Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1719
Presbyter Paulellus of Reims (Gaul) shelters two slaves, ca AD 511/534. Account of Gregory of Tours, "Histories", Tours (Gaul), AD 573-594.
Leo, the slave of Bishop Gregory of Langres, helped in the escape of Attalus, the bishop's nephew, who had been enslaved by a Frankish noble from whom they were now fleeing.
Hi autem nocte ipsa adtigerunt ad urbem, ingressique invenerunt hominem, quem sciscitati, ubinam esset domus Paulelli presbiteri, indicavit eis. Qui dum per plateam praeterirent, signum ad matutinus motum est – erat enim dies dominica –  pulsantesque ianuam presbiteri, ingressi sunt, exposuitque puer de domino suo. Cui ait presbiter: "Vera est enim visio mea. Nam videbam duas in hac nocte columbas advolare et consedere in manu mea, ex quibus una alba, alia autem nigra erat". Dixitque puer presbitero: "Indulgeat Dominus pro die sua sancta. Nam nos rogamus, ut aliquid victu praebeas; quarta enim inluciscit dies, quod nihil panis pulmentique gustavimus". Occultatis autem pueris, praebuit eis infusum cum vino et panem et abiit ad matutinus. Secutusque est et barbarus, iterum inquirens puerus; sed inlusus a presbitero, regressus est. Presbiter enim amicitiam cum beato Gregorio antiquam habebat. Tunc resumptis pueri epulo viribus, per duos dies in domo presbiteri conmorantes, abscesserunt, et sic usque ad sanctum Gregorium perlati sunt.
(ed. Krusch 1937: 115-116)
Leo, the slave of Bishop Gregory of Langres, helped in the escape of Attalus, the bishop's nephew, who had been enslaved by a Frankish noble from whom they were now fleeing.
That same night the two fugitives reached the city [of Reims]. They went in and found a man, whom they asked to tell them where the house of Presbyter Paulellus was. He gave them the necessary directions. As they crossed the city square the bell rang for matins, for it was the Lord's day. They knocked at the presbyter's door and went in. Leo explained whose servant he was. "My vision has come true, then," said the presbyter. "This very night I dreamed that two doves flew in and perched on my hand. One of them was white and the other black." The slave said to the presbyter: "May the Lord grant us indulgence for His holy day. We beg you to give us something to eat. The fourth day is now dawning since we last tasted bread or meat." The presbyter concealed them and gave them some bread soaked in wine. Then he went off to matins. Later the Barbarian put in an appearance, still looking for his slave. The presbyter told him a lie, and he went off once more. For the presbyter was an old acquaintance of the blessed Gregory. When they had eaten, the two slaves felt stronger. They stayed two days in the presbyter's house. Then they went on again and were brought before Saint Gregory.
(trans. Thorpe 1974: 178-179, slightly altered by J. Szafranowski)


This episode took place during the reign of King Theuderic I of Austrasia, that is between 511 and 533/534.

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Reims

About the source:

Author: Gregory of Tours
Title: The History of the Franks, Gregorii episcopi Turonensis historiarum libri X, Histories
Origin: Tours (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Gregory of Tours (Gaul) wrote his ten books of Histories (known commonly in English as the History of the Franks) during his episcopal reign in Tours between 573 and 594. The books vary in scope and length. The first book covers 5,596 years from the creation of the world to AD 397, that is the death of Saint Martin of Tours, Gregory`s predecessor in bishopric. The second book deals with the history of Gaul between 397 and 511, the latter being the year of death of King Clovis I. The third and fourth books cover the next 64 years till the death of Austrasian King Sigibert II in 575. Finally, the following six books describe exclusively the sixteen years from 575 to 591. Probably in 594, Gregory added the list of bishops of Tours in the end of the Histories, with brief accounts of their actions.
B. Krusch ed., Gregorii Episcopi Turonensis Historiarum Libri X [in:] Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingiciarum 1.1, Hannover 1884 (repr. 1951): 1­-537.
Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. L. Thorpe, London 1974.


Food/Clothes/Housing - Type of housing
Functions within the Church - Urban presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ritual activity - Celebrating feasts
Ritual activity - Divine office/Liturgy of the hours
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Noble
Relation with - Slave/Servant
Pastoral activity - Ransoming and visiting prisoners and captives
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1719,