Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 358
Presbyter Andrew of Ostia is one of three consecrators of Pope Pelagius. Rome, AD 556. Account of the Liber Pontificalis (written in Rome), after AD 561.
62. Pelagius
Et dum non essent episcopi qui eum ordinarent, inventi sunt duo episcopi, Iohannis de Perusia et Bonus de Ferentino et Andreas presbiter de Hostis et ordinaverunt eum pontificem.
(ed. Duchesne 1886: 303)
62. Pelagius
Since there were no bishops who would ordain him, two bishops were found, John of Perugia and Bonus of Ferentino, and Andrew, a presbyter of Ostia; these ordained him pontiff.
(trans. R. Davis, slightly modified)


Normally, three bishops were needed for a consecration of another one. When the bishop of Rome was consecrated, the bishop of nearby Ostia was habitually the main consecrator. The consecration of Pelagius I was by all means unusual. He was not elected to the post, but nominated by the Emperor Justinian, after having acceded to the condemnation of the Three Chapters (see, however, [356]). He met with a hostile reception in Rome and the whole of Italy. Apparently, only two bishops were found in central Italy who were prepared to perform his consecration. We do not know whether the bishop of Ostia refused to assist at the ceremony, or if there was no bishop there at the time. Anyway, Andrew, a presbyter, joined two bishops in consecrating Pelagius. In this way, the account shows that it was deemed possible for presbyters to participate actively in ordinations, at least if some bishops were present, too.

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Rome
  • Ostia

About the source:

Title: Liber Pontificalis, The Book of Pontiffs, Gesta Pontificum Romanorum
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Liber Pontificalis is a major source for the history of the papacy in the first millenium. It is a collection of the lives of popes, starting from St Peter and kept going through to 870. Liber Pontificalis is prefaced by two apocryphical letters of Pope Damasus and Jerome, but it cannot be dated to that period. Although Mommsen tended to put the date of the actual compilation as late as the seventh century, nowadays Duchesne`s view is generally accepted that there were two editions made in the 530s-540s. The first, presumably completed soon after 530, has not survived as such, though we have two epitomes made from it (known as “Felician” and “Cononian” from the names of the popes at which they end). Duchesne tried to reconstruct it in his edition, but we follow the second edition presented by him, which was completed by the siege of Rome in 546. The work was then left aside for some time, and taken up again probably under Honorius (625-638) or shortly afterwards; hence the additions were written shortly after each pontiff`s death.
Liber starts to provide some more reliable information with the times of Pope Leo I (440-461), and becomes very well informed with the end of the fifth century. The lives of earlier popes cannot be considered as a valid source of information about their lifetime. However, those notices are a precious source for the sixth century: we learn what was considered an old tradition at the time, and how the past of the Roman church was being seen and constructed then. It is especially important when we deal with the liturgy.
 L. Duchesne ed., Le `Liber Pontificalis`, vol. 1., Paris 1886.
 T. Mommsen ed., Liber Pontificalis pars prior, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Gesta Pontificum Romanorum 1, Berlin 1898.
 The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis). The ancient biographies of the first ninety Roman bishops to AD 715, revised edition, translated with an introduction by R. Davis, Liverpool 2000.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Act of ordination
Ritual activity - Ordaining
    Equal prerogatives of presbyters and bishops
    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER358,