Saint Prosper of Aquitaine

Saint Prosper of Aquitaine

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June 25

Today is the feast day of Saint Prosper of Aquitaine.  Ora, pro nobis.

Saint Prosper was born in the Roman province of Aquitaine in the year 403. He is known chiefly through his writings.   In his youth he had applied himself to all branches both of sacred and secular learning. Because of the purity and sanctity of his manners, the writers of his time testify that he was a holy and venerable man.

By 428, he was a layman living with monks at Marseilles, who disagreed with Augustine's theology of grace and predestination.  To strengthen his arguments, Prosper wrote to Augustine, who responded with On the predestination of the Saints and On the gift of perseverance.  He became known as “the best disciple of Augustine.”

Prosper seems to have labelled anyone who disagreed with Augustine “semi-Pelagian,” and the list included John Cassian, Hilary of Arles, and Vincent of Lérins. The enemies of Saint Augustine turned against Saint Prosper also, publishing fifteen errors which they attributed to the latter, then sixteen propositions supposedly clarifying Augustine's true sentiments, and spread them widely. The Saint with gentleness answered all these writings without acrid reprisals.  In 431, the year after Augustine's death, Proper and a friend named Hilary travelled to Rome to ask Celestine I, who had praised Augustine, to proclaim the truth of his teachings.

Saint Prosper was not an ecclesiastic.  Saint Leo the Great, when chosen Pope in 440, invited him to Rome, made him his secretary, and employed him in the most important affairs of the Church. It was primarily Saint Prosper who finally crushed the Pelagian heresy definitively, when it was raising its head in the see of Peter. Its complete overthrow is said to be due to his zeal, learning, and unwearied endeavors. The date of his death remains uncertain, but he was still living in 455, the date at which his Chronicle concludes.  But, Prosper's history ends with the Vandal sack of Rome (455). 



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