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Gaudentius of Brescia, St.


Fl. 400; date of birth, episcopal consecration, and death unknown. The chief source for his life is his own Sermo de ordinatione sua. He was on a journey to the East when he received the news that he had been chosen bishop of Brixia (Brescia) to succeed Filastrius (d. 397). Despite his opposition to the nomination, he was finally persuaded by St. ambrose and other northern Italian bishops to accept it. He was one of the Latin bishops who were requested by the Emperor Honorius and Pope innocent i to go to Constantinople to plead with the Emperor Arcadius for the return of St. john chrysostom from exile, but this mission failed (see Palladius, Dial. de vita Chrys., 4; Chrysostom, Epist., 184). Of his 21 extant sermons, ten were delivered during Easter week, and the last (De vita et obitu Philastrii ), on the 15th anniversary of the death of his predecessor in the See of Brescia. The sermons show that Gaudentius had a remarkably sound knowledge of theology. Sermon 2 contains an important treatment of the Eucharist. Sermon 9 defends the virginity of the Blessed Virgin, and Sermon 5 contains an interesting passage on the episcopal staff and the duties of the bishop as a guide and corrector of the faithful. Since he knew Greek, Gaudentius in his exegesis was able to compare Latin Biblical readings with those of the Greek text. His style is simple and clear and much closer to the best school standard of the age than that of Filastrius. The sermons of Gaudentius were much admired for their style and content by his flock. Those extant owe their preservation to the fact that a high official, Benivolus, a magister memoriae and friend of Gaudentius, furnished the bishop with stenographic copies, which the bishop revised for circulation in written form. The influence of his classical training is concretely revealed by borrowings from Terence, Cicero, Vergil, and Ovid. There is a modern critical edition of the Sermons (Tractatus ) by A. Glueck, Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 68 (1956).

Feast: Oct. 25.

Bibliography: g. m. bruni, Teologia della storia secondo Gaudenzio da Brescia (Vicenza 1967). c. truzzi, Zeno, Gaudenzio e Cromazio: testi e contenuti della predicazione cristiana per le chiese di Verona, Brescia e Aquileia (Brescia 1985). a. jÜlicher, "Gaudentius (9)," Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen 7.1 (1910) 859861. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der Altkirchlichen Literatur 3:485486. u. moricca, Storia della letteratura cristiana, 3 v. in 5 (Turin 19231935) 2.1:585590. f. savio, Gli antichi vescovi d'Italia, 4 v. (Bergamo 18981932) 3:149156.

[m. r. p. mcguire]

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