Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2314
Gregory the Great elevates the monk Cyriacus to a higher position among other clerics and increases his "presbyterium". Gregory the Great, Letter 2.50, AD 592.
Letter 2.50 to Sub-deacon Peter of Sicily (July-August 592)
Gregorius Petro subdiacono Siciliae de diuersis causis
Gregory discusses various matters.
Veniente autem fratre Cyriaco seruo Dei de Roma, de illo subtiliter requisiui si cum tua conscientia fuerit de accipiendo praemio in causa mulieris cuiusdam locutus. Quod isdem frater ita se dixit, te referente, cognouisse, quia ex te immissus est, ut quis esset ad conferendum praemium immissor probaret. Quod ego credidi, mox que eum in gratia familiariter recepi, coram clero polypticum deduxi, presbyterium ei auxi, in loco eum superiori inter defensores posui, collaudans coram omnibus fidem eius, quia ita se in obsequio tuo fideliter gesserit.
Gregory discusses other matters.
(ed. Norberg 1982: 142)
Letter 2.50 to Sub-deacon Peter of Sicily (July-August 592)
Gregory to Peter, sub-deacon of Sicily, on various matters
Gregory discusses various matters.
Also, as my brother Cyriacus, a servant of God from Rome, has come here, I carefully inquired from him if he had an understanding with you when speaking about accepting a gift in the case of a certain woman. The same brother said that he had found out about it in this way, when you referred him to it, because he was sent there from you, to prove who was involved to in giving this gift. And so I believed this, and soon received him with grace and friendship. I brought in the paylist (polypticus) in the presence of the clergy, increased his allowance (presbyterium) and placed in a higher rank among the defenders, applauding his good faith before everybody, because he had acted so faithfully in obeying you. For that reason, I have sent him back quickly to you.
Gregory discusses other matters.
(trans. Martyn 2004: 229–230, slightly altered by J. Szafranowski)


In other letters of Gregory, Cyriacus is referred to as either servus Dei or abba. The first title suggests a monk, a latter could apply to both a monastic superior or a presbyter in charge of some church. That Gregory writes of increasing Cyriacus presbyterium may suggest that Cyriacus was indeed a presbyter, but the term itself seems to apply generally to money given to clergy, sometimes in terms of occasional donation, sometimes in terms of salary. Gregory also mentions presbyterium in letters 2.9 [2294] and 5.27 [XXXXXX].
It is impossible to determine whether the allusion to locus superior means that Cyriacus was already a defensor and was raised to a higher position than other defensores, or that he assumed a higher position, among other defensores, although he was technically not one of them.
For the high position of defensor in the society at the time, see e.g. Gregory's Dialogues 2.19.
It is important to note that Gregory calls Cyriacus his brother, and not his son, indicating some kind of familiarity or respect (or both). Usually, Gregory reserves this title only for other bishops.
See the analysis of this passus in Wiśniewski 2019: 330–331, in which he proposed, for example, the rendering of polypticus into "pay-list", rather than Martyn's "account book". Wiśniewski also points out to the importance of the public character of Cyriacus' elevation.
PCBE Italie 1: Cyriacus 6 proposes that polypticus should be understood in this context as an account book of the Gregory's Sicilian patrimony.

Place of event:

  • East
  • Rome
  • Barca
  • Rome

About the source:

Author: Gregory the Great
Title: Letters, Epsitulae, 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.
R. Wiśniewski, "The Last Shall Be Last: the Order of Precedence among Clergy in Late Antiquity", Sacris Erudiri 58 (2019), pp. 321–337.


Described by a title - Abba
Monastic or common life - Cenobitic monk
Economic status and activity - Gift
Reverenced by
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Deacon
Relation with - Woman
Theoretical considerations - On church hierarchy
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2314,