Sulpicius Severus

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Sulpicius Severus (363-425), was a Christian writer and native of Aquitania, in modern-day France. He is known for his chronicle of sacred history, as well as his biography of Saint Martin of Tours. He was imbued with the culture of his time and of his country, a center of Latin letters and learning, and became a lawyer. He married the daughter of a wealthy consular family, who died young, leaving him no children.

At this time Severus came under the powerful influence of Saint Martin, bishop of Tours, by whom he was led to devote his wealth to the Christian poor, and his own powers to a life of good works and the contemplative vision of God.  He was ordained a priest, but is said to have been led away in his old age by Pelagianism.  He later repented of the heresy and inflicted long-enduring penance on himself. The chief work of Severus is the Chronicle(Chronica, Chronicorum Libri duo or Historia sacra, c. 403), a summary of sacred history from the beginning of the world to his own times, with the omission of the events recorded in the Gospels and the Acts, “lest the form of his brief work should detract from the honour due to those events”. The book was a textbook, and was used as such in the schools of Europe for about a century and a half after the editio princeps was published by Flacius Illyricus in 1556.  

Writings:

  • On the Life of St. Martin
  • Sacred History
  • Letters
  • Dialogues 

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