also purchased, like the villa bought by the deacon Heraclius on behalf of the church of Hippo.34 Aurelius, the Catholic bishop of Carthage, provides comparable evidence for donations to the church in Africa Proconsularis by a private individual.35

Some properties are mentioned without any information about how and when the church acquired them. That is true about the territory of Vaga in North Africa. It was already a part of the holdings of the church in the fourth century, but we do not know exactly how and when it became church property.36 In other cases, anecdotes are useful for understanding the attitude of the church and the Catholics towards these donations, but they shed very little light on the progressive acquisition of properties by the church. The case of Melania the Younger is significant in this respect.37 Melania and her husband Pinianus wanted to donate their inheritance to the church so at one point they came to Africa to disperse it. Their holdings were huge - larger than the territory of Thagaste - and included 'a villa, numerous artisans working gold and silver and two bishops, one a Catholic and one a heretic'.38 Augustine, Alypius and Aurelius recommended that the couple should give the church houses and revenues, which would survive for ever. This illustrates the principle that the clergy generally preferred donations of money, revenues or buildings, rather than lands. 39

Another factor may have attracted some rich landowners directly into the clergy: the immunities from various financial responsibilities that were awarded to the church.40 It is, however, difficult to gauge the extent of these advantages. Furthermore, when such landowners managed their lands it is

34 Augustine, Sermo 356.5,7 and 10. See on this also H. Jaïdi, 'Remarques sur la constitution des biens des églises africaines', 174 and n. 29.

35 In this case, the donation was originally made because the donor thought he could not have children. Later, when Aurelius found out that that man had a son, he returned the donation; Augustine, Sermo 355.5; see also Jaïdi, 'Remarques sur la constitution des biens des églises africaines', 188.

36 Symmachus, Letter 1.68 (ed. Callu, 1: 380): 'Symmachus Celsino Titiano Fratri: Rufus Pontificalis arcarius prosequitur apud te mandata collegii, cui prae ceteris retinendi, Vaganensis saltus cura legata est.'

37 See the detailed study by A. Giardina, 'Carita eversiva'.

38 Gerontius, Life of Melania 21.16 ss.: 'dedit autem et possessionem multum prestantem reditum, quae possessio maior etiam erat civitatis ipsius, habens balneum, artifices multos, aurifices, argentarios et aerarios; et duos episcopos, unum nostra fidei et alium haereticorum'.

39 Jaïdi, 'Remarques sur la constitution des biens des églises africaines', 181.

40 On the exemptions ofthe clergy from the muneramunicipalia, see F. Marazzi, I'patrimonia Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae', 23 n. 9. On the senatorial clergy see also F. D. Gilliard, 'Senatorial bishops in the 4th century'.

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