Auxentius of Milan

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For his Arian namesake at Milan, see Auxentius of Durostorum.
Auxentius
Arian Bishop of Milan
Appointed 355 AD
Term ended 374
Predecessor Dionysius
Successor Ambrose
Personal details
Died 374

Auxentius of Milan (fl. c. 355 – 374), was an Arian theologian and bishop of Milan. Because of his Arian faith, Auxentius is considered by the Catholic Church as an intruder[1] and he is not included in the Catholic lists of the bishops of Milan such as that engraved in the Cathedral of Milan.

Auxentius came to be regarded as the great opponent of the Nicene creed in the West. His theological doctrines were attacked by Hilary of Poitiers,[2] whose Liber contra Auxentium remains the chief source of information about him.[3]

Life[edit]

Auxentius was a native of Cappadocia, and he was ordained as a priest in 343 by Gregory of Cappadocia, the Arian Bishop of Alexandria.[4] According to his opponent Athanasius of Alexandria, Auxentius was "even ignorant of the Latin language, and unskilful in everything except impiety".[5]

The historical period in which Auxentius lived was marked by the fight between the Arians and the supporters of the faith of the Council of Nicaea. In 355 the Roman Emperor Constantius II convened a Synod in Milan, in which the bishop of Milan Dionysius, along with Eusebius of Vercelli and Lucifer of Cagliari, opposed to the Arian leanings of the Emperor. This resulted in the exile of the three bishops, including Dionysius. Shortly later the Arian bishops, with the support of the Emperor, appointed as new bishop of Milan the Arian Auxentius.[1]

In 359 Auxentius played a relevant role in the Council of Rimini which supported the Semi-Arian doctrines stated in the Council of Sirmium of 351 . Auxentius was left undisturbed in his diocese after Constantius' death by the pagan Emperor Julian (died 363).

Under the following Christian Emperors, Jovian and Valentinian I, there were many attempts by the supporters of the Nicaean faith to depose Auxentius. In 364 Auxentius was publicly accused in a disputation with Hilary of Poitiers held in Milan by order of the Emperor Valentinian I. His submission was only apparent, however, and he remained powerful enough to compel the departure of Hilary from Milan.[4] Also Eusebius of Vercelli and Athanasius of Alexandria tried to obtain the deposition of Auxentius, but without success.

In 372 Pope Damasus I summoned a synod which explicitly condemned Auxentius as heretic.[1] Auxentius however remained in Milan until his death in 374, even if the Nicaean priest Philastrius (later bishop of Brescia) operated in Milan in supporting the Catholic population. Auxentius was succeeded by the Nicaean Ambrose.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Cazzani, Eugenio (1996). Vescovi e arcivescovi di Milano. Milano: Massimo. pp. 17–18. ISBN 88-7030-891-X. (Italian)
  2. ^ Williams, Daniel H. (March 1992). "The Anti-Arian Campaigns of Hilary of Poitiers and the Liber Contra Auxentium". Church History (61.1): pp. 7–22. 
  3. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Auxentius". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  4. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Shahan, Thomas Joseph (1913). "Auxentius of Milan". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  5. ^ Athanasius. "Historia Arianorum, par 75". CCEL. Retrieved 11 October 2011.