Magnus Felix Ennodius - Biography

 

Magnus Felix Ennodius was born in the town of Pavia south of Milan in 473 or 474. He descended from a highly estimated family that spawned several consules; they were also relatives of the famous family of the Anicii. After he had lost both his father and his mother in his early childhood he grew up at his aunt's place presumably south of the Alps in Liguria. He became engaged to the daughter of this family but there is no evidence that he also married her. It seems that he was educated in Liguria and well versed in the artes liberales, but we do not know anything in detail about his teachers.

In the year 494 or even earlier Ennodius and his fiancé decided to base theirlives on spiritual values. There are testimonies showing that he was part of the circle around Epiphanius who had been bishop of Pavia since 466. In the year 494 he accompanied the bishop on a legation to the Burgundian king Gundobadus. Later Ennodius wrote the Life of Epiphanius (Vita Epiphanii), a work of great value for scholars interested in the history of the late 5th century.

After this legation, in any case not later than in 499, Ennodius joined the chapter of bishop Laurentius of Milan. During the following decade he was an active diplomat of the church, but also wrote the major part of his works. At the so called synodus palmaris of 502 he played a leading role as part of the upper Italian clergy who supported (as King Theoderic did) pope Symmachus during the Laurentian schism (498-507/514). Their enemy was an antipope called Laurentius, who should not be confused with the bishop of Milan of the same name. As a result of that synod Ennodius wrote his famous Libellus pro synodo, a polemic that became important for the evolution of papal primacy. During his stay in Milan Ennodius was also ordained as a deacon.

In 513 Ennodius was finally made bishop of Pavia. At that time he gave up his literary ambitions. Twice (515 and 517) he went to Constantinople as an ambassador of Pope Hormisdas (and presumably also of King Theoderic), but could not fulfil his diplomatic mission in the name of the Catholic Church. According to a metric inscription, still extant in the church of San Michele in Pavia, he died on July 17th, 521.

 

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