Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 181
DRAFT: Presbyter Constantius is angry with his uncle, bishop Boniface of Ferento, because the latter gave Constantius` money to the poor. Because of his greed, and probably because he was willing to pay for the office, Constantius will never be bishop. Account of Gregory the Great, "Dialogues", Rome, AD 593/594.???? SEE ABOVE
10. Alio quoque tempore praedictus Constantius presbiter nepos eius equum suum duodecim aureis uendidit, quos in propriam arcam ponens, ad exercendum aliquod opus discessit. Cum subito ad episcopium pauperes uenerunt, qui inportune precabantur, ut eis sanctus uir Bonifatius episcopus ad consolationem suae inopiae aliquid largire debuisset. Sed uir Dei, quia quod tribueret non habebat, aestuare coepit in coga1ditatione, ne ab eo pauperes uacui exirent. Cui repente ad memoriam rediit, quia Constantius presbiter nepos eius equum quem sedere consueuerat uendidisset, atque hoc ipsum pretium in arca sua haberet. Absente igitur eodem nepote suo, accessit ad arcam, et pie uiolentus claustra arcae comminuit, duodecim aureos tulit, eos que indigentibus ut placuit diuisit.
11. Itaque Constantius presbiter reuersus ex opere arcam fractam repperit, et caballi sui pretium quod illic posuerat non inuenit. Coepit magna uoce perstrepere et cum furore nimio clamare: 'omnes hic uiuunt; solus ego in hac domo uiuere non possum'. Ad cuius nimirum uoces aduenit episcopus omnesque qui in eodem episcopio aderant. Cumque eum uir Dei locutione blanda temperare uoluisset, coepit ille cum iurgio respondere, dicens: 'Omnes tecum uiuunt; ego solus hic ante te uiuere non possum. Redde mihi solidos meos'.
12. Quibus uocibus conmotus episcopus beatae mariae semper uirginis ecclesiam ingressus est, et eleuatis manibus, extenso uestimento, stando coepit exorare, ut ei redderet unde presbiteri furentis insaniam mitigare potuisset. Cum que subito oculos ad uestimentum suum inter extensa brachia reduxisset, repente in sinu suo duodecim aureos inuenit, ita fulgentes tamquam si ex igne producti hora eadem fuissent.
13. Qui mox de ecclesia egressus, eos in sinum furentis presbiteri proiecit, dicens: 'ecce habes solidos quos quaesisti. Sed hoc tibi notum sit, quia post mortem meam tu huic ecclesiae episcopus non eris propter auaritiam tuam'. Ex qua sententiae ueritate collegitur quia eosdem solidos presbiter pro adipiscendo episcopatu praeparabat. Sed uiri Dei sermo praeualuit; nam isdem Constantius in presbiteratus officio uitam finiuit.
(ed. de Vogüé 1979: 84-88)
10. Another time, the aforesaid presbyter Constantius, his nephew, had sold his horse for twelve gold coins. He put the money in his coffer, and departed in some other business. Soon, poor people came to the blessed man bishop Boniface who insistently begged, that he should give them something to ease them in their poverty. The man of God, not having anything to grant them, pondered restlessly not to send them away empty-handed. Then, it occured to him suddenly, that his nephew sold his horse that he had used to ride, and that the money was in his coffer. Therefore, in his absence, he broke the lock with pious violence , took the twelve gold coins, and distributed them among those in need as it pleased him.
11. And so presbyter Constantius returned from work and discovered that his coffer was broken and the money he got for his horse is not there. He began to shout loudly, and to cry out in fury: 'Everybody is living here, I alone cannot live in this house.' Hearing his cries, came the bishop and all that were near him. When the man of God wanted to soothe his anger with gentle speech, Constantius started to reply in a quarrelsome manner, saying: 'Everybody lives with you, I alone cannot live here under you. Give me back my solidi.'
12. The bishop, moved by his words, entered the church of the blessed Mary ever virgin and, standing with his hands lifted and with his vestment extended, he began to pray, that she would give the same amount of money, with which he could soothe the priest mad with fury. And when he suddenly turned his eyes to the vestement extended between his arms, he discovered twelve coins in the curve, as glittering as though put out from the fire in the same hour.
13. He soon went out of the church and threw the money into the raging priest's curve,  saying: 'Here are the solidi that you have demanded. But let it be known to you that after my death you shall not be the bishop of this church because of your greed.' It can be rightfully gathered from this sentence that the priest was preparing these solidi in order to secure the bishopric for himself. However, the words of the man of God prevailed: for the same Constantius ended his life holding the office of the presbyter.
(trans. Gardner 1911: 34-35; changed by J. Szafranowski)


The word nepos may also be translated as grandson, or, more generally, as descendant, thus making the relation between Constantius and Boniface more intimate and direct.

Place of event:

  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Ferento

About the source:

Author: Gregory the Great
Title: Dialogues, Dialogorum Gregorii Papae libri quatuor de miraculis Patrum Italicorum, Dialogi
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Gregory the Great wrote his Dialogues between 593 and 594 in Rome when he was the Bishop of this city. They were written in order to present lives and miracles of Italian saints, many of them contemporary to Gregory, and the greatest of them, saint Benedict of Nurcia. The Dialogues are divided into four books in which Gregory tells the stories of various saints to Peter, who was a deacon and a friend of Gregory, and is also known from the Gregory`s private correspondence.
Grégoire le Grand, Dialogues, ed. A. de Vogüé, Sources Chretiennes 251, 260, 265, Paris 1978-1980.


Food/Clothes/Housing - Type of housing
Food/Clothes/Housing - Objects of luxury
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Simony/Buying office
Administration of justice - Administration of justice
Economic status and activity - Buying & selling
Economic status and activity - Indication of wealth
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Other relative
Further ecclesiastical career - None
Episcopal ambitions
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER181,