("St. Victorinus was 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 Petravionensis or sometimes Pictaviensis,
e.g. in the Roman Martyrology, where he is registered under 2 November,
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 After. According to St. Jerome, who gives
him an honourable 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.")
From the Fourth Chapter of the Book of Revelation.
"After this, I beheld, and, lo, a door was opened in heaven."] The
new testament is announced as an open door in heaven.
"And the first voice which I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet
talking with me, saying, Come up hither."] Since the door is shown
to be opened, it is manifest that previously it had been closed to men.
And it was sufficiently and fully laid open when Christ ascended with His
body to the Father into heaven. Moreover, the first voice which he had
heard when he says that it spoke with him, without contradiction condemns
those who say that one spoke in the prophets, another in the Gospel; since
it is rather He Himself who comes, that is the same who spoke in the prophets.
For John was of the circumcision, and all that people which had heard the
announcement of the Old Testament was edified with his word.
"That very same voice," said he, "that I had heard, that said
unto me, Come up hither."] That is the Spirit, whom a little before
he confesses that he had seen walking as the Son of man in the midst of
the golden candlesticks. And he now gathers from Him what had been foretold
in similitudes by the law, and associates with this scripture all the former
prophets, and opens up the Scriptures. And because our Lord invited in
His own name all believers into heaven, He forthwith poured out the Holy
Spirit, who should bring them to heaven. He says:-
2. "Immediately I was in the Spirit."] And since the mind of
the faithful is opened by the Holy Spirit, and that is manifested to them
which was also foretold to the fathers, he distinctly says:-
"And, behold, a throne was set in heaven."] The throne set: what
is it but the throne of judgment and of the King?
3. "And He that sate upon the throne was, to look upon, like a jasper
and a sardine stone."] Upon the throne he says that he saw the likeness
of a jasper and a sardine stone. The jasper is of the colour of water,
the sardine of fire. These two are thence manifested to be placed as judgments
upon God's tribunal until the consummation of the world, of which judgments
one is already completed in the deluge of water, and the other shall be
completed by fire.
"And there was a rainbow about the throne."] Moreover, the rainbow
round about the throne has the same colours. The rainbow is called a bow
from what the Lord spake to Noah and to his sons, that they should not
fear any further deluge in the generation of God, but fire. For thus He
says: I will place my bow in the clouds, that ye may now no longer fear
water, but fire.
6. "And before the throne there was, as it were, a sea of glass like
to crystal."] That is the gift of baptism which He sheds forth through
His Son in time of repentance, before He executes judgment. It is therefore
before the throne, that is, the judgment.And when he says a sea of glass
like to crystal, he shows that it is pure water, smooth, not agitated by
the wind, not flowing down as on a slope, but given to be immoveable as
the house of God."And round about the throne were four living creatures."]
The four living creatures are the four Gospels.
7-10. "The first living creature was like to a lion, and the second
was like to a calf, and the third had a face like to a man, and the fourth
was like to a flying eagle; and they had six wings, and round about and
within they were full of eyes; and they had no rest, saying, Holy, holy,
holy, Lord Omnipotent. And the four and twenty elders, failing down before
the throne, adored God."] The four and twenty elders arethe twenty-four
books of the prophets and of the law, which give testimonies of the judgment.
Moreover, also, they are the twenty-four fathers-twelve apostles and twelve
patriarchs.And in that the living creatures are different in appearance,
this is the reason: the living creature like to a lion designates Mark,
in whom is heard the voice of the lion roaring in the desert. And in the
figure of a man, Matthew strives to declareto us the genealogy of Mary,
from whom Christ took flesh. Therefore, in enumerating from Abraham to
David, and thence to Joseph, he spoke of Him as if of a man: therefore
his announcement sets forth the image of a man. Luke, in narrating the
priesthood of Zacharias as he offers a sacrifice for the people, and the
angel that appears to him with respect of the priesthood, and the victim
in the same description bore the likeness of a calf. John the evangelist,
like to an eagle hastening on uplifted wings to greater heights, argues
about the Word of God. Mark, therefore, as an evangelist thus beginning,
"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah
the prophet; " The voice of one crying in the wilderness," -has the effigy
of a lion. And Matthew, "The hook of the generation of Jesus Christ, the
son of David, the son of Abraham: " this is the form of a man. But Luke
said, "There was a priest, by name Zachariah, of the course of Abia, and
his wife was of the daughters of Aaron: " this is the likeness of a calf.
