Early Church Fathers
Book I. The Month of September, Indiction IX., Being the First Year of His Ordination.
Gregory, servant of the servants of God1 , to all the bishops constituted throughout Sicily.
We have plainly perceived it to be very necessary that, even as our predecessors thought fit to do, we should commit all things to one and the same person; and that, where we cannot be present ourselves, our authority should be represented through him to whom we send our instructions. Wherefore, with the help of God, we have appointed Peter, subdeacon of our See, our delegate in the province of Sicily. Nor can we doubt as to the conduct of him to whom, with the help of God, we are known to have committed the charge of the whole patrimony of our church.
This also we have plainly perceived to be a thing that ought to be done; that once in the year your whole fraternity should assemble, at Syracuse or Catana, receiving, as we have charged him, the honour due to you; to the end that, together with the aforesaid Peter, subdeacon of our See, you may settle with due discretion whatever things pertain to the advantage of the churches of the province, or to the relief of the necessities of the poor and oppressed, or to the admonition of all, and the correction of those whose transgressions may peradventure be proved. From which council far be animosities, which are the nutriment of crimes, and may inward grudges die away, and that discord of souls which is beyond measure execrable. Let concord well-pleasing to God, and charity, approve you as His priests. Conduct all things, therefore, with such deliberation and calmness that yours may most worthily be called an Episcopal Council.
What my tongue speaks my conscience approves; since even before you had become engaged in the employments of any office of dignity, I have greatly loved and greatly respected you. For the very modesty of your deportment made certain incipient claims on affection even from one who had been loth. And, when I heard that you had come to administer the praetorship of Sicily, I greatly rejoiced. But, since I have discovered that a certain ill-feeling is creeping in between you and the ecclesiastics, I have been exceedingly distressed. But now that you are occupied with the charge of civil administration, and I with the care of this ecclesiastical government, we can properly love one another in particular so far as we do no harm to the general community. Wherefore I beseech you by Almighty God, before Whose tremendous judgment we must give account of our deeds, that your Glory have always the fear of Him before your eyes, and never allow anything to come in whereby even slight dissension may arise between us. Let no gains draw you aside to injustice; let not either the threats or the favours of any one cause you to deviate from the path of rectitude. See how short life is: think, ye that exercise judicial authority, before what judge ye must at some time go. It is therefore to be diligently considered that we shall leave all gains behind us here, and that of harmful gains we shall carry with us to the judgment the pleas only that are against us for them. Those advantages, then, are to be sought by us which death may in no wise take away, but which the end of the present life may shew to be such as will endure for ever.
As to what you write concerning the corn, the, magnificent Citonatus asserts very differently that no more has been transmitted than what was supplied for replenishing the public granary in satisfaction of what was due for the past indiction. Give attention to this matter, since, if what is transmitted be at all defective, it will be the death not of any one single person only, but of the whole people together2 .
Now for the management of the patrimony of Sicily I have sent, as I think under the guidance of God, such a man as you will be in entire accord with, if you are a lover of what is right, as I have found you to be. Moreover, as to your desire that I should remember you kindly, I confess the truth when I say that, unless any injustice should creep in from the snares of the ancient foe I have learnt thy Glory's modesty to be such that I shah not blush to be thy friend.
However strangers smile upon me on account of the dignity of my priestly office, thisI take not much account of; but I do grieve not a little at your smiling upon me on this account, seeing that you know what I long for, and yet suppose me to have received advancement. For to me it would have been the highest advancement, if what I wished could bare been fulfilled; if I could have accomplished my desire, which you have been long acquainted with, in the enjoyment of longed-for rest. Yet, since I am now detained in the city of Rome, tied by the chains of this dignity, I have something wherein I may even rejoice in addressing your Glory, seeing that, when the most eminent Lord the ex-consul Leo comes, I suspect that you will not remain in Sicily; and when thou thyself also, tied by thine own dignity, shalt come to be detained in Rome, thou wilt come to know what sorrow and what bitterness I suffer. But when the magnificent Lord Maurentius, the Chartularius, comes to you, I pray thee concur with him in regard to the present straits of the Roman city, since outside we are stabbed without cease by hostile swords. But we are still more heavily pressed by danger within through a sedition of the soldiers. Further, we commend to your Glory in all respects Peter our sub-deacon, whom we have sent to rule the patrimony of the Church.
Epistle IV. To John, Bishop of Constantinople3 .
Gregory to John, Bishop of Constantinople.
If the virtue of charity consists in the love of one's neighbour, and we are commanded to love our neighbours as ourselves, how is it that your Blessedness does not love me even as yourself? For I know with what ardour, with what anxiety, you wished to fly from the burden of the episcopate; and yet you made no opposition to this same burden of the episcopate being imposed on me. It is evident, then, that you do not love me as yourself, seeing that you have wished me to take on myself that load which you were unwilling should be imposed on you. But since I, unworthy and weak, have taken charge of an old and grievously shattered ship (for on all sides the waves enter, and the planks, battered by a daily and violent storm, sound of shipwreck), I beseech thee by Almighty God to stretch out the hand of thy prayer to me in this my danger, since thou canst pray the more strenuously as thou standest further removed from the confusion of the tribulations which we suffer in this land.
My synodical epistle I will transmit with all possible speed, having despatched Bacauda, our brother and fellow-bishop, immediately after my ordination, as the bearer of this letter, while pressed by many and serious engagements.
With how great devotion my mind prostrates itself before your Venerableness I cannot fully express in words; nor yet do I labour to give utterance to it, since, even though I were silent, you read in your heart your own sense of my devotion. I wonder, however, that you withdrew your countenance, till of late bestowed on me, from this my recent engagement in the pastoral office; wherein, under colour of episcopacy, I have been brought back to the world; in which I am involved in such great earthly cares as I do not at all remember having been subjected to even in a lay state of life. For I have lost the deep joys of my quiet, and seem to have risen outwardly while inwardly falling down. Whence I grieve to find myself banished far from the face of my Maker. For I used to strive daily to win my way outside the world, outside the flesh; to drive all phantasms of the body from the eyes of my soul, and to see incorporeally supernal joys; and not only with my voice but in the core of my heart I used to say, My heart hath said unto Thee, I have sought Thy face, Thy face, Lord, will I seek (Ps. xxvi. 8). Moreover desiring nothing, fearing nothing, in this world, I seemed to myself to stand on a certain summit of things, so that I almost believed to be fulfilled in me what I had learnt of the Lord's promise through the prophet, I will lift thee up upon the high places of the earth (Isai. lviii. 14). For he is lifted up upon the high places of the earth who treads under foot through looking down upon them in his mind even the very things of the present world which seem lofty and glorious. But, having been suddenly dashed from this summit of things by the whirlwind of this trial, I have fallen into fears and tremors, since, even though I have no fears for myself, I am greatly afraid for those who have been committed to me. On every side I am tossed by the waves of business, and sunk by storms, so that I may truly say, I am come into the depth of the sea, and the storm hath overwhelmed me (Ps. lxviii. 34 ). After business I long to return to my heart; but, driven therefrom by vain tumults of thoughts, I am unable to return. From this cause, then, that which is within me is made to be far from me, so that I cannot obey the prophetic voice which says, Return to your heart, transgressors (Isai. xlvi. 8). But, pressed by foolish thoughts, I am impelled only to exclaim, My heart hath failed me (Ps. xxxix. 135 ). I have loved the beauty of the contemplative life as a Rachel, barren, but keen of sight and fair (Gen. xxix.), who, though in her quietude she is less fertile, yet sees the light more keenly. But, by what judgment I know not, Leah has been coupled with me in the night, to wit, the active life; fruitful, but tender-eyed; seeing less, but bringing forth more. I have longed to sit at the feet of the Lord with Mary, to take in the words of His mouth; and lo, I am compelled to serve with Martha in external affairs, to be careful and troubled about many things (Luke x. 39, seq.). A legion of demons having been, as I believed, east out of me, I wished to forget those whom I bad known, and to rest at the feet of the Saviour; and lo it is said to me, so as to compel me against my will, Return to thine house, and declare how great things the Lord hath done for thee (Mark v. 19). But who in the midst of so many earthly cares may be able to preach the wondrous works of God, it being already difficult for me even to call them to mind? For, pressed as I am in this office of dignity by a crowd of secular occupations, I see myself to be of those of whom it is written, While they were being raised up thou didst cast them down (Ps. lxxii. 186 ). For he said not, Thou didst east them down after they had been raised up, but while they were being raised up; because all bad men fall inwardly, while through the support of temporal dignity they seem outwardly to rise. Wherefore their very raising up is their fall, because, while they rely on false glory, they are emptied of trueglory. Hence, again, he says, Consuming away as smoke shall they consume away (Ps. xxxvi. 207 ). For smoke in rising consumes away, and in extending itself vanishes. And so indeed it comes to pass when present felicity accompanies the life of a sinner, since whereby he isshewn to be exalted, thereby it is brought about that he should cease to be. Hence, again, it is written, My God, make them like a wheel (Ps. lxxxii. 148 ). For a wheel is lifted up in its hinder parts, and in its fore parts falls. But to us the things that are behind are the goods of the present world, which we leave behind us; but the things that are before are those which are eternal and permanent, to which we are called, as Paul bears witness, saying, Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before (Phil. iii. 13). The sinner, therefore, when he is advanced in the present life, is made to be as a wheel, since, while falling in the things which are before, he is lifted up in the things which are behind. For, when he enjoys in this life the glory which he must leave behind, he falls from that which comes after this life. There are indeed many who knowhow so to control their outward advancement as by no means to fall inwardly thereby. Whence it is written, God casteth not away the mighty, seeing that He also Himself is mighty (Job xxxvi. 5). And it is said through Solomon, A man of understanding shall possess governments (Prov. i. 5). But to me these things are difficult, since they are also exceedingly burdensome; and what the mind has not received willingly it does not control fitly. Lo, our most serene Lord the Emperor has ordered an ape to be made a lion. And, indeed, in virtue of his order it can be called a lion, but a lion it cannot be made. Wherefore his Piety must needs himself take the blame of all my faults and short-comings, having committed a ministry of power to a weak agent
Epistle VI. To Narses, Patrician9 .
