Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 670
Sulpicius Severus, presbyter from Aquitaine (Gaul) of noble origin and high education, is the author of many letters, the "Chronicle", the "Life of Saint Martin", and the "Conference", ca AD 390-410. Account in the "Lives of Illustrious Men" by Gennadius of Marseille, writing in Marseille (Gaul), ca AD 490.
SEVERUS presbyter, cognomento Sulpicius, Aquitanicae provinciae, vir genere et litteris nobilis et paupertatis atque humilitatis amore conspicuus, carus etiam sanctorum virorum, Martini, Turonensis episcopi, et Paulini Nolani, scripsit non contemnenda opuscula.
Nam epistulas Ad amorem Dei et contemptum mundi hortatorias scripsit sorori suae multas, quae et notae sunt. Scripsit Ad supra dictum Paulinum Nolanum duas et ad alios alias, sed quia in aliquibus etiam familiaris necessitas inserta est, non digeruntur. Conposuit et Chronicam.
Scripsit et ad multorum profectum Vitam beati Martini, monachi et episcopi, signis et prodigiis ac virtutibus inlustris viri, et Conlationem Postumiani et Galli se mediante et iudice de conversatione monachorum Orientalium et ipsius Martini habitam in dialogi speciem duabus incisionibus conprehendit. In quarum priore refert suo tempore apud Alexandriam synodo episcoporum decretum, Origenem et cautius a sapientibus pro bonis legendum et a minus capacibus pro malis repudiandum. Hic in senecta sua a Pelagianis deceptus et agnoscens loquacitatis culpam silentium usque ad mortem tenuit, ut peccatum quod loquendo contraxerat, tacendo penitus emendaret.
(ed. E. Cushing Richardson 1896)
Severus the presbyter, surnamed Sulpicius, of the province of Aquitania, a man distinguished by the nobility of both origin and literary work, and by his devotion to poverty and humility, dear also to the holy men: Martin, bishop of Tours, and Paulinus of Nola, wrote several works which should not be disregarded.
He wrote, for instance, to his sister many letters exhorting to love of God and contempt of the world, which are well-known. He wrote two to the above mentioned Paulinus of Nola and other [letters] to other [people], but because in some family matters are included, they have not been distributed. He composed a Chronicle as well.
He wrote also to the profit of many, a Life of the the blessed Martin, monk and bishop, a man famous for signs, miracles, and virtues. He also wrote a Conference between Postumianus and Gallus [i.e. the Dialogues], in which he himself acted as mediator and judge. The subject matter was the manner of life of the oriental monks and of St. Martin presented in the type of a dialogue in two parts. In the first, he mentions a decree of the bishops at the synod of Alexandria in his own time to the effect that Origen is to be read, though cautiously, by those who are wise, for the good that is in him, and is to be rejected by the less able on account of the evil. In his old age, he was led astray by the Pelagians, and, recognizing the guilt of talkativeness, kept silent until his death, in order that by penitent silence he might atone for the sin which he had contracted by speaking.
(trans. by E. Cushing Richardson, changed by J. Szafranowski)


Gennadius' testimony is the sole evidence that Sulpicius Severus was a presbyter. For some non-direct proofs of his presbyterate, see [1002] and [2055].
It seems that Sulpicius' penance was of a private character; nothing suggests that he was excommunicated.

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Primuliacum

About the source:

Author: Gennadius of Marseille
Title: De viris illustribus, Lives of Illustrious Men, De viris inlustribus, On the lives of famous men On the Lives of Famous Men
Origin: Marseille (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The "Lives of Illustrious Men" by Gennadius of Marseille is the continuation of Jerome`s work bearing the same title. It contains 99 additional additional entries on different famous ecclesiestatics. It was written in the end of 5th century. At one point Gennadius writes that the death of presbyter and monk Theodore (Theodulus) of Coelesyria  occured `three years ago, in the reign of Zeno` (died AD 491). Gennadius also knows that pope Gelasius died (AD 496) and Julianus Pomerius is considered alive (d. AD 498). Therefore, Gennadius composed majority of his work most probably in the first half of the 490s.
E. Cushing Richardson ed., Hieronymus liber De viris inlustribus; Gennadius liber De viris inlustribus, Leipzig 1896, 57-97.


Social origin or status - Social elite
Writing activity - Correspondence
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Pelagian
Change of denomination
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Monastic or common life - Cenobitic monk
Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
Relation with - Another presbyter
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Brother/Sister
Relation with - Monk/Nun
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER670,