CfP: Clerics in Church and society up to AD 700

CfP: Clerics in Church and society up to AD 700

The Presbyters in the Late Antique West is a 5-years project, run at the University of Warsaw and investigating the role of the middle clergy in the Church and society. Our team has been collecting the evidence concerning clerics withina searchable database, still under construction, but accessible on-line: editor, password: editor123!).

The project is slowly coming to its end, and we are organising the closing conference “Clerics in Church and society up to AD 700”. The conference will take place in Warsaw, on 26-27 April 2019. The word ‘clerics’ include bishops, but our main interest lies in the presbyters, deacons, and subdeacons etc.  We are aiming to achieve a broad picture of their ecclesiastical, economic, and social activity. Among confirmed speakers are: Geoffrey Dunn, Uta Heil, David Hunter, Dominic Moreau, David Natal, and Eric Rebillard.

Those interested in presenting papers are requested to send a title and short abstract (c. 100 words) to Stanisław Adamiak ( by 30 September 2018.

There is no registration fee, but please, note we won’t be able to cover travel and accommodation expenses.

Robert Wiśniewski and Stanisław Adamiak


Clerics and Their Households in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages – Sessions at IMC Leeds 2018

We are happy to announce that the Presbyters in the Late Antique West Project is again present at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds. We organize two sessions on Tuesday, 3 July:

Session 517, Tuesday 3 July, 09.00-10.30

Social Sciences Building: Room 10.05

  1. The Canonical Legislation on the Families of Clergy, 4th-7th Centuries – Stanisław Adamiak (University of Warsaw).
  2. Enforcing Sexual Continence in the Households of Married Clergy – David Hunter (University of Kentucky).
  3. A Nestorian Monastery at Hura and its Regional Context – Daniel Varga (Israeli Antiquity Authority).


Session 617, Tuesday 3 July, 11.15-12.45

Social Sciences Building: Room 10.05

  1. Slaves and servants in clerical households in the early middle ages – Lisa Bailey (University of Auckland).
  2. Monks and Monasteries in Late Antique Egypt: Between Household and Estate – Joanna Wegner (University of Warsaw).
  3. Presbyters in the Tituli in Fifth Century Rome: Patrons and Clients – Michele Renee Salzman (University of California at Riverside).


Here are the abstracts of the papers:

Stanisław Adamiak

The Canonical Legislation on the Families of Clergy, 4th-7th Centuries.

The existence of the wives and children of the clergy was an obvious fact in the life of the ancient Church, although the continence was strongly recommended for the bishops, presbyters and deacons at least since the end of the fourth century. The canonical registration tried to regulate the lives in the households of the clerics. The presence of “external women” was prohibited there. The  children of clerics were expected to behave in an exemplary way. Many of them followed their fathers in the service of the Church, and became clerics or consecrated virgins. It helped to ease the conflicts regarding the property left by the clerics.


David Hunter

Enforcing Sexual Continence in the Households of  Married Clergy.

The topic of my paper would be the problems raised in the households of married clerics by the appearance and gradual enforcement of a requirement of permanent sexual continence for the higher clergy (bishops, presbyters, and deacons). Although legislation limiting the sexual activity of married clerics began to appear in the late fourth century, clergymen were usually required to remain living with their wives, or, at least, to provide them material support. A variety of sources, from the canons of western synods to the histories of Gregory of Tours, attest that serious problems arose from this arrangement and a variety of proposals were made to deal with these difficulties.


Daniel Varga

A Nestorian Monastery at Hura and its Regional Context

An impressive Byzantine monastery was exposed in a salvage excavation along the road connecting Beer Sheva and the Dead Sea.

The structure was divided into a number of halls and a dining hall. Beautiful mosaic floors were exposed in the prayer hall and dining hall.

The prayer hall was paved with a colorful leaf design. The dining hall mosaic included floral depictions, geometric shapes, amphorae, baskets and birds.  Four Greek dedicatory inscriptions were integrated in the mosaic carpets. They mention the names of the monastery abbots and the date of the laying of the mosaics, dating to the second half of the 6thcentury CE. The multi-ethnic and multi-lingual composition of the dwellers of the coenobium at Hura is perhaps reflected in the decision to render one of the inscriptions in two languages, Greek and Syriac.

It seems that the monastery, located near a Byzantine settlement, was an urban monastery, one in a series of monasteries along the road that connected Transjordan with the Berosabba Valley and served several different Christian groups.


Lisa Bailey

Slaves and servants in clerical households in the early middle ages

Clerical households, like all other elite early medieval households, were full of slaves and servants who kept the buildings clean, the rooms lit, and the inhabitants fed. Unlike other servi, however, the men and women who performed these acts did so in an environment in which service to God was praised as the highest morality, and in which performing demeaning tasks could be a sign of sanctity. This paper argues that serviin clerical households were therefore considered different, and that they were potentially elevated by their service.


Joanna Wegner

Monks and Monasteries in Late Antique Egypt: Between Household and Estate

Questions of economic organisation and management make only rare appearances in the corpora of monastic literary writings from late antique Egypt, but they are not entirely absent. The economic aspect of late antique Egyptian monasticism, however, has been increasingly explored mainly following the progress of Greek and Coptic papyrology. Documentary texts related to monasteries in the Nile Valley dated to the 6th–8th c. allow us to see communities of monks as economic units which display a great variety of functional arrangements. The communication will focus on examples of these arrangements in an attempt to understand their functions in sustaining the communities within rural socio-economic networks. The issues addressed will touch upon such matters as the scale and origin of monastic property and the resulting organisation of managerial tasks within the communities.