Gregory to Narses, &c
In describing loftily the sweetness of contemplation, you have renewed the groans of my fallen state, since I hear what I havelost inwardly while mounting outwardly, though undeserving, to the topmost height of rule. Know then that I am stricken with so great sorrow that I can scarcely speak; for the dark shades of grief block up the eyes of my soul. Whatever is beheld is sad, whatever is thought delightful appears to my heart lamentable For I reflect to what a dejected height of external advancement I have mounted in falling from the lofty height of my rest. And, being sent for my faults into the exile of employment from the face of my Lord, I say with the prophet, in the words, as it were of destroyed Jerusalem, He who should comfort me hath departed far from me (Lam. i. 16). But when, in seeking a similitude to express my condition and title, you frame periods and declamations in your letter, certainly, dearest brother, you call an ape a lion. Herein we see that you do as we often do, when we call mangy whelps pards or tigers. For I, my good man, have, as it were, lost my children, since through earthly cares I have lost works of righteousness. Therefore call me not Noemi. that is fair; but call me Mara, for I am full of bitterness (Ruth i. 20). But as to your saying that I ought not to have written, "That you should plough with bubali10 in the Lord's field," seeing that when in the sheet shewn to the blessed Peter both bubali and all wild beasts were presented to view; thou knowest thyself that it is subjoined, Slay and eat (Acts x. 13). Thou, then, who hadst not yet slain these beasts, why didst thou already wish to eat them through obedience? Or knowest thou not that the beast about which thou wrotest refused to be slain by the sword of thy mouth? Thou must needs, then, satisfy the hunger of thy desire with those whom thou hast been able to prick and slay (Lit., to slay through compunction)11 .
Further, as to the case of our brethren, I think that, if God gives aid, it will be as thou hast written. It was not, however, by any means right for me to write about it at present to our most serene lords, since at the very outset one should not begin with complaints. But I have written to my well-beloved son, the deacon Honoratus12 , that he should mention the matter to them in a suitable manner at a seasonable time, and speedily inform me of their reply. I beg greetings to be given in my behalf to the Lord Alexander, the Lord Theodorus13 , my son Marinus, the lady Esicia, the lady Eudochia, and the lady Dominica.
Epistle VII. To Anastasius, Patriarch of Antioch14 .
Gregory to Anastasius, &c.
I have found what your Blessedness has written to be as rest to the weary, as health to the sick, as a fountain to the thirsty, as shade to the oppressed with heat. For those words of yours did not seem even to be expressed by the tongue of the flesh, inasmuch as you so disclosed the spiritual love which you bear me as if your soul itself were speaking. But very hard was that which followed, in that your love enjoined me to bear earthly burdens, and that, having first loved me spiritually, you afterwards, loving me as I think in temporal wise, pressed me down to the ground with the burden you laid upon me; so that, losing utterly all uprightness of soul, and forfeiting the keen vision of contemplation, I may say, not in the spirit of prophecy, but from experience, I am bowed down and brought low altogether (Ps. cxviii. 10715 ). For indeed such great burdens of business press me down that my mind can in no wise lift itself up to heavenly things. I am tossed by the billows of a multitude of affairs, and, after the ease of my former quiet, am afflicted by the storms of a tumultuous life, so that I may truly say, I am come into the depth of the sea, and the storm hath overwhelmed me (Ps. lxviii. 316 ). Stretch out, therefore, the hand of your prayer to me in my danger, you that stand on the shore of virtue. But as to your calling me the mouth and the lantern of the Lord, and alleging that I profit many, this also adds to the load of my iniquities, that, when my iniquity ought to have been chastised, I receive praises instead of chastisement. But with what a bustle of earthly business I am distracted in this place, I cannot express in words; yet you can gather it from the shortness of this letter, in which I say so little to him who I love above all others. Further, I apprize you that I have requested our most serene lords with all possible urgency to allow you to come to the threshold of Peter, the prince of the apostles, with your dignity restored to you, and to live here with me so long as it may please God; to the end that, as long as I am accounted worthy of seeing you, we may relieve the weariness of our pilgrimage by speaking to each other of the heavenly country
Gregory, a servant of God, presbyter and abbot of the monastery of Saint Theodore in the province of Sicily constituted in the territory of Panormus, has given us to understand that men of the farm of Fulloniacus, which belongs to the holy Roman Church, are endeavouring to encroach on the boundaries of the farm of Gerdinia, bordering on the said farm of the holy Roman Church, which they [i.e. monks of St. Theodore] have possessed without dispute for innumerable years. And for this cause we desire you to go to the city of Panormus, and investigate the question in such sort (with the view of the right of possession remaining with those who have had it heretofore) that, if you shall find that the aforesaid monastery of Saint Theodore has possessed the boundaries concerning which the dispute has arisen without disturbance for forty years, you shall not allow it to suffer any damage, even though it were to the advantage of the holy Roman Church, but provide in all ways for its undisturbed security. But, if the agents of the holy Roman Church should shew that the monastery has not been in possession without dispute of its right for forty years, but that any question has been raised within that time concerning the said boundaries, let it be set at rest peaceably and legally by arbitrators chosen for the purpose. For not only do we wish that questions of wrong-doing that have never yet been mooted should be raised, but also that such as have been raised by others than ourselves should be speedily set at rest. Let thy Experience, therefore, cause all to be so effectively adjusted, that no question relating to this matter may be hereafter referred to us again. Further, we desire that the testament of Bacauda, late Xenodochus, continue valid as when first made.
The month of November: ninth Indiction.
The Hebrews dwelling in Terracina have petitioned us for licence to hold, under our authority, the site of their synagogue which they have held hitherto. But, inasmuch as we have been informed that the same site is so near to the church that even the sound of their psalmody reaches it, we have written to our brother and fellow-bishop Peter that, if it is the case that the voices from the said place are heard in the church, the Jews must cease to worship there. Therefore let your Fraternity, with our above-named brother and fellow-bishop, diligently inspect this place, and if you find that there has been any annoyance to the church, provide another place within the fortress, where the aforesaid Hebrews may assemble, so that they may be able to celebrate their ceremonies without impediment17 . But let your Fraternity provide such a place, in case of their being deprived of this one, that there be no cause of complaint in future. But we forbid the aforesaid Hebrews to be oppressed or vexed unreasonably; but, as they are permitted, in accordance withjustice, to live under the protection of theRoman laws, let them keep their observances as they have learnt them, no one hinderingthem: yet let it not be allowed them to have Christian slaves.
Epistle XI. To Clementina, Patrician18 .
Gregory to Clementina, &c.
Having received your Glory's letter speaking of the passing away of the late Eutherius of magnificent memory, we give you to understand that our mind no less than yours is disturbed by such a sorrow, in that we see how men of approved repute are by degrees removed from this world, whose ruin is already evidenced in the actual effects of the causes thereof. But it becomes us to withdraw ourselves from it by the wise precaution of conversion19 , lest it involve us too in its own ruin. And indeed our sorrow for the loss of friends ought to be the more tolerable as our condition of mortality requires from us that we should lose them. Nevertheless, for the loss of aid to our carnal life He Who granted permission for its removal is powerful to console, and to come Himself as a comforter into the vacant place.
That we are unable to accede to your request that the deacon Anatholius should be sent to you is due to the circumstances of the case, and not to any rigorous austerity. For we have appointed him our steward20 , having committed our episcopal residence to his management.
Agapitus, abbot of the monastery of St. George, informs us that he endures many grievances from your Holiness; and not only in things that might be of service to the monastery in time of need, but that you even prohibit the celebration of masses in the said monastery, and also interdict burial of the dead there. Now, if this is so, we exhort you to desist from such inhumanity, and allow the dead to be buried, and masses to be celebrated there without any further opposition, lest the aforesaid venerable Agapitus should be compelled to complain anew concerning the matters referred to.
Epistle XVI to Severus, Bishop of Aquileia21 .
Gregory to Severus, &c.
