Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2409
Presbyter Silvinus from the fort of Quintanis in Noricum dies. He is revived by the prayers of the monk Severinus, but then refuses to return to life; between 454-82. Eugippius, Life of Severinus, written at Castellum Lucullanum near Naples in Italy, AD 511.
16. (1) Accidit autem, ut castelli presbyter memorati admodum uenerabilis, Siluinus nomine, moreretur, et cum in ecclesia feretro posito noctem psallentes duxissent ex more peruigilem, iam clarescente diluculo rogauit uir dei fessos presbyteros et diacones uniuersos parumper abscedere, ut post laborem uigiliarum somno se aliquantulum recrearent. (2) Quibus egressis homo dei ostiarium, Maternum nomine, interrogat, utrum omnes ut dixerat, abscessissent. At illo respondente cumctos abisse: "nequaquam" ait, "sed latet hic quaedam". Tunc ianitor ecclesiae saepta secundo perlustrans nullum intra ea remansisse testatur. Verum Chrisi miles domino sibi reuelante: "nescio quis", ait, "hic delitescit." Tertio itaque diligentius perscrutans quandam invenit uirginem consecratam locis se occultioribus abdidisse. (3) Hanc ergo memoratus sic increpauit aedituus: "cur istic famulo dei posito tuam credideras potuisse latere praesentiam?" At illa: "pietatis", inquit, "amor talia me facere persuasit: Videns enim cunctos foras expelli cogitaui mecum, quod seruus Christi inuocata diuina maiestate praesentem mortuum suscitaret." (4) Exeunte igitur memorata uirgine homo dei cum presbytero et diacono ianitoribusque duobus in oratione curuatus orauit fletu largissimo, ut opus solitae maiestatis superna uirtus ostenderet. Tunc orationem complente presbytero ita cadauer uir beatus alloquitur: "in nomine domini nostri Iesu Christi, sancte presbyter Siluine, loquere cum fratribus tuis." (5) At ubi oculos defunctus aperuit, uix praesentibus homo dei tacere prae gaudio persuasit. Et denuo ad eum: "uis", inquit, "rogemus dominum, ut te adhuc seruis suis in hac uita condonare dignetur?" At ille ait: "per dominum te coniuro, ne hic diutius tenear et frauder quiete perpetua, in qua me esse cernebam." (6) Statimque reddita oratione quieuit exanimis. Hoc autem factum ita sancti Seuerini adiuratione celatum est, ut ante mortem eius non potuisset agnosci: ego tamen haec quae retuli Marci subdiaconi et Materni ianitoris relatione cognoui. Nam presbyter et diaconus, tanti testes miraculi, ante uirum sanctum, cui iurauerant nulli se quod uiderant prodituros, obisse noscuntur.
(ed. Régerat 1991: 222, 224)
16. (1) It so happened that the presbyter of that fort, a very venerable man named Silvinus, came to die. When he was laid out on his bier in the church and they had kept vigil with psalm-singing as was the custom, at daybreak the man of God asked the tired presbyters and deacons to retire for a little while and to have some sleep for their relaxation after the hardship of the vigil. (2) When they had gone, the man of God asked the ostiarius, named Maternus, whether all had gone as he had told them. The latter answered thath all had gone away, but St. Severin said: "Not so. A woman is hiding here." Then the doorkeeper made another round of the precincts of the church and assured him that nobody had remained within. But the soldier of Christ, informed by a revelation of the Lord, said: "Somebody is hiding here." So the doorkeeper searched a third time with even greater diligence and found a consecrated virgin hiding in one of the less conspicuous places. (3) The doorkeeper reproached her: "What are you doing? Did you expect that your presence would remain secret when the servant of God is here?" She said: "It was love of religion that caused me to do this. For when I saw that all were sent outside, I thought by myself that the servant of God would invoke God's majesty to raise this dead man here to life." (4) So, when the said virgin had also gone, the man of God, together with the presbyter and the deacon and the two doorkeepers, bent down and prayed with a flood of tears that the power from above might give the often-proved manifestation of its majesty. Then, as the priest was ending his prayer, the blessed man addressed the dead body with these words: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, holy presbyter Silvinus, speak to your brethern." (5) The dead man opened his eyes; the man of God was hardly able to persuade those present to keep silent, so great was their joy. Again, Severin said to the dead man: "Do you want us to ask the Lord to grant you again to His servants in this life?" He, however, said: "I adjure you by the Lord, do not let me be kept here any longer, and be cheated of eternal rest in which I already saw myself placed." (6) He had hardly said these words when he lay again without life. This event was kept secret by the express will of St. Severin, who forebade to make it known before his death. I heard the story as i have told it from the accounts of the subdeacon, Marcus, and the janitor, Maternus. For the presbyter and the deacon, who had been witnesses of this great miracle, died, as is known, before the holy man who had their promise not to reveal to anybody what they had seen.                           
(trans. L. Bieler 1965: 74-75)


The name of the fortress, Quintanis, is mentioned in the previous chapter of the Life (15.2).
The story makes it uncertain how many presbyters (and deacons) were actually present at the vigil. The opening sentences suggest that there were at least two presbyters and two deacons. Later, however, there is only one presbyter and one deacon who witness Silvinus' revival. Did some go after Severinus' request and only two of them stayed to search the church? Or was the initial mention of presbyters and deacons in the plural perhaps an exaggeration?

Place of event:

  • Danubian provinces and Illyricum
  • Quintanis

About the source:

Author: Eugippius
Title: Life of Severinus, Life of saint Severinus, Vita Severini, Commemoratorium
Origin: Castellum Lucullanum (Italy south of Rome and Sicily)Naples (Italy south of Rome and Sicily),
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Eugippius was originally from Noricum, where he was a monk in the monastery founded by Severinus (died 482). He left Noricum in 488 with other monks and the body of Severinus as part of the evacuation to Italy ordered by Odoacer. They settled in Castellum Lucullanum near Naples, a Roman villa offered to them by the noblewoman Barbaria. In 511, Eugippius wrote the "Life of Severinus." He also composed an anthology of excerpts from the works of Augustine, dedicated to the virgin Proba of the powerful Roman family, the gens Anicia, see [2047]. He also maintained relations with the Roman clergy (as evidenced by his familiarity with Paschasius) and with the African clerics exiled by the Vandals.
The Life can be safely dated to 511, because in the letter to the deacon Paschasius that accompanies the Life, Eugippius mentions that the year of Inportunus' consulship (509) was two years ago, see [2401] and [2402].
Eugippius was still alive in 532 when he corresponded with Ferrandus of Carthage [...].
Ph. Régerat (ed.), Eugippe, Vie de saint Séverin, Paris 1991 (Sources Chrétiennes 337)
English translation:
Eugippius, Life of St. Severin, trans. L. Bieler, The Fathers of the Church, Washington D.C. 1965


Burial/Funerary inscription
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Fame of sanctity
Ritual activity - Presiding at prayer
Ritual activity - Burying the dead
Ritual activity - Divine office/Liturgy of the hours
Relation with - Another presbyter
Relation with - Deacon
Relation with - Lower cleric
Relation with - Monk/Nun
Relation with - Woman
Devotion - Vigils
Devotion - Supernatural experience
Ritual activity - Chanting
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2409,