Peter Chrysologus, St.
PETER CHRYSOLOGUS, ST.
Archbishop and Doctor of the Church; b. Imola, Italy, c. 400; d. Imola?, Dec. 3, c. 450. The oldest vita by Agnellus of Ravenna c. 830 (Patrologia latina 106:553–566; Patrologia latina 52:13–28), confuses him with two other bishops of Ravenna named Peter (Acta Sanctorum Dec. Propyl. 560). The confusion arose because Peter was not distinguished as "Chrysologus" (of the golden word) until the seventh century. Ravenna, then the Western capital of the empire, became a metropolitan see following his installation (c. 431) as bishop. His relations with sixtus iii and leo i were close. When eutyches, father of monophysitism, was condemned at the synod of constantinople in 448, he asked Peter in 449 to intervene in his favor. Peter replied, "In the interest of peace and the faith we cannot judge in matters of the faith without the consent of the Roman bishop" [see Patrologia latina 52:255; ibid. 54:743; and E. Schiltz, Nouvelle revue théologique 55 (1928) 265–276]. Besides the letter to Eutyches, Peter has left 183 sermones (ed. A. Olivar in Corpus Christianorum ). The Catalogus Felicianus of Felix, archbishop of Ravenna (709–725), which contains 176 sermones (badly edited in Patrologia latina 52: 183–666), includes some apocryphal sermons [A. Olivar, Revue Bénédictine 59 (1949) 114–136] and lacks some authentic sermons [D. de Bruyne, Journal of Theological Studies 29 (1927) 362–368].
Most of the sermons offer biblical exegesis for reading in the liturgical Office; they are without theological depth or original speculation, but full of moral applications for daily life. They have considerable historical importance for the authentic picture they give of Christian life in Ravenna in the fifth century. The Catalogus contains also doctrinal homilies on the Incarnation and the mysteries of Christmas (140–160), and sermons for catechumens on the Apostles' Creed (56–62) and the Lord's Prayer (67–72). The sermons are brief (10–15 minutes) but sacrifice clarity for classical rhetoric. Despite his title "Chrysologus," Peter was not as eloquent as ambrose or augustine, or his Greek opposite john chrysostom.
Feast: July 30 (formerly Dec. 4).
Bibliography: j. h. baxter, "The Homilies of St. Peter Chrysologus," Journal of Theological Studies 22 (1921) 250–258. c. jenkins, "Aspects of the Theology of St. Peter Chrysologus," Church Quarterly Review 103 (1927) 233–259. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur (Freiburg 1913–32) 4:606–610. r. h. mcglynn, The Incarnation in the Sermons of St. Peter Chrysologus (Mundelein, IL 1956). f. sottocornola, L'anno liturgico nei sermoni di Pietro Crisologo: ricerca storicocritica sulla liturgia di Ravenna antica (Cesena 1973). r. benericetti, Il Cristo nei sermoni di S. Pier Crisologo (Cesena 1995).
[j. van paassen]