Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ID
ER 1351
Vincentius, presbyter from the province of Baetica in the Iberian Peninsula, refuses to enter the communion with the bishops who during the reign of Constantius II complied with the Arian formulation of faith, but afterwards adhered anew to the Nicene party, ca AD 362/384. He is persecuted by them. Account of the Libellus precum written in Constantinople by the Roman presbyters Faustinus and Marcellinus, ca AD 383/384, included in the Collectio Avellana compiled in the second half of the 6th c.
The Roman presbyters Faustinus and Marcellinus write to the emperors Valentinian, Theodosius, and Arcadius in defence of the Nicene bishops who refuse to enter the communion with the bishops who during the reign of Constantius signed the Arian creeds at the councils of Rimini and Seleucia (for the full summary of the Libellus precum see [1342]. They give account of the persecutions inflicted on the faithful clerics:
 
(XX) 73. In Hispania, Vincentius presbyter, uerae fidei antistes, quas non atrocitates praeuaricatorum passus est eo quod nollet esse socius impiae praeuaricationis illorum, eo quod beatissimo Gregorio communicaret, illi Gregorio, cuius supra, ut potuimus, fidem uirtutemque retulimus?
Contra quem, primum quidem, interpellauerunt Baeticae prouinciae consularem, tunc demum sub specie intercessionis postulatae ex aliis locis plebeia colligitur multitudo et irruunt die dominica in ecclesia et Vincentium quidem non inueniunt, eo quod ipse, praemonitus, etiam populo praedixerat ne illo die procederent quando cum caede ueniebant. Hoc enim putauit fieri melius, si irae locum daret. 74. Sed illi, qui ad caedem parati uenerant, ne sine causa furor illorum uenisse putaretur, certa Christo Deo deuota ministeria quae illic inuenta sunt ita fustibus eliserunt, ut non multo post expirarent. Sed, quia plebs sancta Vincentii presbyteri magis eos execrabantur post illas eorum caedes quae in dominico factae sunt, egregii episcopi, ut plebs uniuersa terreretur, ab ipsis principalibus incipiunt. Denique postulant exhibitionem decurionum ciuitatis illius et ut includantur in carcerem. Ex quibus unus principalis patriae suae, eo quod fidem firmiter ut fidelis in Deo retineret execrans labem praeuaricationis, inter eos et ipse catenatus fame frigore necatus est, cum fletu et gemitu illius prouiniciae quae honestam uitam eius optime nouerat. 75. Egregii et catholici episcopi Luciosus et Hyginus huius crudelitatis auctores sunt!
   Et interea inuaserunt quidem basilicam, sed fidem plebis inuadere non potuerunt. Denique, alibi in agello eadem plebs basilicam sibi ecclesiae fabricauit, ad quam cum sancto Vincentio conuenirent. Sed Satanas, qui nusquam patitur Christum pie coli, inflammat eos et iterum deposita postulatione ex diuersis urbibus decurionum ac plebeia multitudo colligitur. 76. Simul etiam et presbyteri eius ad locum ueniunt, ecclesiae illius ianuas confringunt diripientes inde quicquid ad sacra ecclesiae ministeria pertinebat, et postremo, quod horroris est dicere, ad cumulum perpetrati sacrilegii, ipsum altare Dei de dominico sublatum in templo sub pedibus idoli posuerunt!
(XXI) Haec utique illi faciunt qui, paenitentes de impia subscriptione, suscepti sunt ad catholicam disciplinam propter bonum pacis et unitatis! Quid grauius gentilis cultor idolorum faceret, si haberet licentiam Ecclesiam persequendi?
 
(ed. A. Canellis 2006: 176, 178, 180)
The Roman presbyters Faustinus and Marcellinus write to the emperors Valentinian, Theodosius, and Arcadius in defence of the Nicene bishops who refuse to enter the communion with the bishops who during the reign of Constantius signed the Arian creeds at the councils of Rimini and Seleucia (for the full summary of the Libellus precum see [1342]. They give account of the persecutions inflicted on the faithful clerics:
 
(XX) 73. In Spain, did the presbyter Vincentius, a priest (antistes) of the true faith, not suffer the atrocities of the defectors because he had not wanted to associate with their impious betrayal because he was in communion with the most blessed Gregory, this Gregory of whose faith and virtue we have already said above as we could?
Against him, they first interpellate to the consularis of the province of Baetica. Then pretending that this intervention was postulated they gathered a huge group of people, and rushed into the church [of Vincentius] on Sunday. They did not find Vincentius, because he himself had been forewarned and urged his people not to come on this day [to the church] because [the people] with murderous intention were supposed to arrive there. He thought it would be better to give a pass to the anger. 74. But those who came with the murderous intention so that it would not seem that their fury was unfounded, they beat some devoted servants of Christ the God whom they had found there with cudgels so that these breathed their last shortly after. But, because the people of the holy presbyter Vincentius abhorred them more and more after the murders commited on Sunday, those remarkable bishops started from the notables. Hence, they demanded the decurions of the city to be delivered, and then to be shut in prison. One of them, was a notable of his homeland who, because he guarded firmly his faith as a faithful to God, abhorred the stain of defection, was put in chains and he died of hunger and cold. His province lamented and wept because it knew well his honest life. 75. The authors of this cruelty were the remarkable and Catholic bishops, Luciosus and Hyginus! In the meantime they invaded the basilica, but they were not able to invade the faith of the people. Then the people built in a small estate a basilica to [serve] as a church where they gathered together with the holy Vincentius. But the Devil who cannot stand the pious cult offered to Christ, excited the persecutors, and again on the demand the multitude of the people and the decurions from various cities was gathered. 76. At the same time, the presbyters [of Satan] went to that place, they broke the doors to the church and took away things belonging to the sacred service of the church. Later, it is horrific to say, to fulfill the measure of the commited sacrilege, they removed the altar of God from the Lord's temple and set it at the foot of the idols!
(XXI) These are deed of those who regretting their impious signature were admitted to the Catholic discipline for the good of peace and unity! What more serious would do a pagan worshipper if he had a freedom to persecute the Church?
 
