Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1433
Presbyter Fulgentius is made the bishop of Ruspe (North Africa) against his will. He ordains the deacon Felix, who was opposing him, a presbyter. North Africa, AD 508. Account of Pseudo-Ferrandus, "Life of Fulgentius", after AD 534.
Chapter 14
35. Erat adhuc Ruspe oppidum nobile, clarissimis habitatoribus prorsus illustre, cui nullus fuerat episcopus ordinatus, quia diaconus quidam Felix nomine, qui ambire uolebat, repudiatus, honorem pontificis in illo loco nec ipse merebatur nec alterum accipere patiebatur. [...] Dolor honestorum ciuium mentes uehemens exagitabat, cur soli remansissent sine patre spiritali, qui uidebantur super ceteros excellere nobilitate carnali, cum, repente, fama uerax dolentibus nuntiat beatum Fulgentium, quem tot loca primo sacerdotio iudicauerant dignum, nullatenus tempore ordinationis inuentum remansisse presbyterum, gloria maiore uestitum quod honoris superioris sic calcauerat appetitum: illis quibus displicebat superbus ambitor, placet iste laudabilis excusator.
Consentitur ab omnibus ipsum sibi esse seruatum, propterea minime tantis plebibus ambientibus ordinatum. Nesciente igitur beato Fulgentio, Victor primas in itinere petitur a Ruspensibus et uicinis episcopis ordinandi Fulgentium licentia datur. Tunc aggregata uiolentae multitudinis manu, repente beatus Fulgentius, dolens oculos, in cellula propria reperitur, inuaditur, tenetur, ducitur et pontifex esse non rogatur, sed cogitur. Inde ad episcopum, qui admonitus fuerat ordinationem celebrare, perductus, ignoti populi constituitur pater, ita ut in illo propheticum illud complere uideretur oraculum: "Populus quem non cognoui seruiuit mihi".
36. The deacon Felix, who had episcopal ambitions himself, unhappy with the consecration of Fulgentius, hides himself on his route to the church with hostile intentions. The procession with Fulgentius, however, unexpectedly takes another route.
Quod postea diaconus audiens, diuinae uoluntati licet tardius cessit. Hunc ilico reuertentem beatus Fulgentius benigne, affabiliter clementerque excepit, ita ut eum presbyterum ordinaret. Sed ultionem debitam diuina iustitia demonstrauit omnino uelociter et ipse enim diaconus presbyter intra annum mortuus et procurator ei consentiens ad penuriam est redactus.
(ed. Isola 2016: 191-194)
Chapter 14
35.  Ruspe was a noble town, adorned by its famous inhabitants, but there was no ordained bishop there, because a deacon named Felix who wanted promotion but was rejected, and so neither was he worthy of the pontifical dignity in that place, nor did he suffer the others to accept it. [...] The mind of the honest citizens was disturbed by pain that they, who seemed to outmatch the others in the carnal nobility, were remaining without spiritual father. They were still afflicted when the rumour, which was true, reached them, that the blessed Fulgentius, whom so many places appraised as worthy of priesthood, had not been found in any place when the ordinations were performed, and remained presbyter, as he trampled over the desire of the superior dignity, clothed in the major glory. And as much as they did not like the overbearing candidate, so much more they liked the one who in a praiseworthy way tried to excuse himself.
They all thought that Fulgentius was saved for them, and this is why he was not ordained for any of so many dioceses who sought it. Without the knowledge of the blessed Fulgentius, the people of Ruspe and the neighbouring bishops asked the primate Victor, who was passing by, that the permission of ordaining Fulgentius be given.  The violent crowd found Fulgentius, who had an eye-illness, in his own cell. They invaded it, got hold of him, and led him to become a priest. He did not ask for it, but he was forced. So he was conducted to the bishop who had been persuaded to conduct the ordination, and he was made the father of the people unknown to him, so that the prophetic oracle was fulfilled in him: "The people whom I did not know served me" [Ps 18(17):44].
36. The deacon Felix, who had episcopal ambitions himself, unhappy with the consecration of Fulgentius, hides himself on his route to the church with hostile intentions. The procession with Fulgentius, however, unexpectedly takes another route.
When the deacon learnt about it, he slowly conceded to the divine will. When he returned, Fulgentius accepted him in so kind, generous and friendly way, that he ordained him presbyter. But the just vengeance of the divine justice was quickly demonstrated to everyone, when the deacon presbyter died within a year, and the procurator who supported him was reduced into poverty.
(trans. S. Adamiak)


Speaking about the time "when the ordinations were performed" the passage refers to the events described in [1428]

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Ruspe

About the source:

Author: Ferrandus
Title: Vita Fulgentii, Life of Fulgentius
Origin: Carthage (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
None of the manuscripts transmitting the "Life of Fulgentius" provides the name of its author. It was firstly attributed to the deacon Ferrandus by Chifflet in 1649. This theory was largely accepted, by, among others, G.G. Lapeyre, who offered a critical edition of the "Life" in 1929. It was, however rejected by A. Isola in his 2016 edition for Corpus Christianorum, who retains it an anonymous work. It is dedicated to Felicianus, the successor of Fulgentius on the see of Ruspe, so it must have been written in a reasonable span of time after the death of Fulgentius in AD 533.
A. Isola ed., Vita S. Fulgentii episcopi, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 91F, Turnhout 2016.


Former ecclesiastical career - Deacon
Further ecclesiastical career - Bishop
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1433,