Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 418
Augustine, bishop of Hippo (North Africa), recounts how the presbyters expelled a certain unworthy ostiarius from his function. Augustine, Letter 26*, North Africa, 411/430 AD.
Letter 26*
1. [...] Ego autem illi, ne ceteris onere suo praeberet perditionis exemplum, ut ad sanctum Theogenem esset ostiarius non habens unde uiueret, utcumque prouideram; nec ibi potuit suum digne officium custodire, ita ut inde me absente a presbyteris proiceretur.
(ed. Divjak 1981:  129)
Letter 26*
1. [...] But so that he would not be for the others a burden and a damnable example, I managed to arrange that he would be the ostiarius at Saint Theogenes, since he did not have the means to live. Nor was he able to carry out his function there in a worthy manner, so that in my absence he was thrown out by the presbyters.
(trans. R. Teske, slightly altered)


 A petty affair of a certain Donatianus of Suppa, an unworthy lower cleric, gives us a glimpse at the everyday management of the Church at Hippo: the bishop appoints a man as an ostiarius in one of the churches (or, more exactly, a memoria: see Sermo 273, PL 38,1251) and then, in his absence, the presbyters (of that particular church? or of Hippo in general?) remove the man from the post. Augustine accepted that decision and advised his fellow bishop, to whom Donatianus turned, not to allow him to be anything more than a lector.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Hippo Regius

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Hippo Regius (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The letters of Augustine of Hippo cover a wide range of topics: Holy Scripture, dogma and liturgy, philosophy, religious practice and everyday life. They range from full-scale theological treatises to small notes asking someone for a favour. The preserved corpus includes 308 letters, 252 written by Augustine, 49 that others sent to him and seven exchanged between third parties. 29 letters have been discovered only in the 20th century and edited in 1981 by Johannes Divjak; they are distinguished by the asterisk (*) after their number.
The preserved letters of Augustine extend over the period from his stay at Cassiciacum in 386 to his death in Hippo in 430.
J. Divjak ed., Sancti Aureli Augustini Epistolae ex duobus codicibus nuper in lucem prolatae, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, v. 88, Wien, 1981.
J. Divjak ed., Saint Augustin. Lettres 1*-29*, Bibliothèque Augustinienne 46B. Paris 1987.


Functions within the Church - Urban presbyter
    Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
      Ecclesiastical administration - Administering Church property
        Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
          Relation with - Lower cleric
            Equal prerogatives of presbyters and bishops
              Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER418,