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Pammachius, a Roman Senator

Wace's Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

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Pammachius, a Roman senator of the Furian family (Hieron. Ep. lxvi. 6, ed. Vall.), cousin to Marcella ( ib. xlix. 4), and said by Palladius ( Hist. Laus. c. 122) to have been related to Melania. He was a friend of Jerome, Paulinus, and afterwards Augustine. He was a fellow-student of Jerome at Rome ( Ep. xlviii. 1), but apparently not specially connected with church affairs in early life. During Jerome's stay in Rome in 382–385 they probably met, since in 385 Pammachius married Paulina, the daughter of Paula who went with Jerome to Palestine. Pammachius was learned, able, and eloquent ( Ep. lxxvii. 1; xlix. 3). After his marriage, he seems to have occupied himself much with scriptural studies and church life. The controversy relating to Jovinian interested him, and he is thought to have been one of those who procured the condemnation of Jovinian from pope Siricius (Tillem. x. 568). But Jerome's books against Jovinian (pub. in 392) appeared to Pammachius to be too violent. He bought up the copies and wrote to Jerome asking him to moderate his language. Jerome refused, but thanked Pammachius for his interest, hailed him as a well-wisher and defender, and promised to keep him informed of his future writings ( Epp. xlviii., xlix.). Thenceforth their intercourse was constant.

Pammachius is said by Jerome (xlix. 4) to have been designated for the sacerdotium at this time by the whole city of Rome and the pontiff. But he was never ordained. His growing convictions and those of his wife, the fact that all his children died at birth and that his wife died in childbirth (a.d. 397, see Hieron. Ep. lxvi., addressed to him 2 years later), led him to take monastic vows. He, however, still appeared among the senators in their purple in the dark dress of a monk ( ib. lxvi. 6). He showed his change of life by munificent gifts and a great entertainment to the poor (Paulinus, Ep. xiii. 11; see also Pall. Hist. Laus. 122). With Fabiola he erected a hospital at Portus, which became world-famous (Hieron. Ep. lxvi. 11).

At the commencement of the Origenistic controversy, Jerome wrote (in 35) to Pammachius his letter de Opt. Genere Interpretandi ( Ep. lvii. ed. Vall.). On Rufinus coming to Rome Pammachius, with Oceanus and Marcella, watched his actions in Jerome's interest, and on his publication of a translation of Origen's Περὶ Ἀρχῶν wrote to Jerome to request a full translation of the work ( Epp. lxxxiii., lxxxiv). These friends also procured the condemnation of Origenism by pope Anastasius in 401, and to them Jerome's apology against Rufinus was addressed, and the book cont. Joannem Hierosol. During the Donatist schism in Africa Pammachius, who had property in that province, wrote to the people of Numidia, where the schism had begun, exhorting them to return to the unity of the church. This letter brought him into relations with Augustine, who wrote (in 401) to him ( Ep. lviii.) congratulating him on an action likely to help in healing the schism, and desiring him to read the letter to his brother senators, that they might do likewise. After this we hear of Pammachius only in connexion with the Bible-work of Jerome, who dedicated to him his commentaries on the Minor Prophets (406) and Daniel (407), and at his request undertook the commentaries on Is. and Ezek. (prefaces to Comm. on Am. Dan. Is. and Ezek.). Before the latter was finished, Pammachius had died in the siege of Rome by Alaric, a.d. 409.


Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Pammachius, a Roman Senator'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hwd/​p/pammachius-a-roman-senator.html. 1911.
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