As, when one who walks through devious ways takes anew the right path, the Lord embraces him with all eagerness, so afterwards, when one deserts the way of truth, He is more saddened with grief for him than He rejoiced over him with joy when he turned from error; since it is a less degree of sin not to know the truth than not to abide in it when known: and what is committed in error is one thing, but what iS perpetrated knowingly is another. And we, from having formerly rejoiced in thy being incorporated in the unity of the Church, are now the more abundantly distressed for thy dissociation from the catholic society. Accordingly we desire thee, at the instance of the bearer of these presents, according to the command of the most Christian and most serene Emperor, to come with thy adherents to the threshold of the blessed Apostle Peter, that, a synod being assembled by the will of God, judgment may be passed concerning the doubt that is entertained among you.
Inasmuch as the abominable Autharit22 during this Easter solemnity which has been lately completed, forbade children of Lombards being baptized in the catholic faith, for which sin the Divine Majesty cut him off, so that he should not see the solemnity of another Easter, it becomes your Fraternity to warn all the Lombards in your districts, seeing that grievous mortality is everywhere imminent, that they should reconcile these their children who have been baptized in Arian heresy to the catholic faith, and so appease the wrath of the Almighty Lord which hangs over them. Warn, then, those whom you can; with all the power of persuasion you possess seize on them, and bring them to a right faith; preach to them eternal life without end; that, when you shall come into the sight of the strict judge, you may be able, in consequence of your solicitude, to shew in your own persons a shepherd's gains.
We have been informed that Marcellus of the Barutanian Church, who has had penance assigned him in the monastery of Saint Adrian in the same city of Panormus, not only is in want of food, but also suffers inconvenience from scarcity of clothing. Therefore we hold it necessary to enjoin your Activity by this present order to appoint for him as much as you may see to be needful in the way of food clothing and bedding for his own maintenance, and provision for his servant; so that his want and nakedness may be provided for with such timely care that what you assign to this same man may be reckoned afterwards to your own account. So act, therefore, that you may both fulfil our command, and also by ordering this very thing well you may be able yourself to partake of the profit of the same. Further, there is this other matter that we enjoin you to look to without regard to the old custom that has now grown up; namely, that if any cities in the province of Sicily, for their sins, are known to be without pastoral government through the lapses of their priests, you should see whether there be any worthy of the office of priesthood among the clergy of the churches themselves, or out of the monasteries, and, after first enquiring into the gravity of their behaviour, send them to us, that the flock of each place may not be found destitute for any length of time through the lapse of its pastor. But if you should discover any vacant place in which no one of the same church is found fitted for such a dignity, send us word after the like careful enquiry, that some one may be provided whom God may have judged worthy of such ordination. For it is not right that from the deviation of one the Lord's flock should be in danger of wandering abroadamong precipices without a shepherd. For thus both the administration of places willgo on, and there will remain no suspicion of the lapsed being restored to their former rank; and so may they repent the better.
Epistle XIX. To Natalis, Bishop of Salona23 .
Gregory to Natalis, &c.
The acts of your synod which you have transmitted to us, in which the Archdeacon Honoratus is condemned, we perceive to be full of the seed of strifes, seeing that the same person is at one and the same time advanced to the dignity of the priesthood against his will, and removed from the office of the diaconate as though unworthy of it. And, as it is just that no one who is unwilling should be advanced by compulsion, so I think we must be of opinion that no one who is innocent should be deposed from the ministry of his order unjustly. Nevertheless, since discord hateful to God excuses thy part in the transaction, we admonish thee to restore his place and administration to the Archdeacon Honoratus, and agree to supply him with attendance sufficient for his divine ministry. If cause of offence is still fomented between you, let the aforesaid Archdeacon submit himself to our audience and enquiry, when admonished to do so, and let thy love send to us a person instructed in the case, that in the presence of both, the Lord assisting us, we may be able to decide what justice approves without respect of persons.
Having read the contradictory letters which thou and thy bishop have addressed to us against each other, we grieve that there is so little charity between you. Nevertheless we enjoin thee to continue in the administration of thy office, and, if the cause of offence between you can, under the power of grace, be settled on the spot, we believe it will be greatly to the advantage of your souls. But in case the discord between you has so set you in arms against each other that you have no will to allay the swelling of your offence, do thou without delay come to be heard before us, and let thy bishop send to us on his own behalf such person as he may choose, furnished with instructions; that, after minutely considering the whole case, we may settle what may appear fit between the parties. But we would have thee know that we shall make strict enquiry of thee on all points, as to whether the ornaments24 , either those of thine own church, or such as have been collected from various churches, are being now kept with all care and fidelity. For, if any of them shall be found to have been lost through negligence or through any person's dishonesty, thou wilt be involved in the guilt of this, being, in virtue of thy office of Archdeacon, peculiarly responsible for the custody of the said church.
Epistle XXI. To Natalis, Bishop of Salona25 .
Gregory to Natalis, &c.
We have received at the bands of the deacon Stephen, whom you sent to us, the letters of thy Reverence, wherein you congratulate us on our promotion. And truly what has been offered in the kindness and earnestness of charity demands full credence,reason having prompted your pontifical order to rejoice with us. We therefore, being cheered by your greeting, declare in conscience that I undertook the burden of dignity with a sick heart. But, seeing that I could not resist the divine decrees, I have recovered a more cheerful frame of mind. Wherefore we write to entreat your Reverence that both we and the Christian flock committed to our care may enjoy the succour of your prayers, to the end that in the security of that protection we may have power to overcome the hurricanes of these times.
The month of February, ninth indiction
Gregory, to John of Constantinople, Eulogius of Alexandria, Gregory of Antioch, John of Jerusalem, and Anastasias, Ex-Patriarch of Antioch. A paribus26 .
When I consider how, unworthy as I am, and resisting with my whole soul, I have been compelled to bear the burden of pastoral care, a darkness of sorrow comes over me, and my sad heart sees nothing else but the shadows which allow nothing to be seen. For to what end is a bishop chosen of the Lord but to be an intercessor for the offences of the people? With what confidence, then, can I come as an intercessor for the sins of others to Him before Whom I am not secure about my own? If perchance any one should ask me to become his intercessor with a great man who was incensed against him, and to myself unknown, I should at once reply, I cannot go to intercede for you, having no knowledge of that man from familiar acquaintance with him. If then, as man with man, I should properly blush to become an intercessor with one on whom I had no claim, how great is the audacity of my obtaining the place of intercessor for the people with God, whose friendship I am not assured of through the merit of my life! And in this matter I find a still more serious cause of alarm, since we all know well that, when one who is in disfavour is sent to intercede with an incensed person, the mind of the latter is provoked to still greater severity. And I am greatly afraid lest the community of believers, whose offences the Lord has so far indulgently borne with, should perish through the addition of my guilt to theirs. But, when in one way or another I suppress this fear, and with mind consoled give myself to the care of my pontifical office, I am deterred by consideration of the immensity of this very task.
"For indeed I consider with myself what watchful care is needed that a ruler may be pure in thought, chief in action, discreet in keeping silence, profitable in speech, a near neighbour to every one in sympathy, exalted above all in contemplation, a companion of good livers through humility, unbending against the vices of evil-doers through zeal for righteousness27 ." All which things when I try to search out with subtle investigation, the very wideness of the consideration cramps me in the particulars. For, as I have already said, there is need of the greatest care that "the ruler be pure in thought, &c." [A long passage, thus beginning, and ending with "beyond the limit of order," is found also in Regula Pastoralis, Pt. II. ch. 2, which see.]
Again, when I betake myself to consider the works required of the pastor, I weigh within myself what intent care is to be takenthat he be "chief in action, to the end that by his living, he may point out the way of life to them that are put under him, &c." [See Reg. Past., Pt. II. ch. 3, to the end.]
Again, when I betake myself to consider the duty of the pastor as to speech and silence, I weigh within myself with trembling care how very necessary it is that he should be discreet in keeping silence and profitable in speech, "lest he either utter what ought to be suppressed or suppress what ought to be uttered, &c." [See Reg. Past., III., 4, down to "keep the unity of the faith."]
Again, when I betake myself to consider what manner of man the ruler ought to be in sympathy, and what in contemplation, I weigh within myself that he "should be a near neighbour to every one in sympathy, and exalted above all in contemplation, to the end that through the bowels of loving-kindness, &c." [See Reg. Past, Pt. II. ch. 5, to the end.]
Again, when I betake myself to consider what manner of man the ruler ought to be in humility, and what in strictness, I weigh within myself how necessary it is that he "should be, through humility, a companion to good livers, and, through the zeal of righteousness rigid against the vices of evil-doers &c." [See Regula Pastoralis, Pt. II. ch. 6, down to "towards the perverse;" there being only a slight variation, not affecting the sense, in the wording of the concluding clause.] For hence it is that "Peter who had received from God, &c." [See Reg. Past., Pt. II. ch. 6, down to "dominates over vices rather than over his brethren."] He orders well the authority he has received who has learnt both to maintain it and to keep it in check. He orders it well who knows how both through it to tower above sins, and with it to set himself on an equality with other men.
Moreover, the virtue of humility ought to be so maintained that the rights of government be not relaxed; lest, when any prelate has lowered himself more than is becoming, he be unable to restrain the life of his subordinates under the bond of discipline; and the severity of discipline is to be so maintained that gentleness be not wholly lost through the over-kindling of zeal. For often vices shew themselves off as virtues, so that niggardliness would fain appear as frugality, extravagance as liberality, cruelty as righteous zeal, laxity as loving-kindness. Wherefore both discipline and mercy are far from what they should be, if one be maintained without the other. But there ought to be kept up with great skill of discernment both mercy justly considerate, and discipline smiting kindly. "For hence it is that, as the Truth teaches (Luke x. 34), the man is brought by the care of the Samaritan, &c." [See Reg. Past., Pt. II. ch. 6, down to "manna of sweetness."]
