Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2327
Pope Gregory orders Defensor Sabinus of Sardinia to investigate the case of the presbyter Epiphanius from Cagliari, who is seemingly accused of some indecent relations with a certain woman. Gregory the Great, Letter 3.36, AD 593.
Letter 3.36 to Defensor Sabinus of Sardinia (May 593)
Gregorius Sabino defensori Sardiniae
Gregory discusses some other matters.
Praeterea quoniam aliqua nobis de persona Epiphanii presbyteri facinora nuntiata sunt, necesse est ut cuncta diligentius perscruteris, et seu mulieres cum quibus perisse dicitur, seu alios quos de causa eadem scire aliquid senseris, hic pariter festines adducere, quatenus ecclesiasticae districtioni liquide possint aperiri quae uera sunt. Haec uero omnia ita efficaciter utrique curabitis adimplere, ut nulla te de neglecto culpa respiciat, scientes ad uestrum omnimodo pertinere periculum, si haec nostra quoquomodo fuerit lentata praeceptio.
(ed. Norberg 1982: )
Letter 3.36 to Defensor Sabinus of Sardinia (May 593)
Gregory to Sabinus, defensor of Sardinia
Gregory discusses some other matters.
Furthermore, since some wrongdoings have been reported to us concerning the person of the presbyter Epiphanius, it is necessary that you examine all of these quite diligently. Hurry also to bring here either the woman with whom he is said to have erred, or others whom you feel know something about this same case, so that the truth can be clearly revealed for an ecclesiastical sentence. But you will take care to carry out all of this so efficiently for both parties that no guilt over neglect applies to you, knowing as we do that it spells danger for you in every way, if this command of ours should be delayed in any way.
(trans. Martyn 2004: 259–260, slightly altered by J. Szafranowski)


It seems that in the course of investigation Epiphanius himself was called to Rome because he carried a letter from Gregory to his bishop, in which he is aquitted from all charges (letter 4.24 [2328]).

Place of event:

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


Sexual life - Extramarital
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Woman
Administration of justice - Ecclesiastical
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2327,