Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1175
Funerary inscription of the presbytis Kale from Centuripae (Sicily), ca 4th/5th c.
ἐνθάδε κῖτε Καλὴ πρε(σ)β(ῦτις)
ζήσα(σα) ἔτη ν ἀμέπτως {ἀμέμπτως}.
τὸν βίον τελ(ευτᾷ) τῇ πρ(ὸ) ιθ κ(αλα)ν(δῶν)
Ὀκτωβρίων. (christogram)
(ed. Manni Piraino 1972: no. 13)
Here lies the presbytis Kale
who lived blamelessly fifty years.
She ended her life on the day before the Kalends
of October. (christogram)
(trans. M. Szada)


We are not sure of the meaning of the word "presbytis" that describes here a deceased woman. The literal meaning "the old woman" is not evident as the inscription mentions that the woman was fifty years old when she died so she was not senile. Possibly "presbytis" was a byname to distinguish Kale from another woman of the same name, or to mark her standing in the group to which she adhered. Another possibility is that she was a wife of a presbyter. Some scholars, however, proposed that Kale was an actual Christian officeholder, mainly on the basis of Letter 14 of Gelasius I (492-496) in which the pope reproaches women who officiate at the sacred altars [1981], and other Italian inscriptions of "presbyterae" or "sacerdotae" (for the discussion in favour of this interpretation see Eisen 2000: 128-129).

Place of event:

  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • Centuripae

About the source:

Origin: Centuripae (Italy south of Rome and Sicily)
The inscription is on the marble slab of 28 x 56,5 x 7,5 cm. Letters are 3 to 4,5 cm. The inscription was found during the excavations in 1877, and now is kept in Museo archeologico regionale in Palermo, no. inv. 8707. It is dated roughly to the 4th or 5th c.
G. Fiorelli, Notizie degli Scavi, 1878, 175-176
L`Année Epigraphique 1975, no. 454.
G.H.R. Horsley, New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity, v. 1: A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri published in 1976, North Ryde 1981.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 26, 1074
U.E. Eisen, Women officeholders in early Christianity: epigraphical and literary studies, Collegeville, Minn 2000.


Family life - Marriage
Female ministry
Described by a title - Presbytera/Presbyteressa
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1175,