Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1272
Cornelius, bishop of Rome, writes to Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, about the return of some of the confessors to the Church, the presbyter Maximus among them, who was allowed by Cornelius to sit again in his place. Cornelius, Letter 49 in the epistolary of Cyprian, AD 251.
Epistula 49
Cypriano Cornelius fratri s[alutem].
I,1. Quantam sollicitudinem et anxietatem sustinuimus de his confessoribus qui dolo et malitia hominis callidi et ueteratoris fuerant circumuenti et paene decepti et ab ecclesia alienati, tanta laetitia adfecti sumus et deo omnipotenti et Christo domino nostro gratias egimus, cum ei cognito suo errore et intellecta hominis maligni uelut serpentis astutia uenenata ad ecclesiam unde exierant, sicut ipsi ex suo corde profitentur, simplici uoluntate uenerunt.
2. Et primo quidem fratres nostri probatae fidei amantes pacem unitatem optantes tumorem illum horum mollitum iam adnuntiabant, fides tamen non idonea, ut facile nobis credere daretur illos repente esse mutatos.
3. Postea uero Vrbanus et Sidonius confessores ad compresbyteros nostros uenerunt adfirmantes Maximum confessorem et presbyterum se cum pariter cupere in ecclesiam redire. Sed quoniam multa praecesserant ab eis designata, quae tu quoque a coepiscopis nostris et ex litteris meis cognouisti, ut non temere eis fides haberetur, ex ipsius ore et confessione ista quae per legationem mandaueram placuit audiri.
4. Qui cum uenissent et a presbyteris quae gesserant exigerentur, nouissime quod per omnes ecclesias litterae calumniis et maledictis plenae eorum nomine frequentes missae fuissent et paene omnes ecclesias perturbassent, circumuentos se esse adfirmarunt neque <quae> in istis litteris inessent scisse, tantummodo subscripsisse, calliditate eius circumductos se commisisse quoque schismati et haeresis auctores fuisse, ut paterentur ei manum quasi in episcopatum inponi. Qui cum haec et cetera eis fuissent exprobrata, ut abolerentur et de memoria tollerentur deprecati sunt.
II,1. Omni actu ad me perlato placuit contrahi presbyterium. Adfuerunt etiam episcopi quinque, qui et hodie praesentes fuerunt, ut firmato consilio quid circa personam eorum obseruari deberet consensu omnium statueretur. Et ut motum omnium et consilium singulorum dignosceres, etiam sententias nostras placuit in notitiam uestri perferri, quas et subiectas leges.
2. His ita gestis in presbyterium uenerunt Maximus, Vrbanus, Sidonius et plerique fratres qui eis se adiunxerant, summis precibus desiderantes ut ea quae ante fuerant gesta in obliuionem cederent nulla que eorum mentio haberetur, proinde atque si nihil esset uel commissum uel dictum, inuicem omnibus remissis, cor mundum et purum iam deo exhiberent, sequentes euangelicam uocem beatos esse puros corde, quoniam ipsi dominum uiderent.
3. Quod erat consequens, omnis hic actus populo fuerat insinuandus, ut et ipsos uiderent in ecclesia constitutos quos errantes et palabundos iam diu uiderant et dolebant. Quorum uoluntate cognita magnus fraternitatis concursus est factus. Vna uox erat omnium gratias deo agentium, gaudium pectoris lacrimis exprimentes, conplectentes eos quasi hac die poena carceris fuissent liberati.
4. Et ut ipsorum propria uerba designem, "nos" inquiunt "Cornelium episcopum sanctissimae catholicae ecclesiae electum a deo omnipotente et Christo domino nostro scimus. Nos errorem nostrum confitemur. Inposturam passi sumus. Circumuenti sumus perfidia et loquacitate captiosa. Nam etsi uidebamur quasi quandam communicationem cum schismatico et haeretico homine habuisse, sincera tamen mens nostra semper in ecclesia fuit. Nec ignoramus unum deum dominum omnipotentem, unum quoque Christum esse dominum quem confessi sumus, unum spiritum sanctum, unum episcopum in catholica esse debere"
5. Ista eorum professione non moueremur, ut quod apud potestatem saeculi erant confessi in ecclesia constituti conprobarent Quapropter Maximum presbyterum locum suum agnoscere iussimus. Ceteros cum ingenti populi suffragio recepimus, omnia ante gesta remisimus deo omnipotenti, in cuius potestate sunt omnia reseruata. [...]
(ed. Diercks 1994: 231-236)
Letter 49
Cornelius to Cyprian his brother, greeting.
I,1. In proportion to the solicitude and anxiety that we sustained in respect of those confessors who had been circumvented and almost deceived and alienated from the Church by the craft and malice of that wily and subtle man, was the joy with which we were affected, and the thanks which we gave to Almighty God and to our Lord Christ, when they, acknowledging their error, and perceiving the poisoned cunning of the malignant man, as if of a serpent, came back, as they with one heart profess, with singleness of will to the Church from which they had gone forth.
2. And first, indeed, our brethren of approved faith, loving peace and desiring unity, announced that the swelling pride of these men was already soothed; yet there was no fitting assurance to induce us easily to believe that they were thoroughly changed.
