Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 423
Augustine, bishop of Hippo, and Alypius, bishop of Thagaste, congratulate bishop Aurelius of Carthage on his decision to allow presbyters to preach in churches in his presence. Augustine, Letter 41, North Africa, shortly after AD 395.
Letter 41
1. Impletum est gaudio os nostrum et lingua nostra exultatione [Ps 125,2] nuntiantibus litteris tuis sanctam cogitationem tuam adiuuante Domino, qui eam inspirauit, ad effectum esse perductam de omnibus ordinatis fratribus nostris et praecipue de sermone presbyterorum, qui te praesente populo infunditur. [...] Deo gratias, qui te et tam fideli pectore ditauit erga filios tuos et id, quod in intimo animae habebas, quo humanus oculus non penetrat, eduxit in lucem donando tibi, non solum ut bene uelles, uerum etiam in quibus posset apparere, quod uelles.
(ed. Goldbacher 1898: 81-82 )
Letter 41
1. Our mouth is filled with joy and our tongue with exultation (Ps 125:2), when your letter reports that your holy thought has, with the help of the Lord who inspired it, been realized concerning all our ordained brothers and especially concerning the sermons of presbyters, which are delivered to the people in your presence. [...] Thanks be to God, who has endowed you with so faithful a heart toward your sons and has brought out into the light what you had in the inner chamber of the mind where the human eye does not penetrate.
(trans. R. Teske, slightly altered)


This letter was written not long after the episcopal ordinations of Augustine and Alypius (AD 395). We learn from it that the practice of allowing the presbyters to preach was still a novelty at the time. However, if Augustine and Alypius praised Aurelius for allowing it in Carthage, we may presume that they followed suit in Hippo and Thagaste.
It is interesting to see, however, that the presbyters seem to be allowed by Aurelius to preach only in his presence.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Hippo Regius
  • Thagaste
  • Carthage
  • Hippo Regius
  • Thagaste

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Hippo Regius (Latin North Africa)Thagaste (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.
A. Goldbacher ed., S. Augustini Hipponiensis Episcopi Epistulae, Pars 2, Ep. 31-123, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 34/2,  Prague-Vienna-Leipzig 1898.
Saint Augustine, Letters 1-99, trans. R. Teske, New York 2001.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
      Pastoral activity - Preaching
        Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER423,