Ecclesiastical writer, flourished about 270, suffered martyrdom probably in 303, under Diocletian
An ecclesiastical writer who flourished about 270, and who suffered martyrdom probably in 303, under Diocletian. He was Bishop of the City of Pettau (Petabium, Poetovio), on the Drave, in Styria (Austria); hence his surname of Petavionensis or sometimes Pictaviensis, e.g. in the Roman Martyrology, where he is registered under November 2, which long caused it to be thought that he belonged to the Diocese of Poitiers (France). Until the seventeenth century he was likewise confounded with the Latin rhetorician, Victorinus Afer. According to St. Jerome, who gives him an honorable place in his catalogue of ecclesiastical writers, Victorinus composed commentaries on various books of Holy Scripture, such as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Isaias, Ezechiel, Habacuc, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, St. Matthew, and the Apocalypse, besides treatises against the heresies of his time. All his works have disappeared save extracts from his commentaries on Genesis and the Apocalypse, if indeed these texts are really a remnant of his works, concerning which opinions differ. These latter with a critical annotation are published in Migne's P.L., V (1844) 301-44. It is certainly incorrect to regard him as the author of two poems, "De Jesu Christo" and "De Pascha", which are included in the collection of Fabricius. Born on the confines of the Eastern and Western Empires, 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. Like many of his contemporaries he shared the errors of the Millenarians, and for this reason his works were ranked with the apocrypha by Pope Gelasius.