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Fulgentius of Ruspe

Fulgentius of Ruspe

Fulgentius a North African monk, theologian, and bishop came from a Carthaginian senatorial family. Born in the Roman African province of Byzacena in 468, his widowed mother oversaw his education which included the acquiring of Greek in addition to his studies in Latin. He served as an administrator of his family estate until his conversion to the spiritual life which was precipitated by his reading Augustine’s comments on Psalm 36. Against his family wishes, and like Augustine, he entered into a monastic life soon after.

The Vandal administration’s pro-Arian stance made it necessary for Fulgentius to change monasteries frequently to avoid arrest or physical beating as once happened. Inspired by the writings of John Cassian and the Desert Fathers he decided to travel to Egypt. In Sicily he changed his mind and traveled to Rome (500). Fulgentius later returned to Africa and lived as a monk near Junca (Bordj Younga). Later he became a priest, then a presbyter and then later was ordained bishop of Ruspe (Byzacena) in 507. Soon after his ordination, he was exiled with sixty other bishops to Sardinia. Fulgentius became the spiritual leader of the exiled bishops. His exile was briefly interrupted (515) when he was summoned by the Arian king Thrasamund to publicly defend the Nicene faith. Two years later he was exiled again and did not return to Africa until the death of Thrasamund in 523. Fulgentius remained in Africa until his death in 532.

In his day Fulgentius was held in high regard in the church as a theologian and a defender of the faith. He focused much of his attention on Christological themes arguing for a position that offered a balanced alternative to Nestorian and Monophysite Christologies. Later, he would write in defense of Augustine’s theology of grace and predestination as a solution to the problem of free-will, God’s grace and salvation.