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Auxentius, name of several early Christian personages.—Auxentius of Milan, native of Cappadocia, ordained (343) to the priesthood by Gregory, the intruded Bishop of Alexandria. After the banishment of Dionysius of Milan in 355, Auxentius was made bishop of that see through Arian intrigue, though ignorant of the Latin tongue. Some of the principal Western bishops attempted, but in vain, to bring him to accept the Nicene Creed. He was publicly accused at Milan, in 364, by St. Hilary of Poitiers, and convicted of error in a disputation held in that city by order of the Emperor Valentinian. His submission was only apparent, however, and he remained powerful enough to compel the departure of St. Hilary from Milan. In 359 he forced many bishops of Illyricum to sign the creed of Rimini. Though St. Athanasius procured his condemnation by Pope Damasus at a Roman synod (369), he retained possession of his see until his death in 374, when he was succeeded by St. Ambrose.—Auxentius, Junior, originally Mercurinus, a Scythian, and a disciple of Ulfilas, or Wulfila, of whose life and death he wrote an account that the Arian bishop, Maximinus, included (383) in a work directed against St. Ambrose and the Synod of Aquitesa, 381. This favourite of Justina was the anti-bishop set up in Milan by the Arians on the occasion of the election of Ambrose. He challenged the latter in 386 to a public dispute in which the judges were to be the court favourites of the Arian empress; he also demanded for the Arians the use of the Basilica Portiana. The refusal to surrender this church brought about a siege of the edifice, in which Ambrose and a multitude of his faithful Milanese had shut themselves up. The empress eventually abandoned her favourite and made peace with Ambrose. (Baunard, Saint Ambroise, Paris, 1872, 332-348; Hefele, History of the Councils, I).—Auxentius of Mopsuestia (360). Baronius places this bishop in the Roman martyrology, because of the story told by Philostorgius (in Suidas) that he was at one time an officer in the army of Licinius, and gave up his commission rather than obey the imperial command to lay a bunch of grapes at the feet of a statue of Bacchus. Tillemont (Mémoires, VI, 786-7) is inclined to believe that Auxentius was an Arian; his patronage of the heretic Aetius (Philostorgius, Hist. Eccl., V, 1, 2), points to this conclusion.
Thomas J. Shahan.