Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 872
Augustine, bishop of Hippo Regius (North Africa) refers to rumours about the Presbyter Barnaba with regard to his possesions and the administration of the Church property. Sermon 356, AD 426.
Sermon 356
15. Dixi aliquid suum non habere presbyteros cohabitatores meos, inter quos est et presbyter Barnabas. Sed et de illo audiui quaedam fuisse iactata, ante omnia quia emit uillam a dilecto et honorabili filio meo Eleusino. Hoc falsum est: monasterio donauit ille, non uendidit. [...] Dictum est de illo etiam quod anno praepositurae suae per industriam debita fecerit, ut dum uolo ego reddi debita, darem illi poscenti fundum Victorianensem: tamquam dixisset mihi: ut reddam debita mea, da mihi in decem annos fundum Victorianensem. Et hoc falsum est. Sed fuit unde rumor nasceretur. Fecit debita reddenda. A nobis reddita sunt partim, unde potuerunt. Remansit aliquid quod debebatur etiam monasterio illi quod per ipsum deus instituit. Cum ergo remansisset, coepimus quaerere unde debitum redderemus. Ad conductionem illius fundi nullus accessit, nisi quadraginta solidos offerens pensionem. Sed uidimus posse fundum amplius dare, ut celerius debitum redderetur; et commisi fidei eius, ut de ipsa conductione lucra non quaererent fratres, sed quidquid daret fundus, de ipsis fructibus imputarent ad debitum. Fide agitur. Paratus est presbyter ut alium constituam, qui de fructibus fratribus reddat. [...] Locus etiam ipse, in quo monasterium constitutum est a memorato honorabili filio meo Eleusino, ipsi presbytero Barnabae donatus est antequam ordinaretur presbyter. [...]
(ed. Lambot 1950: 142-143)
Sermon 356
15. I have said that the presbyters living with me as my companions have nothing of their own, and among them is also the presbyter Barnaba. But I have heard rumor tossed around about him, above all that he has bought a villa from my dear and honored son, Eleusinus. It is not true; Eleusinus donated it to the monastery, he didn't sell it. […]
It is also said about Barnaba that in the year he was in charge he deliberately ran up debts, so that I, wanting the debts to be paid, would give in to his request to be granted the farm at Victoriana; as though he had said to me, "To enable me to pay my debts, give me the farm at Victoriana for ten years." This too is simply not true. But there was something which gave rise to the rumor. He did contract debts that had to be paid. I paid off some of them, insofar as I could. There remained something which was also owing to that monastery which God had established through him. So since the debt remained outstanding, we started looking around for means of paying it off. Nobody offered to rent that farm, other than a man who was offering a rent of forty solidi. But we saw that the farm could yield much more than that, to pay off the debt more quickly. So I entrusted it to him, so that the brothers should not look for a profit from letting the farm, but should put down whatever the farm yielded to the reduction of the debt. It's a matter of trust. The presbyter is quite ready to put somebody else in charge, who would pay the brothers from the farm's profits.
[…] The site on which the monastery has been established was also donated by my honored son Eleusinus, already mentioned, to the presbyter Barnaba before he was ordained a presbyter. […]
(trans. E. Hill, slightly altered)


Sermons 355 and 356 were delivered by Augustine in 425/426 (Sermon 356 after Epiphany 426) when it turned out that some of the clerics of the monastery of Hippo had retained some private property. For the context, see [843].
The description of Barnaba's activities gives us an insight into the situations concerning Church property: its administration by the clergy (later in the text of the sermon Augustine says that he will give this particular management post to another cleric, after Barnaba), debts incurred on the occasion, and their payment by the bishop.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Hippo Regius
  • Victoriana Villa

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: Sermons, Sermones, Homilies
Origin: Hippo Regius (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Copies of between 400 and 500 of Augustine`s sermons have survived to our times. Most of these 400-500 sermons were taken down by scribes as he preached without the use of a prepared script. They are a faithful stenographic record of what Augustine actually said, with probably no subsequent editing of them by himself.
They cover a wide range of topics. They are usually based on the Scripture passage read during the liturgy. The homilies on the Psalms and the Gospels have been preserved in separate collections.
C. Lambot ed., Sancti Aurelii Augustini Sermones selecti duodeviginti, Stromata Patristica et Mediaevalia 1, Utrecht - Brussels 1950.
Saint Augustine, Sermons (341-400) on Various Subjects, trans. E. Hill, New York 1995.


Food/Clothes/Housing - Type of housing
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Monastic or common life - Clerical community
Ecclesiastical administration - Administering Church property
Economic status and activity - Loans
Economic status and activity - Indication of poverty
Economic status and activity - Gift
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER872,