Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1387
Imperial rescript in response to the "Libellus precum" of the Luciferian presbyters from Rome, Marcellinus and Faustinus, written in AD 383/4 in Constantinople included in the Collectio Avellana, compiled in the second half of the 6th c.
[Collectio Avellana 2a]
1. Salue, Cynegi carissime nobis!
Etsi nulla humanis pectoribus maior quam diuinae legis debet esse reuerentia nec adici quicquam ad eam possit, cuius ambitiosa praestantia, mundi terraeque moderatrix, omne, quod sub nobis esse uoluit fauor omnipotentis dei, propitiata custodit, 2. tamen, quia per Faustinum atque Marcellinum, plenissimos fidei sacerdotes, interpellata clementia nostra, ueriti sumus ne, si per nos nihil fuisset responsum petentibus, nos uideremur annuere his qui diuinae legi cui seruimus contra propositum nostrum aliquid addidissent. Atque ideo ita utrumque moderamur ut petitionem quae est oblata ueneremur, fidei autem nihil ex nostro arbitrio optemus uel iubeamus adiungi. Nemo enim umquam tam profanae mentis fuit qui, cum sequi catholicos doctores debeat, quid sequendum sit doctoribus ipse constituat!
3. Et sane probabilis et iusta laudatio precum est, quae omnem prope seriem haereticae superstitionis, quae contraria est fidei catholicae, ordinemque complexa est. Nam et unde exorta et quo prouecta auctore fuisset aperuit, quippe cum persuasu quorumdam totius saeculi antiquitate mutata acti pro fide in exilium innocentes uitam cum summa laude posuerunt. 4. Sed circa eos non est dilata ultio qui insidiati bonis moribus et caelestibus institutis paulisper ex contentione non fide sed factione multorum mentes detestanda insinuatione peruerterent. Nam usque adeo omnipotentis dei mota patientia est, ut poenam, quae criminosis post fata debetur, in exemplo omnium ante fata sentirent. 5. Sed ne hoc quidem facto conuerti ad praeceptum dei flectique potuerunt: catholicos occultis molitionibus urguent, insequuntur, oppugnant. Tanta perseuerantia erroris est ut cum aliis diuersae obseruantiae sectatoribus cottidie peccare malint quam cum catholicis recta sentire.
6. In quo petentum laudanda illatio est qui, communicantes Gregorio Hispaniensi et Heraclidae Orientali, sanctis sane et laudabilibus episcopis, optant in fide catholica sine oppugnatione alicuius ac molestia uiuere nullisque appetentum insidiis conuentionibusque pulsari, quippe quibus placeat susceptam semel fidem omni in aeuum religione seruare. 7. Sit itaque inuiolatum, quicquid esse meruit aeternum. Non conuentio aliquid, non appetitio, non fraus attemptet aliena. Vtantur quo in loco uoluerint proposito suo! Vtantur ad catholicam fidem amore diuino!
Cynegi parens carissime atque amantissime, 8. sublimitas tua praeceptum nostrae serenitatis, quo catholicam fidem omni fauore ueneramur, sine qua salui esse non possumus, ita iubeat custodiri ut Gregorium et Heraclidam, sacrae legis antistites, ceterosque eorum consimiles sacerdotes qui se parili obseruantiae dederunt ab improborum hominum atque haereticorum tueatur et defendat iniuriis sciantque cuncti id sedere animis nostris ut cultores omnipotentis Dei non aliud nisi catholicos esse credamus!
(ed. A. Canellis 2006: 236-242 with the French translation)
[Collectio Avellana 2a]
On this petition [1342] the imperial law replied:
1. To our dearest to Cynegius, greetings.
Nothing shall be considered more important for the human hearts than the veneration of the Divine Law and nothing can be added to it. Its splendid excellence that governs heaven and earth and protects everything that the favour of the omnipotent God wanted to be under our power. 2. However, because our Clemency had been addressed by Faustinus and Marcellinus, priests full of faith, we were afraid that, if nothing was said in response to these petitioners, we would seem to agree with those who had added something against our purpose to the Divine Law which we serve. And therefore we proceed in this way wishing  to respect the petition that was submitted, but not desiring to order to add anything to the faith by our will. For there is no one of a mind so profane to decide himself what shall be followed by the catholic teachers, but these teachers shall rather be followed. 3. And truly pleasing and just is the eulogy of the petition that explains a succession and order of the heretical superstition that is contrary to the catholic faith. Because it shows where it originated and by whom was promoted since by the persuasion of some people the age-long tradition had been changed, and the innocents were sent into exile for their faith, and offered their lives in a praiseworthy way. 4. But the vengance is not defered for those who having conspired against the good morals and divine rules in the spirit of quarrel and faction not faith, perverted for a short time the minds of many by their detestable suggestions. And truly, the patience of God was moved so much that the criminals received before their demise the punishment that was due to them only after their demise as an example for all. 5. But they could not be converted and bent to the precept of God only by these means. They oppressed, persecuted, attacked the Catholics with their secret machinations. Their perseverance in the error is so great that they still today prefer to sin together with other followers of the other observance than to be right together with the Catholics.
6. In this praiseworthy is the demand of the petitioners who being in communion with Gregory of Spain and Heraclides of Orient, holy and laudable bishops, wanted to live in the Catholic faith without any oppression and maltreatment and not to be persecuted by the traps and schemes of their attackers, because they prefer to keep for ever devotedly the once accepted faith. 7. Let then everything that deserved to be eternal be also inviolated. Let no plot, no aspiration, no trickery attempt otherwise. Let them lead the life they have chosen wherever they like! Let them have God's love for the Catholic faith!
Oh Cynegius, our dearest and most beloved kin, 8. let your Sublimity order to observe the precept of Our Serenity by which we venerate with all the favour the Catholic faith without which we cannot be saved: Gregory and Heraclides, the bishops of the holy law, shall be kept safe from heretics and wicked people and protected from damages. And let everybody know that it is well established in our souls that only Catholics are the true worshippers of allmighty God.
(trans. M. Szada)


