Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2019
Deacon Julian is to be ordained quickly presbyter for the basilica of Eleutherius in Vasto (Central Italy), because of the death of the previous presbyter of the place. Gelasius I, Fragment 5, Rome, AD 492/496.
Fragment 5
Gelasius Coelestino episcopo.
Presbyteri, diaconi et universi clerici Histoniesium civitatis petitorio nobis suggessere porrecto, in ecclesia beati martyris Eleutherii episcopi, quae in supradictae civitatis paroecia probatur esse constructa, presbyterum qui constitutus fuerat defecisse, atque in ejus locum Julianum diaconum ipsius ecclesiae pro celebritate ipsius loci quantocius debere ordinari. Et ideo, frater carissime, si de ejus vita vel moribus nihil est quod contra canonum veniat statuta, suprascriptum presbyterii honore decorabis, sciturus eum visitatoris te nomine non cardinalis creasse pontificis. Pariter etiam et Felicissimum diaconum in ejus ecclesiae ministerio, si conversatio ejus patitur, subrogabis, ut locus processionis celeberrimus ad mysteriorum consecrationem nec sacerdote indigeat nec ministro.
(ed. Thiel 1868: 485-486)
Fragment 5
Gelasius to Bishop Celestine.
The presbyters, deacons, and the whole clergy of the city of Vasto [Histonium] presented to us a petition. It is proven that in the diocese [paroecia] of the said city there has been constructed the basilica of the blessed martyr Eleutherius the Bishop. The presbyter who was established there died, and the deacon of the same church, Julian, should be ordained in his place as quickly as possible, because of the fame of this place. Therefore, my dearest brother, if there has been established that he did nothing against the canons in his life and customs, you shall adorn him with the dignity of presbyter. Let him know, however, that you do it as a visitator, and you cannot make him a cardinal priest. In the same way you shall nominate Deacon Felicissimus to the service of this Church, if his behaviour permits it. In this way this most renowned place of gatherings will lack neither the priest, nor the minister, for the consecration of the mysteries.
(trans. S. Adamiak)


There was no bishop in Vasto at that time, and therefore Celestine, the bishop of some other place nearby, is asked by Gelasius to ordain Julian as the presbyter, but not as a bishop, because Celestine acts only as a visitator, administering the Church of Vasto until the new bishop is elected (see PCBE Italie 1: Iulianus 13).
It is unclear what the "cardinal priest" means here. The title "cardinalis" is usually used to describe the parish priests of the city (at least in Rome), but the word "pontifex" used here seems to suggest a bishop.

Place of event:

  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Vasto

About the source:

Author: Gelasius I
Title: Epistulae, Letters
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Gelasius I was the bishop of Rome between AD 492 and 496.
Thiel A. ed., Epistulae Romanorum pontificum genuinae et quae ad eos scriptae sunt a S. Hilario usque ad Pelagium II, 1, Braunsberg 1868, 287-510.
B. Neil, P. Allen edd.,  The Letters of Gelasius I (492-496): Pastor and Micro-Manager of the Church of Rome, Turnhout 2014.
B. Neil, P. Allen edd.,  The Letters of Gelasius I (492-496): Pastor and Micro-Manager of the Church of Rome, Turnhout 2014.


Former ecclesiastical career - Deacon
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Reasons for ordination - Pastoral needs of the Christian community
Act of ordination
Ritual activity - Eucharist
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2019,