Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1273
Cornelius, bishop of Rome, informs Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (North Africa), about the schismatics, among them presbyters. Letter 50 in the epistolary of Cyprian, AD 251.
Epistula 50
Cypriano Cornelius fratri s[alutem].
1. Ne quid minus ad poenam futuram huius scelerati hominis deesset, prostratus uirtutibus dei, cum Maximus et Longinus et Macheus inde fuissent expulsi, denuo resurrexit, et sicut prioribus litteris tibi quas per Augendum confessorem misi significaui, putans Nicostratum et Nouatum et Euaristum et Primum et Dionysium illo iam peruenisse. Inuigiletur ergo ut omnibus coepiscopis nostris et fratribus innotescat:
2. Nicostratum multorum criminum reum et non solum patronae suae carnali cuius rationes gessit fraudes et rapinas fecisse, uerum etiam, quod est illi ad perpetuam poenam reseruatum, ecclesiae deposita non modica abstulisse, Euaristum uero cum auctor schismatis fuisset, successorem plebi cui antea praefuerat Zetum in locum eius episcopum esse constitutum. Maiora uero et grauiora hic designauit malitia et inexplebili prauitate sua quam quae illic apud uos semper exercuit: ut scias quales duces et protectores ut schismaticus et haereticus lateri suo semper iunctos habeat.
Bene uale, frater carissime.
(ed. Diercks 1994: 238-239)
Letter 50
Cornelius to Cyprian his brother, greeting.
1. That nothing might be wanting to the future punishment of this wretched man, when cast down by the powers of God, (on the expulsion by you of Maximus, and Longinus, and Machæus;) he has risen again; and, as I intimated in my former letter which I sent to you by Augendus the confessor, I think that Nicostratus, and Novatus, and Evaristus, and Primus, and Dionysius, have already come thither. Therefore let care be taken that it be made known to all our co-bishops and brethren,
2. that Nicostratus is accused of many crimes, and that not only has he committed frauds and plunders on his secular patroness, whose affairs he managed; but, moreover (which is reserved to him for a perpetual punishment), he has abstracted no small deposits of the Church; that Evaristus has been the author of a schism; and that Zetus has been appointed bishop in his room, and his successor to the people over whom he had previously presided. But he contrived greater and worse things by his malice and insatiable wickedness than those which he was then always practising among his own people; so that you may know what kind of leaders and protectors that schismatic and heretic constantly had joined to his side. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily fare well.


The letter describes the supporters of 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 [53], who rebelled against Cyprian considering him too rigorist. We know from other letters of Cyprian that Maximus [166] was a presbyter.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Rome
  • Carthage
  • 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.


Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Novatianist
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Heretic/Schismatic
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, ER1273,