“May our God deign to give me the grace of speaking and you the desire of hearing.” —St. Peter Chrysologus
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Peter Chrysologus, a little-known and underappreciated Doctor of the Church. Also known as the “Doctor of Homilies” because of his eloquent sermons, Chrysologus enjoyed an auspicious name: “Chrysologus” literally means “golden word.” He was always highly regarded for his wisdom and conduct.
Born in Imola, Italy, Chrysologus became a deacon under the tutelage of the local bishop. Legend has it that he was named bishop of Ravenna by the pope after St. Peter the Apostle and St Apollinaris appeared to the Holy Father in a dream. This meant he must first be ordained a priest, then immediately consecrated bishop.
He responded to this unorthodox appointment with great humility, reportedly requesting that all present assist him in carrying the heavy load God had laid upon him. He also assured them that his goals were to seek only the honor of God and the salvation of their souls. He largely accomplished these goals, staunchly defending the Faith and opposing heresy. His weapons of choice were his short but powerful homilies. He is recorded to have said, in one homily, “If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.” Many of these homilies survive today, and excerpts can be accessed as a biblical commentary in the Catena Aurea.
Before his death, possibly due to a premonition from God, St. Peter returned to Imola, where he peacefully accepted death, prepared as he was for heaven.