Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 198
Bishop Montanus of Toledo (Iberian Peninsula) writes a letter to Toribius, probably abbot and presbyter (or a bishop) in Palencia (Iberian Peninsula) asking him to condemn the practice of consecrating chrism by the presbyters of Palencia. He also refers to the problem of consecrating churches of Palencia by the bishops not belonging to the province of Toledo. The letter added to the canons of the second council of Toledo in 527 or 531.
Domino eximio, praecipuoque Christicolae domno et filio Toribio Montanus episcopus.
Alumnum te fidei catholicae et sanctae religionis amicum etiam in actis mundialibus conuersantem ualde et nouimus et probauimus. Cum enim adhuc floreres in saeculo, ita claritudinis tuae uita perpatuit, ut secundum sententiam Domini et quae sunt Caesaris Caesari non negares et Deo quae sua sunt deuota mente persolueres (Matthew 22:21). Iure etenim auctorem te diuini cultus in hac praesertim prouincia nominabo. Putasne quanta tibi apud Deum maneat merces, cuius sollertia uel instantia et idololatriae error abscessit et Priscillianistarum detestabilis ac pudibunda secta contabuit? Si tamen adhuc eius nomen honorare desistant, cuius per tuam admonitionem collapsa esse opera non ignorant. Nam de terrenorum dominorum fide quid loquar? cui ita tuum impendisti laborem ut feroces cohabitantium tibi animos ad salubrem regulam et normam regularis disciplinae perduceres. Praestabit diuina clementia quia id quod summo labore conatus es, precibus et orationibus perficeres.
Quae tamen ex Palentino conuentu ad nos peruenerint, celsitudini uestrae indicare curaui quo facilius per uestram increpationem nefanda praesumptio in posterum conquiescat. Quidam, ut ad nos perlatum est, presbyteri ausu temerario res sacras non tam consecrare quam uiolare praesumunt et cunctis ab initio fidei catholicae saeculis inusitatum sui ordinis hominibus, nisi tantum summis pontificibus debitum, ius consecrationis chrismae, nescio, quo tipo (an dementia dicam?), indubitanter assumunt. Quod quam sacrilegum sit, piissimam conscientiam tuam latere non credo, et ideo spero ut pro eneruanda hac ipsa superfluitate seuerissimi sacerdotis auctoritate utaris et tantae rei temeratores districtiori increpatione coerceas. Qui si post datam ammonitionem nefas iterare praesumpserint, contumacia eorum sententia conuenienti damnabitur.
Simili ratione cognouimus eo quod necessitudine consecrandarum basilicarum fratres nostri alienae sortis episcopi in locis istis inuitati conueniant. Et licet sit in toto orbe sponsae Christi thalamus unus eiusque antistites una in eodem fibula caritatis et fidei unione conexi, quid tamen in priuilegium decessori nostro necnon dominis et fratribus nostris Carpetaniae uel Celtiberiae episcopis uester coepiscopus fecit, in exemplaribus caritati uestrae direximus ut scire possitis, improba petitio qualem potuisset habere profectum. Et certe municipia, id est Segobia, Brittablo et Cauca, eidem, non quidem rationabiliter sed pro nominis dignitate, concessimus ne collata benedictio persona uagante uilesceret. Quod ipsi tantummodo, dum aduiuit, praestitum fuisse cognoscite. Hoc ergo prouidere uolumus, ut consuetudinem antiquam nulla ratione praetermittere debeatis. Quod si haec nostra admonitio in uobis nihil profecerit, necesse nobis erit domini nostri exinde auribus intimare, pariter et filio nostro Ergani suggerere, et huiusmodi ausum praecepta culminis eius uel districtio iudicis non sine uestro detrimento seuerissime uindicabunt, tanta etenim, tribuente Domino, eius est pietas, ut nihil de hoc quod ius antiquum custodisse probatur, immutari permittat. Diuina uos custodiat Trinitas. Amen.
(eds. Martínez Díez, Rodríguez 1984: 363-366 )
Bishop Montanus to Toribius, excellent Lord and distinguished worshipper of Christ.
We know and we are convinced that you were the disciple of the holy Catholic faith and the friend of the holy religion even while you were living among worldly things. Indeed, when it was still flourishing in the world, the life of Your Brightness manifested that you did not refuse to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and you rendered to God what is God’s with devout mind. Therefore I will name you justly as the founder of the divine cult especially in this province. Have you ever thought how great reward from God awaits for you who have made with your ingenuity and industriousness the error of idolatry to go away and the detestable and shameful sect of Priscillianists to waste away? [How much greater it will be] if they cease to honour the name of the one whose works, as they know, collapsed by your admonition. What then I will say about the faith of the temporal lords? You devoted to it so much effort that you have led the ferocious souls of those who live with you to the salutary rule and norm of regular discipline. The divine mercy will help you, because you accomplished by prayers and supplications what you have undertaken with great effort. Therefore I inform you about those things that came to us from the Palencian convent so that this impious insolence would be easily stopped for the future by your objurgation. Some presbyters (as I was told) boldly dare to consecrate, or rather violate, sacred things, and they assume without any doubts the right to chrism consecration (on what grounds, or rather by what kind of folly, I do not know), which the people of their rank [sui ordinis hominibus] never had from the beginning of the Catholic faith, but it was always a duty of the bishop [summis pontificibus debitum]. It does not escape your conscience how sacrilegious it is, I believe, and thus I hope that you will use the authority of a most severe priest [seuerissimi sacerdotis auctoritate] to weaken those excesses and that you will reprimand harshly those violators. If they presume to continue to act impiously after the admonition, let their contumacy be duly sentenced.
From the same relation we have learnt that our brothers, the bishops of other sorts, are invited to those places because of the necessity to consecrate churches. Although there is in the whole world only one bed of the bride of Christ, and her bishops (antistites) are united by the same bond of love and the same unity of faith, but what was in a privilege that your chorbishop gave to our predecessor and to our brothers, the bishops of Carpetania and Celtiberia, we send to your Love in a copy, so you can know what effect an impious request can have. And certainly we grant the municipalities of Segovia, Brittablo, and Cauca, to him [Toribius's chorbishop] not even according to the law, but rather beacuse of the dignity of position, so that the [episcopal] benediction being attached to the vagant person would not become worthless. Thus we will ensure that you do not permit by any means the practice of the former custom. If you do not accept our admonition, it will be necessary for us to inform our lord about it, and also our son Ergo, and a precept of his highness or a sentence of the judge will punish this audacity not without harm to you. Thanks to God his piety is so great that he does not let anything change that is guarded by the ancient law. May the divine Trinity protect you. Amen.
(trans. M. Szada)


