Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 666
Augustine, bishop of Hippo Regius (North Africa) urges the presbyter Quintianus to seek reconciliation with Aurelius, the bishop of Carthage, who excommunicated him. He admonishes Quintianus not to read publicly the non-canonical books and explains to him some rules regarding accepting people into monasteries. Augustine, Letter 64, AD 401.
Letter 64
Domino dilectissimo fratri et conpresbytero Quintiano Augustinus in Domino salutem.
2. Manifestum est quidem, quod, si ad nos uenires uenerabili episcopo Aurelio non communicans, nec apud nos posses communicare; sed ea caritate nos faceremus, qua et illum facere non dubitamus. Nec ideo tamen onerosus nobis esset aduentus tuus, quia et te oportet aequo animo facere pro ecclesiae disciplina praesertim salua conscientia, quam tu nosti et Deus. Neque enim et ille, si causam tuam discutiendam distulit, odio tuo fecit et non necessitatibus suis, quas tu si ita nosses, quem ad modum tuam nosti, nec mirareris
nec contristareris. Quod etiam de nostris petimus credas, quia similiter eas non potes nosse. Sunt autem maiores nobis et auctoritate digniores et loco uiciniores episcopi, per quos facilius possitis ad curam uestram pertinentes ecclesiae causas exequi. Nec ego tamen tacui apud uenerabilem et debita mihi pro eius meritis honorificentia suscipiendum fratrem et collegam meum senem Aurelium tribulationem uestram et querimoniam litterarum uestrarum, sed per exemplum epistulae tuae innocentiam tuam ei perferre curaui. Litteras autem tuas uel pridie uel ante biduum natalis domini accepi, quando illum insinuasti ad ecclesiam Badesilitanam uenturum, a qua timetis dei plebem conturbari atque corrumpi. [...]
3.Verum tamen, quod tibi uni dico, qui mihi scripsisti, per te ipsum perueniat ad eos, quibus opus est dici. Vos ipsi prius nolite in scandalum mittere ecclesiam legendo in populis scripturas, quas canon ecclesiasticus non recepit; his enim haeretici et maxime Manichaei solent inperitas mentes euertere, quos in campo uestro libenter latitare audio. Miror ergo prudentiam tuam, quod me admonueris, ut iubeam non recipi eos, qui ad nos a uobis ad monasterium ueniunt, ut, quod statutum est a nobis in concilio, permaneret, et tu non
memineris in concilio institutum, quae sint scripturae canonicae, quae in populo dei legi debeant. Recense ergo concilium et omnia, quae ibi legeris, commenda memoriae; et ibi etiam inuenies de solis clericis fuisse statutum, non etiam de laicis, ut undecumque uenientes non recipiantur in monasterium, non quia monasterii facta mentio est, sed quia sic institutum est, ut clericum alienum nemo suscipiat. Recenti autem concilio statutum est, ut de aliquo monasterio qui recesserint uel proiecti fuerint, non fiant alibi clerici aut praepositi monasteriorum. Si ergo de Priuatione te aliquid mouit, scias eum a nobis nondum esse susceptum in monasterium; sed causam ipsius ad senem Aurelium misi, ut, quod de illo statuerit, hoc faciam. [...]
(ed. Goldbacher 1898: 229-231)
Letter 64
Augustine to his most beloved brother and fellow presbyter Quintianus, greetings in the Lord.
2. It is, of course, evident that, if you came to us, while not in communion with the venerable bishop, Aurelius, you could not be in communion with us either, but we would act with the same charity with which we have no doubt that he acts.
Nor would your arrival be burdensome to us because you must act in a calm manner to preserve the discipline of the Church, especially if your conscience is clear, something which you and God know. For, if Aurelius postponed the discussion of your case, he did not do so out of hatred for you, but because of other demands upon him; if you knew them, as you know your own, you would not be surprised or saddened at the delay. We ask that you believe the same thing about the demands upon us, because you likewise cannot know them. There are bishops older than we are and more worthy of authority and nearer in place through whom you could more easily pursue the cases of the church belonging to your administration. Nor have I been silent before old Aurelius, my venerable brother and colleague, a man who deserves to be treated with all the respect due to his merits, about your tribulation and the complaint of your letter; rather, I have taken care to make known to him your innocence by a copy of your letter. But I received your letter either a day before or two days before Christmas when you informed me that he would go to the church of Badesilit where you fear that the people of God are going to be disturbed and harmed. [...]
