On Monday 26 July 2021 I had the grace of visiting Ravenna, once the capital city of the Western Roman Empire, from 402 till 476 when the empire finally collapsed. This city, which also served as the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom up to the time when it was re-conquered in 540 by the Byzantine Empire, had a great holy bishop whose feast we celebrate today, July 30: St Peter Chysologus.
Church’s history tells us that this fifth-century Italian bishop is generally known for his brave witness to Christ’s full humanity and divinity within a context wherein the Church was grappling with great doctrinal confusion. In Greek St Peter is referred to as Chrysologus, which means “golden speech.” In fact, when one goes deeper into his homilies one can never miss his concise and theologically rich reflections he marvelously gave during his episcopal ministry as Bishop of Ravenna. Having seen his great God-given charism the Church did not hesitate in naming him as one of her Doctors in 1729, with the distinguished title the “Doctor of Homilies”.
St Peter was born in the Italian town of Imola in either the late fourth or early fifth century, although sources vary as to whether this took place around 380 or as late as 406. After finishing his theological studies, he was ordained deacon by Imola’s local bishop Cornelius, a figure whom Peter immensely admired to the point of considering him as his spiritual father. Cornelius not only ordained Peter, but mirrored to him the virtues of humility and self-denial.