Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2311
Gregory the Great orders Bishop Passivus of Spoleto to consecrate a private oratory sponsored by church notary Valerianus. No presbyter may be permanently affixed to this church. Every presbyter saying mass in this oratory must be sanctioned by bishop of Spoleto. Gregory the Great, Letter 9.58, AD 598.
Letter 9.58 to Bishop Passivus of Fermo (November 598)
Gregorius Passiuo episcopo
Valerianus notarius ecclesiae fraternitatis tuae petitoria nobis insinuatione suggessit, quod habetur in subditis, in fundo uisiano iuris sui iuxta muros ciuitatis firmanae oratorium se pro sua deuotione fundasse, quod in honore beati martyris Sauini desiderat consecrari. Et ideo, frater carissime, si in tuae parrochiae memorata constructio iure consistit et nullum corpus ibidem constat humatum, percepta primitus donatione legitima, id est in reditu solidos tres liberos a tributis fiscalibus, gestis que municipalibus allegata, praedictum oratorium absque missis publicis sollemniter consecrabis ita, ut in eodem loco nec futuris temporibus baptisterium construatur nec presbyterum constituas cardinalem. Et si missas ibi fieri forte maluerit, a dilectione tua presbyterum nouerit postulandum, quatenus nihil tale a quolibet alio sacerdote ullatenus praesumatur. Sanctuaria uero suscepta sui cum reuerentia collocabis.
(ed. Norberg 1982: )
Letter 9.58 to Bishop Passivus of Fermo (November 598)
Gregory to Passivus, bishop
Valerianus, a notary of the church of your Fraternity, has suggested to us with an ingratiating petition, included herewith in an appendix, that he has founded an oratory to show his devotion, in the Visian estate under his control, next to the walls of the city of Fermo. He wants this to be consecrated in honour of the blessed martyr Sabinus. And for that reason, dearest brother, if the building mentioned is under the control of your diocese (parrochia), and it is certain that no human body has been buried there, first of all receive the legal donation, that is, three gold coins in return, free of payments to the treasury, and record the transaction in the municipal records. Then you will solemnly consecrate the aforesaid oratory, without [the right to] public masses, in such a way that no baptistery is built in the same place at some future date, and no presbyter is permanently ascribed to this place (nec presbyterum constituas cardinalem). And if by chance Valerianus would prefer masses to be held for him there, let him know that he must seek a presbyter from your beloved. Under no circumstances should he dare to ask for such a service some other priest (sacerdos, i.e. other bishop?). And you will take up her sacred relics and place them within with due reverence.
(trans. Martyn 2004: 580, altered by J. Szafranowski)


It is uncertain whether clericus Valerianus of Fermo from letter 9.52 [2310] is the same person as the one mentioned in this and the following (9.59, [2312]) letters. If he indeed is, then Bishop Passivus might have been actually Valerianus' father.
There is some small possibility that this Valerianus should be identified with Presbyter Valerianus who in 592 ransomed, with Gregory's support, the captives in Cyrenaica [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.


Functions within the Church - Urban presbyter
    Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
      Ritual activity - Eucharist
        Ecclesiastical administration - Construction/Renovation
        Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
        Relation with - Father/Mother
        Devotion - Veneration of saints and relics
        Functions within the Church - Presbyter in a lay foundation
          Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2311,