In today's commemoration we encounter Fulgentius, a 5th Century Christian who became enamored of religious life by reading some of Saint Augustine's spiritual works. He followed Augustine's example well, combining a life of contemplation with that of generous service to the Church.
Fulgentius, a member of the Gordiani senatorial family, was born in 462 at Thelepte (modern-day Medinet-el-Kedima) in Tunisia. As a young man he held the position of procurator in the Vandal administration and was responsible for the collection of taxes. Later he felt a call to the religious life and decided to become a monk after reading Saint Augustine's Exposition on Psalm 36. About the year 499 he set out to join the hermits of the Thebaid in Egypt, but upon his arrival in Sicily, was dissuaded from continuing on once he heard of the influence of monophysitism on Egyptian monasticism. He visited Rome in 500 and was elected Bishop of Ruspe in 502. He was twice exiled to Sardinia and died at Ruspe on January 1, 527. Fulgentius was a keen student of the writings of Saint Augustine, and his form of monasticism clearly follows the mind and way of life of the saint. In fact, he was popularly known as the pocket Augustine. He loved the ideal of community life and the actual living of it, and founded several monasteries in Africa as well as while in exile. The Order has celebrated his feast since 1581.
In a certain way, Fulgentius represents the many men and women who throughout the centuries have looked to Saint Augustine and his Rule for inspiration and guidance in founding new communities and congregations of religious to meet new needs in the Church. As members of the Order we see ourselves united to all of these communities in a spiritual bond, constituting one family under our Holy Father Augustine.