Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1389
Honoratus (later bishop of Arles) becomes a presbyter shortly after founding a monastery on the islands of Lérins. Even though he was a presbyter, all bishops consider themselves inferior to him. Account of Hilary of Arles, "Sermon on the Life of St. Honoratus", Arles (Gaul), ca AD 431.
2. Hic [newly founded monastery of Lérins] primum illigatur diu euitati clericatus officio, hic refugam suum sacerdotalis infula innecit; et qui uenire ad dignitatem detrectauerat, ad ipsum dignitas uenit. Apparuit illic presbyter non duplici tantum, sed multiplici honorem dignissimus, coram quo nullam sacerdotii distantiam, nullum nominis priuilegium episcopatus agnosceret. 3. Nemo umquam episcoporum sibi tantum usurpauit ut se presbyteri illius collegam computaret. Verum ille tam integram in sacerdotio monachi humilitatem conseruabat quam plene monachus sacerdotii merita possederat.
(ed. Valentin 1977: 112)
2. Here [newly founded monastery of Lérins], he who had fled the priestly insignia (infula sacerdotalis) was clothed with them, and the honour sought out the very one who had refused to seek out the honour. He showed himself there a presbyter most worthy not only of twofold, but of manifold, distinction of title. In his presence, no [bishop] discern the distance of their priesthood, nor the primacy on account of his episcopacy. 3. No bishop ever assumed so much to himself as to reckon himself the colleague of this presbyter. Yet, in his priesthood, he kept his monastic humility as undiminished as in his monastic life he had fully possessed the perfection of priestly merit.
(trans. Deferrari 1952: 374, changed and completed by J. Szafranowski)


Since the monastery of Lérins was famous already in the second decade of the 5th c., it is generally acknowledged that Honoratus founded it somewhere between 400 and 410.
Honoratus was most probably ordained presbyter by his friend Leontius, bishop of neighbouring Fréjus (mentioned for the first time AD 419, died in 433).
Hilary writes about Honoratus and his brother Vincentius that, even before Honoratus' presbyterial ordination: "Their life at that time was, as it were, a lay episcopacy. I should deceive you, if it is not true that many bishops, by the welcome they received from them, learned how to extend a welcome" (Priuatus quidam iam tunc in conuersatione eorum episcopatus gerebatur. Mentior nisi plurimi episcoporum didicere ab illis, dum excipiuntur, excipere), Vita Honoratii 9.4 (ed. Valentin 1977: 112, trans. Deferrari 1952: 368-369).

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Lérins
  • Fréjus

About the source:

Author: Hilary of Arles
Title: Life of St. Honoratus of Arles, Vita Sancti Honorati Arelatensis, Sermon on the Life of St. Honoratus, Sermo sancti Hilarii de vita sancti Honorati, Sermo de vita sancti Hilarii Arelatensis episcopi
Origin: Arles (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The Sermon on the Life of St. Honoratus was presented by Hilary of Arles at the first (most probably) anniversary of Honoratus` death. Honoratus died in 430 just two years after having been made the bishop of Arles. His successor was Hilary himself, his fellow countryman and pupil, who accompanied Honoratus when he left the monastery on the island of Lérins (of which Honoratus was founder and first abbot) for his new episcopal position in Arles. After some time, Hilary returned to the monastery only to venture back to Arles, when he was chosen by the dying Honoratus as his worthy successor in the bishopric.
M.–D. Valentin ed., Hilaire d’Arles, Vie de Saint Honorat, Sources Chrétiennes 235, Paris 1977 (along with a French tranlsation).
St. Hilary, Sermon on the Life of St. Honoratus, transl. R. J. Deferrari [in:] Early Christian Biographies, ed. R. J. Deferrari, The Fathers of the Church v. 15, Washington, D. C. 1952.


Food/Clothes/Housing - Clothes
Functions within the Church - Monastic presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
Monastic or common life - Cenobitic monk
Monastic or common life - Monastic superior (abbot/prior)
Reasons for ordination - Personal piety
Attributes of clerical status
Reverenced by
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Former ecclesiastical career - None
Equal prerogatives of presbyters and bishops
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1389,