Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 387
Braulio, bishop of Saragossa (AD 649-651) replies to the letter of the presbyter Fructuosus in Galicia. He praises his monastic vocation, answers to his scriptural questions, warns him of the Priscillian heresy and says that he does not have the copies of the requested books (ca AD 651).
Braulio humbly states that the compliments Fructuosus gave him in his letter do not correspond with reality.
Sane ut, que proibeo te, ipse in laudibus tuis agam, dicturus forsitan eirs 'Quur qui hec proibes, ipse facis?' Sed necessario partibus mei fabeo, dum tibi debitum reddo, quia ab Apostolo instruimur ut omnibus debitum reddamus et nemini quicquam debeamus. [...] Laudem quidem animam tuam sed in Domino, in quo rectos laudare debemus; [...] Ideoque quanto magis noui quod loquaris animo circa me fideli, tanto magis uideor debito pregrabari, ac sic accipe quod gestio dicere.
Felix tu qui huius mundi contemnens negotia prelegisti otia sancta! Ardorem tuum animumque, uigorem luminisue candorem Spiritu Sancto fulgentem intellego, delector, diligo, amplector et ut pro meis flagitiis facinoribusque ante Deum preualeat areditate bibula anelo. Felix illa eremus et uasta solitudo, que dudum tantum ferarum conscia, nunc monacorum per te congregatorum laudes Deo precinentium habitaculis es<t> referta, peregrinorum mundi, ciuium Dei, Babilonia cabtiborum, Iherusalem predestinatorum! [...]
Braulio continues praising Fructuosus.
Cauete autem dudum illius patrie uenenatum Priscilliani dogma, qua et Dictinum et multos alios, ipsum quoque sanctum Orosium inuenimus fuisse infectum, quamuis postea a sancto Agustino correctum. Nam ita etiam peruersitatis sue studio sacras deprauauit scripturas, ut adhuc ex ipsius corruptoris neuo deprauatas inueniamus multas.
Nec uos uanitas cenodoxie aut aura popularis in aliam partem flectat, quia oc est postremo aput adhletas Dei certamine, in quo est et nouissimum discrimen.
Iam, ne ultra modum epistolarem protraham sermonem, ad questiones quas proposuisti accedam et ea que inde legerim, ut a te speratum est, maiorum nostrorum sententia, ut occurrit, depromam; quedam uero breuitatis causa meo sermone conpingam.
Braulio cites the question about Scriptural matters from the letter of Fructuosus and answers with the lengthy quotations from Jerome, St. Augustine, Eucherius of Lyon, Isidore of Seville.
His igitur pro uestra bolumtate digestis, codices, cos uobis a nobis dirigendos mandastis, scriptos duplices non inueni. Aliquos nec singulares repperi; subtractos eos de armario nostro animaduerti inquisitionemque occupatio tulit, set, si Deus uoluerit et uita comes fuerit, est spes eos et inueniendi et uobis mittendi.
Braulio says that he is tired because of the length of his letter; he wishes he could meet once again with Fructuosus, but he is ill and he wants to die. Then he says he prefers allegorical interpretation of Bible than historical one.
Macte uirtute, cuius talia erumpunt germina, qualia existent Fructuosi fructuosa frumenta! Set huic tanto bono, cum accedit studium diuinarum scripturarum, presertim in conlatione mutua, in breui conferat fructum et aliis subministret iucunditatis gaudium. Nicil in te mediocre contentus sum, crede amori uera dicenti. [...]
Braulio says that Fructuosus shall not think that he is of little value because of the land where he lives.
Prouinciam namque quam incolitis et grecam sibi originem defendit, que magistra est litterarum et ingenii, et ex ea ortos fuisse recordamini eligantissimos et doctissimos uiros, ut aliquos dicam, Orosium presbiterum, Turibium episcopum, Idatium et Carterium laudate senectutis et sancte erudtionis pontificem. Ac per hoc Cristi gratia superabundans predicanda quam regio segnitie est culpanda.
There follow the final salutations.
(ed. Riesco Terrero 1975: 166-182)
Letter 44
Braulio, unworthy servant of the saints of God, to my lord, deservedly outstanding, most sweet son in the members of Christ, Fructuosus the presbyter.
Braulio humbly states that the compliments Fructuosus gave him in his letter do not correspond with reality.
Now that I have forbidden you to do this, I shall turn to praise of you, and you are doubtless going to say: "Why do you do yourself what you forbid?" I must necessarily favour my side while I pay you my debt, for we are instructed by the apostle to "render to all men whatever is their due" (Romans 13: 7) [...] I must praise your soul, but in the Lord, in whom we should praise the upright [...] The more I realise the faith you show in speaking of me, the more it feels right for me to be heavily oppressed; it is thus that you must receive what I am eager to say.
How happy you are for having abandoned the business of this world and chosen in advance the holy leisure! I understand, love, cherish, and embrace the ardour and vigour of your mind, the brightness of the light that shines in the Holy Spirit; I pant with thirsty longing that your merits may prevail before God for my sins and crimes. How blessed is that desert and vast solitude which recently knew only wild beasts and is now filled with the habitations of monks, congregated by you and singing praises of God; of pilgrims of the world, citizens of God, captives from Babylon, predestined to Jerusalem. [...]
Braulio continues praising Fructuosus.
In your section of the country, be on your guard, even at this late date, against the poisonous dogma of Priscillianism, by which we know Dictinius was infected as well as many others, including saint Orosius, who was later set aright by saint Augustine. To such an extent has Priscillian distorted the Scriptures by the zeal of his heresy that even to this day we find many books depraved by the taint of this corruptor. Do not be led astray by popular favour or the vanity of vainglory, for this is the last struggle among the athletes of God, in whom is the final judgement. Now, not to protract my letter unduly, I shall come to the questions which you proposed and, as you hoped, I shall quote the opinions of our ancestors, such as I have read and as they occur to me; certain matters, for the sake of brevity, I shall put together in my own words.
Braulio cites a question on scriptural matters from the letter of Fructuosus and answers with the lengthy quotations from Jerome, Augustine, Eucherius of Lyon, Isidore of Seville.
Having disposed of these matters in accordance with your wish, I report that I have not found any duplicates of the books which you ask to have me send to you. Of some, I have not even located single copies; I have discovered that they are missing from our shelves and I have been too busy to institute a search, but if God is willing and life lasts long enough, there is hope of locating them and sending them to you.
Braulio says that he is tired because of the length of his letter; he wishes he could meet once again with Fructuosus, but he is ill and wants to die. Then he says he prefers an allegorical interpretation of Bible rather than a historical one.
Well done! When the beginnings you produce are so great, what will be the fruit produced by Fructuosus? In addition to this good, since you also possess zeal for the divine Scriptures, especially in mutual discussion, you will soon send out branches and will bear grapes of exceeding sweetness, to confer fruits upon your own nature, and to furnish others with the delight of their enjoyment. I shall not be content with anything mediocre from you. [...]
Braulio says that Fructuosus shall not think that he is of little value because of the region in which he lives.
The province which is your home claims for itself an origin in Greece, which is the mistress of letters and learning: we recall that it has been the birthplace of most eminent and most learned men, among whom we may mention the presbyter Orosius, the bishops Turibius, Idatius, and Carterius, another bishop of laudable old age and holy erudition. Therefore you should boast of the overflowing grace of Christ rather than find fault with the slight productivity of that country.
There follow final salutations.
(trans. by C. Barlowe 1969: 99-112; slightly adapted)


