Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 8
Augustine, bishop of Hippo Regius (North Africa) writes to the presbyter Restitutus about another presbyter accused of sexual misbehaviour. Augustine, Letter 13*, early 5th c.
Letter 13*
(salutatio:) Commonitorium presbytero Restituto Augustinus
3. Hactenus mihi confessus est homo, unde non eum iudico esse damnandum, nisi forte de mendacio conuincatur et non uerba illius feminae audiantur et accipiantur aduersus eum, quia sine dubio perdita quaerit cui haereat, sed aliqua existant alia documenta quibus huius flagitiosa detegatur improbitas. Haec autem clericis non facile contigissent, si non soli ambularent propter quaslibet uel proprias uel ecclesiasticas necessitates. sed cum uix obtineamus de presbyteris maxime in uillis, ne ambulent soli, quanto minus hoc de inferioris gradus clericis possumus obtinere. Si ergo plebs cui est ordinatus de hac fama nihil aduersus eum mouetur nec credidit de illo aliquid turpe et aliis sicut dictum est documentis de flagitio non conuincatur, maneat in statu suo; si autem alia demonstrantur, de quibus aliquid iudicare possimus, haec nouerim; si uero commouetur inde ecclesia cui presbyter constitutus est, cum hoc dicatur accidisse, quando adhuc diaconus fuit, lege illis has litteras meas et explana illis eas, sicut tibi donauerit dominus, ut presbyterum suum cui talis temptatio accidit qualis cuicumque sancto accidere potuit, diligant sicut coeperunt, nec eorum caritas circa illum frigescat, ut de pace illorum potius uincatur diabolus cuius esse istae artes et insidiae consuerunt. Si autem uideris necessarium esse, ut ego ad illos litteras mittam, intimare curabis.
(ed. Divjak 1981: 80-82)
Letter 13*
A memorandum: Augustine to the presbyter Restitutus
3. This much the man admitted to me, and I judge that he should not be condemned for this unless perhaps he be proved guilty of a lie. The words of that woman should not be listened to and accepted against him because, fallen as she is, she is undoubtedly looking for a man to attach herself to, and there need to be some other proofs by which any scandalous sin on his part would be disclosed. But these things would not have happened so easily to clerics if they did not go out alone because of their own or the Church’s needs. But since we scarcely get the priests, especially in the country, to avoid going out alone, how much less can we get clerics of a lower rank to avoid this! If, then, the people for whom he was ordained are in no way upset by this rumor against him and have not believed anything shameful about him, and if there is no proof of scandal from other evidence, as I said, let him remain in his state. But if other things are revealed about which we can pronounce some judgment, I would like to know them. If, however, the church for which he was ordained a priest is disturbed over this matter, because it is said to have occurred when he was still a deacon, read this letter to them and explain it to them, as the Lord gives you the ability, in order that they may love, as they began to, their priest, who met with the sort of temptation that any holy man could have met with. And let their love toward him not grow cold in order that the devil, from whom these wiles and snares usually stem, may be defeated by their peaceful behavior. If, however, you see that it is necessary that I send a letter to them, take care to let me know it.
(trans. R.Teske)


The letter shows many things:
 1. A deacon who becomes a presbyter in another place.
 2. General rules concerning the travels of clerics.
 3. The possibility of degradation of clerics.
 4. An accusation of a sexual misbehaviour towards the unnamed presbyter. Augustine believes his explanations.
 5. The presbyter Restitutus (we do not know anything more about him) must play an important role in his community, so Augustine explains to him possible courses of action.
 The presbyter in question may be Gitta [42], whom Augustine eventually considered to be unworthy of any clerical position [29].

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: Letters 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.
J. Divjak ed., Sancti Aureli Augustini Epistolae ex duobus codicibus nuper in lucem prolatae, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 88, Vienna 1981.
J. Divjak ed., Saint Augustin. Lettres 1*-29*, Bibliothèque Augustinienne 46B. Paris 1987.
Saint Augustine, Letters 211–270, 1*–29*, trans. R. Teske. New York 2005.


Sexual life - Sexual activity
    Sexual life - Extramarital
      Travel and change of residence
        Former ecclesiastical career - Deacon
          Functions within the Church - Rural presbyter
            Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
            Reasons for ordination - Pastoral needs of the Christian community
              Ritual activity - Ordaining
              Administration of justice - Administration of justice
                Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
                Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER8,