Gaudentius had studied under Philastrius, and was a preacher in
Italy and the
Middle East. When Philastrius died around 387, the people of Brescia elected Gaudentius as bishop –evidently against his will. He was on
Jerusalem when Philastrius had died.
Catholic Encyclopedia states that “the people of
Brescia bound themselves by an oath that they would accept no other bishop than Gaudentius; and
St. Ambrose and other neighboring prelates, in consequence, obliged him to return, though against his will. The Eastern bishops also threatened to refuse him
Communion if he did not obey.”
He was consecrated by Saint Ambrose in 387. A record of the discourse made by Gaudentius on the occasion of his consecration survives. Gaudentius reported upon his consecration that he had brought back with him from the
Saint John the Baptist, the
Apostles, relics of saints from
Milan, and of the
Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. The nieces of
Saint Basil had given him the relics of the Forty Martyrs at
Caesarea in Cappadocia.
He deposited these relics in a basilica that he named Concilium Sanctorum, and wrote a sermon upon its dedication.