Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2248
Presbyter Novatian of Rome tried to usurp the bishopric of Rome and taught that the lapsi should not be admitted as penitents, following the doctrine of the presbyter Novatus of Carthage (North Africa), ca 250. Jerome, "On Illustrious Men", Betlehem, AD 392-393.
NOVATIANUS, Romanae urbis presbyter, aduersum Cornelium cathedram sacerdotalem conatus inuadere, Nouatianorum quod graece dicitur καθαρῶν dogma constituit, nolens apostatas suscipere paenitentes. Huius auctor Nouatus, Cypriani presbyter fuit. Scripsit autem De pascha, De sabbato, De circumcisione, De sacerdote, De oratione, De cibis Iudaicis, De instantia, De Attalo, multa que alia, et De trinitate grande uolumen, quasi ἐπιτομήν operis Tertulliani faciens, quod plurimi nescientes Cypriani aestimant.
(ed. Cushing Richardson 1896: 39)
Novatian, a presbyter of the city of Rome, having attempted to seize the episcopal see of Cornelius, established the teachings of Novatians, who in Greek are called καθαρῶν [the "pure ones"], being unwilling to accept the apostates as penitents. The author of this doctrine was Novatus, a presbyter of Cyprian [bishop of Carthage].
He wrote On the Passover,
On the Sabbath,
On Circumcision,
On the Priesthood,
On Prayer,
On Foods of the Jews,
On Zeal,
On Attalus, and many other works
and a large volume On the Trinity, making a sort of ἐπιτομήν of the work of Tertullian, which many through ignorance regard as a work of Cyprian.
(trans. Halton 1999: 102, slightly altered by J. Szafranowski)


Novatian served as a presbyter in Rome under Bishop Fabian who was martyred in January 250, in the Decian persecution. In 251, Novatian was named bishop of Rome himself by those who opposed the election of Cornelius, Novatus of Carthage being one of them.
The career of Novatianus is described in the letter from Bishop Cornelius of Rome to Bishop Fabius of Antioch, see [1396].
More on Novatus of Carthage can be found in the letter from Bishop Cyprian of Carthage to Bishop Cornelius of Rome, see [1275].

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Rome

About the source:

Author: Jerome of Stridon
Title: On Illustrious Men, De viris illustribus, De viris inlustribus De viris inlustribus, On the Lives of Famous Men
Origin: Bethlehem (East)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
At the beginning and end of his De viris illustribus, Jerome writes that he finished the book in the fourteenth year of Theodosius` reign, that is, between 19 January 392 and 18 January 393. The De viris illustribus contains short biographies of 135 Christian authors, with Jerome himself being the subject of the last. The goal of Jerome`s project was to manifest that Christian literature should be seen on a par with the pagan literature in terms of both the quantity of great writers and the quality of their work. The dedicatee of the De viris illustribus is Flavius Lucius Dexter, a Roman official in the service of Theodosius and son of Bishop Pacianus of Barcelona.
E. Cushing Richardson ed., Hieronymus liber De viris inlustribus; Gennadius liber De viris inlustribus, Leipzig 1896.
Jerome, On Illustrious Men, trans. Th.P. Halton, The Fathers of the Church 100, Washington 1999.


Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Novatianist
Change of denomination
Further ecclesiastical career - Bishop
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Usurping episcopal power
Writing activity
Episcopal ambitions
Education - Theological interest
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2248,