Thus, having undertaken the burden of pastoral care, when I consider all these things and many others of like kind, I seem to be what I cannot be, especially as in this place whosoever is called a Pastor is onerously occupied by external cares; so that it often becomes uncertain whether he exercises the function of a pastor or of an earthly noble. And indeed whosoever is set over his brethren to rule them cannot be entirely free from external cares; and yet there is need of exceeding care lest he be pressed down by them too much. "Whence it is rightly said to Ezekiel, The priests shall not shave their heads, &c."[See Reg. Past., Pt. II., ch. 7,to the end.]
But in this place I see that no such discreet management is possible, since cases of such importance hang over me daily as to overwhelm the mind, while they kill the bodily life. Wherefore, most holy brother, I beseech thee by the Judge who is to come, by the assembly of many thousand angels, by the Church of the firstborn who are written in heaven, help me, who am growing weary under this burden of pastoral care, with the intercession of thy prayer, test its weight oppress me beyond my strength. But, being mindful of what is written, Pray for one another, that ye may be healed (James v. 16), I give also what I ask for. But I shall receive what I give. For, while we are joined to you through the aid of prayer, we hold as it were each other by the hand while walking through slippery places, and it comes to pass, through a great provision of charity, that the foot of each is the more firmly planted in that one leans upon the other.
Besides, since with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, I confess that I receive and revere, as the four books of the Gospel so also the four Councils: to wit, the Nicene, in which the perverse doctrine of Arius is overthrown; the Constantinopolitan also, in which the error of Eunomius and Macedonius is refuted; further, the first Ephesine, in which the impiety of Nestorius is condemned; and the Chalcedonian, in which the pravity of Eutyches and Dioscorus is reprobated. These with full devotion I embrace, and adhere to with most entire approval; since on them, as on a four-square stone, rises the structure of the holy faith; and whosoever, of whatever life and behaviour he may be, holds not fast to their solidity, even though he is seen to be a stone, yet he lies outside the building. The fifth council also I equally venerate, in which the epistle which is called that of Ibas, full of error, is reprobated; Theodorus, who divides the Mediator between God and men into two subsistences, is convicted of having fallen into the perfidy of impiety; and the writings of Theodoritus, in which the faith of the blessed Cyril is impugned, are refuted as having been published with the daring of madness. But all persons whom the aforesaid venerable Councils repudiate I repudiate; those whom they venerate I embrace; since, they having been constituted by universal consent, he overthrows not them but himself, whosoever presumes either to loose those whom they bind, or to bind those whom they loose. Whosoever, therefore, thinks otherwise, let him be anathema. But whosoever holds the faith of the aforesaid synods, peace be to him from God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son, Who lives and reigns consubstantially God with Him in the Unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
[The beginning of this epistle is the same as that of Epistle VII. to the same Anastasius as far as the words "stand on the shore of virtue"; after which it is continued as follows.]
But, as to your calling me the mouth and lantern of the Lord, and alleging that I profit many by speaking, and am able to give light to many, I confess that you have brought me into a state of the greatest doubt in my estimate of myself. For I consider what I am, and detect in myself no sign of all this good. But I consider also what you are, and I do not think that you can lie. When, then, I would believe what you say, my infirmity contradicts me. When I would dispute what is said in my praise, your sanctity contradicts me. But I pray you, holy man, let us come to some agreement in this our contest, that, though it is not as you say, it may be so because you say it. Moreover, I have addressed my synodical epistle to you, as to the other patriarchs, your brethren28 ; inasmuch as with me you are always what it has been granted you to be by the gift of Almighty God, without regard to what you are accounted not to be by the will of men29 . I have given some instructions to Boniface the guardian (defensori), who is the bearer of these presents, for him to communicate to your holiness in private. Moreover, I have sent you keys of the blessed apostle Peter, who loves you, which are wont to shine forth with many miracles when placed on the bodies of sick persons30 .
In proportion as the judgments of God are unsearchable ought they to be an object of fear to human apprehension; so that mortal reason, being unable to comprehend them, may of necessity bow under them the neck of a humble heart, to the end that it may follow with the mind's obedient steps where the will of the Ruler may lead. I, then, considering that my infirmity cannot reach to the height of the apostolic See, had rather have declined this burden, lest, having pastoral rule, I should succumb in action through inadequate administration. But, since it is not for us to go against the will of the Lord who disposes all, I obediently followed the way in which it pleased the merciful hand of the Ruler to deal with me. For it was necessary that your Fraternity should be informed, even though the present opportunity had not occurred, how the Lord had vouchsafed that I, however unworthy, should preside over the apostolic See. Since, then, reason required this to be done, and an opportunity having occurred through our sending to you the bearer of these presents, that is, Boniface the guardian (defensorem), we are careful not only to offer to your Fraternity by letter the good wishes of charity, but also to inform you of our ordination, as we believe you would wish us to do. Wherefore let your Charity, by a letter in reply, cause us to rejoice for the unity of the Church and the acceptable news of your own welfare; to the end that our bodily absence from each other, which distance of place causes us to endure, may become as presence through interchange of letters. We exhort you, also, since we have despatched the above-mentioned bearer of these presents on certain necessary business to the feet of the most clement prince, and since the mutability of the time is wont to generate many hindrances on the way, that your priestly affection would bestow upon him whatever may be necessary either in provision for his journey by land or in procuring for him the means of navigation, that through God's mercy, he may be able the more quickly to accomplish his intended journey.
Although I deserved to receive no letters from your Blessedness, yet I also do not forget my own forgetfulness; I blame my negligence, I stir up my sluggishness with goads of love, that one who will not pay what he owes of his own accord, may learn even under blows to render it. Furthermore, I inform you that I have prepared a full representation, with urgent prayers to our most pious lords, to the effect that they ought to have sent the most blessed Lord patriarch Anastasius, with the use of the pallium granted him, to the threshold of the blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, to celebrate with me the solemnities of Mass; to the end that, though he were not allowed to return to his See, he might at least live with me, retaining his dignity. But of the reason that has arisen for keeping back what I had thus written the bearer of these presents will inform you. Nevertheless, ascertain the mind of the said Lord Anastasius, and inform me in your letters of whatever he may wish to be done in this business31 .
Epistle XXIX. To Aristobulus, Ex-Prefect and Antigraphus32 .
Gregory to Aristobulus, &c.
For fully expressing my affection I confess that my tongue suffices not: but your own affection will better tell you all that I feel towards you. I have heard that you are suffering from certain oppositions. But I am not greatly grieved for this, since it is often the case that a ship which might have reached the depths of the ocean had the breeze been favourable is driven backby an opposing wind at the very beginning of its voyage, but by being driven back is recalled into port. Furthermore, if you should by any chance receive for interpretation a lengthy letter of mine, translate it, I pray you, not word for word, but so as to give the sense; since usually, when close rendering of the words is attended to, the force of the ideas is lost.
Even though there were no immediate cause for writing to your Excellency, yet we ought to shew solicitude for your health and safety so as to learn through frequent intercommumcation what we desire to hear about you. Besides, it has come to our knowledge that Blandus, bishop of the city of Hortanum33 , has been detained now for a long time by your Excellency in the city of Ravenna. And the result is that the Church decays, being without a ruler, and the people as being without a shepherd; and infants there, for their sins, die without baptism34 . And again, since we do not believe that your Excellency has detained him except on the ground of some probable transgression, it is proper that a synod should be held to bring to light any crime that is charged against him. And, if such fault is found in him as to lead to his degradation from the priesthood, it is necessary that we should look out for another to be ordained, lest the Church of God should remain nu-tended, and destitute in what the Christian religion does not allow it to be without. But, if your Excellency should perceive that the case is otherwise with him than it is said to be, allow him, I pray you, to return to his church, that he may fulfil his duty to the souls committed to his charge.
The month of March; the ninth Indiction.
Epistle XXXIV. To Venantius, Ex-Monk, Patrician of Syracuse35 .
Gregory to Venantius, &c.
