A canonist and theologian of the African Church in the first half of the sixth century
Fulgentius Ferrandus, a canonist and theologian of the African Church in the first half of the sixth century. He was a deacon of Carthage and probably accompanied his master and patron, Fulgentius of Ruspe, to exile in Sardinia, when the bishops of the African Church were banished from their sees by the Arian King of the Vandals, Thrasimund. After the death of Thrasimund and the accession of Hilderic, in 523, the exiles were permitted to return, and Fulgentius, although only a deacon, soon gained a position of great importance in the African Church. He was frequently consulted in regard to the complex theological problems of the time and was known as one of the most redoubtable champions of orthodoxy in Western Christendom. His works are mostly of a doctrinal character. He defended the Trinitarian doctrines against the Arians and dealt besides with the question of the two natures in Christ, with baptism, and with the Eucharist. He drew up a “Breviatio Canonum Ecclesiasticorum” in which he summarized in two hundred and thirty-two canons the teaching of the earliest councils, Nicaea, Laodicea, Sardica, etc., concerning the manner of life of bishops, priests, deacons and other ecclesiastics, and of the conduct to be observed towards Jews, heathens and heretics. He also wrote at the request of the Comes Reginus (who was probably military governor of North Africa) a treatise on the Christian rule of life for soldiers, in which he laid down seven rules which he explained and inculcated, and in which he gave evidence of his piety and practical wisdom. Through no desire of his own, he was forced to take an active part in the controversy brought about through the condemnation of the “Three Chapters” by the Emperor Justinian. At the request of Pope Vigilius the Roman deacons Pelagius and Anatolius submitted the questions involved in the emperor’s censure of the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa, to their Carthaginian confrere, requesting him at the same time to lay the matter before the African bishops. Ferrandus at once declared himself in the most emphatic manner against yielding to the schemes of the emperor (Ep. vi, ad Pelagium et Anatolium diaconos). His decision met with the approval of Rusticus, Archbishop of Carthage, and was subsequently ratified by the council of African bishops over which Rusticus presided, and in which it was agreed to sever all relations with Pope Vigilius. Ferrandus died shortly after this event and before the Council of Constantinople was convened.
PATRICK J. HEALY.