3. Nonetheless, let what I say to you alone, who have written me, reach through you those who need to hear it said. As for you, do not first throw the Church into a scandal by reading to the people writings that the canon of the Church has not accepted. After all, heretics, and especially the Manichees, often use these writings to throw the minds of the unlearned into confusion, and I hear that they like to hide out in your territory. I am, therefore, surprised that Your Wisdom admonishes me to order that those men who come from you to us to
enter the monastery should not be received in order that what we have decided in council might remain in effect. And at the same time you do not remember that the council determined which are the canonical writings that ought to be read to the people of God. Reexamine, then, the council, and commit to memory everything that you read there, and you will also find that the council decided only regarding clerics, not also concerning lay persons, that those coming from elsewhere should not be received into a monastery. For the reason is not that there was any mention of a monastery, but because it was decided that no one should receive a cleric from elsewhere. But in a recent council it was decided that those who left a monastery or were thrown out should not become clerics elsewhere or superiors of monasteries. If, then, something bothers you with regard to Privatio, realize that we have not yet accepted him into the monastery, but I sent his case to the primate, Aurelius, in order that I may do what he decides in his regard. [...]
(trans. R. Teske, slightly modified)


We are not sure what was the location of "ecclesia Badesilitana" (probably identical with "ecclesia Vigesilitana" mentioned in chapter 4 of the letter). Given the subordination of Quintianus to Aurelius, it should be very near to Carthage, or at least in Africa Proconsularis. Therefore the conclusion of Mandouze (PCBE Afrique: Quintianus), identifying it with Vegesela in Byzacena  is wrong; also another Vegesela, lying in Numidia, does not seem a good possiblity.
 Quintianus was excommunicated by Aurelius, possibly for having non-canonical (pseudo-epigraphical) books read during the liturgy. Augustine tells him that if he arrives at Hippo, he will not be able to participate in the Eucharist untill he is reconciled with Aurelius. Augustine is also unhappy with the threats of Quintianus who suggested that the arrival of Aurelius in Badesilit would "disturb" the townsfolk. Augustine explains also to Quintianus that his objections to the acceptance of a certain Privatio in the monastery in Hippo are invalid. Anyway, those two last instances show the high position entertained by Quintianus in his Church.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Carthage
  • Badesilit

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Hippo Regius (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The letters of Augustine of Hippo cover a wide range of topics: Holy Scripture, dogma and liturgy, philosophy, religious practice and everyday life. They range from full-scale theological treatises to small notes asking someone for a favour. The preserved corpus includes 308 letters, 252 written by Augustine, 49 that others sent to him and seven exchanged between third parties. 29 letters have been discovered only in the 20th century and edited in 1981 by Johannes Divjak; they are distinguished by the asterisk (*) after their number.
The preserved letters of Augustine extend over the period from his stay at Cassiciacum in 386 to his death in Hippo in 430.
A. Goldbacher ed., S. Augustini Hipponiensis Episcopi Epistulae, Pars 2, Ep. 31-123, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 34/2,  Prague-Vienna-Leipzig 1898.
Saint Augustine, Letters 1-99, trans. R. Teske, New York 2001.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Travel and change of residence
    Ecclesiastical transfer
      Functions within the Church - Parish presbyter
      Functions within the Church - Wandering presbyter/Without office
        Functions within the Church - Monastic presbyter
          Monastic or common life - Cenobitic monk
            Monastic or common life - Clerical community
              Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
              Relation with - Townsman
              Relation with - Monk/Nun
              Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
              Described by a title - Conpresbyter
              Devotion - Reading the Bible and devotional literature
              Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER666,