Many foolish men have supposed that, if I were advanced to the rank of the episcopate, I should decline to address thee, or to keep up communication with thee by letter. But this is not so; since I am compelled by the very necessity of my position not to hold my peace. For it is written, Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet (Isai. lviii. I). And again it is written, I have given thee for a watchman unto the house of Israel, thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and declare it to them from me (Ezek. iii. 17). And what follows to the watchman or to the hearer from such declaration being kept back or uttered is forthwith intimated; If, when I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, thou declare it not to him, nor speak to him, that he may turn from his wicked way and live, the wicked man himself shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou declare it to the wicked, and he turn not from his iniquity and from his wicked way, he himself indeed shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul. Hence also Paul says to the Ephesians, My hands are pure this day from the blood of all of you. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God (Acts xx. 26, 27). He would not, then, have been pure from the blood of all, had he refused to declare unto them the counsel of God. For when the pastor refuses to rebuke those that sin, there is no doubt that in holding his peace he slays them. Compelled, therefore, by this consideration, I will speak whether you will or no; for with all my powers I desire either thee to be saved or myself to be rescued from thy death. For thou rememberest in what state of life thou wast, and knowest to what thou hast fallen without regard to the animadversion of supernal strictness. Consider, then, thy fault while there is time; dread, while thou canst, the severity of the future judge; lest thou then find it bitter, having shed no tears to avoid it now. Consider what is written; Pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day (Matth. xxiv. 20). For the numbness of cold impedes walking in the winter, and, according to the ordinance of the law, it is not lawful to walk on the Sabbath day. He, then, attempts to fly in the winter or on the Sabbath day, who then wishes to fly from the wrath of the strict Judge when it is no longer allowed him to walk. Wherefore, while there is time, while it is allowed, fly thou from the animadversion which is of so great dreadfulness: consider what is written; Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is neither work, nor device, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou hastenest (Eccles. ix. 10). By the witness of the Gospel thou knowest that divine severity accuses us for idle talk, and demands a strict account of an unprofitable word (Matth. xii. 36). Consider, then, what it will do for perverse doing, if in its judgment it reprobates some for talking. Ananias had vowed money to God (Acts v. 2 seq.), which, afterwards, overcome by diabolical persuasion, he withheld. But by what death he was mulcted thou knowest. If then he was deserving of the penalty of death who withdrew the money which he had given to God, consider of how great penalty thou wilt be deserving in the divine judgment, who hast withdrawn, not money, but thyself, from Almighty God, to whom thou hadst devoted thyself in the monastic state of life. Wherefore, if thou wilt hear the words of my rebuke so as to follow them, thou wilt come to know in the end how kind and sweet they are. Lo, I confess it, I speak mourning and constrained by sorrow for what thou hast done. I scarce can utter words; and yet thy mind, conscious of guilt, is hardly able to bear what it hears, blushes, is confounded, remonstrates. If, then, it cannot bear the words of dust, what will it do at the judgment of the Creator? And yet I acknowledge the exceeding mercy of heavenly grace, in that it beholds thee flying from life, and nevertheless still reserves thee for life; that it sees thee acting proudly, and still bears with thee; that through its unworthy servants it administers to thee words of rebuke and admonition. So great a thing is this that thou oughtest anxiously to ponder on what Paul says; We exhort you, brethren that ye receive not the grace of God in vain: for he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee. Behold now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. vi. 1 seq.).
But I know that, when my letter is received, forthwith friends come about thee, thy literary clients are called in, and advice about the purpose of life is sought from the promoters of death; who, loving not thee, but what belongs to thee, tell thee nothing but what may please thee at the time. For such, as thou thyself rememberest, were those thy former counsellors, who drew thee on to the perpetration of so great a sin. To quote to thee something from a secular author36 , "All things should be considered with friends, but the friends themselves should be considered first." But, if in thy case thou seekest an adviser, take me, I pray thee, as thy adviser. For no one can be more to be relied on for advice than one who loves not what is thine, but thee. May Almighty God make known to thy heart with what love and with what charity my heart embraces thee, though so far only as not to offend against divine grace. For I so attack thy fault as to love thy person; I so love thy person as not to embrace the viciousness of thy fault. If, therefore, thou believest that I love thee, approach the threshold of the apostles, and use me as an adviser. But if perchance I am supposed to be too keen in the cause of God, and am suspected for the ardour of my zeal, I will call the whole Church together into counsel on this question, and whatever all are of opinion should be done for good, this I will in no wise contradict, but gladly fulfil and subscribe to what is decided in common. May Divine grace keep thee while accomplishing what I have warned thee to do.
Joseph, a Jew, the bearer of these presents, has informed us that, the Jews dwelling in the camp of Terracina having been accustomed to assemble in a certain place for celebrating their festivities, thy Fraternity had expelled them thence, and that they had migrated, and this with thy knowledge and consent, to another place for in like manner observing their festivities; and now they complain that they have been expelled anew from this same place. But, if it is so, we desire thy Fraternity to abstain from giving cause of complaint of this kind, and that they be allowed, as has been the custom, to assemble in the place which, as we have already said, they had obtained with thy knowledge for their place of meeting. For those who dissent from the Christian religion must needs be gathered together to unity of faith by gentleness, kindness, admonition, persuasion, lest those whom the sweetness of preaching and the anticipated terror of future judgment might have invited to believe should be repelled by threats and terrors. It is right, then, that they should come together kindly to hear the word of God from you rather than that they should become afraid of overstrained austerity.
Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Peter the Subdeacon.
The code of instructions which I gave thee on thy going to Sicily must be diligently perused, so that the greatest care may be taken concerning bishops, lest they mix themselves up in secular causes, except so far as the necessity of defending the poor compels them. But what is inserted in the same code concerning monks or clerics ought, I think, in no respect to be varied from. But let thy Experience observe these things with such great attention as may fulfil my desire in this regard. Further, it has come to my ears that from the times of Antoninus, the defensor, till now, during these last ten years, many persons have endured certain acts of violence from the Roman Church, so that some publicly complain of their boundaries having been violently invaded, their slaves abstracted, and their moveables carried off by force, and not by any judicial process. In all such cases I desire thy Experience to keep intent watch, and whatsoever during these last ten years may be found to have been taken away by violence, or retained unjustly in the name of the Church, to restore it by authority of this my order to him to whom it is found to belong; lest he who has suffered violence should be obliged to come to me, and undertake the labour of so long a journey, in which case it could not be ascertained here before me whether or not he spoke the truth. Having regard, then, to the majesty of the Judge who is to come, restore all things that have been sinfully taken away, knowing that thou bringest great gain to me, if thou gatherest [heavenly] reward rather than riches. But we have ascertained that what the greater part complain of is the loss of their slaves, saying that, if any man's bondman, peradventure running away from his master, has declared himself to belong to the Church, the rectors37 of the Church have at once kept him as a bondman belonging to the Church, without any trial of the case, but supporting with a high hand the word of the bondman. This displeases me as much as it is abhorrent from the judgment of truth. Wherefore I desire thy Experience to correct without delay whatever may be found to have been so done: and it is also fit that any such slaves as are now kept in ecclesiastical possession, as they were taken away without trial, should be restored before trial; so that, if holy Church has any legitimate claim to them, their possessors may then be dispossessed by regular process of law. Correct all these things irretractably, since thou wilt be truly a soldier of the blessed apostle Peter if in his causes thou keep guard over the truth, even without his receiving anything. But, if thou seest anything that may justly be claimed as belonging to the Church, beware lest thou ever try to assert such claim by force; especially as I have established a decree under pain of anathema, that tituli may not ever be put by our Church on any urban or rural farm38 ; but whatever may in reason be claimed for the poor ought also to be defended by reason; lest, a good thing being done in a manner that is not good, we be convicted of injustice before Almighty God even in what we justly seek. Moreover, I pray thee, let noble laymen, and the glorious [Praetor]39 love thee for thy humility, not dread thee for thy pride. And yet, if by any chance thou knowest them to be doing any injustice to the indigent, turn thy humility at once into exaltation, so as to be always submissive to them when they do well, and opposed to them when they do ill. But so behave that neither thy humility be remiss nor thy authority stiff, to the end that uprightness season humility, and humility render thy very uprightness gentle. Further, since it has been customary for bishops to assemble here for the anniversary40 of the pontiff, forbid their coming for the day of my ordination, since foolish and vain superfluity delights me not. But if they must needs assemble, let them come for the anniversary41 of Peter, the prince of the apostles, to render thanks to him by whose bounty they are pastors. Farewell. Given this XVII day of the Kalends of April, in the ninth year of the Emperor Mauricius.
Epistle XXXIX to Anthemius, Subdeacon42 .
Gregory to Anthemius, &c.
We charged thee on thy departure, and remember to have afterwards enjoined on thee by letter, to take care of the poor, and, if thou shouldest find any in those parts to be in want, to inform me by letter: and thou hast been at pains to do this with regard to very few. Now, I desire that, as soon as thou hast received this present order, thou offer to Pateria, my father's sister, forty solidi for shoe-money for her boys, and four hundred modii of wheat; to the lady Palatina, the widow of Urbicus, twenty solidi and three hundred modii of wheat; to the lady Viviana, widow of Felix, twenty solidi and three hundred modii of wheat. And let all these eighty solidi be charged together in thy accounts. But bring hither with speed the sum of thy receipts, and be here, with the Lord's help, by Easter Day.
The venerable Paulinus bishop of the city of Taurum (Taurianum in Brutia), has told us that his monks have been scattered by reason of barbaric invasions, and that they are now wandering through the whole of Sicily, and that, being without a ruler, they neither have a care of their souls, nor pay attention to the discipline of their profession. On this account we enjoin thee to search out with all care and diligence, and collect together, these same monks, and to place them with the said bishop, their ruler, in the monastery of Saint Theodorus situate in the city of Messana, that both such as are there now, whom we find to be in need of a ruler, and those of his congregation whom you may have found and brought back, may be able, under his leadership, to serve the Almighty Lord together. Know also that we have signified this matter to the venerable Felix, bishop of the same city, lest anything ordained in the diocese committed to him should be disturbed without his knowledge.Epistle XLII.
