius, the outstanding Western theologian of the early 6th century, came of a well-to-do family and received a sound education in Greek as well as Latin literature. He entered the civil service and was the procurator or tax collector of Telepte when, on reading Augustine's commentary on Psalm 36, he decided to become a monk. In 507 he was selected as bishop of Ruspe, a small seaside town in Byzacena; but in 508, with 60 other African bishops, he was exiled to Sardinia by the Vandal King Thrasamund. He returned to Ruspe in 515 but had to take up residence in Sardinia again from 517 to 523.

His writings were both dogmatic and polemic, the latter directed against the Arian doctrines of the Vandal rulers of Africa and against Pelagianism. His Contra Arianos is a reply to ten questions proposed by King Thrasamund, and his three books Ad Thrasamundum regem further elaborate the Catholic objection to Arian teaching. He composed also Contra sermonem Fastidiosi Ariani, Contra Fabianum, De Trinitate ad Felicem, and De incarnatione ad Scarilam. His tracts against SemiPelagianism include three books Ad Monimum, three books De veritate praedestinationis, and a Contra Faustum Reiensem in seven books, which has not been preserved.

His De fide ad Petrum is a compendium of dogmatic theology formerly attributed to Augustine. He wrote two books De remissione peccatorum ad Euthymium and a lost Adversus Pintam. The tract under that name (Patrologia Latina ) is probably his Commonitorium de Spiritu Sancto, considered lost. He is also credited with a recently discovered Psalmus abecedarius against the Arians.

His letters are mainly long treatises dealing with virginity, marriage, and penance (Epist. 17); two are collective encyclicals of the exiled African bishops (15 and 17). The latter deals with the formula "one of the Trinity suffered in the Flesh" submitted for the bishops' judgment by the Scythian monks of Constantinople (see monophysitism). Seven of the sermons attributed to him are authentic. The life of Fulgentius was written by the Carthaginian deacon Ferrandus soon after the bishop's death and is one of the finest biographies of the age.

Fulgentius followed Augustinian teaching faithfully. He defended Trinitarian teaching against the Arians and explained the problem of predestination in Augustine's terms: God's will determines one's predestination to glory or damnation; unbaptized infants are damned, but their punishment will be mitigated (De veritate praed. 1.131). Prayer and good works must be pursued, relying on the mystery of salvation. Parental concupiscence is the instrument for the transmission of original sin (De veritate praed. 3.1423); hence he denied the Immaculate Conception of Mary (Epist. 17.6, 13).

Bibliography: Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v. (Paris 187890) 65:1051018. g. g. lapeyre, L'Ancienne église de Carthage, 2 v. (Paris 1932); ed. and tr., Vie de saint Fulgence (Paris 1929). g. krueger, Harnack-Ehrung (Leipzig 1921) 219223. b. nisters, Die Christologie des hl. Fulgentius (Münster 1930). a. d'alÈs, Recherches de science religieuse 22 (1932) 304316, Commonitorium. h. delehaye, Analecta Bollandiana 52 (1934) 103105. c. lambot, Revue Bénédictine 48 (1936) 221234, Psalmus abecedarius. f. di sciascio, Fulgenzio di Ruspe (Rome 1941). j. beumer, Gregorianum 23 (1942) 325347, de fide. j. j. gavigan, Traditio (1947) 313322, Baptism. Clavis Patrum latinorum, ed. e. dekkers (2d. ed. Streenbrugge 1961) 814846. a. grillmeier and h. bacht, Das Konzil vom Chalkedon: Geschichte und Gegenwart (Würzburg 195154) 2:807814, Christology. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef (New York 1960) 587589.

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