Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1402
The Emperor Maximus replies to Bishop Siricius of Rome about Agroecius whom the latter considers wrongfully ordained a presbyter, AD 385. Letter 40 in the Collectio Avellana, compiled in the second half of the 6th c.
2. Ceterum de Agroecio, quem indebite ad presbyterii gradum conscendisse commemoras, quid religioni nostrae catholicae possum praestare reuerentius, quam ut de hoc ipso, cuiuscemodi esse uideatur, catholici iudicent sacerdotes? Quorum conuentum ex oportunitate omnium, uel qui intra Gallias uel qui intra quinque prouincias commorantur, in qua elegerint urbe constituam, ut isdem residentibus et cognoscentibus, quid habeat consuetudo, quid legis sit, iudicetur. [...]
Maximus expresses his care for the unity of the Church and anxiety about the Manichaeans (i.e. Priscillianists).
(ed. Guenther 1895: 91)
2. But in regard to Agroecius, who, as you claim, had undeservedly risen to the rank of presbyter, what can I decide more reverently for the benefit of our Catholic religion than that Catholic priests judge on this matter, of what nature soever it seems? I shall summon on a favourable time a gathering of all those who live either in Gaul or in Five Provinces, in the city of their choosing. So they may sit together, consider the case, and judge it according to the custom and the law. [...]
Maximus expresses his care for the unity of the Church and anxiety about the Manichaeans (i.e. Priscillianists).
(trans. M. Szada)


For 384 to 387, Magnus Maximus resided in Trier in Gaul, and probably there he wrote the present to the Pope.     

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Gaul
  • Trier

About the source:

Author: Maximus, the emperor
Title: Collectio Avellana
Origin: Trier (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Magnus Maximus was comes Britanniae in the time of Gratian who usurped the imperial power in the spring of AD 383. Maximus subdued Gaul, the conquered Gratian went back to Italy where he was assasinated. Later on, Maximus came to terms with the emperor Valentinian II (with the intercession of Ambrose of Milan) and the Emperor Theodosius who formally recognized the usurper in AD 384 (Curran 2008: 104-108). The present letter is a response to the inquiries of Bishop Siricius of Rome (from AD 384 to 399) regarding the ordination of the Gallic presbyter Agroecius.
Collectio Avellana is 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 (Gunther 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 that are derived from the records of the bishopric in Carthage, and consist of the letters of Innocentius I and Zosimus;
3) no. 51-55, 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 the group of letters from the pontificates of Simplicius, Gelasius, Symmachus, John, Agapet, and Vigilius;
5) no. 105-243 the letters from the records of 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.
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
J. Curran, "From Jovian to Theodosius", in: Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 13, ed. A. Cameron, P. Garnsey, Cambridge 2008, 78-108.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Secular authority
Impediments or requisits for the office - Improper ordination
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1402,