To Anthemius, Subdeacon43 ·
Gregory to Anthemius, &c.
John, our brother and fellow-bishop, in a schedule sent to us by his cleric Justus, has among many other things intimated to us as follows: that some monks of the diocese of Surrentum44 transmigrate from monastery to monastery as they please, and depart from the rule of their own abbot out of desire for a worldly life; nay even (what is known to be unlawful) that they aim severally at having property of their own. Wherefore we command thy Experience by this present order, that no monk be henceforth allowed to migrate from monastery to monastery, and that thou permit not any one of them to have anything of his own. But, if any one whatever should so presume, let him be sent back with adequate constraint to the monastery in which he lived at first, to be under the rule of his own abbot from which he had escaped; lest, if we allow so great an iniquity to take its course uncorrected, the souls of those that are lost be required from the souls of their superiors. Further, if any of the clergy should chance to become monks, let it not be lawful for them to return anew to the same church in which they had formerly served, or to any other; unless one should be a monk of such a life that the bishop under whom he had formerly served should think him worthy of the priesthood, so that he may be chosen by him, and by him ordained to such place as he may think fit. And since we have learnt that some among the monks have plunged into such great wickedness as publicly to take to themselves wives, do thou seek them out with all vigilance, and, when found, send them back with due constraint to the monasteries of which they had been monks. But neglect not to deal also with the clergy who profess monasticism, as we have said above. For so thou wilt be pleasing in the eyes of God, and be found partaker of a full reward.
Epistle XLIII. To Leander Bishop of Hispalis (Seville)45
Gregory to Leander, &c.
I should have wished to reply to your letters with full application of mind, were I not so worn by the labour of my pastoral charge as to be more inclined to weep than to say anything. And this your Reverence will take care to understand and allow for in the very text of my letters, when I speak negligently to one whom I exceedingly love. For, indeed, I am in this place tossed by such billows of this world that I am in no wise able to steer into port the old and gotten ship of which, in the hidden dispensation of God, I have assumed the guidance. Now in front the billows rush in, now at the side heaps of foamy sea swell up, now from behind the storm follows on. And, disquieted in the midst of all this, I am compelled sometimes to steer in the very face of the opposing waters; sometimes, turning the ship aside, to avoid the threats of the billows slantwise. I groan, because I feel that through my negligence the bilgewater of vices increases, and, as the storm meets the vessel violently, the rotten planks already sound of shipwreck. With tears I remember how I have lost the placid shore of my rest, and with sighs I behold the land which still, with the winds of affairs blowing against me, I cannot reach. If, then, thou lovest me, dearest brother, stretch out to me in the midst of these billows the hand of thy prayer; that from helping me in my labours thou mayest, in very return for the benefit, be the stronger in thine own.
I cannot, however, at all fully express in words my joy on having learnt that our common son, the most glorious King Rechared, has been converted with most entire devotion to the Catholic faith46 . In describing his character to me in thy letters thou bast made me love him, though I know him not. But, since you know the wiles of the ancient foe, how against conquerors he prepares all the fiercer war, let your Holiness keep watch the more warily over him, that he may accomplish what he has well begun, nor lift himself up for good works accomplished; that he may keep the faith which he has come to know by the merits also of his life, and shew by his works that he is a citizen of the eternal kingdom, to the end that after a course of many years he may pass from kingdom to kingdom.
But with respect to trine immersion in baptism, no truer answer can be given than what you have yourself felt to be right; namely that, where there is one faith, a diversity of usage does no harm to holy Church. Now we, in immersing thrice, signify the sacraments of the three days' sepulture; so that, when the infant is a third time lifted out of the water, the resurrection after a space of three days may be expressed. Or, if any one should perhaps think that this is done out of veneration for the supreme Trinity, neither so is there any objection to immersing the person to be baptized in the water once, since, there being one substance in three subsistences, it cannot be in any way reprehensible to immerse the infant in baptism either thrice or once, seeing that by three immersions the Trinity of persons, and in one the singleness of the Divinity may be denoted. But, inasmuch as up to this time it has been the custom of heretics to immerse infants in baptism thrice, I am of opinion that this oughtnot to be done among you; lest, while they number the immersions, they should divide the Divinity, and while they continue to do as they have been used to do, they should boast of having got the better of our custom Moreover, I send to your to me most sweet Fraternity the volumes of which I have appended a notice below. What I had spoken in exposition of the blessed Job, which you express in your letter your wish to have sent to you, being weak both in sense and language as I had delivered it in homilies, I have tried as I could to change into the form of a treatise, which is in course of being written out by scribes. And, were I not crippled by the haste of the bearer of these presents, I should have wished to transmit to you the whole without diminution; especially as I have written this same work for your Reverence, that I may be seen to have sweated in my labours for him whom I love above all others. Besides, if you find time allowed you from ecclesiastical engagements, you already know how it is with me: even though absent in the body, I behold thee always present with me; for I carry the image of thy countenance stamped within the bowels of my heart. Given in the month of May.
With regard to our having so long delayed sending off thy messenger, we have been so occupied with the engagements of the Paschal festival that we have been unable to let him go sooner. But, with regard to the questions on which thou hast desired instruction, thou wilt learn below how, after fully considering them all, we have determined them.
We have ascertained that the peasants47 of the Church are exceedingly aggrieved in respect of the prices of corn, in that the sum appointed them to pay is not kept in due proportion in times of plenty. And it is our will that in all times, whether the crops of corn be more or less abundant, the measure of proportion be according to the market price48 . It is our will also that corn which is lost by shipwreck be fully accounted for; but on condition that there be no neglect on thy part in transmitting it; lest, the proper time for transmitting it being allowed to pass by, loss should ensue from your fault49 . Moreover, we have seen it to be exceedingly wrong and unjust that anything should be received from the peasants of the Church in the way of sextariatics50 , or that they should be compelled to give a larger modius than is used in the granaries of the Church. Wherefore we enjoin by this present warning that corn may never be received from the peasants of the Church in modii of more than eighteen sextarii; unless perchance there be anything that the sailors are accustomed to receive over and above, the consumption of which on board ship they themselves attest.
We have also ascertained that on some estates51 of the Church a most unjust exaction is practised, in that three and a half [modii] in seventy are demanded by the farmers52 ;-a thing shameful to be spoken of. And yet even this is not enough; but something besides is said to be exacted according to a custom of many years. This practice we altogether detest, and desire it to be utterly extirpated from the patrimony. But, whether in this or in other minute imposts, let thy Experience consider what is paid too much per pound, and what is in any way unfairly received from the peasants; and reduce all to a fixed payment, and, so far as the powers of the peasants go, let them make a payment in gross amounting to seventy-two53 : and let neither grains54 beyond the pound, nor an excessive pound, nor any further imposts beyond the pound, be exacted; but, through thy valuation, according as there is ability to pay, let the payment be made up to a certain sum, that so there may be in no wise any shameful exaction. But, lest after my death these veryimposts, which we have disallowed as extras but allowed in augmentation of the regular payments, should again in any way be put on additionally, and so the sum of the payment should be found to be increased and the peasants be compelled to pay additional charges over and above what is due, we desire thee to draw up charters of security, to be signed by thee, declaring that each person is to pay such an amount, to the exclusion of grains (siliquoe), imposts, or granary dues. Moreover, whatever out of these several items used to accrue to the rector [sc. patrimonii], we will that by virtue of this present order it shall accrue to thee out of the total sum paid.
Before all things we desire thee carefully to attend to this; that no unjust weights be used in exacting payments. If thou shouldest find any, break them and cause true ones to be made. For my son the servant of God, Diaconus, has already found such as displeased him; but he had not liberty to change them. We will, then that, saving excepted cibaria of small value55 , nothing else beyond the just weights be exacted from the husbandmen56 of the Church.
Further, we have ascertained that the first charge of burdatio57 exceedingly cripples our peasants, in that before they can sell the produce of their labour they are compelled to pay taxes; and, not having of their own to pay with, they borrow from public pawnbrokers58 , and pay a heavy consideration for the accommodation; whence it results that they are crippled by heavy expenses. Wherefore we enjoin by this present admonition that thy Experience advance to them from the public fund all that they might have borrowed from strangers, and that it be repaid by the peasants of the Church by degrees as they may have wherewith to pay, lest, while for a time in narrow circumstances, they should sell at too cheap a rate what might afterwards have sufficed for the payment of the due, and even so not have enough.
It has come to our knowledge also that immoderate fees59 are received on the marriages of peasants: concerning which we order that no marriage fees shall exceed the sum of one solidus. If any are poor, they should give even less; but if any are rich, let them by no means exceed the aforesaid sum of a solidus. And we desire no part of these marriage fees to be credited to our account, but that they should go to the benefit of the farmer (conductorem).
We have also ascertained that when some farmers die their relatives are not allowed to succeed them, but that their goods are withdrawn to the uses of the Church: with regard to which thing we decree that the relatives of the deceased who live on the property of the Church shall succeed them as their heirs, and that nothing shall be withdrawn from the substance of the deceased. But, if any one should leave young children, let discreet persons be chosen to take charge of their parents' goods, till they come to such an age as to be able to manage their own property.
