Victorinus of Pettau
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Saint Victorinus of Pettau
Victorinus on a fresco in the parish church of Nova Cerkev (Slovenia)
|Bishop of Poetovio and Martyr|
|Born||Likely in Greece|
|Died||303 or 304 AD|
Modern Ptuj (Pettau or Poetovio)
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Attributes||Palm, pontifical vestments|
Saint Victorinus of Pettau or of Poetovio (died 303 or 304) was an Early Christian ecclesiastical writer who flourished about 270, and who was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. A Bishop of Poetovio (modern Ptuj in Slovenia; German: Pettau) in Pannonia, Victorinus is also known as Victorinus Petavionensis, Poetovionensis or Victorinus of Ptuj.
Born probably in Greece on the confines of the Eastern and Western Empires or in Poetovio with rather mixed population, due to its military character, Victorinus spoke Greek better than Latin, which explains why, in St. Jerome's opinion, his works written in the latter tongue were more remarkable for their matter than for their style. Bishop of the City of Pettau, he was the first theologian to use Latin for his exegesis.
His work is in the main exegetical. Victorinus composed commentaries on various books of Holy Scripture, such as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, St. Matthew, and the Apocalypse, besides treatises against the heresies of his time. All that has survived is his Commentary on Apocalypse and the short tract On the construction of the world (De fabrica mundi)..
Victorinus was a firm believer in the millennium. He was also much influenced by Origen. His works were ranked with the apocrypha in the decree, later attributed to Pope Gelasius I, which excluded and anathematized them with that of many other early fathers. That is to say they were not considered free of error. By contrast, St. Jerome gives him an honourable place in his catalogue of ecclesiastical writers. Jerome occasionally cites the opinion of Victorinus (in Eccles. iv. 13; in Ezech. xxvi. and elsewhere), but considered him to have been affected by the opinions of the Chiliasts or Millenarians.
According to Jerome, Victorinus died a martyr in 304. He is commemorated in both the Eastern and Western Churches is 2 November. Until the 17th century he was sometimes confused with the Latin rhetorician, Victorinus Afer.
Commentary on the Apocalypse
The commentary was composed not long after the Valerian Persecution, about 260. According to Claudio Moreschini, "The interpretation is primarily allegorical, with a marked interest in arithmology." "It seems that he did not give a running commentary on the entire text but contented himself with a paraphrase of selected passages."
Victorinus was apparently the first of the Church Fathers to ascertain the basic notion of repetition – that the Apocalypse is not one uninterrupted and developing line of prophecy, but rather that various subdivisions run parallel with each other. And he saw that the theme of the soon coming Second Advent was a continuous thread of thought throughout the Apocalypse.
He wrote of the seven churches as representing seven classes of Christians within the church. The seven seals are explained as constituting a prophetic fore view of the spread of the gospel throughout the world. In connection with the Second Advent and the end of the world he looked for wars, famines, pestilences and persecution of the church.
The crowned rider of the four horsemen seated upon the white horse, going forth "conquering, and to conquer," is interpreted as prophetic of Christ's church going forth on its victorious mission, the triumph of Christianity over paganism. The red horse is explained as "coming wars," predicted as salient events preceding the end. The black horse, Victorinus avers, signifies "famines" in the time of the Antichrist. The pale horse meant "coming destructions."
The angel with the seal in chapter 7 symbolizes Elias the prophet as the "precursor of the times of Antichrist." Then comes the kingdom of Antichrist and finally the angel reapers smite the kingdom of Antichrist delivering the saints.
The great red dragon with seven heads of chapter 12 he sees as Rome, from which springs Antichrist in the last times, amid the ten horns. The Antichrist springs from the battle in heaven, and the expulsion and his earthly domination foIlow the three and half years of Elijah's preaching."
The first and second angels of Revelation 14 are the predicted Elias and Jeremiah, witnessing before the Second Advent and end of the world, ushering in the eternal kingdom. The leopard beast of Revelation 14 signifies the kingdom of the time of Antichrist. Victorinus considers the 666 of verse 18 as the computation of letters, each of which comprise the equivalent number, of an assortment of possible names.
After the seven plagues of the last days in Revelation 15, Babylon, in Revelation 17, is identified as Rome seated upon her "seven hills," drunk with the blood of martyrs. The seven heads of the seven-hilled Rome are believed, in their immediate application, to represent seven emperors, the sixth being Domitian, with the eighth who is "of the seven," as Nero.  The ten horns of Daniel 7 are equated with those of the Apocalypse, with three of the kings killed by the Antichrist."
- Erroneously, based on some bad manuscripts, also as Victorinus Pictaviensis. He was long thought to have belonged to the Diocese of Poitiers (France).
- Clugnet, Léon. "St. Victorinus." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 10 August 2018
- "CHURCH FATHERS: Commentary on the Apocalypse (Victorinus)".
- "CHURCH FATHERS: On the Creation of the World (Victorinus)".
- Tixeront, J., A Handbook of Patrology, (S. A. Raemers, trans.), St. Louis, Missouri, B. Herder Book Co., 1920, p. 135
- Bardenhewer, Otto. Patrology: The Lives and Works of the Fathers of the Church, B. Herder, 1908, p. 227
- "The Development of the Canon of the New Testament - The Decretum Gelasianum".
- Wilson, H.A., "Victorinus", Dictionary of Christian Biography, (Henry Wace, ed.), John Murray, London, 1911
- Butler, Alban. "St. Victorinus, Bishop Martyr", The Lives of the Saints, 1866
- Moreschini, Claudio and Norelli, Enrico. Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature, Vol. 1, Baker Academic, 2005, ISBN 978-0801047190, p. 397
- Quasten, Johannes. Patrology, Vol. 2, Thomas More Pr; (1986), ISBN 978-0870611414, p. 413
- Froom 1950, p. 338.
- Froom 1950, p. 339.
- Froom 1950, p. 340.
- Froom 1950, p. 342.
- Froom 1950, p. 343.
- Froom 1950, p. 344.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
- Froom, LeRoy (1950). The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers (DjVu and PDF). 1.
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Victorinus of Pettau