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Victorinus of Pettau, St.


Fourth-century Latin exegete, bishop, and martyr; d. ca. 303. The little known of his life is provided by St. jerome (De viris ill. 74). Victorinus, the first exegete to write in Latin, was bishop of Pettau in Styria (Austria), and was put to death during the persecution of Diocletian.

Victorinus commented on selected passages from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Matthew, and Revelation. The commentary on the last is the only one extant. His exegesis, influenced by millenarianism, was based on that of Papias of Hieropolis, irenaeus, hippolytus of rome, and especially Origen.

The "Commentary on the Apocalypse," preserved in a 15th-century manuscript (Vat. Codex Ottobon. Latin. 3288A) is certainly a work of Victorinus. He is also credited with a "De fabrica mundi" of which a fragment is preserved in the ninth-century Lambeth Codex 414 edited by W. cave in 1688.

Jerome tells us that Victorinus wrote also a treatise "Against all Heresies." It is possible that this latter is the same as that work appended to Tertullian's "Prescription of Heretics." A. von Harnack believed in this identity but there is doubt on the matter. The Decretum Gelasianum condemned Victorinus's work as open to censure because of its millenarianism. There is no known cult to him except in Pettau, where it began officially in 1768. Eventually his relics were taken to Rome.

Feast: Aug. 7 (formerly Nov. 2).

Bibliography: Opera, ed. j. haussleiter (Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 49; Vienna 1916). j. quasten, Patrology, 3 v. (Westminster, Md. 1950) 2:411413. g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 15.2:288287. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef from 5th German ed. (New York 1960) 205. f. cross, The Early Christian Fathers (London 1960) 187. m. dulaey, Victorin de Poetovio, premier exégète latin (Paris 1993). g. van hooff, Acta Sanctorum Nov. (Antwerp 1643) 1:432443.

[p. w. lawler]

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