Continuing his teachings on the fathers of the early Church, Pope Benedict spoke about St. Chromatius today. The Holy Father explained that St. Chromatius should serve as an example to Christians of how to remain rooted in the Word of God and heroic in love for one another.
“St. Chromatius,” said Benedict, "knew how to address his people using a fresh, vivacious and incisive language." As a "good pastor, in troubled times such as his own marked by the barbarian incursions, he stood alongside the faithful to comfort them and open their souls to faith in God, Who never abandons His children."
St. Chromatius was the bishop of Aquileia in northern Italy, "a dynamic center of Christian life located in the 'Decima regione' of the Roman empire," Benedict XVI noted.
"Between the middle of the third century and the early years of the fourth," said the Pope, "the persecutions of Decius, Valerian and Diocletian had produced a large number of martyrs." At the same time, the Church of Aquileia was facing "the threat of the Arian heresy,” which denies the divinity of Christ.
In 381 Chromatius, then a priest and the expert assistant of Bishop Valerian of Aquileia, participated in a synod "to eliminate the last residues of Arianism in the West."
The Holy Father recalled how Chromatius was born in Aquileia in the year 345, "he was ordained a deacon then a priest and finally elected as pastor of that church in 388. Having received episcopal consecration from St. Ambrose, he dedicated himself courageously and energetically to a task of immense proportions because of the vastness of the lands entrusted to his care: the ecclesial jurisdiction of Aquileia stretched to what is currently the territory of Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria and Slovenia, even reaching as far as Hungary." The saintly bishop died an exile in Grado in 407, the same year as St. John Chrysostom.
The Holy Father indicated that of St. Chromatius' works, more than 40 sermons and over 60 commentaries on the Gospel of St. Mark survive. "He was wise master and a zealous pastor," said the Pope. "In his teaching he always began from the Word of God and to that he always returned.”
“Among subjects particularly dear to him,” Benedict XVI recounted, “were, primarily the Trinitarian mystery, which he considered in its revelation throughout the history of salvation, the theme of the Holy Spirit, ... and the mystery of Christ. The incarnate Word is true God and true man: He fully assumed the human condition so as to give it His own divinity."
His "insistence on the human nature of Christ led Chromatius to speak of the Virgin Mary," said the Pope, pointing out how the saint described Mary as "the evangelical virgin capable of accepting God," and compared her with the Church, both being "virgins and mothers." The Holy Father then explained that "Chromatius' ecclesiology is developed above all in his commentary on Matthew," where he writes that "the Church is unique, she is born from the blood of Christ."
At the end of his talk, the Pope spontaneously commented that, "St. Chromatius reminds us that Advent is a time of prayer, in which we must enter into contact with God. God knows us, He knows me, He knows each of us. He loves me, He does not abandon me. Thus trustingly, let us proceed into the liturgical time that has just begun."