Marcellinus and Faustinus were presbyters in Rome who belonged to the party of the intransigent Nicenes and followers of Bishop Lucifer of Cagliari. Lucifer was exiled during the Arian controversy, and after being revoked from the exile he refused to enter the communion with the bishops who complied with the Arian creeds during the reign of Constantius (councils in Rimini and Seleucia). The mainstream Nicenes, especially in Rome, denigrated the attitude of Lucifer and his supporters, and attempted to portray it as schismatic or even heretic, and hence use the imperial law against schismatics and heretics to persecute the "Luciferian" party (Canellis 2006: 15-65, Pérez Mas 2008, Simonetti 1963). Thus, the presbyters, Marcellinus and Faustinus, exiled from Rome by Bishop Damasus, and staying in AD 383 in Constantinople, submitted the petition to the emperor in order to claim their orthodoxy, and ask for protection.

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • East
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Gaul
  • Eleutheropolis
  • Oxyrynchos
  • Constantinople
  • Trier

About the source:

Author: Marcellinus and Faustinus
Title: Collectio Avellana, Libellus precum
Origin: Iberian Peninsula
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The law is a response to the formal petition submitted by the presbyters Marcellinus and Faustinus to the emperor (see [1342]). The submission of such petition launchds a procedure per rescriptum (for a detailed discussion see Wesener 1965). The case was judged by the emperor, and his decision was redacted by the imperial bureaus. It was a rescriptum that had a force of law.
The Libellus precum and the rescript issued in response to it survived as a part of the Collectio Avellana (for a detailed discussion on the manuscripts see Canellis 2006: 66-83), a collection containing 244 letters issued by emperors, imperial magistrates and popes. The earliest item is dated to AD 367, the latest to AD 553. Hence, the compilator worked most probably in the second half of the 6th century. Two hundred documents of the Collectio are not known from any other collection. The editor of the Collectio, Günther noticed that it can be divided into five thematic parts (Günther 1896: 3-96; Steinacker 1902: 14-15; Blaudeau 2013: 4):
1) no. 1-40 is an independent collection making use of the records of the prefecture of the city of Rome concerning two episcopal elections;
2) no. 41-50  are derived from the records of the bishopric of Carthage, and consist of the letters of Innocentius I and Zosimus;
3) no. 51-55 are the late letters of Leo I, not known from any other source, regarding the exile of Bishop Timothy II of Alexandria;
4) no. 56-104 is the group of letters from the pontificates of Simplicius, Gelasius, Symmachus, John, Agapet, and Vigilius;
5) no. 105-243 are the letters from the records of Pope Hormisdas.
The modern name of the collection derives from the codex Vaticanus Latinus 4961 copied in the monastery Sancti Crucis in fonte Avellana that was considered the oldest by the brothers Ballerini who edited the Collectio in 1787.
A. Canellis ed., Faustinus (and Marcellinus), Supplique aux empereurs (Libellus precum et Lex augusta) précéde de Confession de foi, Sources Chrétiennes 504, Paris 2006
O. Guenther ed., Epistolae Imperatorum Pontificum Aliorum Inde ab a. CCCLXVII usque DLIII datae Avellana Quae Dicitur Collectio, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 35/1, 35/2, Prague, Vienna, and Leipzig 1895
K. Blair-Dixon, "Memory and authority in sixth-century Rome: the Liber Pontificalis and the Collectio Avellana”, [in :] Religion, dynasty, and patronage in early Christian Rome, 300-900, ed. K. Cooper, J. Hillner, Cambridge 2007, 59–76.
P. Blaudeau, "Un point de contact entre collectio Avellana et collectio Thessalonicensis?”, Millennium Yearbook / Millenium Jahrbuch 10 (2013), 1–12.
A. Canellis, "Introduction”, [in :] Faustinus et Marcellinus, Supplique aux empereurs (Libellus precum et Lex augusta), ed. A. Canellis, Paris 2006, 11–99.
J. Fernández Ubiña, "El Libellus Precum y los conflictos religiosos en la Hispania de Teodosio”, Florilegia Illiberitana 8 (1997), 103–123.
O. Günther, Avellana-Studien, Wien 1896.
J. Pérez Mas, La crisis luciferiana. Un intento de reconstrucción histórica, Roma 2008.
M. Simonetti, "Appunti per una storia dello scisma luciferiano”, [in :] Atti del Convegno di studi religiosi sardi, Padova 1963, 70–81.
H. Steinacker, "Ueber das älteste päpstliche Registerwesen”, Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 23 (1902), 1–49.
G. Wesener, "Reskriptprozess", Paulys Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Supplementband X, Stuttgart 1965, col. 865-871.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
Public law - Secular
Reverenced by
Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1387,