We have ascertained also that, if any one of a family has committed a fault, he is required to make amends, not in his own person, but in his substance: concerning which practice we order that, whosoever has committed a fault, he shall be punished in his own person as he deserves60 . Moreover, let no present (commodum) be received from him, unless perchance it be some trifle which may go to the profit of the officer who may have been sent to him. We have ascertained also that, as often as a farmer has taken away anything unjustly from his husbandman, it is indeed required from the farmer, but not restored to him from whom it was taken: concerning which thing we order that whatever may have been taken away by violence from any one of a family be restored to him from whom it was taken away, and not accrue to our profit, lest we ourselves should seem to be abettors of violence. Furthermore, we will that, if thy Experience should at any time despatch those who are under thy command in causes that arise beyond the limits of the patrimony, they may indeed receive small gratuities from those to whom they are sent; yet so that they themselves may have the advantage of them: for we would not have the treasury of the Church defiled by base gains. We also command thy Experience to see to this: that farmers never be appointed on the estates of the Church for a consideration (commodum); lest, a consideration being looked for, the farmers should be frequently changed; of which changing what else is the result but that the Church farms are never cultivated? But lest also the leases [i.e. by the Church to the farmers] be adjusted according to the sum of the payments due. We desire thee to receive no more from the estates of the Church on account of the store-houses and stores beyond what is customary; but let thine own stores which we have ordered to be procured be procured from strangers.
It has come to our ears that three pounds of gold have been unjustly taken away from Peter the farmer of Subpatriana; concerning which matter examine closely Fantinus the guardian (defensorem61 ); and, if they have manifestly been unjustly and improperly taken, restore them without any delay. We have also ascertained that the peasants have paid a second time the burdation62 which Theodosius had exacted from them but had failed to pay over, so that they have been taxed twice. This was done because his substance was not sufficient for meeting his debt to the Church. But, since we are informed through our son, the servant of God Diaconus, that this deficiency can be made good out of his effects, we will that fifty-seven solidi be repaid to the peasants without any abatement, lest they should be found to have been taxed twice over. Moreover, if it is the case that forty solidi of his effects remain over and above what will indemnify the peasants (which sum thou art said also to have in thy hands), we will that they be given to his daughter, to enable her to recover her effects which she had pawned. We desire also her father's goblet (batiolam) to be restored to her.
The glorious magister militum Campanianus had left twelve solidi a year out of the Varronian estate to his notary John; and this we order thee to pay every year without any hesitation to the granddaughter of Euplus the farmer, although she may have received all the chattels of the said Euplus, except perhaps his cash; and we desire thee also to give her out of his cash five-and-twenty solidi. A silver saucer63 is said to have been pawned for one solidus, and a cup for six solidi. After interrogating Dominicus the secretary, or others who may know, redeem the pledge, and restore the aforesaid little vessels.
We thank thy Solicitude for that, after I had enjoined thee, in the business of my brother, to send him back Ills money, thou hast so consigned the matter to oblivion as if something had been said to thee by the last of thy slaves But now let even thy Negligence-I cannot say thy Experience-study to get this done; andwhatever of his thou mayest find to be in the hands of Antoninus send back to him with all speed.
In the matter of Salpingus the Jew a letter has been found which we have caused to be forwarded to thee, in order that, after reading it and becoming fully acquainted with his case and that of a certain widow who is said to be implicated in the same business, thou mayest make answer as may appear to thee just concerning the fifty-one solidi which are known to be returnable, so that the creditors may in no way be defrauded unjustly of the debts due to them.
A moiety of his legacy has been given to Antoninus; a moiety will be redeemed: which moiety we desire to be made up to him out of the common substance; and not to him only, but also to the guardians (defensoribus) and strangers (pergrinis) to whom he [the testator has left anything under the title of a legacy. To the family (familioe) also we desire the legacy to be paid; which, however, is our concern. Having, then, made up the account for our part, that is for three-quarters, make the payment64 .
We desire thee to give something out of the money of the Church of Canusium to the clergy of the same Church, to the end that they who now suffer from want may have some sustenance; and that, if it should please God that a bishop should be ordained, he may have a maintenance.
As to lapsed65 priests, or any others of the clergy, we desire thee in dealing with their property to keep free from any contamination. But seek out the poorest regular monasteries which know how to live according to God, and consign the lapsed to penance in these monasteries; and let the property of the lapsed go to the benefit of the place in which they are consigned to penance, to the end that those who have the care of their correction may have aid themselves from their means. But, if they have relations, let their property be given to their legitimate relations; yet so that an allowance for those to whom they have been consigned for penance be sufficiently provided. But, if any of an ecclesiastical community, whether priests, levites, or monks, or clerics, or any others, shall have lapsed, we will that they be consigned to penance, but that the Church shall retain its claim to their property. Yet let them receive for their own use enough to maintain them during their penance, lest, if left destitute, they should be burdensome to the places whereto they have been consigned. If any have relations on the ecclesiastical domain, let their property be delivered to them, that it may be preserved in their hands subject to the Church's claim.
Three years ago the subdeacons of all the churches in Sicily, in accordance with the custom of the Roman Church, were forbidden all conjugal intercourse with their wives. But it appears to me hard and improper that one who has not been accustomed to such continency, and has not previously promised chastity, should be compelled to separate himself from his wife, and thereby (which God forbid) fall into what is worse. Hence it seems good to me that from the present day all bishops should be told not to presume to make any one a subdeacon who does not promise to live chastely; that so what was not of set purpose desired in the past may not be forcibly required, but that cautious provision may be made for the future. But those who since the prohibition of three years ago have lived continently with their wives are to be praised and rewarded, and exhorted to continue in their good way. But, as for those who since the prohibition have been unwilling to abstain from intercourse with their wives, we desire them not to be advanced to a sacred order; since no one ought to approach the ministry of the altar but one who has been of approved chastity before undertaking the ministry.
For Liberatus the tradesman, who has commended himself to the Church, dwelling on the Cincian estate, we desire thee to make an annual provision; which provision do thou estimate thyself as to what it ought to be, that it may be reported to me and charged in thy accounts. With regard to the present indiction I have already got information from our son the servant of God Diaconus. One John, a monk, has died and left Fantinus the guardian (defensorem) his heir to the extent of one half. Hand over to the latter what has been left him, but charge him not to presume to do the like again. But appoint what he should receive for his work, so that it be not fruitless to him; and let him remember that one who lives on the pay of the Church shouldnot pant after private gains. But, if anything should accrue to the Church, without sin and without the lust of concupiscence, through those who transact the business of the Church, it is right that these should not be without fruit of their labour. Still let it be reserved for our judgment how theyshould be remunerated66 .
As to the money of Rusticianus, look thoroughly into the case, and carry out what appears to thee to be just. Admonish the magnificent Alexander67 to conclude the cause between himself and holy Church; which if he peradventure shall neglect to do, do thou, in the fear of God and with honour preserved, bring this same cause to an issue as thou art able We desire thee also to expend something in this business; and, if it can be done, let him be spared the cost of what has to be given to others, provided he terminates the cause which he has withUS.
Restore without any delay the donation of the handmaiden of God68 who has lapsed and been sent into a monastery, to the end that (as I have said above) the same place that bears the toil of attending to her may have provision for her from what she has. But recover also whatever of hers is in the hands of others, and hand it over to the aforesaid monastery
Send to us the payments of Xenodochius of Via Nova to the amount thou hast told us of, since thou hast them by thee. But give something, according to thy discretion, to the agent whom thou hast deputed in the same patrimony.
Concerning the handmaiden of God who was with Theodosius, by name Extranea, it seems to me that thou shouldest give her an allowance, if thou thinkest it advantageous, or at any rate return to her the donation which she made. The house of the monastery which Antoninus had taken from the monastery, giving thirty solidi for it, restore thou without the least delay, the money being repaid. After thoroughly investigating the truth restore the onyx phials69 , which I send back to thee by the bearer of these presents.
If Saturninus is at liberty and not employed with thee, send him to us. Felix, a farmer under the lady Campana, whom she had left free and ordered to be exempt from examination, said that seventy-two solidi had been taken from him by Maximus the sub-deacon, for paying which he asserted that he sold or pledged all the property that he had in Sicily. But the lawyers said that he could not be exempt from examination concerning acts of fraud. However, when he was returning to us from Campania, he perished in a storm. We desire thee to seek out his wife and children, to redeem whatever he had pledged, repay the price of what he had sold, and moreover provide them with some maintenance; seeing that Maximus had sent the man into Sicily and there taken from him what he alleged. Ascertain, therefore, what has been taken from him, and restore it without any delay to his wife and children. React all these things over carefully, and put aside all that familiar negligence of thine. My writings which I have sent to the peasants cause thou to be read over throughout all the estates, that they may know in what points to defend themselves, under our authority, against acts of wrong; and let either the originals or copies be given them. See that thou observe everything without abatement: for, with regard to what I have written to thee for the observance of justice, I am absolved; and, if thou art negligent, thou art guilty. Consider the terrible Judge who is coming: and let thy conscience now anticipate His advent with fear and trembling, lest it should then fear [not?] without cause, when heaven and earth shall tremble before Him. Thou hast heard what I wish to be done: see that thou do it.
