Victor of Vita

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A 5th-century African bishop and Church historian, bishop of Vita in the African province of Byzacene. Victor describes the persecution of the African Catholics by the Arian vandals in his Historia persecutionis A fricanae provinciae. The critical edition of the work comprises three, not five books, the first of which describes the persecution under Gaiseric (428477); the others, that under Hunneric (477484). For the early years, Victor relies on the recollection of others, but he gives an eyewitness account of the later years and, though personally involved, supplies a basically trustworthy and unbiased history.

The history is important as witness to Hunneric's edicts of persecution; it certifies that Victor was bishop of Vita in 484, when he is listed as 17th out of 107 bishops in the province of Byzacene. Of value to theologians is the anti-Arian defense of Catholic doctrine contained in a confession of faith drawn up by Eugene, Archbishop of Carthage, for the Arian-Catholic conference held there on Feb. 1, 484. Many vivid scenes of heroic bravery under torture recall a glorious episode in the history of the Church, as Victor boasts of the saints hastening joyfully to the crown of martyrdom and bewails the cruelty of the Vandals who ordered the Christians to be buried in silence without the solemnity of Psalms and hymns.

A gruesome conclusion portrays the death of Hunneric in 484, but it is a later addition. The prologue was probably not written by Victor; nor is he the author of the Passio septem monachorum, even though he mentions the martyrdom of these seven monks.

Bibliography: c. halm, ed., Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Auctores antiquissimi (Berlin 1826) v.3. Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum (Vienna 1866) v. 7. e. dekkers, ed. Clavis Patrum latinorum (2d ed. Streenbrugge 1961) 708, 798799. g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 190350) 5.2:2881. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, 5 v. (Freiburg 191332) 4:550552.

[a. c. rush]