Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1100
Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage (North Africa), and other bishops, write about too easy reconciliation of the Presbyter Victor. Cyprian, Letter 64, AD 251/253.
Epistula 64
Cyprianus et ceteri collegae qui in concilio adfuerunt numero LXVI Fido fratri s[alutem].
I,1. Legimus litteras tuas, frater carissime, quibus significasti de Victore quondam presbytero, quod ei, antequam paenitentiam plenam egisset et domino deo in quem deliquerat satisfecisset, temere Therapius collega noster inmaturo tempore et praepropera festinatione pacem dederit. Quae res nos satis mouit, recessum esse a decreti nostri auctoritate, ut ante legitimum et plenum tempus satisfactionis et sine petitu et conscientia plebis nulla infirmitate urgente ac necessitate cogente pax ei concederetur.
2. Sed et librato apud nos diu consilio satis fuit obiurgare Therapium collegam nostrum quod temere hoc fecerit et instruxisse ne quid tale de cetero faciat; pacem tamen quomodocumque a sacerdote Dei semel datam non potauimus auferendam ac per hoc Victori communicationem sibi concessam usurpare permisimus.
(ed. Diercks 1996: 418-419)
Letter 64
Cyprian, and others his colleagues who were present in council, in number sixty-six, to Fidus their brother, greeting.
I,1. We have read your letter, dearest brother, in which you intimated concerning Victor, formerly a presbyter, that our colleague Therapius, rashly at a too early season, and with over-eager haste, granted peace to him before he had fully repented, and had satisfied the Lord God, against whom he had sinned; which thing rather disturbed us, that it was a departure from the authority of our decree, that peace was granted to him before the legitimate and full time of satisfaction, and without the request and consciousness of the people—no sickness rendering it urgent, and no necessity compelling it.
2. But the judgment being long weighed among us, it was considered sufficient to rebuke Therapius our colleague for having done this rashly, and to have instructed him that he should not do the like with any other. Yet we did not think that the peace once granted in any way by a priest of God was to be taken away, and for this reason have allowed Victor to avail himself of the communion granted to him.
(trans. R.E. Wallis,, slightly adapted)


Therapius is admonished for reconciling Victor, not because Victor was a clergyman, but because he had sacrificed during the Decian persecution, and at that moment the readmission was granted only to those who had obtained the libelli confirming (falsely) that they had sacrificed, but who had actually not done so (Dunn 2006: 267-268).

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Rome

About the source:

Author: Cyprian
Title: Letters, Epistulae, Epistolae
Origin: Carthage (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Cyprian was born probably about 200 AD. 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.
G.D. Dunn, "Validity of baptism and ordination in the African response to the «rebaptism» crisis: Cyprian of Carthage's synod of spring 256”, Theological Studies 67 (2006), 257-274.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Impediments or requisits for the office - Improper/Immoral behaviour
Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
Public law - Ecclesiastical
Public law - Secular
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1100,