3. But afterwards, Urbanus and Sidonius the confessors came to our presbyters, affirming that Maximus the confessor and presbyter, equally with themselves, desired to return into the Church; but since many things had preceded this which they had contrived, of which you also have been made aware from our co-bishops and from my letters, so that faith could not hastily be reposed in them, we determined to hear from their own mouth and confession those things which they had sent by the messengers.
4. And when they came, and were required by the presbyters to give an account of what they had done, and were charged with having very lately repeatedly sent letters full of calumnies and reproaches, in their name, through all the churches, and had disturbed nearly all the churches; they affirmed that they had been deceived, and that they had not known what was in those letters; that only through being misled they had also committed schismatical acts, and been the authors of heresy, so that they suffered hands to be imposed on him as if upon a bishop. And when these and other matters had been charged upon them, they entreated that they might be done away and altogether discharged from memory.
II,1. The whole of this transaction therefore being brought before me, I decided that the presbytery should be brought together; (for there were present five bishops, who were also present to-day;) so that by well-grounded counsel it might be determined with the consent of all what ought to be observed in respect of their persons. And that you may know the feeling of all, and the advice of each one, I decided also to bring to your knowledge our various opinions, which you will read subjoined.
2. When these things were done, Maximus, Urbanus, Sidonius, and several brethren who had joined themselves to them, came to the presbytery, desiring with earnest prayers that what had been done before might fall into oblivion, and no mention might be made of it; and promising that henceforth, as though nothing had been either done or said, all things on both sides being forgiven, they would now exhibit to God a heart clean and pure, following the evangelical word which says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
3. What remained was, that the people should be informed of all this proceeding, that they might see those very men established in the Church whom they had long seen and mourned as wanderers and scattered. Their will being known, a great concourse of the brotherhood was assembled. There was one voice from all, giving thanks to God; all were expressing the joy of their heart by tears, embracing them as if they had this day been set free from the penalty of the dungeon.
4. And to quote their very own words,—“We,” they say, “know that Cornelius is bishop of the most holy Catholic Church elected by Almighty God, and by Christ our Lord. We confess our error; we have suffered imposture; we were deceived by captious perfidy and loquacity.  For although we seemed, as it were, to have held a kind of communion with a man who was a schismatic and a heretic, yet our mind was always sincere in the Church. For we are not ignorant that there is one God; that there is one Christ the Lord whom we have confessed, and one Holy Spirit; and that in the Catholic Church there ought to be one bishop.” Were we not rightly induced by that confession of theirs, to allow that what they had confessed before the power of the world they might approve when established in the Church? Wherefore we bade Maximus the presbyter to take his own place; the rest we received with great approbation of the people. But we remitted all things to Almighty God, in whose power all things are reserved.


For the same event see also [1274] and [1276]. Maximus and the others initially supported Novatian. Novatian was ordained against Cornelius, after the election of Cornelius as the bishop of Rome in AD 251. Novatian and his followers took the rigorist view towards the lapsed, but they communicated with the followers of Novatus in Carthage who rebelled against Cyprian considering him too rigorist.

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Rome

About the source:

Author: Cyprian
Title: Letters, Epistulae, Epistolae
Origin: Rome (Rome)
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.
J. Patout Burns Jr, Cyprian the Bishop, London & New York 2002.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Impediments or requisits for the office - Heresy/Schism
Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
Relation with - Another presbyter
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Heretic/Schismatic
Administration of justice - Ecclesiastical
    Ecclesiastical administration
      Described by a title - Conpresbyter
        Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1272,