Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 85
An anonymous presbyter in Pressigny (Gaul) is presiding over vigils in honour of Saint Nicetius. He wants to suspend a man from communion for his absence, ca 586. Account of Gregory of Tours, "Life of the Fathers", Tours (Gaul), ca 590.
Huius hominis frater ad vigilias dominici natalis advenit, monuitque presbiterum, dicens: 'Vigilemus unanimiter ad eclesiam Dei atque exoremus devote beati Niceti potentiam, ut, eo obtenente, huius anni curriculum cum pace ducamus'. Quod presbiter audiens, gavisus iussit signum ad vigilias commoveri. Quo commoto, adveniente presbitero cum clericis et reliquo populo, hic gulae inhians, moras veniendi innectebat; misit que saepius presbiter ad eum arcessiendum. Quibus respondebat: 'Paulisper sustenete, et venio'. Quid plura? Transactis vigiliis, data luce, hic qui prius commonuerat ad vigilias non accessit. Presbiter vero, inpleto officio, commotus contra hominem, ad metatum eius properat, quasi eum a communione suspenderet. At ille correptus febre, sicut vino, ita divino exurebat incendio; nec mora, viso presbitero, datis vocibus, cum lacrimis supplicabat, sibi paenitentiam tradi. Cumque eum presbiter increparet, dicens: 'Merito a  sancti Niceti virtute exureris, ad cuius eclesiam venire ad vigilias neglexisti'; inter sermocinantum conloquia spiritum exalavit. Facta quoque hora tertia, cum populus ad missarum solemnia conveniret, hic mortuus ad eclesiam est delatus. Quod virtute sancti antestitis actum nemo ambigere potest. Haec enim nobis ipse exposuit presbiter.
(ed. Krusch 1885: 247)
A brother of this man came to the Christmas vigils, and spoke to the presbyter, saying 'Let us keep the vigils together in the church of God, and let us pray devoutly to the power of the blessed Nicetius, so that through his intercession we may pass this year in peace.' Hearing this the presbyter joyfully ordered the signal for vigils to be given. This was done, and the presbyter came in with the clergy of his church and the rest of the people. But this man, a slave to gluttony, did not hurry to come. The presbyter sent to him several times, but he only replied 'Wait a little, I am coming.' What more need I say? The vigils were completed and the morning arrived, and he who had first thought of the celebration was not there. The presbyter finished the office and angrily hastened to the man, thinking to suspend him from communion. But the man had been corrupted by fever, just as he had been by wine, and he burned with divine heat. As soon as he saw the presbyter he begged him with tears to impose penance on him. The priest rebuked him, and said 'It is right that you burn by the power of Saint Nicetius in whose church you neglected to come to vigils,' and in mindst of these words the man died. Then, at the third hour, as the people were reassembling in the church for solemn Mass, the dead man was brought into the church. Nobody could doubt that it had all been accomplished by the power of the holy pontiff. The presbyter himself told it to us.
(trans. E. James: 62-63, slightly altered by J. Szafranowski)


This story takes place directly after reference to the expedition against the usurper Gundovald in 585.

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Gaul
  • Gaul
  • Pressigny
  • Tours
  • Marseille

About the source:

Author: Gregory of Tours
Title: Life of the Fathers, Vita Patrum, Liber Vitae Patrum
Origin: Tours (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Gregory of Tours (bishop of Tours in Gaul in 573-594) started writing his Life of the Fathers some time before 587 and finished it around 592 or slightly later, as shown by the cross-references to his other works.  It is a collection of twenty Gallic saints` lives of different lengths. They all are in some way connected to Gregory`s family or church interests, while also exemplifying different virtues leading to sanctity. Saints presented in the Life of the Fathers are all either ascetics or bishops.
More on the text: James 1991: ix-xxv.
B. Krusch ed., Gregorii Episcopi Turonensis Miracula et Opera Minora, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 1.2, Hannover 1885, 211-294.
Gregory of Tours, Life of the Fathers, trans. E. James, Liverpool 1991.


Functions within the Church - Parish presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ritual activity - Eucharist
Ritual activity - Presiding at prayer
Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
Ritual activity - Burying the dead
Administration of justice - Administration of justice
Relation with - Lower cleric
Devotion - Veneration of saints and relics
Devotion - Vigils
Devotion - Supernatural experience
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER85,