The section about Toribius's co-bishop or chorbishop is unclear. It was proposed (Martin 2006) that it was a former bishop of Palencia who had been deposed by the council provincial of Carpetania and Celtiberia some time before the second council of Toledo (527 AD). At the second council of Toledo this deposed bishop of Palencia gave a "privilegium" to Montanus of Toledo and his suffragans and in return they granted him three municipalities, Segovia, Brittablo and Cauca, so that his episcopal ordination would not lose its value by the lack of residence. Then, the former bishop would have a title of chorbishop (mysterious "coepiscopus" in the text, because we know that the see is vacant and that Toribius is not a bishop). Probably during the vacancy in the see of Palencia Toribius was asking the chorbishop to bless chrism and churches. This is called by Montanus of Toledo an "impious request".
Toribius was probably an abbot, as his monastic conversion is mentioned and that he had some kind of authority over monks ('animos ad salubrem regulam et normam regularis disciplinae perduceres'). Montanus also wrote that Toribius had an authority of a priest, so he also most probably was a presbyter.

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Toledo
  • Palencia

About the source:

Author: Montanus of Toledo
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Toledo (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The two letters of Montanus of Toledo, one to the clergy of Palencia (or more specifically the presbyters, as their authority and responsibilities are mainly discussed), and the other to a certain Toribus, are annexed to the canons of the second council of Toledo 527 or 531 (on the dating see discussion in record no. 177) in the canonical collection Hispana compiled in the 7th c. They are not dated and their only connection to the canons is their author, because Montanus of Toledo presided at the council (Martin 2006: 9).
G. Martínez Díez, F. Rodríguez, eds., La colección canónica Hispana, v. 4 Concilios Galos. Concilios Hispanos: primera parte, Madrid 1984.
J. Vives, Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos, Barcelona-Madrid 1963.
A. Isla Ferez, "Desde el reino visigodo y la ortodoxia toledana: la correspondencia de Montano," Studia Historica. Historia Medieval 18-19 (2000), 41-52.
C. Martin, "Las cartas de Montano y la autonomía episcopal de la Hispania septentrional en el siglo VI," Hispania Antiqua 22 (1998), 403-426.
C. Martin, "Montanus et les schismatiques : la reprise en main d’une périphérie hispanique au début du vie siècle," Médièvales 51 (2006), 9-20.
C. Torres Rodríguez, "Límites geográficos de Galicia en los siglos iv y v," Cuadernos de Estudios Gallegas 4 (1949), 367-383.
P. Ubric, "The Church in Suevic Kingdom," [in:] Culture and society in medieval Galicia: a cultural crossroads at the edge of Europe, ed. J. D'Emilio, Leiden 2015, 210-245.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Priscillianist
    Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
    Described by a title - Titles of respect
    Monastic or common life - Monastic superior (abbot/prior)
    Relation with - Another presbyter
    Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
    Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
    Relation with - Secular authority
    Relation with - Monk/Nun
    Administration of justice - Ecclesiastical
      Ritual activity - Dedication of churches and altars
        Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER198,