Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 510
Anachoretic monk Aemilian is forced to enter the holy orders by Bishop Didymus of Tarazona and serves as presbyter in the church in Berceo (Iberian Peninsula, ca 540-550). Braulio of Saragossa`s "Life of Saint Aemilian", ca 631-645.
IV. [...] Sed quoniam ciuitas super montem posita diu latere non potuit, eousque fama sanctitatis eius percrebuit ut in notitia paene omnium perueniret.
[V. Bishop Didymus assigns a church to Aemilian]
12. Didimio etiam qui tunc pontificatus gerebat in Tirasona ministerium, quum hoc quoque fuisset delatum, insequitur hominem ordini ecclesiastico uolens inserere, eius quippe erat in diocese. Durum illi primum uideri ac graue, refugere ac reniti et quasi de caelo traduci ad mundum, de quiete iam paene nancta ad officia laboriosa, uitamque contemplatiuam transferri in actiuam; tandemque coactus est inuitus obedire quapropter in ecclessia Vergegio presbiterii est functus officio. Tunc relictis quibus deditii solent esse istius ordinis, nostri quidem homines temporis, sanctam impertiebat curam in hanc in quam retractus fuerat uitam in quo tamen continuatae preces, hebdomadarum inedia, iugis uigilia, discretio uera, spes certa, frugalitas magna, iustitia blanda, patientia solida, et ut breuiter dicam ab omni omnino re mala indefesse persitebat parsimonia maxima. Sapientiae etiam flores ita de pratis discerpserat ineffabilis diuinitatis, ut is qui usque ad octauum memoriae uix commendauerat psalmum, incomparabiliter longeque praestantius, peritia prudentia acutiaque, mundi uetustos anteiret filosofos; […]
Braulio compares Emilian to st. Anthony and st. Martin.
(ed. Vazquez de Parga 1943: 17-19)
IV. [...] However, since a city that is set on a hill cannot be long hid [Matt 5:14], the fame of his holiness spread to such a degree that it came to the notice of almost everyone.
[V. Bishop Didymus assigns a church to Aemilian]
12. When this news was brought to Didymus who then held the office of bishop in Tarazona, he pursued the man, wishing, as he was in his diocese, to put him into Holy orders. At first it seemed a harsh and hard thing to Aemilian to flee back, to return, to be, as it were, dragged from heaven to earth, from the rest which he had now almost obtained from wearying tasks, and to be taken back to the active life from the contemplative. Finally, he was unwillingly compelled to obey, and so performed the office of presbyter in the church of Berceo. Then setting aside those things to which men of that order, the men, that is, of our day, are accustomed to dedicate themselves, he imparted his holy care on this life to which he had been dragged back. In this, however, through continual prayer, week-long fasts, perpetual vigils, true discernment, sure hope, great frugality, kindly righteousness, and firm endurance, in short with the greatest austerity he tirelessly kept himself from all evil things. He so plucked flowers of knowledge from the meadows of the ineffable Godhead that he who had scarcely committed the eighth psalm to memory far surpassed without compare the ancient philosophers of the world in practical knowledge, wisdom, and sharpness of perception; [...]
Braulio compares Emilian to St Anthony and St Martin.
(trans. A.T. Fear 1997: 24-25)


Vergegium is the place from which Saint Aemilian originally came. It is usually identified with the village Berceo, near the monastery San Millan de la Cogolla, named after Saint Aemilian. Saint Aemilian was also buried in Berceo (Vita III, 10). However, in the 15th century there was also a cult in Berdejo in Aragon (see de Gaiffier 1933; Fear 1997: 22, n. 33).
According to the breviaries of San Millan de la Cogolla Saint Aemilian died 12 November AD 574 (Fear 1997: 40, n. 110). Braulio claims that he lived 100 years, so he would have been born in AD 474. Braulio says that Saint Aemilian was ordained a presbyter after having already spent forty years in the wilderness as a monk. If these mentions are to be taken literally, the ordination should have taken place ca AD 540-550.

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Saragossa
  • San Millán de la Cogolla

About the source:

Author: Braulio of Saragossa
Title: Life of saint Aemilian, Vita sancti Aemiliani, Life of saint Emilian
Origin: Saragossa (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Life of Saint Aemilian (died 574) was written by Braulio, bishop of Saragossa, somewhere between 631 (his elevation to the episcopacy and the death of Bishop John of Saragossa) and 645 (the elevation to the episcopacy of Eugene II of Toledo who in the dedicatory letter is mentioned as being still a deacon; see Fear 1997: xxvi). The life was intended to be read during the celebration of Mass in honour of Saint Aemilian (breuem conscripsi, ut possit in missae eius celebritate quantocius legi, ed. Vazquez de Parga 1943: 5).
L. Vazquez de Parga ed., Sancti Braulionis Caesaraugustani episcopi Vita s. Emiliani, Madrid 1943
A.T. Fear, Lives of the Visigothic fathers, Liverpool 1997
C.H. Lynch, Saint Braulio, bishop of Saragossa (631-651) his life and writings, Washington, D.C. 1938 (see also Spanish translation revised by P. Galindo: C.H. Lynch, P. Galindo, San Braulio, obispo de Zaragoza: (631 - 651). Su vida y sus obras, Madrid 1950).
B. de Gaiffier, "La controverse au sujet de la patrie de S. Émilien de la Cogolla”, Analecta Bollandiana 51 (1933), 293–317.
L. Pietri, "Les abbés de basilique dans la Gaule du VIe siècle", Revue d’histoire de l’Église de France 69 (1982), 5-28.
A. Ubieto Arteta, "Los primeros años del monasterio de San Millán", Principe de Viana 34 (1973), 181-200.
V. Valcárel Martinez, "¿Uno o dos Frunimianos en Vita Emiliani y cartas de Braulio de Zaragoza?", Faventia 12-13 (1990-1991), 367-371.


Education - Insufficient education
Functions within the Church - Parish presbyter
Functions within the Church - Rural presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Monastic or common life - Hermit
Reasons for ordination - Involuntary ordination
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Devotion - Vigils
Devotion - Fasting
Devotion - Private devotional practice
Pastoral activity - Helping the poor and needy
    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER510,