Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 971
Martin of Tours honours his presbyter by passing him a cup at the emperor`s feast, judging him worthier than the emperor himself. Account in the `Life of Saint Martin` by Sulpicius Severus, writing in Primuliacum (Gaul), ca AD 396.
Chapter 20.4-7
Martin of Tours was invited to dinner by the emperor Maximus in Trier.
Convivae autem aderant velut ad diem festum evocati summi atque inlustres viri praefectus idem que consul Evodius vir quo nihil umquam iustius fuit comites duo summa potestate praediti frater regis et patruus. Medius inter hos Martini presbyter accubuerat ipse autem in sellula iuxta regem posita consederat.
Ad medium fere convivium ut moris est pateram regi minister obtulit. Ille sancto admodum episcopo potius dari iubet expectans atque ambiens ut ab illius dextera poculum sumeret. Sed Martinus ubi ebibit pateram presbytero suo tradidit nullum scilicet existimans digniorem qui post se prior biberet nec integrum sibi fore si aut regem ipsum aut eos qui a rege erant proximi presbytero praetulisset.
Quod factum imperator omnes que qui tunc aderant ita admirati sunt ut hoc ipsum eis in quo contempti fuerant placeret. Celeberrimum que per omne palatium fuit fecisse Martinum in regis prandio quod in infimorum iudicum conviviis nemo episcoporum fecisset.
(ed. Fountaine 1967-1969: v. 1, 296-298)
Chapter 20.4-7
Martin of Tours was invited to dinner by the emperor Maximus in Trier.
The best and most noble men came to dinner, as if they had been summoned to a feast day: Euodius, the prefect and also consul, a man who was always more just than anyone else; two counts endowed with the greatest power; the brother of the king; and his uncle. Martin's priest took his place in the middle of these men, while Martin himself sat on a stool placed beside the king.
Near the middle of the banquet, as was the custom, a servant offered a bowl to the king. He ordered that the bowl should be given instead to the holy bishop, expecting and arranging it so that he might receive the cup from the right hand of that man. But Martin, after he drank, passed the bowl to his priest, judging that no one present was worthier to drink after himself. If he handed the cup to either the king, or to one of those men sitting near the king, his integrity might not have been preserved, so he offered it to his priest.
The emperor, and all of those who were present, admired that he did; he pleased them greatly with the very deed through which they had been disregarded. The news that Martin had done at the king's lunch what none of the other bishops had ever done at banquets with the lowest officials was well publicised throughout the entire palace.
(trans. Goodrich 2015: 45)


In the Dialogues (2.6.1-7), Gallus says that he accompanied Martin on his journey to Trier. Perhaps he can be identified with the anonymous presbyter. For the possible proof of Gallus' presbyterate see [1002].

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Trier

About the source:

Author: Sulpicius Severus
Title: Life of saint Martin, Vita sancti Martini
Origin: Primuliacum (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Sulpicius Severus` hagiographical corpus concerning Martin of Tours consists of his Life, three letters, and three Dialogues. The Life was written in 396, when Martin was still alive. Shortly before, Sulpicius had visited Martin`s monastery in Marmoutier near Tours. The Life of Martin proved to be a great success and remained a model for later hagiographical works, especially those telling the story of holy bishops. E.g., in his Life of Ambrose, Paulinus of Milan acknowledges his debt to Sulpicius, as the latter has created a model for his own work.
Sulpicius Severus, Vie de saint Martin, ed. and transl. J. Fontaine, Sources Chrétiennes 133–135, Paris 1967–1969.
Sulpicius Severus, The Complete Works, transl. R.J. Goodrich, Ancient Christian Writers 70, New York 2015.


Entertainment - Feasting
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Reverenced by
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER971,