Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1097
Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage (North Africa) informs Cornelius, the bishop of Rome, about the activities of schismatic bishops, former presbyters Fortunatus and Maximus. Cyprian, Letter 59, AD 252.
Epistula 59
IX, 1. Quod autem tibi de Fortunato isto pseudoepiscopo a paucis et inueteratis haereticis constituto non statim scripsi, frater carissime, non ea res erat quae in notitiam tuam deberet festinato statim quasi magna aut metuenda perferri, maxime quando et Fortunati nomen iam satis nosses, qui est unus ex quinque presbyteris iam pridem de ecclesia profugis et sententia coepiscoporum nostrorum multorum et grauissimorum uirorum nuper abstentis qui super hac re priore anno ad te litteras fecerint. [...]
2. [...] Nam et pars Nouatiani Maximum presbyterum nuper ad nos a Nouatiano legatum missum atque a nostra communicatione reiectum nunc istic sibi fecisse pseudoepiscopum dicitur.
3. Nec tamen de hoc tibi scripseram, quando haec omnia contemnatur a nobis [...].
XV,1. Si eorum qui de illis priore anno iudicauerunt numerus cum presbyteris et diaconis conputetur, plures tunc adfuerunt iudicio et cognitioni quam sunt idem isti qui cum Fortunato nunc uidentur esse coniuncti. Scire enim debes, frater carissime, eum posteaquam pseudoepiscopus ab haereticis factus est, iam paene ab omnibus esse desertum.
(ed. Diercks 1996: 350-351. 363)
Letter 59
IX,1.But that I did not immediately write to you, dearest brother, about Fortunatus, that pseudo-bishop, constituted by a few, and those, inveterate heretics, the matter was not such as ought at once and hastily to be brought under your notice, as if it were great or to be feared; especially since you already know well enough the name of Fortunatus, who is one of the five presbyters who some time back deserted from the Church, and were lately excommunicated by the judgment of our fellow-bishops, men both numerous and entitled to the greatest respect, who on this matter wrote to you last year. [...]
2. For Novatian's party is also said to have now made Maximus the presbyter—who was lately sent to us as an ambassador for Novatian, and rejected from communion with us—their false bishop in that place.
3. And yet I had not written to you about this, since all these things are slighted by us. [...]


When Cyprian writes about "the judgement" on the presbyters and deacons, he is referring to the ecclesiastical proceedings in AD 251, when he returned to Carthage to deal with the clerics who were too lenient towards the lapsed. The anti-Cyprian faction in Carthage was approached by the emissaries of Novatian, who was elected as the bishop of Rome in opposition to Cornelius, considered by some to be too lenient towards the lapsed.

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 58-81, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 3C, Turnhout 1996.


Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Novatianist
Change of denomination
Further ecclesiastical career - Bishop
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Unspecified 'heretic'
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1097,