Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 780
Valerius, hermit of Bierzo (Iberian Peninsula), and the deacon Simplicius are harassed by the drunkard presbyter Justus, probably of Castrum Petrense (region of Bierzo, near Astorga, Iberian Peninsula), the 7th century. Valerius of Bierzo, "Ordo querimoniae", 2nd half of the 7th century.
6. Dum igitur inter ipsa fluctivagi saeculi procellarum freta demum angoris maeroribus crebribus maceratus litoris niterer attingere portum, vetustissimus denique aemulus solitae malitiae concitat odium et novissimae subversionis consuetum praeparat impedimentum. Elegit namque nequissimum virum falsae nuncupationis nomie Justum, forma exiguae pusillitatis tantillum, ac teterrimae visionis colore barbaricae nationis Aethiopum, extrinsecus enim picea cute furvo sordens obtutu, in cordis vero arcana nigrior existit penitus corvo. Corpore quidem exiguum, sed criminum facinoribus copiosus. Hunc contra voluntatem meam, me perniciter resistentem, odrinaverunt presbyterum. Qui pro nulla alia electione ad hunc pervenit honorem nisi quia per ipsam multifariae dementiae temeritatem propter joci hilaritatem luxuriae petulantis diversam assumpsit scurrilitatem, atquae musicae comparationis lyrae mulcente pedocitur arte. Per quam multorum domorum convivia voragine percurrente, lascivia cantilenae modulatione plerumque psallendi adeptus est celebritatis melodia. Post tanti honoris insana temeritate injuste adeptam ordinationem, ausus est etiam per hypocrisin simulationis sanctam temerare religionem. Nam publice in oculis hominum per simulatum habitum proferens sanctitatem in occultis vero diabolicam operatus iniquitatem. Post novissimum itaque subversionis commotionisque meae naufragium ab omnibus relictus sum solus, et a nullo capiens consolationis auxilium, nisi unum tantummodo repperi levitam Domini, Christianum fidelissimum, cujus meritum vocabulum comitabatur suum, nomine Simplicium, qui cum nimia dilectione caritatis me in suum humiliter suscipiens hospitium, cumque cum summa obedientia familiaritatis in me studeret obsequium, et nos tantum duo in cotidianum ecclesiae permaneremus officium, incitavit denique invidus diabolus ipsum saepe dictum sacerdotii opprobrium, ut etiam prae nimia invidiosae malitiae peste contra nos diu machinans odium, multis supplantationibus fallacis amentiae suae incutere niteretur impedimentum. Cum autem adjuvante Domino laedendi nobis nullum inveniret argumentum flamma diabolicae atrocitatis succensus in meam publice insiluit contumeliam et crebro coram multis mihi infandum conviciorum irrogavir scandalum. In tanta exarsit freneticae insaniae dementiae truculentus, atque inexplicabile ebrietatis temulentiae irretitus, ut nec etiam nocturnis temporibus me permitteret esse quietum. Num dum vel nocturno silentio me ejus confiderem evadere pestem, petulanti importunitate impudicus saepe prorumpens, et mendicitatis meae hospitium hora refectionis impudenter adiens, pro caritatis consolationis mihi furibundus intulit jurgium atrocitatis, et nobis in caritate convescentibus, ille, superbiae vesaniae suae atque ebrietate vexatus, velut canis irruens, rabidus super nefanda convicia frendens stridore dentium, spumansque ore lymphatico baccabundus, propriis me lacerare manibus nitebatur. In tantum exarsit odii coecitate, frustratus atque invidiosae nequitiae flamma succensus, ut nec ante sacrosanctum mihi peperceret altarium. Ibique me gravissimis injuriis irrite confusum nisi fratrum intercessione fuissem ereptus, ferro me in conspectu multorum rabiens jugulare conabatur. Post tanti furoris insania tandem sedata, sic denique in amentia versus injustae susceptionis ordinem oblitus, vulgari ritu in obscena teatricae luxuriae vertigine rotabatur dum circumductis huc illucque brachiis, alio in loco lascivos conglobans pedes, vestigiis ludibricantibus circuens tripudio compositis et tremulis gressibus subsiliens, nefaria cantilena mortiferae ballimatiae dira carmina cananes, diabolicae pestis exercebat luxuriae. Sic quippe exaestuens mersus vio temulentia sepultus, et ebrius patiebatur sitem et esuriem vomens. Qui somno deditus desidiosoque torpore obvolutus non erat inter crebro psallentibus hymnis Dei ducentibus noctes. Numquam tales pestes Christus habere dignatus est servos.
(ed. C.M. Aherne 1949: 87, 89, 91, 93)
6. When among the stormy seas of the flood-swept world, I, beaten so often by anguish and suffering, struggled to reach a haven on the shore, then the old rival stirred up the hatred of his wonted malice, and prepared the usual stumbling-blocks for my latest undoing. For he picked out a very wicked man falsely called Justus, a weakling of puny stature, and with the color very black to behold of the barbarous Ethiopian race; for outwardly on account of his dark skin he was ugly in his sallow appearance, but in his secret heart he was absolutely blacker than a crow. Puny was his body, but filled with criminal acts. Against my will, as he wickedly resisted me, they ordained this fellow a priest. He achieved this honor for no other reason of his being chosen except that he adopted every kind of scurillity which is proper to wilful luxury in the brashness of a manifold madness for the sake of a boisterous humor, and because he was adept in the soft art of eliciting music from the lyre. On account of this, running like a glutton to banquets at many houses, he attained through the lascivious harmony of his frequent singing a wide reputation for music. After he had reached ordination unworthily in his insane arrogation of so high a honor, he even dared through a hypocritical pretension, to profane holy religion. For while he publicly displayed a simulated sanctity in the eyes of men, in secret he was carrying out a truly diabolical iniquity.
After my latest experience of being upset and shaken by shipwreck, I was left alone by everyone, getting the help of consolation from no one, except that I found one person, a very faithful Christian levite of the Lord, Simplicius by name, whose merit corresponded with his name, who, humbly received me with great love of charity into his dwelling. When he set himself at my service with the greatest filial obedience, and when only we two remained for the daily offices of the church, then the envious devil aroused that oft-named shame to the priesthood so that, scheming hatred against us for a long time, out of the excessive plaguing of his invidious malice, he strove with many false ruses of his treacherous madness to put obstacles in our way. But when, with God helping us, he found no grounds for injuring us, inflamed with the fire of diabolical violence, he covered me publicly with insult, and many times before many witnesses, he inflicted the unspeakable scandal of his invective upon me. Raging, and gripped by a heavy drunkenness that could not be shaken off, he burned in such madness of frenzied insanity that he would allow me no quiet even during the night. For when, in the silence of night, I was in hope that I had evaded the pest, he shamelessly often broke in with petulant importunity and at mealtime boldly coming to my poor dwelling, raging at me, as we were eating he introduced only ugly quarreling in place of consoling charity, goaded by his arrogant madness and drunkenness, and glaring like a mad dog, raging with teeth gnashing in unspeakable revilings, full of drink and foaming at the mouth, struggled to tear me apart with his own hands. Frustrated and aflame with the fires of envious iniquity, he struck out with such blind hatred that he did not spare me before the sacred altar. In his rage he was trying to cut my throat with a sword there in the plain view of many, if I confounded beyond measure by his terrible wrongs had not been rescued by the intervention of the brethern.
After the madness of such fury had finally abated, he, then turned in another direction by his insanity, forgetful of his orders wrongfully received, in vulgar fashion whirled about in the obscene giddiness of theatrical immodesty, the while swinging his arms this way and that, in another place circling his wanton feet, going around with mincing steps timed to the routine of the tripudium and hopping on shaky feet, singing wicked ditties, the frightful songs of a sinful dance, he carried on with the devil's ruinous obscenity. Then indeed he was so over-heated and drowned in wine, buried in drunkenness, that he, as a drunken man does, suffered hunger and thirst while he was vomiting. He, giving himself to sleep and enveloped in slothful torpor, was not among those frequently singing hymns and dedicating their nights to God. Never did Christ deign to have such pests as servants!
(trans. M.C. Aherne 1949: 86, 88, 90, 92)


