Draw Close to God This Advent, Urges Pope

Reflects on St. Chromatius, Bishop of Aquileia

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Advent is a time to be in close contact with God, the one who knows and loves mankind, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today in Paul VI Hall, addressing those gathered to participate in the general audience. He dedicated his catechesis to the figure of St. Chromatius, bishop of Aquileia.

"St. Chromatius reminds us that Advent is a time of prayer," said the Holy Father, "and that it is necessary to be in contact with God. God knows us, he knows me, he knows all of us, he loves me, he won't leave me."

Chromatius was the bishop of the northern Italian town of Aquileia, "a dynamic center of Christian life," said the Pontiff. In 381 Chromatius, then a priest and the expert assistant of Bishop Valerian of Aquileia, participated in a synod "to eliminate the last residues of Arianism in the West."

Benedict XVI continued: "Chromatius was born in Aquileia around 345. He was ordained deacon, then presbyter and finally pastor of that Church (388).

"After receiving the episcopal consecration from Bishop Ambrose, he devoted himself to a task that was challenging due to the vastness of the territory entrusted to his pastoral care: Aquileia's ecclesiastical jurisdiction extended in fact from the present territories of Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria and Slovenia, up to the borders of Hungary."

The Pontiff said the bishop most likely "died in exile, in Grado, while attempting to escape from the raids of the barbarians in 407."

The Holy Father indicated that of St. Chromatius' works, more than 40 sermons and over 60 commentaries on the Gospel of St. Matthew survive.

"He was wise master and a zealous pastor," said the Pope. "In his teaching he always began from the word of God and returned to the word of God."

Benedict XVI pointed out that several themes he particularly focused on included the Trinity, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.

The Pope pointed out how the saint described Mary in various ways such as "the evangelical virgin capable of accepting God," and compared her to the Church, saying both are "virgins and mothers."

The Holy Father then explained that "Chromatius' ecclesiology is developed above all in his commentary on Matthew," where he writes that "The Church is unique; it was born from the blood of Christ."

Chromatius "knew how to speak to his people with fresh, colorful and sharp language," said the Pontiff. "Like a good Shepherd, in a tumultuous time like his own, where barbarian raids threatened the world, he stayed at the side of the faithful to comfort them and to open their souls to God, who never abandons his children."