Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1076
Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage (North Africa) writes to his presbyters and deacons deploring the disobedience of the confessors towards them, and declaring that he will consult them before taking any important decisions. Cyprian, Letter 14, AD 250.
Epistula 14.
Cyprianus Presbyteris Et Diaconis Fratribus S[alutem].
Cyprian explains to his clergy that he cannot return yet to Carthage. He asks them to take care of the poor and the confessors. He deplores some sins and disobedience of the confessors (who survived the persecutions):
III,2. Doleo enim quando audio quosdam improbe et insolenter discurrere, ad ineptias uel ad discordias uacare, Christi membra et iam Christum confessa per concubitus inlicitos inquinare, nec a diaconis aut presbyteris regi posse, sed ita gerere ut per paucorum prauos et malos mores multorum et bonorum confessorum gloria honesta maculetur. [...]
IV. Ad id uero quod scripserunt mihi conpresbyteri nostri Donatus et Fortunatus et Nouatus et Gordius, solus rescribere nihil potui, quando a primordio episcopatus mei statuerim nihil sine consilio uestro et sine consensu plebis mea priautim sententia gerere. Sed cum ad uos per Dei gratiam uenero, tunc de his quae uel gesta sunt uel gerenda, sicut honor mutuus poscit, in commune tractabimus.
(ed. Diercks 1994: 83-84)
Letter 14
Cyprian explains to his clergy that he cannot return yet to Carthage. He asks them to take care of the poor and the confessors. He deplores some sins and disobedience of the confessors (who survived the persecutions):
III,2. For I am grieved when I hear that some of them run about wickedly and proudly, and give themselves up to follies or to discords; that members of Christ, and even members that have confessed Christ, are defiled by unlawful concubinage, and cannot be ruled either by deacons or by presbyters, but cause that, by the wicked and evil characters of a few, the honourable glories of many and good confessors are tarnished. [...]
IV. In respect of that which our fellow presbyters, Donatus and Fortunatus, Novatus and Gordius, wrote to me, I have not been able to reply by myself, since, from the first commencement of my episcopacy, I made up my mind to do nothing on my own private opinion, without your advice and without the consent of the people. But as soon as, by the grace of God, I shall have come to you, then we will discuss in common, as our respective dignity requires, those things which either have been or are to be done.  


Donatus, Fortunatus, Novatus, and Gordius are generally considered to be the presbyters who opposed the election of Cyprian, and eventually created the schism (Letter 43,1-2, [1261]). However, this identification is hypothetical (Deléani 2007:130).

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Carthage

About the source:

Author: Cyprian
Title: Letters, Epistulae, Epistolae
Origin: Carthage (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Cyprian was born probably about AD 200. He converted to Christianity in about 245 and in 248 was elected Bishop of Carthage. Soon after, the Decian persecution began (in 249/250) and Cyprian went into hiding. In 251 he returned to the city. Under Valerian, he was exiled in 257 and executed in 258. The epistolary of Cyprian consists of 81 letters (16 of them by his correspondents, and 6 synodal or collective), the majority of them are from the period of 250-251, when they were the means of Cyprian`s communication with his clergy. They offer us a wide view on the organization of the Church in Carthage in the middle of the third century, her relation with the Church of Rome, on the development of the persecutions, and on the conflicts that they caused inside the Church.
Different numerations of Cyprian's letters exist, I follow the edition of Diercks in Corpus Christianorum.
G.F. Diercks ed., Sancti Cypriani Episcopi Epistularium. Epistulae 1-57, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 3B, Turnhout 1994.
Saint Cyprien, Lettres 1-20, Introduction, texte, traduction et commentaire par S. Deléani, Paris 2007.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Ecclesiastical administration
Described by a title - Conpresbyter
Pastoral activity
    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1076,