Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 596
Pope Sergius I (687-701 AD) serves as an acolyte and a presbyter before his election. He celebrates Masses at the cemeteries. He is elected pope after none of the candidates, the Archpresbyter Theodore and the Archdeacon Paschalis, is able to prevail. Account of the "Life of Sergius I", written in Rome shortly after his death, as a part of the "Liber Pontificalis".
86. Sergius, natione Syrus, Antiochiae regionis, ortus ex patre Tiberio in Panormo Siciliae, sedit ann. XIII mens. VIII dies XXIII. Hic Romam veniens sub sanctae memoriae Adeodato pontifice, inter clerum Romanae ecclesiae connumeratus est; et quia studiosus erat et capax in officio cantelenae, priori cantorum pro doctrina est traditus. Et acolitus factus, per ordinem ascendens, a sanctae memoriae Leone pontifice in titulo sanctae Susannae, qui et Duas domos vocatur, presbiter ordinatus est. Hic tempore presbiteratus sui inpigre per cymiteria diversa missarum sollemnia celebrabat.
Post septennium vero, defuncto beatae memoriae Conone apostolicae sedis praesule, ut fieri solet, populus Romane urbis in duas partes divisus est; et una quidem elegit Theodorum archipresbiterum, alia vero Paschalem archidiaconum. Et quidem Theodorus archipresbiter cum populo qui ei favebat praeveniens, interiorem partem patriarchii tenuit; Paschalis vero exteriorem partem ab oratorio sancti Silvestri et basilicam domus Iuliae, quae super campum respicit, occupavit. Cumque unus alio locum non cederet, sed utrique inmaniter perdurarent ut unus alium superaret, inito consilio primati iudicum et exercitus Romane militiae vel cleri, si dici est, plurima pars et praesertim sacerdotum, atque civium multitudo ad sacrum palatium perrexerunt. Et diu pertractantes quid fieri deberet, qualiterve duorum altercantium electorum sopiretur intentio, Deo annuente, in personam denominati Sergii, venerabilis tunc presbiteri, concordantes se contulerunt; eumque de medio populi tollente in oraculum beati Caesari Christi martyris, quod est intro suprascriptum palatium, introduxerunt, et exinde in Lateranense episcopio cum laude adclamtionibus deduxerunt. Et quamvis fores patriarchii intrinsecus essent munitae et clausae, tamen pars qui praedictum venerabilem virum elegerat, quia et validior erat, praevaluit et ingressa est. Quo ingresso, unus e duobus electis, id est Theodorus archipresbiter, ilico quievit ac se humiliavit; et ingressus denominatum sanctissimum electum salutavit ac osculatus est. Paschalis vero ullo modo prae cordis duritia sinebat, donec coactus et confusu, volens nolens, suum dominum et electum ingressus salutaret.
(ed. Duchesne 1886: 371-372)
86. Sergius, a Syrian by nation, from the region of Antioch, born of his father Tiberius in Palermo, in Sicily, reigned for 13 years, 8 months, 23 days. He came to Rome under Adeodatus, the pontiff of holy memory, and was enrolled among the clergy of the Roman Church. Since he was diligent and able in the office of chanting, he was passed on to the superior of the cantors in order to learn the doctrine. He was made an acolyte, and ascending through the grades, he was ordained by Leo, the pontiff of holy memory, presbyter for the title of St Susanna, which is also called 'Two houses'.
After seven years, when Conon of holy memory, presiding over the Apostolic See, was dead, as usually happens the people of the city of Rome were divided into two parties; one of them elected the Archpresbyter Theodore, and the other the Archdeacon Paschalis. The Archpresbyter Theodore with the people who supported him came firstly and kept the interior part of the patriarchal complex (patriarchium), while Paschalis occupied the external part, from the oratory of St Silvester and the basilica of domus Iuliae, which overlooks the grounds. When one of them was ready to concede, but both  continued in a savage way to overcome the other, the first of the judges, the army, the majority of the clergy (if this may be said), and especially of the priests, and a great many of the people took counsel and arrived at the holy palace. While they were discussing for a long time what should be done and how to calm down the ambitions of the two contending pretenders, God indicated to them that they should come to an agreement in the person of the said Sergius, who was at that time a respected presbyter. They took him from the middle of the crowd, they led him to the chapel of St Ceasarius, the martyr of Christ, that is inside the aforementioned palace, and then they introduced him with loud acclamations to the Lateran episcopium. Although the doors of the patriarchium were closed and strengthened from inside, the party that elected the said venerable man was stronger, prevailed and entered. When they entered, one of the elected before, that is the Archpresbyter Theodore, humbled himself and admitted defeat on that very spot; he came, saluted the most holy elected man [Sergius] and kissed him. However, Paschalis, because of the hardness of his heart, did not want to give leave, until he was forced to do it and confused, willing or unwilling, saluted the entrance of his lord Sergius.
(trans. S. Adamiak)


There was only one ordination performed by Leo II, on 27 June 683 (see [405]), so Sergius was a presbyter for four years. Since he arrived in Rome under Adeodatus II (672-676), his ecclesiastical career was quite quick (although it remains unclear what the 'seven years' refer to, he was cleric for 15 years before his ascension to the see of Rome at the longest, and only 11 years at the shortest).
The election of Sergius I was the second contested papal election in two years (see [595]), making the Presbyter Theodore a very unfortunate candidate, twice very close to the papal throne, but ultimately unsuccessful.

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Rome

About the source:

Title: Liber Pontificalis, The Book of Pontiffs, Gesta Pontificum Romanorum
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Liber Pontificalis is a major source for the history of the papacy in the first millenium. It is a collection of the lives of popes, starting from St Peter and kept going through to 870. Liber Pontificalis is prefaced by two apocryphical letters of Pope Damasus and Jerome, but it cannot be dated to that period. Although Mommsen tended to put the date of the actual compilation as late as the seventh century, nowadays Duchesne`s view is generally accepted that there were two editions made in the 530s-540s. The first, presumably completed soon after 530, has not survived as such, though we have two epitomes made from it (known as "Felician" and "Cononian" from the names of the popes at which they end). Duchesne tried to reconstruct it in his edition, but we follow the second edition presented by him, which was completed by the siege of Rome in 546. The work was then left aside for some time, and taken up again probably under Honorius (625-638) or shortly afterwards; hence the additions were written shortly after each pontiff`s death.
Liber starts to provide some more reliable information with the times of Pope Leo I (440-461), and becomes very well informed with the end of the fifth century. The lives of earlier popes cannot be considered as a valid source of information about their lifetime. However, those notices are a precious source for the sixth century: we learn what was considered an old tradition at the time, and how the past of the Roman church was being seen and constructed then. It is especially important when we deal with the liturgy.
 L. Duchesne ed., Le `Liber Pontificalis`, vol. 1., Paris 1886.
 T. Mommsen ed., Liber Pontificalis pars prior, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Gesta Pontificum Romanorum 1, Berlin 1898.
 The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis). The ancient biographies of the first ninety Roman bishops to AD 715, revised edition, translated with an introduction by R. Davis, Liverpool 2000.


Education - Education by clerics
Travel and change of residence
Former ecclesiastical career - Lower clergy
Former ecclesiastical career - Unspecified clerical grade
Functions within the Church - Archpresbyter
Functions within the Church - Parish presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
    Act of ordination
    Ritual activity - Eucharist
    Ecclesiastical administration - Election of Church authorities
      Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
      Ritual activity - Praying for the dead
      Further ecclesiastical career
      Episcopal ambitions
      Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER596,