Saturday, January 14, 2012

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe

Joyous feast!

Today we celebrate the memory of our Holy Father Fulgentius of Ruspe. St. Fulgentius was a monastic father of the Church in North Africa. Born and raised in the formerly Roman province of Byzacena (now eastern Tunisia), after embracing the monastic life as an adult the Saint struggled as an ascetic in Byzacena, Mauretania (now Algeria), and Sicily, co-founding monasteries in Byzacena and Mauretania before founding his own monastery in Byzacena, from which he retreated to live as a hermit.

In the early 500s the Orthodox in North Africa decided to secretly rebel against their Arian rulers by electing new bishops for the many vacant sees in the region. St. Fulgentius was nominated for several sees and fled into hiding. The Saint, thinking that all of the vacant sees had been filled, eventually came out of hiding in the town of Ruspe, where he was promptly made bishop of the city, which had been unable to choose a bishop due to the lack of a suitable candidate.

Enduring exile in Sardinia for his witness to the Orthodox Faith, St. Fulgentius was later summoned to Carthage by the Arian ruler of North Africa to give an explanation of the Apostolic Faith on behalf of the North African episcopate, much of which had also been exiled to Sardinia. While in Carthage the Saint reconciled many of the city's inhabitants to Orthodoxy and consequently was sent back into exile, only returning to Africa in 523 after the death of the Arian ruler then enthroned in Carthage.

Returning to Ruspe, St. Fulgentius took up his shepherding of the Orthodox there, ensuring that his clergy did not adorn themselves and that they celebrated the services with attention while also encouraging the monastic life and exhorting his flock to greater fasting and holiness of life. After a brief retirement to the island of Circe the Saint fell asleep on this day in 533 at the age of sixty-five.

May St. Fulgentius' blessing and prayers be with us all! More on his life may be found here.

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