Michelle Renee Salzman  

Presbyters in the Tituli in Fifth Century Rome: Patrons and Clients


The titular churches of Rome (tituli)began as privately funded ecclesiastical foundations by wealthy lay and clerical patrons in post-Constantinian Rome. The bishop-focused Liber Pontificalisunderscores the complex of aristocratic and priestly patronage and administration behind Rome’s titular foundations and their finances.

A reconsideration of the evidence for the donations and financial oversight of the 29 fifth century titular churches in Rome leads me to argue that regardless of the original circumstances of these foundations, the tituli were only nominally part of the bishop’s church and remained semi-autonomous in terms of liturgy and financial matters.  Not only were the presbyters the real administrators of these foundations and in control of its finances to a large degree, a good many of them gained influence in the church, as demonstrated by their networks of familial and aristocratic connections.   A new prosopography of the families and aristocratic patrons associated with the titular priests included in a famous subscription list to the acts of a synod held in Rome in 499 demonstrates the strength of the networks of presbyters, and shows the strategies that presbyters used to ensure their on-going influence in fifth century Rome.   In many ways, the presbyters ran their households as did their aristocratic patrons and contemporaries; they made marriage alliances for family members, and acted as patrons of the church.


Prestigious scholarship awarded to Marta Szada!

Marta Szada, a research assistant and a Ph.D. candidate in the Presbyters Project, has been awarded the Etiuda doctoral scholarship from the National Science Center Poland. This highly esteemed endowment will finance her six months’ research stay at the Princeton University where she will be working under the supervision of Professor Helmut Reimitz. During her sojourn in Princeton, Marta will conduct research on conversions between the Nicene and the Homoian Christianity in the successor kingdoms from the 5th to the 7th century. Congratulations and Godspeed!


Prestigious scholarship in Munich for Jerzy Szafranowski

Jerzy Szafranowski, a research assistant and a Ph.D. student in the Presbyters Project, has been awarded the scholarship of the Kommission für Alte Geschichte of the Deutsche Archäologische Institut in Munich (Germany) financed by the Elise und Annemarie Jacobi-Stiftung and the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. The next two months Jerzy will spend in Munich where he will work on his research project on the clerical ordinations of monks in the Late Antique and Early Medieval Gaul. Congratulations!


For the list of the fellows click HERE.

“Scrinium Augustini” – book already available

The book “Scrinium Augustini: The World of the Augustine’s Letters” is a product of the project based at the University of Nicolaus Copernicus in Toruń of the same title (for the database see: Scrinium Augustini). It contains the proceedings of the international workshop on Augustine’s correspondence that took place in Toruń on 25-26 June 2015. Among the articles, there is also a contribution of the former member of the Scrinium Augustini Project, and the current member of the Presbyters in the Late Antique West, Stanisław Adamiak.

For the table of contents see: Brepols.



Behind the bishop’s back. Presbyters, deacons, and the lower clergy in Late Antiquity: CfP Kalamazoo 2018

At the forthcoming International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo (10-13 May 2018) the Presbyters in the Late Antique West project is organising a session on the role of the lower and middle clergy in the ecclesiastical and social life of the late antique West. In spite of the continuous development of studies on the religious history of Late Antiquity, the research on the development and function of clergy seems surprisingly underdeveloped and the scholarly interest in this group has been hitherto focused mostly on bishops (Rapp 2005). This, of course, is understandable. The impact of bishops on ecclesiastical politics, doctrine, and Christian literature was more important than that of the lower echelons of the clergy. Moreover, bishops are much better represented in the evidence. But by the end of the 7th century in several parts of Christendom, the bishop had become a rather distant figure and most people could have been in day-to-day contact only with presbyters, deacons, and lower clerics, who were the rank and file of the Church hierarchy. A trail of research on these people has been already blazed by scholars focusing on specific regions of the Christian world (Wipszycka 1972 and 1996, Rebillard/Sotinel 1998, Godding 2001, Hübner 2005, Patzold/van Rhijn 2016). A number of questions, however, remain unanswered or even unasked. Thus far, we can say very little with a sufficient degree of certainty on the position of clerics in the local community, their social background, property and sources of income, their lodgings, professional (and non-ecclesiastical) activities, the connections between them and the rest of society and the barriers which set them apart from other people. Even their functions in liturgy remain obscure. The estimations of their number are largely intuitive, and their role is often judged on the basis of well-known, but fairly untypical examples.

This session will seek to answer questions concerning the role and activity of clerics in four areas: ecclesiastical, social, economic, and in the field of mentality. We welcome papers dealing with any of the aspects named above in a broad geographical perspective covering all the regions of late antique Christendom in the period until the year 700.

Those interested in presenting paper at this session are requested to send title and short abstract (100 words) to Robert Wiśniewski ( before 15 September. Please note that the project, sadly, cannot cover conference fee and travel expenses.

IMC Leeds 2018 CfP: Clerics and Their Households

At the forthcoming Medieval Congress in Leeds (2-5 July 2018) the team of the ‘Presbyters in the Late Antique West’ Project, based at the University of Warsaw, together with Lisa Bailey of the University of Auckland, organizes a strand on the everyday life of clergy. We would like to have a glimpse of what was happening inside the houses of the clerics, especially in the period when they were still running large family households.

This session will seek to answer the following questions:

  • What was the legal status of the wives and children of clerics, both from the ecclesiastical and civil point of view?
  • What was the position of the servants and slaves in the households of clerics?
  • How did the relations with their familiars and neighbours influence the opinions and preaching of the clerics?
  • What do archaeology and epigraphy tell us about the living conditions of the clergy in the first millennium?

Those interested in presenting papers on such and similar topics are requested to send the title and a short abstract (ca 100 words) to Stanisław Adamiak ( and Lisa Bailey ( by 20 September 2017. Please note that unfortunately the project is unable to fund speakers’ expenses.