Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1002
Postumianus, probably a presbyter, describes the vices of the Gallic clerics. Account in the "Dialogues" by Sulpicius Severus, Primuliacum (Gaul), ca 406.
Dialogue 1.21.1-5
"Sed mihi ista replicanti nostra infelicitas, nostra occurrit infirmitas. Quis enim nostrum est, quem si unus homunculus humilis salutauerit aut fatuis adque adulantibus uerbis femina una laudauerit, non continuo elatus sit superbia, non statim inflatus sit uanitate? Vt, etiamsi non habeat conscientiam sanctitatis, tamen, quia uel stultorum adulatione aut fortasse errore sanctus esse dicatur, sanctissimum se putabit! Iam uero si ei munera crebra mittantur, Dei se magnificentia adseret honorari, cui dormienti adque resoluto necessaria conferantur. Quodsi uel de modico ei aliqua uirtutis alicuius signa succederent, angelum se putaret. Ceterum cum neque opere neque uirtute conspicuus sit, si quis clericus fuerit effectus, dilatat continuo fimbrias suas, gaudet salutationibus, inflatur occursibus, ipse etiam ubique discurrit: Et qui antea pedibus aut asello ire consueuerat, spumantibus equis superbus inuehitur: parua prius ac uili cellula contentus habitare erigit celsa laquearia, construit multa conclauia, sculpit ostia, pingit armaria, uestem respuit grossiorem, indumentum molle desiderat, adque haec caris uiduis ac familiaribus mandat tributa uirginibus, illa ut byrrum rigentem, haec ut fluentem texat lacernam.
Verum haec describenda mordacius beato uiro Hieronymo relinquamus: ad propositum reuertamur". "Tu uero, inquit Gallus meus, nescio quid Hieronymo reliqueris [disputandum]: ita breuiter uniuersa nostrorum instituta conplexus es, ut pauca haec tua uerba, si aequanimiter acceperint et patienter expenderint, multum eis arbitrer profutura, ut non indigeant libris posthac Hieronymi coerceri.
(ed. Fontaine 2006: 184-188)
Dialogue 1.21.1-5
"But when I reflect upon these things, our own unfaithfulness and weakness present themselves. For who is there among us, if offered respect by one of the humble poor or praised by the silly and fawning words, is not immediately swollen with pride, is not at once puffed up with vanity? Even if he is not familiar with sanctity, nevertheless, because he is said to be a saint, either through the adulation of the foolish or perhaps erroneously, he will believe himself to be extremely holy. And then if large amounts of money are sent to him, he will assert that he is being honored by the munificence of God, when it is simply mundane gifts that are being conferred upon him while he is asleep. But if even in the most modest way some signs of some virtue were to attend him, he would believe himself to be angel.
Should a man undistinguished in either work or virtue be ordained a cleric, he will immediately widen the fringes of his robes, rejoice in the greetings of others, become swollen up by those who come to meet with him, and will hurry around everywhere. Having been previously accustomed to travel on foot or by donkey, the proud cleric is now carried by foaming horses; once content to live in an insignificant cell, he now erects lofty paneled ceilings, builds many rooms, carves doorways, and paints bookcases. He rejects crude clothing and desires a soft tunic. He demands these be assigned to dear widows and household virgins, so that the former are to weave a stiff hood while the latter produce a flowing cloak.
But let us leave these things to be described more bitingly by that blessed man Jerome; I will return to my theme."
"But I do not think that you," said my Gallus, "have left anything for Jerome to dispute; you have covered all of our practices in your short summary, with the result that these few words of yours, if they are received with equanimity and pondered patiently, will greatly aid their readers, so that in the future they will no longer need the books of Jerome to coerce them.
(trans. Goodrich 2015: 204-205, changed by J. Szafranowski)


Postumianus employs multiple times the possessive pronoun noster, suggesting that both his interlocutors as well as himself were ordained. Another probable proof of Postumianus' presbyterate can be found in [999]. Sulpicius is titled presbyter by Gennadius in [670] and Paulinus of Nola hinted that he would like to concelebrate Eucharist with him [2055]. Perhaps Gallus can be identified with the anonymous presbyter from the Life of Martin [971]
Postumianus refers probably to Jerome's Letter 52 to Nepotian (dated AD 393). See Cain 2013.

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • East
  • Primuliacum

About the source:

Author: Sulpicius Severus
Title: Dialogues, Dialogi, Gallus sive dialogi de virtutibus sancti Martini, Dialogorum libri II
Origin: Primuliacum (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Sulpicius Severus` hagiographical corpus concerning Martin of Tours consists of the Life itself, three letters, and three Dialogues. The Dialogues were composed between the year 400 (the year of the Origenist controversy, to which Sulpicius makes a reference), and the year 410-412 when Jerome`s Commentary on Ezekiel was published, in which Jerome mentions the Dialogues. Stancliffe (Stancliffe 1983: 81) suggests that the Dialogues were composed between 404 and 406, judging by the comment of one of the interlocutors that eight years have passed since Martin`s death (in 397) and no allusion to the barbarian invasions of Gaul in 406-407. The work was likely published in two separate volumes, with volume 1 containing the first and second Dialogues and volume 2 the third and last. It can be proved by both early manuscript tradition and the account of Gennadius (see [670]).
Sulpicius Severus, Gallus: dialogues sur les “vertus” de Saint Martin, ed. and transl. J. Fontaine, Sources Chrétiennes 510, Paris 2006.
Sulpicius Severus, The Complete Works, transl. R.J. Goodrich, Ancient Christian Writers 70, New York 2015.
A. Cain, Jerome and the Monastic Clergy. A Commentary on Letter to Nepotian, with an Introduction, Text, and Translation, Leiden 2013.
C. Stancliffe, St. Martin and his hagiographer: history and miracle in Sulpicius Severus, Oxford 1983.


Food/Clothes/Housing - Clothes
    Food/Clothes/Housing - Type of housing
      Food/Clothes/Housing - Objects of luxury
        Travel and change of residence
          Described by a title - Clericus
          Monastic or common life - Cenobitic monk
          Fame of sanctity
            Economic status and activity - Indication of wealth
              Economic status and activity - Gift
                Disrespected by
                  Relation with - Another presbyter
                  Relation with - Monk/Nun
                    Relation with - Woman
                        Theoretical considerations - On priesthood
                        Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1002,