Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1303
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (North Africa), suggests that Cornelius, bishop of Rome, served on all grades of the ecclesiastical career before his episcopal election. Cyprian, Letter 55, AD 252.
Epistula  55
VIII,2. Nam quod Cornelium carissimum nostrum Deo et Christo et ecclesiae eius, item consacerdotibus cunctis laudabili praedicatione commendat, non iste ad episcopatum subito peruenit, sed per omnia ecclesiastica officia promotus et in diuinis administrationibus Dominum saepe promeritus ad sacerdotii sublime fastigium cunctis religionis gradibus ascendit.
(ed. Diercks 1994: 264)
Letter 55
VIII,2. For,—a thing which with laudable announcement commends our dearest Cornelius to God and Christ, and to His Church, and also to all his fellow-priests,—he was not one who on a sudden attained to the episcopate; but, promoted through all the ecclesiastical offices, and having often deserved well of the Lord in divine administrations, he ascended by all the grades of religious service to the lofty summit of the priesthood.


This is part of the letter to Bishop Antonius [1272], in which Cyprian explains the validity of the election of Cornelius against his detractors, especially Novatian, who was ordained bishop against Cornelius.
The passage does not state explicitly what ecclesiastical grades Cornelius really followed. Actually, he may have been only a deacon before his episcopal election, but the wording of Cyprian ("omnia ecclesiastica officia") in reality suggests all grades, including that of deacon and presbyter. Incidentally, the description of the ecclesiastical career of Cornelius shows how different it was from that of Cyprian himself.

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.


Former ecclesiastical career - Lower clergy
Former ecclesiastical career - Deacon
Further ecclesiastical career - Bishop
Impediments or requisits for the office - Ecclesiastical career
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1303,