Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2309
Gregory the Great urges Bishop Peter of Barca in Cyrenaica to support the presbyter Valerianus who travels from Rome to ransom the captives. Gregory the Great, Letter 3.16, AD 592.
Letter 3.16 to Bishop Peter of Barca in Cyrenaica (December 592)
Gregorius Petro episcopo baricis
Licet fraternitatem tuam piis se causis sponte non dubitemus impendere, uerumtamen quia proniorem eam nostra fieri arbitramur epistula, idcirco praesentibus tibi indicamus apicibus harum latorem Valerianum presbyterum pro redemptione captiuorum in illis partibus aduenisse. Cui tanto enixius in omnibus debetis ferre solacium, quanto eum mercedis intentione longinqui itineris laborem adsumpsisse cognoscis. Sic enim et hic quod intendit, te adiuuante, perficiet, et fraternitas tua pro impenso solamine magnam apud deum sicut desiderat retributionem inueniet.
(ed. Norberg 1982: )
Letter 3.16 to Bishop Peter of Barca in Cyrenaica (December 592)
Gregory to Peter, bishop of Barca
Although we do not doubt that your Fraternity is devoted to holy causes, we decided that our letter (epistula) will make you even more eager to act. In this regard, we announce to you at the present time that the bearer of these letters (apices), the presbyter Valerianus, has arrived in those parts to ransom the captives. You should lend him your support in every way all the more earnestly, as you realize that he has endured the effort of a lengthy journey with the purpose of a deal. For in this way, he will complete, with your assistance, what he intends to do, and your Fraternity will also find great reward before God, as you desire, in the return for the comfort you have given.
(trans. Martyn 2004: 247, slightly altered by J. Szafranowski)


The church of the presbyter Valerianus is not mentioned. There is some possibility that he can be identified with another Valerianus, cleric from Fermo, who in 580 was himself ransomed from captivity by Fabius, then bishop of Fermo. As a former captive, he might have felt incentive to help others still in confinement. However, it is just a speculation.
What is quite certain is that Valerianus passed through Rome on his way Barca in order to obtain the letters of recommendation from Gregory.

Place of event:

  • East
  • Rome
  • Barca
  • Rome

About the source:

Author: Gregory the Great
Title: Letters, Epistulae, Epistolae, Registrum epistularum, Registrum epistolarum
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Gregory, later called the Great (Gregorius Magnus), was born ca 540 to an influential Roman family with some connection to the ancient gens Anicia. His great-great-grandfather was Felix III, who served as the bishop of Rome from 526 to 530. Possibly, Agapetus I, pope between 535 and 536, was his relative as well. Little is known about his early career, but in 573 Gregory ascended to the high office of city prefect. Shortly afterwards, however, he resigned from his post and adopted the monastic way of life. He founded a monastery dedicated to St. Andrew within his family estate on Coelian Hill, next to the library established by Agapetus and Cassiodorus. Six other monasteries were founded in the estates his family owned in Sicily. Soon after his monastic conversion, he started to be given various tasks by Popes Benedict I (575–578) and Pelagius II (578–590). At that time, he was ordained a deacon. Between 579 and 585/6, Gregory acted as Pelagius` envoy in Constantinople. In 590, he was elected Pelagius` successor to the bishopric of Rome. The registry of his letters contained copies of Gregory`s papal correspondence up to his death in 604. The scope of Gregory`s original registry is still the subject of scholarly speculation. There are 854 extant letters gathered in fourteen volumes, most of them (686 letters) originating from the collection compiled at the time of Pope Hadrian I (772–795).
It is worth remembering that the majority of Gregory’s correspondence was jointly produced by the pope and his subordinates, see Pollard 2013.
D. Norberg ed., S. Gregorii Magni Registrum Epistularum, Corpus Christianorum: Series Latina 140, 140A, Turnhout 1982.
The Letters of Gregory the Great, trans. J.R.C. Martyn, Mediaeval Sources in Translation 40, Toronto 2004.
R.M. Pollard, A Cooperative Correspondence: The Letters of Gregory the Great, in: M. Dal Santo, B. Neil (eds.), A Companion to Gregory the Great, Leiden-Boston 2013, pp. 291–312.


Travel and change of residence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ecclesiastical administration - Ecclesiastical envoy
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Pastoral activity - Ransoming and visiting prisoners and captives
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2309,