Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 224: Volusianus
The respectful manner in which Augustine speaks of Volusianus implies he is a person of high rank. In effect Baronius and Godefroy both believe he was the maternal uncle of Melania the younger.1 In any event he came from an illustrious family in the empire and was raised to the highest dignities of the realm. In 421 he will act against Pelagians in the office of Roman prefect.2 He was African proconsul at a young age, as we learn from Rutilius.3 Volusianus is apparently accurately described by Augustine.4 The occupations attributed to him give us reason to believe he had some official duty in Carthage at this time even though Apringius was proconsul.
Augustine and Marcellinus praise Volusianus’ mind and eloquence.5 From the difficulties he proposed against the Christian faith, he had apparently not yet embraced it. If he had some initiation into the faith, he had surely not confirmed it. He needed instruction in Church teaching.6 Volusianus was surrounded by a number of obstinate pagans in Carthage who were trying to prevent his conversion to Christianity.7
Augustine calls Volusianus’ mother a holy woman, worthy of honor in Christ.8 She desired her son’s salvation and prayed to God in his behalf.9 Marcellinus often saw Volusianus at the former’s request and conversed with him daily to strengthen him in faith as far as possible.10 Whether his mother involved Augustine in working for his salvation is unknown. Augustine certainly did not...