Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1257
Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage (North Africa) informs the presbyters, deacons, and people of Carthage that he ordained the confessors Celerinus and Aurelius as readers, and that he wants to ordain them presbyters soon. Cyprian, Letter 39, AD 250.
Epistula 39
Cyprianus presbyteris et diaconibus et plebi universae fratribus s[alutem].
I,1. Agnoscenda et amplectenda sunt, fratres dilectissimi, beneficia diuina quibus ecclesiam suam dominus inlustrare temporibus nostris et honestare dignatus est, commeatum dando bonis confessoribus suis et martyribus gloriosis, ut qui sublimiter Christum confessi essent clerum postmodum Christi ministeriis ecclesiasticis adornarent.
Exultate itaque et gaudete nobis cum lectis litteris nostris quibus ego et collegae mei qui praesentes aderant referimus ad uos Celerinum fratrem nostrum uirtutibus pariter et moribus gloriosum clero nostro non humana suffragatione sed diuina dignatione coniunctum.
2. Qui cum consentire dubitaret, ecclesiae ipsius admonitu et hortatu in uisione per noctem conpulsus est ne negaret nobis suadentibus.
Cui plus licuit et coegit, quia nec fas fuerat nec decebat sine honore ecclesiastico esse quem sic dominus honorauit caelestis gloriae dignitate.
III, 1. Nec rudis iste aut nouus est in Celerino carissimo nostro titulus gloriarum. Per uestigia cognationis suae graditur, parentibus ac propinquis suis honore consimili diuinae dignationis aequatur. Auia eius Celerina iam pridem martyrio coronata est. Item patruus eius et auunculus Laurentinus et Egnatius in castris et ipsi quondam saecularibus militantes, sed ueri et spiritales dei milites, dum diabolum Christi confessione prosternunt, palmas domini et coronas inlustri passione meruerunt. [...]
IV,3. Iungendus in lectione Aurelio fuerat, cum quo et diuini honoris societate coniunctus est, cum quo omnibus uirtutis et laudis insignibus copulatus est [...].
V,2. Hos tamen lectores interim constitutos sciatis, quia oportebat lucernam super candelabrum poni unde omnibus luceat et gloriosos uultus in loco altiore constitui, ubi ab omni circumstante conspecti incitamentum gloriae uidentibus praebeant. Ceterum presbyterii honorem designasse nos illis iam sciatis, ut et sportulis idem cum presbyteris honorentur et diuisiones mensurnas aequatis quantitatibus partiantur, sessuri nobis cum prouectis et corroboratis annis suis, quamuis in nullo minor possit uideri aetatis indole qui consummauit aetatem gloriae dignitate. [...]
(ed. Diercks 1994: 186-192)
Letter 39
Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, and to the whole people, his brethren in the Lord, greeting.
I,1. The divine benefits, beloved brethren, should be acknowledged and embraced, wherewith the Lord has condescended to embellish and illustrate His Church in our times by granting a respite to His good confessors and His glorious martyrs, that they who had grandly confessed Christ should afterwards adorn Christ’s clergy in ecclesiastical ministries. Exult, therefore, and rejoice with me on receiving my letter, wherein I and my colleagues who were then present mention to you Celerinus, our brother, glorious alike for his courage and his character, as added to our clergy, not by human recommendation, but by divine condescension.
2. Who, when he hesitated to yield to the Church, was constrained by her own admonition and exhortation, in a vision by night, not to refuse our persuasions; and she had more power, and constrained him, because it was not right, nor was it becoming, that he should be without ecclesiastical honour, whom the Lord honoured with the dignity of heavenly glory. [...]
III,1. Nor is that kind of title to glories in the case of Celerinus, our beloved, an unfamiliar and novel thing. He is advancing in the footsteps of his kindred; he rivals his parents and relations in equal honours of divine condescension. His grandmother, Celerina, was some time since crowned with martyrdom. Moreover, his paternal and maternal uncles, Laurentius and Egnatius, who themselves also were once warring in the camps of the world, but were true and spiritual soldiers of God, casting down the devil by the confession of Christ, merited palms and crowns from the Lord by their illustrious passion.  [...]
IV,3. He should have been associated with Aurelius in reading; with whom, moreover, he was associated in the alliance of divine honour; with whom, in all the insignia of virtue and praise, he had been united. [...]
V,2. [...]   Know, then, that these for the present are appointed readers, because it was fitting that the candle should be placed in a candlestick, whence it may give light to all, and that their glorious countenance should be established in a higher place, where, beheld by all the surrounding brotherhood, they may give an incitement of glory to the beholders. But know that I have already purposed the honour of the presbytery for them, that so they may be honoured with the same presents as the presbyters, and may share the monthly divisions in equalled quantities, to sit with us hereafter in their advanced and strengthened years; although in nothing can he seem to be inferior in the qualities of age who has consummated his age by the dignity of his glory.

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.


Social origin or status - Soldiers
Former ecclesiastical career - Lower clergy
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
      Reasons for ordination
        Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1257,