But John, when he begins, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God," sets forth the likeness of a flying
eagle. Moreover, not only do the evangelists express their four similitudes
in their respective openings of the Gospels, but also the Word itself of
God the Father Omnipotent, which is His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, bears
the same likeness in the time of His advent. When He preaches to us, He
is, as it were, a lion and a lion's whelp. And when for man's salvation
He was made man to overcome death, and to set all men free, and that He
offered Himself a victim to the Father on our behalf, He was called a calf.
And that He overcame death and ascended into the heavens, extending His
wings and protecting His people, He was named a flying eagle. Therefore
these announcements, although they are four, yet are one, because it proceeded
from one mouth. Even as the river in paradise, although it is one, was
divided into four heads. Moreover, that for the announcement of the New
Testament those bring creatures had eyes within and without, shows the
spiritual providence which both looks into the secrets of the heart, and
beholds the things which are coming after that are within and without.
8. "Six wings."] These are the testimonies of the books of the
Old Testament. Thus, twenty and four make as many as there are elders sitting
upon the thrones. But as an animal cannot fly unless it have wings, so,
too, the announcement of the New Testament gains no faith unless it have
the fore-announced testimonies of the Old Testament, by which it is lifted
from the earth, and flies. For in every case, what has been told before,
and is afterwards found to have happened, that begets an undoubting faith.
Again, also, if wings be not attached to the living creatures, they have
nothing whence they may draw their life. For unless what the prophets foretold
had been consummated in Christ, their preaching was vain. For the Catholic
Church holds those things which were both before predicted and afterwards
accomplished. And it flies, because the living animal is reasonably lifted
up from the earth. But to heretics who do not avail themselves of the prophetic
testimony, to them also there are present living creatures; but they do
not fly, because they are of the earth. And to the Jews who do not receive
the announcement of the New Testament there are present wings; but they
do not fly, that is, they bring a vain prophesying to men, not adjusting
facts to their words. And the books of the Old Testament that are received
are twenty-four, which you will find in the epitomes of Theodore. But,
moreover (as we have said), four and twenty elders, patriarchs and apostles,
are to judge His people. For to the apostles, when they asked, saying,
"We have forsaken all that we had, and followed Thee: what shall we have?
"our Lord replied, "When the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His
glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes
of Israel." But of the fathers also who should judge, says the patriarch
Jacob, "Dan also himself shall judge his people among his brethren, even
as one of the tribes in Israel."
5. "And from the throne proceeded lightnings, and voices, and thunders,
and seven torches of fire burning."] And the lightnings, and voices,
and thunders proceeding from the throne of God, and the seven torches of
fire burning, signify announcements, and promises of adoption, and threatenings.
For lightnings signify the Lord's advent, and the voices the announcements
of the New Testament, and the thunders, that the words are from heaven.
The burning torches of fire signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, that it
is given by the wood of the passion. And when these things were doing,
he says that all the elders fell down and adored the Lord; while the living
creatures-that is, of course, the actions recorded in the Gospels and the
teaching of the Lord-gave Him glory and honour. In that they had fulfilled
the word that had been previously foretold by them, they worthily and with
reason exult, feeling that they have ministered the mysteries and the word
of the Lord. Finally, also, because He had come who should remove death,
and who alone was worthy to take the crown of immortality, all for the
glory of His most excellent doing had crowns.
10. "And they cast their crowns under His feet."] That is, on
account of the eminent glory of Christ's victory, they cast all their victories
under His feet. This is what in the Gospel the Holy Spirit consummated
by showing, For when about finally to suffer, our Lord had come to Jerusalem,
and the people had gone forth to meet Him, some strewed the road with palm
branches cut down, others threw down their garments, doubtless these were
setting forth two peoples-the one of the patriarchs, the other of the prophets;
that is to say, of the great men who had any kind of palms of their victories
against sin, and cast them under the feet of Christ, the victor of all.
And the palm and the crown signify the same things, and these are not given
save to the victor.