Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 448
Braulio, bishop of Saragossa (Iberian Peninsula), writes a dedicatory letter to the Life of saint presbyter Aemilian and sends it to the presbyter Fronimian. He mentions the presbyters Sofronius and Gerontius who were his sources. Braulio`s of Saragossa Life of saint Aemilian, ca AD 631-645.
Tempore piae recordationis domini mei et germani maioris natu communis, ac sanctae uitae doctrinaque institutoris, Iohannis episcopi, tam eius iussis quam tuis obediens praeceptis intenderam, iuxta fidem notitiae, quam sub testificatione Citonati abbatis uenerabilis, Sofronii et Gerontii presbiterorum atque sanctae memoriae Potamiae religiosae feminae collectam non ambigebam, uitam unici patris patronique et singulariter Christo nostris temporibus electi beati Emiliani presbiteri, ut insceintiae meae uires ualitudoque sinebat, stilo praestringere. […]
Braulio mentions that he has lost his first draft and explains that it was the reason for a delay in writing.
Uolo autem ut, quia sanctissimus uir Citonatus presbiter atque Gerontius adhic in corpore degent, omnia quae in eo conscripsi ante ipsi recognoscant, et eorum discussione uentilata, si nec nominum nec rerum me fefellit sententia, habeantur confirmata. Sane illa quae anno praeterito a uobis ibidem diuinitus operata didici, in finem libelli istius ut a uobis accepi adieci. Ymnum quoque de festiuitate ipsius sancti, ut iussisti iambico senario metro compositum, transmisi; sermonem autem de eodem die superfluum dictare putaui […]
Igitur a conuersatione eius principio, nos quoque dicendi ratio, Christo fauente eiusque beati uiri oratione conatus nostros adiuuante, sumamus exordium qualis extitit a uicesimo aetatis suae anno. Venerabiles namque ecclesiarum Christi sacerdotes, Citonatus, sanctae purissimaeque uitae, Sofronius et Gerontius, presbyteri quibus immodicam fidem habet Ecclesia, nobis, quae ipsi uiderunt, fideli relatione narrarunt. Additur his probatissimis testibus testimonium beatae memoriae religiosissimae Potamiae, cuius nobilem ortum nobilior uitae nobilitauit cursus. […]
(ed. Vazquez de Parga 1943: 3, 5-6)
Braulio, unworthy bishop of Caesaraugusta, to the man of God, my Lord and brother, the presbyter Fronimian, greetings.
In the time of Bishop John, my lord of pious memory, an elder brother by birth, a man who shared our common holy calling and was a teacher of the faith, I had intended in obedience to his orders and your injunctions, along with my trust in the account which I had obtained from the testimony given by the venerable abbot Citonatius, the presbyters Sofronius and Gerontius, and Potamia, that devout lady of holy memory, to trace out with my pen, as far as my abilities and weakness of health permitted, a clear-cut life of our exceptional Father and patron, a man singled out by Christ in our times, the Blessed presbyter Aemilian. [...]
Braulio mentions that he has lost his first draft and explains that it was the reason for a delay in writing.
I wish, moreover, that as that most Holy man, the presbyter Citonatus, and Gerontius are still alive, that they should review beforehand all that I have written and thoroughly discuss it. Let them confirm that I have made no errors either of names or events. I have also added at the end of this little book, just as you told me of them, those miracles worked in that same place which I learned about from you last year. In addition, I have sent a hymn written in Senaric iambics for the feast of the Holy man as you asked. [...]
Let us therefore begin our tale, with Christ’s favour and the prayers of the blessed man himself aiding our efforts, from the time of his conversion which occurred in the twentieth year of his life. The venerable priests of the churches of Christ, Citonatus, a man of a holy and most pure life; and Sofronius and Gerontius, presbyters in whom the church has no small faith, gave me a reliable account of what they themselves had seen. To these most worthy witnesses can be added the testimony of the most devout Potamia of blessed memory, who ennobled the nobility of her birth with a yet more noble way of life.
(trans. A.T. Fear 1997: 15-16, 20 slightly altered)


On the identification of Fronimian with an addressee of Braulio's letters see Fear 1997, Lynch 1938, Valcárel Martinez 1990-1991. Some scholars thought that he was Braulio's brother (Lynch 1938; contra Fear 1997). In the correspondence he is referred to as "presbyter and abbot"; the latter title seems to indicate some monastic status and it was believed that he may have been an abbot of the San Millan de la Cogolla monastery, in the place where the oratory and the tomb of St Aemilian was. Here he is addressed only as a presbyter, thus the Life must have been written before Fronimian's elevation to monastic leadership. A.T. Fear, however, dismisses the possibility that Fronimian was an abbot in San Millan, because there is no contemporary evidence of the monastic activity at this place (the existence of the monastery is certain only from the 10th century (Ubieto Arteta 1973); for the Visigothic era only a church is mentioned; Fear 1997: 15, n. 1). It has been already demonstrated for the 6th century (Pietri 1982), the title of abba is not sufficient to assume the monastic status of a person, and there were also priests in charge of basilicas with this title. But we cannot assume that Fronimian was an abba basilicae in San Millan, because Braulio in his letter 13 to Fronimian ([101], see also letter 14 [296]) mentions "the brothers" who are under abbot Fronimian's supervision. If there was no monastery on the tomb of St Aemilian, Fronimian must have been a monastic superior elsewhere. But maybe the presbyter and abbot Citonatus, one of Braulio's sources about St Aemilian, was an abbot of the church in San Millan.
Citonatus, Gerontius, Sofronius and Potamia are not known from the other sources.

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Saragossa
  • San Millán de la Cogolla

About the source:

Author: Braulio of Saragossa
Title: Life of saint Aemilian, Vita sancti Aemiliani, Life of saint Emilian
Origin: Saragossa (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The Life of Saint Aemilian (d. 574) was written by Braulio, bishop of Saragossa, somewhere between 631 (his elevation to the episcopacy after the death of Bishop John of Saragossa) and 645 (the elevation to the episcopacy of Eugene II of Toledo who in the dedicatory letter is mentioned as being still a deacon; see Fear 1997: xxvi). The life was intended to be read during the celebration of mass in honour of St Aemilian ("breuem conscripsi, ut possit in missae eius celebritate quantocius legi", ed. Vazquez de Parga 1943: 5).
L. Vazquez de Parga ed., Sancti Braulionis Caesaraugustani episcopi Vita s. Emiliani, Madrid 1943
A.T. Fear, Lives of the Visigothic fathers, Liverpool 1997
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).
L. Pietri, "Les abbés de basilique dans la Gaule du VIe siècle", Revue d’histoire de l’Église de France 69 (1982), 5-28.
A. Ubieto Arteta, "Los primeros años del monasterio de San Millán", Principe de Viana 34 (1973), 181-200.
V. Valcárel Martinez, "¿Uno o dos Frunimianos en Vita Emiliani y cartas de Braulio de Zaragoza?", Faventia 12-13 (1990-1991), 367-371.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
Described by a title - Titles of respect
Monastic or common life - Monastic superior (abbot/prior)
Fame of sanctity
Reverenced by
Relation with - Another presbyter
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Brother/Sister
Relation with - Monk/Nun
Writing activity
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER448,