(trans. M. Szada)

Discussion:

Marcellinus and Faustinus were presbyters in Rome who belonged to the party of the intransigent Nicenes and followers of Bishop Lucifer of Cagliari. Lucifer was exiled during the Arian controversy, and after being revoked from the exile he refused to enter the communion with bishops who complied with the Arian creeds during the reign of Constantius (councils in Rimini and Seleucia). The mainstream Nicenes, especially in Rome, denigrated the attitude of Lucifer and his supporters, and attempted to portray it as schismatic or even heretic, and hence use the imperial laws against schismatics and heretics to persecute the "Luciferian" party (Canellis 2006: 15-65, Pérez Mas 2008, Simonetti 1963). Thus, the presbyters Marcellinus and Faustinus, exiled from Rome by Bishop Damasus, and staying in AD 383 in Constantinople, submitted the petition to the emperor in order to claim their orthodoxy, and ask for protection. In their account they give numerous exemples of orthodox clerics from the "Luciferian" party injustly persecuted by the mainstream Nicenes. The latter are often described in the Libellus precum with the ironic titles such as egregii episcopi.
 
We do not know where exactly Vincentius held his office, we can only say that it was in the province of Hispania Baetica. The text mentions only the presbyters, therefore the events probably took place in the city that was not an episcopal see.
 

Place of event:

Region
  • Iberian Peninsula

About the source:

Author: Faustinus and Marcellinus
Title: Libellus precum, Collectio Avellana
Origin: Constantinople (East)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The letter of the presbyters Marcellinus and Faustinus is a formal petition (preces, libellus, supplicatio) submitted to the emperor. The submission of such petition launches a procedure per rescriptum (for a detailed discussion see Wesener 1965). The case was judged by the emperor, and his decision was redacted by the imperial bureaus. It was a rescriptum that had a force of law. We have the rescript in response to the Libellus precum of Marcellinus and Faustinus, see [1387].
 
The Libellus precum survived as a part of the Collectio Avellana (for a detailed discussion on the manuscripts see Canellis 2006: 66-83), a collection containing 244 letters issued by emperors, imperial magistrates and popes. The earliest piece is dated to AD 367, the latest to AD 553. Hence, the compilator worked most probably in the second half of the 6th c. 200 documents of the Collectio are not known from any other collection. The editor of the Collectio, Günther noticed that it can be divided into five thematic parts (Gunther 1896: 3-96; Steinacker 1902: 14-15; Blaudeau 2013: 4) :
1) no. 1-40 is an independent collection making use of the records of the prefecture of the city of Rome concerning two episcopal elections;
2) no. 41-50 that are derived from the records of the bishopric in Carthage, and consist of the letters of Innocentius I and Zosimus;
3) no. 51-55, the late letters of Leo I not known from any other source, regarding the exile of Bishop Timothy II of Alexandria;
4) no. 56-104 the group of letters from the pontificates of Simplicius, Gelasius, Symmachus, John, Agapet, and Vigilius;
5) no. 105-243 the letters from the records of Hormisdas.
 
The modern name of the collection derives from the codex Vaticanus Latinus 4961 copied in the monastery Sancti Crucis in fonte Avellana that was considered the oldest by the brothers Ballerini who edited the Collectio in 1787.
Edition:
A. Canellis ed., Supplique aux empereurs (Libellus precum et Lex augusta), Sources Chrétiennes 504, Paris 2006
O. Guenther ed., Epistolae Imperatorum Pontificum Aliorum Inde ab a. CCCLXVII usque DLIII datae Avellana Quae Dicitur Collectio, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 35/1, 35/2, Prague, Vienna, and Leipzig 1895
Bibliography:
K. Blair-Dixon, "Memory and authority in sixth-century Rome: the Liber Pontificalis and the Collectio Avellana”, [in :] Religion, dynasty, and patronage in early Christian Rome, 300-900, ed. K. Cooper, J. Hillner, Cambridge 2007, 59–76.
P. Blaudeau, "Un point de contact entre collectio Avellana et collectio Thessalonicensis?”, Millennium Yearbook / Millenium Jahrbuch 10 (2013), 1–12.
A. Canellis, "Introduction”, [in :] Faustinus et Marcellinus, Supplique aux empereurs (Libellus precum et Lex augusta), ed. A. Canellis, Paris 2006, 11–99.
J. Fernández Ubiña, "El Libellus Precum y los conflictos religiosos en la Hispania de Teodosio”, Florilegia Illiberitana 8 (1997), 103–123.
O. Günther, Avellana-Studien, Wien 1896.
J. Pérez Mas, La crisis luciferiana. Un intento de reconstrucción histórica, Roma 2008.
M. Simonetti, "Appunti per una storia dello scisma luciferiano”, [in :] Atti del Convegno di studi religiosi sardi, Padova 1963, 70–81.
H. Steinacker, "Ueber das älteste päpstliche Registerwesen”, Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 23 (1902), 1–49.
G. Wesener, "Reskriptprozess", Paulys Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Supplementband X, Stuttgart 1965, col. 865-871.

Categories:

Functions within the Church - Parish presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Fame of sanctity
Public law - Secular
Relation with - Another presbyter
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Secular authority
Described by a title - Antistes
Conflict - Violence
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Luciferian
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Unspecified 'heretic'
    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1351, http://www.presbytersproject.ihuw.pl/index.php?id=6&SourceID=1351