CfP Kalmazoo 2019

CfP Kalamazoo 2019: In the World but not of the World. The Origins of the Separation of Christian Clergy from Society

At the upcoming 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo (9–12 May 2019) the ‘Presbyters in the Late Antique West’ Project (University of Warsaw) organizes a session on the emergence of Christian clergy as a separated social group.

In the earliest Christian communities, no group monopolised the official cult of the Church. The idea of Christian priesthood as reserved for a specific group called clergy (klēros, clerus) emerged in the 3rd century, but initially the members of this group hardly differed from other Christians. The process of differentiation of the clergy as a distinct social group was long, but at the end of late antiquity ecclesiastics started to be easily distinguished from the rest of society in aspects such as:

* physical appearance, including hairstyle and clothing;
* habitation;
* family and sexual life;
* exclusion from certain social, economic, and cultural activities; v type of education;

* moral authority;
* exclusive commitment to the divine office; v last but not least: legal status.

The organizers will welcome papers that investigate the roots of clergy’s social disengagement, factors that shaped its development, and means by which the distance between clerics and laymen was being introduced. Those interested in presenting a paper are kindly invited to send the title and the short abstract (ca 100 words) to Jerzy Szafranowski ( by the 1st of September 2018. Please note that unfortunately the organizers are unable to fund speakers’ expenses.


CfP: Priest and his church (IMC Leeds 2019)

CfP: Priest and his church
Material aspects of the ministry of late antique and early medieval clerics

IMC Leeds 2019

At the forthcoming International Medieval Congress in Leeds (1-4 July 2019) the Presbyters in the Late Antique West project is organising a session on material aspects of the ministry of late antique and early medieval clerics.

Clerics were obviously responsible for the cult or, more generally, spiritual care.  But that was only part of late of their usual activity. It was so not only because most of them had to pursue a non-ecclesiastical profession in order to provide for their families. It was also because running the church required taking care of all sort of mundane issues:


  • church buildings (dilapidation, leaking roof, a place to live for church staff)
  • necessary consumables: oil for lamps, chrism, bread, wine, books, church linens
  • church property
  • financial resources and financial relations with the bishop.


We will take a closer look at these spheres of clerical activity seeking to understand how the local church functioned from the material, organizational and financial point of view. Those interested in presenting a paper at these sessions are requested to send the title and short abstract (up to 200 words) to Robert Wiśniewski ( before 15 September.

These sessions will be sponsored by the Presbyters in the Late Antique West project,

based at the University of Warsaw ( Please note that the project, sadly, the project cannot cover conference fee and travel expenses.


CfP: From Elders to Priests (XVIII. Oxford Patristic Conference)

At the forthcoming XVIII. International Conference on Patristic Studies (19-24 August 2019) the team of the ‘Presbyters in the Late Antique West’ Project, based at the University of Warsaw, organizes a workshop on the late antique clergy, with particular attention given to the middle grade of the ordination: the presbyterate.

This workshop will seek to answer the following questions:

  • What meaning is hidden behind the different words used to describe the priests in the first millennium: presbyter, sacerdos, pontifex and how this meaning evolved?
  • How did it happen that the Levitical paradigm was adopted to describe the ministers of the Church?
  • How closely are the role and perceiving of the presbyters connected to the celebration of the Eucharist and the development of its understanding as the sacrifice?
  • What is special about the presbyters, what makes them different from other grades of ecclesiastical hierarchy?


Those interested in presenting papers on such and similar topics are requested to send the title and a short abstract (ca 100-200 words) to Stanisław Adamiak ( by 15 August 2018. Please note that unfortunately, the project is unable to fund speakers’ expenses.

The papers will be presented at the afternoon workshop sessions, which gives a possibility of more time for the paper itself (20-30 minutes) and the discussion than in the morning sessions of short communications. You can find other useful information on the website:

Presbyters at IMC Leeds 2018, once again

In just more days, medievalists and Late Antique historians from all over the world will gather again at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds. Since the inaugural session organized by our project in Leeds in 2016, we eagerly presented ideas and preliminary results of our work in the “Presbyters in the Late Antique West”. We were inviting distinguished scholars to provide their insights into the role of the clergy in the late antique and early medieval society. In the first year, we were discussing social relations of clerics, last year we focused on their economic status and activity, while this year, in our two main sessions, we will take a closer look at the clerical households, see the previous post.

IMC at Leeds was always a great place to find an involved crowd of Congress participants who gladly contributed to the discussion, whose questions and comments made us think about new research paths and possibilities. No surprise then, that this year we prepared for the Congress with unwavering enthusiasm. Apart of two sessions looking at the clerical households, we co-organised with Kati Ihnat from Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen and Jamie Wood from the University of Lincoln two sessions about the religious praxis in the Early Medieval Iberia:

Session 1604, Thursday, July 5, 11.15–12.45, 

Religious Praxis and Pastoral Care in Early Medieval Iberia, I: Liturgy

Purificación Ubric Rabaneda, Departamento de Historia Antigua, Universidad de Granada, The Best Faith: Showing Christian Superiority through Liturgy in 5th-Century Iberia

Molly Lester, History Department, United States Naval Academy, Maryland, Effective Experience: Religious Orthodoxy, Ritual Performance, and Contacting the Divine in 7th-Century Iberia

Jeffrey A. Bowman, Department of History, Kenyon College, Ohio, Space, Cult, and Community in Early Medieval Iberia

Session 1704, Thursday, July 5, 14.15–15.45, 

Religious Praxis and Pastoral Care in Early Medieval Iberia, II: Learning

Marta Szada, Instytut Historyczny, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Do You Need a Priest to Be a Christian? Pastoral Care and Lay Piety in Visigothic Spain

Kati Ihnat, Afdeling Geschiedenis, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen, Learning by Example?: Commemoration of Saints in Early Medieval Iberia

Graham Barrett, School of History & Heritage, University of Lincoln, Canons without Councils in Early Medieval Iberia

But this is not all! Jerzy Szafranowski from our project in cooperation with the Network for the Study of Late Antique & Early Medieval Monasticism organized a session about clerics and monks:

718: Tuesday, 3 July, 14:15–15:45

Relations between Clerics and Monks in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages

Matheus Coutinho Figuinha, Departamento de História, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil, Monasticism and Anti-Donatism in Augustine of Hippo

Jerzy Szafranowski, Instytut Historyczny, Uniwerstytet Warszawski, Grounds for Clerical Ordinations of Monks in Late Antique Gaul

Matthew Mattingly, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, A Crisis of Identity: Canons, Monks, and the 9th-Century Reform of Saint-Denis

We are already looking forward to great papers, fruitful discussions, and, of course, to the unique atmosphere of the IMC!

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!