Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1520
Pope Zosimus writes a letter to Bishop Aurelius of Carthage (North Africa) and to other African bishops in which he confirms the authority of the Apostolic See and denies that he had already agreed with the Presbyter Caelestius accused of Pelagianism, AD 418. Letter 12 "Quamvis patrum" of Zosimus (Letter 50 in the Collectio Avellana, compiled in the second half of the 6th c.).
Letter 50
Zosimus confirms the authority of the Apostolic See to decide on the ecclesiastical matters, he says, however, that he had no intention to decide on the case of the Presbyter Caelestius without consultation with Bishop Aurelius and his colleagues. The Pope also mentions that he went through all the dossier of texts concerning Caelestius and the Pelagian controversy, sent to him by the Subdeacon Marcellinus, and expresses his surprise that the African bishops interpreted his previous letters as his unconditional agreement with the Presbyter Caelestius. He declares that the case is not yet resolved.
(ed. Guenther 1895: 115-117; summary M. Szada)


Caelestius was a disciple of Pelagius, involved in the discussions over the free will, original sin, and grace at the beginning of the 5th c. in Rome, North Africa, and Palestine. He was ordained a presbyter between 411 and 416 during his travel to the East (see [497] and [503]). He went back to Rome in 417 after the election of Zosimus as the bishop of Rome. There he appealed to Zosimus, asking him to judge his writings and opinions against those who were accusing him of heresy [1467]. Zosimus interrogated Caelestius, and did not found him guilty, instead he condemned his accusers, Heros and Lazarus. He also summoned other accusers, mainly Paulinus, deacon of Milan, who at the council in Carthage in 411 had accused Caelestius of heresy, to Rome. For the response of Paulinus to Zosimus see [1497]. The present letter is the last papal response on the case and was sent on 18 March 418 (received in Africa on 29 April).

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Latin North Africa
  • Carthage

About the source:

Author: Zosimus
Title: Collectio Avellana, Letter 12
Origin: Rome
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Collectio Avellana is 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.  
P. Coustant ed., Epistolae Romanorum pontificum et quae ad eos scriptae sunt, vol. 1, Paris 1721, col. 943-955.
Edition of the letter in the Collectio Avellana:
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
Edition and French translation:
L. Dalmon, "Trois pièces de la Collectio Avellana: édition critique, traiduction et commentaire”, Recherches augustiniennes et patristiques 36 (2011), 195–246.


Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Pelagian
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Administration of justice - Ecclesiastical
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1520,