Valerius mentions "brethren" who rescued him from the violence of Justus, but it is difficult to ascertain that he means that in Ebronanto there lived some kind of monastic or semi-monastic community. He also suggests that only he and the deacon Simplicius celebrated together the Divine office in the church.
It seems that in Spain there was some tradition of adapting dance into the liturgy and the religious cult. Canon 23 of the Third Council of Toledo forbids the faithful to dance and sing "filthy songs" during the festivities of the saints. Here, too, Valerius uses the word tripudium, that seems to denote specifically solemn, ritual dance (Aherne 1949: 176, 178).

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Castro Pedroso
  • Ebronanto

About the source:

Author: Valerius of Bierzo
Title: Ordo querimoniae, Account of my grief
Origin: Iberian Peninsula
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
''Ordo querimoniae" is the first part of the autobiographical trilogy written by the hermit from the region of Bierzo (Iberian Peninsula) Valerius. He relates the sufferings, attacks of the devil and conflicts he was involved in during his monastic life. The exact dates of Valerius`s life, as well as, the dates of composition of his works cannot be fixed; it can only be said that he lived and worked roughly in the second half of the seventh century. Apart from the autobiographical writings he composed six short works: De vana saeculi sapientia, Vita et epistola beatissimae Egeriae, De genere monachorum, Dicta beatum Valeri ad beatum Donadeum scripta, De Bonello monacho, De caeleste revelatione. On Valerius of Bierzo see Aherne 1949, Collins 1986, Díaz y Díaz 2006, Martín 2011.
Edition and translation:
Valerius of Bierzo, Ordo querimoniae, [in:]  C.M. Aherne, Valerio of Bierzo, an Ascetic of the Late Visigothic Period. A Dissertation, Washington D.C. 1949, 68-109
J.L. Avello Álvarez, "Los suevos y visigodos en la provincia de León", Memorias de historia antigua 11-12 (1990), 295-316.
R. Collins, "The Autobiographical Works of Valerius of Bierzo their structure and purpose”, [in :] Antigüedad y cristianismo: Monografías históricas sobre la Antigüedad tardía, 1986, 425-442.
M.C. Díaz y Díaz, Valerio Del Bierzo: su persona, su obra, León 2006.
M. Gómez Moreno, Catálogo monumental de España. Provincia de León (1906-1908), v. 1, Madrid 1925.
J.C. Martín, "¿Valerio en Compludo? Examen crítico de los opúsculos autobiográficos (CPL 1282-1284) y las Visiones del más allá (CPL 1277-1279) de Valerio del Bierzo”, Veleia 23 (2006), 327-338.


Food/Clothes/Housing - Food and drink
Entertainment - Feasting
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ritual activity - Divine office/Liturgy of the hours
Relation with - Deacon
Relation with - Monk/Nun
Reasons for ordination
Entertainment - Dancing
Reasons for ordination - Patronage
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER780,