Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2310
Gregory the Great asserts that two clerics once ransomed with the use of ecclesiastical funds will never be asked to give back what has been paid for their freedom. Gregory the Great, Letter 9.52, AD 598.
Letter 9.52 to clerics Demetrianus and Valerianus from Fermo in Picenum (Marche) (November 598)
Gregorius Demetriano et Valeriano clericis firmanis
Et sacrorum canonum statuta et legalis permittit auctoritas licite res ecclesiasticas in redemptione captiuorum impendi. Et ideo quia edocti a uobis sumus ante annos fere decem et octo uirum reuerentissimum quondam Fabium episcopum ecclesiae firmanae pro redemptione uestra ac patris uestri Passiui fratris et coepiscopi nostri, tunc uero clerici, necnon matris uestrae undecim libras argenti de eadem ecclesia hostibus impendisse atque uos ex hoc quandam habere formidinem, ne hoc quod datum est a uobis quolibet tempore repetatur, huius praecepti auctoritate suspicionem uestram praeuidimus auferendam, constituentes nullam uos exinde heredesque uestros quolibet tempore repetitionis molestiam sustinere nec a quoquam uobis aliquam obici quaestionem, quia ratio aequitatis exposcit ut, quod studio pietatis impensum est, ad redemptorum onus uel afflictionem non debeat pertinere.
(ed. Norberg 1982: )
Letter 9.52 to clerics Demetrianus and Valerianus from Fermo in Picenum (Marche) (November 598)
Gregory to Demetrianus and Valerianus, clerics of Fermo
Both the statutes of the holy canons and legal authority allow Church property to be spent legally on the ransoming of captives. Thus, you have informed us that about eighteen years ago, a most reverend man, Fabius, once bishop of the church of Fermo, paid the enemy eleven pounds of gold from the same church for the ransoms of you two and of your father – and our brother and fellow-bishop – Passivus (then a cleric), and of your mother also. And, because of the above, you fear that someone might request from you at some point to give back what was given [for your ransom]. We suspect that with the authority of this order your uneasiness should be taken away, as we have decided that you and your heirs should at no point be bothered [because of what happened], and that no formal complaint should be made against you. For the rule of justice demands that what has been spent through the zeal of piety should not bring burden or pain to those redeemed.
(trans. Martyn 2004: 576–577, altered by J. Szafranowski)


It is unclear whether Bishop Passivus was the actual father of Demetrianus and Valerianus (and, hence, that they were brothers), or whether Gregory had a spiritual relation in mind. It might be telling that in a letter to Passivus sent at the same time as this one (9.58 [2311]), Gregory does not refer to Valerianus (if this is the same Valerianus, see below) as Passivus' son. Moreover, it is difficult to say why Valerianus and Demetrianus would need confirmation that they do not owe anything to the diocese of Fermo if their own father was the bishop (unless they anticipated that the future successor of Passivus might not be as indulgent).
It is equally uncertain whether the notarius ecclesiae Valerianus of Fermo in letters 9.58 [2311] and 9.59 [2312] is the same person as the addressee of this letter.
There is also a small possibility that this Valerianus should be identified with the presbyter Valerianus who attempted to ransom the captives in Cyrenaica with Gregory's support in AD 592 [2309].

Place of event:

  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Rome
  • Fermo
  • 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.


Social origin or status - Clerical family
Family life - Permanent relationship after ordination
Family life - Offspring
Described by a title - Clericus
Economic status and activity - Loans
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Wife
Relation with - Father/Mother
Relation with - Brother/Sister
Relation with - Children
Private law - Ecclesiastical
    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, ER2310,