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19 XI (4.45 Warsaw time): Jerzy Szafranowski (UW), How to distinguish monks from clerics in sixth-century Gaul


In the writings of Gregory of Tours, the clerical and monastic worlds intertwine in a peculiar way. Urban, non-monastic presbyters are titled as abbots with no monks to rule in sight. Those wishing to become monks are regularly made clerics even before they reach their future monastery. People who make a pilgrimage to a saint’s shrine and get healed are ordained clerics, but then immediately return to their homes in distant lands.

Gregory’s works present the society where the categories of ‘monk’ and ‘cleric’ are not strictly defined. The monastic and clerical vocations were so closely interweaved that in many cases it is impossible to determine whether someone was a monk, a cleric, or, indeed, both. In my paper, I will show the implications of this phenomenon, answering the crucial question: in what manner were clerics distinct from monks in sixth-century Gaul?