Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 914
The Donatist presbyter Crispinus organises an ambush against Catholics. His bishop and relative, Crispinus, does not punish him, and as the result is declared a heretic by the proconsul. Calama (North Africa), AD 404. Account of Augustine, "Against Cresconius", Book 3, ca. AD 406.
Book 3
50. [...] Subito post paucos dies iter agenti Possidio alius Crispinus eius presbyter et ut perhibetur propinquus tetendit insidias armatorum, in quas paene iam noster inciderat. [...]
51. Haec posteaquam nota facta sunt in oppido Calamensi, expectabatur Crispinus uester episcopus quemadmodum in suum presbyterum uindicaret. [...]
52. [...] Verum haec uidelicet non perferuntur ad uestros, cum Crispinus maluerit Carthaginem pergere, propria pertinacia superari, mansuetudinis episcopalis intercessione mitissimam in se prolatam recusare sententiam, appellare ad eius filios, cuius lege se inretitum
uidebat, excitare uniuersae parti Donati, quod solus perpeti nec uolebat nec cogebatur, quam unius sui presbyteri audacissimum et inuidiosissimum facinus sola degradatione punire.
(ed. Petschenig 1909: 457-459)
Book 3
50. [...] After a few days Possidius was again on his way and another Crispinus, the presbyter of Crispinus, said to be his relative, organised an ambush with armed men, in which our [Possidius] was nearly killed. [...]
51. When this came to be known in Calama, it was awaited in what way your bishop Crispinus would punish his presbyter. [...]
52. [...] Your people may have been unaware of it, because Crispinus not only did not want to punish with degradation the most rash and odious deed of one of his presbyters, but instead he preferred to come to Carthage, and was overcome by his own obstinacy, refused to accept the sentence that, thanks to the [Catholic] bishop's intercession, was very benign, and appealed to the sons of the very emperor in the net of whose laws he was caught, and brought upon the entire party of Donatus what he neither wanted nor was forced to suffer himself.
(trans. S. Adamiak)


Bishop Crispinus did not take any punitive measures against the presbyter Crispinus, so Possidius decided to press (successfully) the charges of heresy against Bishop Crispinus. The events are also described in "The Life of Augustine" by Possidius, chapter 12, and in "Sermo Dolbeau 19" of Augustine.
See Hermanowicz 2008: 113-116.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Calama

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: Against Cresconius, Contra Cresconium
Origin: Hippo Regius (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Cresconius was a Donatist layman, described as a grammarian. He wrote a long letter addressed to Augustine, in which he defended the Donatist positions. Augustine responded with a treatise in four books, written certainly after February 405 (the emission of the anti-Donatist laws by Honorius), probably about a year later, but certainly before the conference of Carthage in AD 411.
M. Petschening ed., Contra Cresconium grammaticum et Donatistam libri IIII, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 52, Vienna-Leipzig 1909, 325-582.
E.T. Hermanowicz, Possidius of Calama: A Study of the North African Episcopate in the Age of Augustine: A Study of the North African Episcopate in the Age of Augustine, Oxford 2008.


Social origin or status - Clerical family
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Donatist
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Public law - Ecclesiastical
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Heretic/Schismatic
Administration of justice - Demotion
Conflict - Violence
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER914,