Braulio's warning against Priscillianism is unexpected as we do not have any evidence that it was still alive in the 7th century. Probably his primary concern are the books where some trace of Priscillianist theology could have survived. We need to remember that Braulio is writing to a person staying in Galicia - maybe the mention of Priscillianism is just an erudite remark, a sign that Braulio is well-informed in the history of theology of this region.
Braulio's letter is also our only evidence that Orosius (ca 375-418) was a convert from Priscillianism. Chadwick (1976: 191) supposed that it could be 'a false deduction from some words of Augustine in his letter to Jerome commending Orosius'. But as Orosius himself was originally from Galicia he could have been exposed to the Priscillianist influence.

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Rome
  • Saragossa

About the source:

Author: Braulio of Saragossa
Title: Letters, Epistularium
Origin: Saragossa (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Letters 43 and 44 were written shortly before Braulio`s death in 651 (Lynch 1938: 75; Madoz 1941: 55-56). The sender of the letter 43 was Fructuosus, famous monastic leader (born ca 603, ob. 665/666; see discussion in record [155]). We do not know from which monastic establishment he is writing his letter to Braulio, but from letter 44 we know that it is certainly in Galicia (Isidore of Seville, Etymologies 9.2.110-111 says that the Galicians claim Greek origins).
Riesco Terrero, Luis ed. Epistolario de san Braulio. Annales de la Universidad Hispalense. Serie Filosofía y Letras, v. 31. Sevilla, 1975.
C.W. Barlowe, Iberian Fathers, v. 2, Braulio of Saragossa, Fructuosus of Braga, Washington D. C. 1969.
H. Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila: the occult and the charismatic in the early church, Oxford 1976.
C.H. Lynch, Saint Braulio, bishop of Saragossa (631-651) his life and writings, Washington, D.C 1938 (see also Spanish translation revised by P. Galindo: C.H. Lynch, P. Galindo, San Braulio, obispo de Zaragoza: (631 - 651). Su vida y sus obras, Madrid 1950).
J. Madoz, Epistolario de San Braulio de Zaragoza: ed. crít. según el cód. 22 del Archivo capitular de León, Madrid 1941.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Priscillianist
Change of denomination
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Described by a title - Titles of respect
Monastic or common life - Cenobitic monk
Reverenced by
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Heretic/Schismatic
Education - Theological interest
Devotion - Reading the Bible and devotional literature
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER387,