Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 573
The Liber Pontificalis (written in Rome, AD 536/546) describes how Pope Agapitus (AD 535-536), the son of the presbyter Gordianus, destroyed the booklets of anathema extorted from the clergy by his predecessor, Boniface II.
59. Agapitus, natione Romanus, ex patre Gordiano presbitero, clericus a sanctos Iohannem et Paulum. [...] Hic ortum episcopatus sui libellos anathematis, quos invidiae dolo extorserat Bonifatius presbiteris et episcopis contra canones et contra Dioscorum, in medio ecclesiae, congregatis omnibus, incendio consumpsit et absolvit totam ecclesiam de invidia perfidorum.
(ed. Duchesne 1886: 287)
59. Agapitus, of Rome, whose father was the presbyter Gordian, was a cleric at St John’s and St Peter's. […] At the beginning of his episcopate, in the presence of all, he burnt in the middle of the church the booklets of anathema (libellos anathematis), which Boniface had extorted from the presbyters and bishops by jealousy and deceit, against the canons and against Dioscurus; and he absolved the entire Church from the ill will of the deceitful.
(trans. S. Adamiak)


For the booklets of condemnation mentioned here see [572].
There is only a slight chance that Agapitus was a presbyter. Liberatus writes that he was an archdeacon when he succeeded to the Roman episcopal see (Breviarium, 21). However, the expression "clericus a sanctos Iohannem et Paulum" used in the Liber Pontificalis may suggest that he was a presbyter of that titular church.

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Rome

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.


Social origin or status - Clerical family
Family life - Offspring
Functions within the Church - Parish presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Described by a title - Clericus
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
    Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
      Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER573,