Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1912
Bishop Ambrose of Milan (Italy) writes a letter to Severus, bishop of Naples (Italy) to tell him of James, presbyter from Persia, who moved to Campania in Italy. Ambrose of Milan, Letter 49 (Maur. 59), written in Milan, AD 387/388 or AD 392/393.
XLVIIII (Maur. 59)
Ambrosius Severo episcopo
1. Ex ultimo Persidis profectus sinu Iacobus, frater et conpresbyter noster, Campaniae sibi ad requiescendum litora et vestras elegit amoenitates. Advertis quibus in locis quasi ad huius mundi vacuum tempestatibus suppetere sibi posse praesumpserit securitatem, ubi post diuturnos labores reliquum vitae exigat.
2. Remota enim vestri ora litoris non solum a periculis, sed etiam ab omni strepitu tranquilitatem infundit sensibus et traducit animos a terribilibus et saevis curarum aestibus ad honestam quietem, ut illud commune omnium specialiter vobis videatur congruere et convenire quod ait David de sancta ecclesia: "Ipse super maria fundavit eam et super flumina praeparavit eam" [Ps 23:2] Etenim liber animus a barbarorum incursibus et proeliorum acerbitatibus vacat orationibus, inservit deo, curat ea quae sunt domini, fovet illa quae pacis sunt et tranquillitatis.
3. Nos autem obiecti barbaricis motibus et bellorum procellis in medio versamur omnium molestiarum freto et pro his laboribus et periculis graviora colligimus futurae vitae pericula. Unde de nobis propheticum illud concinere videtur: "Pro laboribus vidi tabernacula Aethiopum" [Habac 3:7] 4. Etenim in istius mundi tenebris, quibus obumbratur veritas futurae perfectionis, cum ad annum tertium et quinquagesimum iam perduxerim in hoc corpore situs, in quo tam graves iam dudum sustinemus gemitus, quomodo non in tabernaculis Aethiopum tendimus et "habitamus cum habitantibus Madian" [Habac 3:7]? Qui propter tenebrosi operis conscientiam diiudicari etiam ab homine mortali reformidant. "Spiritalis" enim "diiudicant omnia, ipse autem a nemine diiudicatur" [1 Cor 2:15].
Vale, frater, et nos dilige ut facis, quia nos te diligimus.
(ed. Zelzer 1990: 54-55; summary M. Szada)
XLVIIII (Maur. 59)
Ambrose to Severus, bishop
1. James, our brother and fellow presbyter, has come from distant Persia and chosen to find rest for himself in your fair countryside on the coast of Campania. Notice in what spot he hopes to enjoy a haven, as it were, from the storms of this world, where, after long toils, he may spend the remainder of his life.
2. That shore of yours, far removed from dangers and every disturbance, fills one's emotions with peace and draws the mind from frightening and raging seas of trouble to a beautiful repose, so that the words that David said of the Church and which apply to all in common appear to be especially suited and applicable to you: "He has founded it upon the seas, and has made it firm upon the waters." [Ps 23:2] The mind that is free of onslaughts of barbarians and the bitterness of war has time for prayer, is devoted to the service of God, cares for the things of the Lord, and cherishes the interests of peace and tranquility.
3. However, we who are exposed to the outbreaks of barbarians and the storms of war, are tossed in the midst of a sea of many troubles and can only infer from these labors and trials more grievious trials in the future. The saying of the Prophet seems to be in accord with our condition: "I saw the tents of the Ethiopians for their labors" [Hab 3:7] 4. Having now lived fifty-three years in the body, amid the shadows of this world which obscure the reality of the future perfection, and having already endured such heavy sorrows, am I not encamping in the tents of the Ethiopians and dwelling with the inhabitants of Madian? They, owing to their knowledge of the works of darkness, fear to be judged even by mortal men, "for the spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged by no man." [1 Cor 2:15]
Farewell, brother, and love us as you do, for we love you.
(trans. Beyenka 1954: 149-150; in the translation Letter 29)


The present letter mentions barbarians and the war troubling Milan and its vicinity - it is probably reference either to the invasion of the Emperor Maximus in 387/388 or Eugenius in 393/394. As Ambrose says that he is 53 it would mean that he was born either in 333/334 or 339/340. For references see Zelzer 1990: XXX.
Nothing more is known about the presbyter James.

Place of event:

  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • East
  • Milan
  • Naples

About the source:

Author: Ambrose of Milan
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Milan (Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Ambrose was a bishop of Milan from 374 until his death in 397. We have a collection of his letters organized in three parts. The first one consists of 77 letters organized in ten books most probably by Ambrose himself. He published his letters at some point after the death of Theodosius in 395. From this collection, Book 4 is missing, as are some letters of Books 2 and 4. The second part is the group of letters that survived outside the collection (extra collectionem), and the third is a group of letters concerning the council of Aquileia in 381 (together with the acts of this council). For a detailed discussion on the letters and further reading see Liebeschuetz 2010: 27–48 and Nauroy 2016: 146–160.
M. Zelzer ed., Epistulae et acta, epistularum libri VII-VIIII, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Lationorum 82/2, Wien 1990
Saint Ambrose, Letters, trans. M. M. Beyenka, Washington D.C. 1954
J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz, Ambrose of Milan: political letters and speeches, Liverpool 2010.
J.-P. Mazières, "Les lettres d’Ambroise de Milan à Irenaeus.”, Pallas. Revue d’études antiques 26 (1979), 103–114.
G. Nauroy, "The Letter Collection of Ambrose of Milan", [in:] Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide, ed. C. Sogno, B.K. Storin, E.J. Watts, Oakland, CA 2016, 146–160.
G. Nauroy, "Édition et organisation du recueil des lettres d’Ambroise de Milan: une architecture cachée ou altérée?", in: La correspondance d'Ambroise de Milan, textes réunis et préparés par A. Canellis, Saint-Étienne 2012, 19-61.
J.-R. Palanque, "Deux correspondants de saint Ambroise: Orontien et Irénée”, Revue des Études Latines 11 (1933), 153–163.
A. Paredi, S. Ambrogio e la sua età, Milano 1960.


Non-Latin Origin - Near Eastern
Travel and change of residence
Ecclesiastical transfer
Functions within the Church - Rural presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Described by a title - Conpresbyter
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1912,