The divine precepts admonish us to love our neighbours as ourselves; and, seeing that we are enjoined to love them with this charity, how much more ought we to succour them by supplies to their carnal needs, that we may relieve their distress, if not in all respects, yet at least with some support. Inasmuch, then, as we have found that the son of the most worthy Godiscalchus is in distress, not only from loss of sight, but also from want of food, we hold it necessary to provide for him as far as possible. Wherefore we enjoin thy Experience by this present order to supply to him for sustaining life twenty-four modii of wheat every year, and also twelve modii of beans and twenty decimates70 of wine; which may afterwards be debited in thy accounts. So act, therefore, that the bearer of these presents may have to complain of no delay in receiving the gifts of the Lord, and that thou mayest be found partaker in the well administered benefit.
Gregory to Virgilius, Bishop of Arelate, and Theodorus, Bishop of Massilia, in Gaul.
Though the opportunity of a suitable time and suitable persons has failed me so far for writing to your Fraternity and duly returning your salutation the result has been that I can now at one and the same time acquit myself of what is due to love and fraternal relationship, and also touch on the complaint of certain persons which has reached us, with respect to the way in which the souls of the erring should be saved. Very many, thoughindeed of the Jewish religion, resident in this province, and from time to time travelling lot various matters of business to the regions of Massilia, have apprized us, that many of the Jews settled in those parts have been brought to the font of baptism more by force than by preaching. Now, I consider the intention in such cases to be worthy of praise, and allow that it proceeds from the love of our Lord. But I fear lest this same intention, unless adequate enforcement from Holy Scripture accompany it, should either have no profitable result, or even (which God forbid) the loss of the souls which we wish to save should further ensue. For, when any one is brought to the font of baptism, not by the sweetness of preaching, but by compulsion, he returns to his former superstition, and dies the worse from having been born again. Let, therefore, your Fraternity stir up such men by frequent preaching, to the end that through the sweetness of their teacher they may desire the more to change their old life. For so our purpose is rightly accomplished, and the mind of the convert returns not again to his former vomit. Wherefore discourse must be addressed to them, such as may burn up the thorns of error in them, and illuminate what is dark in them by preaching, so that your Fraternity may through your frequent admonition receive a reward for them, and lead them, so far as God may grant it, to the regeneration of a new life.
The justice which you bear in your mind you ought to shew in the light of your deeds. Now Juliana, abbess of the monastery of Saint Vitus which Vitula of venerable memory had once built, has intimated to us that possession of the aforesaid monastery is claimed by Donatus, your official; who, seeing himself to be fortified by your patronage, scorns to have resort to a judicial examination of the case. But now let your Glory enjoin this same official, with the aforesaid hand-maiden of God, to submit the matter to arbitration to the end that whatever may be decided as to the question in dispute by the judgment of the arbitrators may be carried into effect; so that, whatever he may find he has to lose or keep, what he does may not be done as a deed of virtue, but set down to the justice of the law.
Further, Pompeiana, a religious lady, who is known to have established a monastery in her own house, has complained that the mother of her deceased son-in-law wishes to annul his will, to the end that her son's last disposition of his property may be made of none effect. On this account we hold it necessary with paternal charity to exhort your Glory to lend yourself willingly, with due regard to justice, to pious causes, and kindly order that whatever these persons have a rightful claim to be secured to them. Now, we beseech the Lord to direct the way of your life propitiously, and grant you a prosperous administration of your dignified office.
Epistle XLIX. To Honoratus, Deacon71 .
Gregory to Honoratus, &c.
Since we have undertaken, however undeserving, a place of government, it is our duty to succour our brethren in need, so far as our power extends. Januarius, then, our brother and fellow-bishop of the metropolitan city of Caralis (Cagliari), has been here in the city of Rome, and informed us that the glorious magister militum, Theodorus, who is known to have received the dukedom of the island of Sardinia, is doing many things there contrary to the commands of our most pious lords, whereby with fitting clemency and gentleness they removed many hardships of proprietors, or of citizens of their empire. Wherefore we desire you at a suitable time to represent the case to our most pious lords in accordance with what the provincials of the aforesaid island justly and reasonably demand; seeing that on a previous occasion also their sacred imperial letters were sent to the glorious Magister militum Edancius, who was in the seventh indiction duke of Sardinia, in which they ordered all these present grievances to be redressed, to the end that their commands, proceeding from the bountifulness of their piety, might be observed unshaken by dukes who might come in course of time to be in power, and that the benefit thereof might not be squandered away by administrators; that so a quiet life might be led under the clement empire of our lords, and for the ordinance which with tranquil mind they grant to their subjects they might receive multiplied compensation at the coming of the eternal judge.
Epistle L. To Anthemius the Subdeacon72 .
Gregory to Anthemius, &c.
Even as, through the ordering of God as it hath pleased Him, we have received the place of government, so ought we to be solicitous for the souls committed to us. Now we find that in the Eumorphian island73 , in which, as is well known, there is an oratory of the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, a large number of men with their wives from various patrimonies have fled to it for refuge, through stress of barbarian ferocity74 This we consider inexpedient: for, there being other places of refuge near at hand, why should women have their abode there with monks? Wherefore we enjoin thy Experience by this present order from this time forward to allow no woman, whether she be under ecclesiastical jurisdiction or any other, to take up her abode or tarry there; but let them provide for themselves a place of refuge (there being, as has been said above, so many in the neighbourhood) wherever they may choose; so that all intercourse with women may henceforth be put an end to; lest, if we should desist from taking all the care we can, and guarding against the snares of the enemy, we henceforth (which God forbid) should be culpable in case of anything wrong taking place. Delay not, therefore, to give to the abbot Felix, the bearer of these presents, one thousand five hundred pounds of lead, which he is known to be in want of in the same island, which may be charged afterwards in thy accounts, when the whole quantity shall be known. So proceed, then, that thou mayest provide thyself with some, if any can be profitably used for the buildings of the same island. Moreover, since congregations of monks in the islands are exposed to hardship, we forbid boys under eighteen years of age to be received into these monasteries. Or, if there are any now there, let thy Experience remove them, and send them to the city of Rome. We desire thee in all respects to observe this in Palmaria also and the other islands.
Epistle LII. To Symmachus the Defensor75 .
Gregory to Symmachus, &c.
My son Boniface the deacon has told me that thy Experience had written to say that a monastery built by Labina, a religious lady, is now ready for monks to be settled in it. And indeed I praised thy solicitude; but we wish that some other place than that which has been assigned for the purpose should be provided; but with the condition, in view of the insecurity of the time, that one above the sea be looked out for, which is either fortified by its position, or at all events can be fortified without much labour. So may we send monks thither, to the end that the island itself, hitherto without a monastery, may be improved by having this way of life upon it.
For carrying out and providing for this business we have given directions to Horosius, the bearer of this present order, with whom thy Experience must go round the shores of Corsica, and if any more suitable place in the possession of any private person should be found, we are prepared to give a suitable price, that we may be able to make some secure arrangement. We have enjoined the aforesaid Horosius to proceed to the island Gorgonia; and let thy Experience accompany him, and do you so avenge the evils that we have ascertained to have found entrance there that through the punishment you shall inflict the aforesaid island may remain corrected for the future also. Let the same abbot Horosius set in order the monasteries of this island, and so hasten to return to us. Let, then, thy Experience so act that in both these matters, that is, both in providing for monasteries in Corsica, and in correcting the monks of Gorgonia, thou mayest make haste to obey, not our will, but that of Almighty God.
Moreover we desire that the priests who abide in Corsica shall be forbidden to have any intercourse with women, except it may be a mother, or a sister, or a wife, towards whom chastity should be observed76 . But to the three persons about whom thy Experience has written to my son the aforesaid deacon Boniface, give whatsoever thou deemest sufficient for them, since they are in grievous need; and this we will allow thee afterwards in thy accounts. Given in the month of July.
Being exceedingly desirous of observing the festivals of saints, we have thought it needful to address this our letter of direction to thy Experience, informing thee that we have arranged for the dedication with all solemnity, with the help of the Lord, in the month of August, of the Oratory of the Blessed Mary lately built in the cell of brethren where the abbot Marinianus is known to preside, to the end that what we have begun may through the Lord's operation be completed. But, inasmuch as the poverty of that cell requires that we should assist in that day of festival, we therefore desire thee to give for celebrating the dedication, to be distributed to the poor, ten solidi in gold, thirty amphoroe of wine, two hundred lambs, two orcoe of oil, twelve wethers, and a hundred hens, which may be afterwards charged in thy accounts. Provide therefore for this being done at once without any delay, that our desires, God granting it,may take speedy effect.
We learn from thy Fraternity's epistle that, with regard to the choice of a bishop, some are agreed in favour of Ocleatinus, with whom, since we disallow him, they need not further concern themselves77 . But give notice to the inhabitants of that city that, if they should find any one in their own Church fit for that work, they all transfer their choice to him. Otherwise the bearer of these presents will point out a person, of whom I have told him, in favour of whom the notification of the election should be made. Do you, moreover, be prudent and careful with regard to your visitation of the same Church, that its property may be preserved inviolate, and its interests attended to after the accustomed manner under your management.
Gregory to Arsicinus, &c.
How ready is the devotion of your love in expectation of a pontiff the text of the report which you have addressed to us shews. But, since the ordainer ought in such cases to be exceedingly careful, we are watching over thiscase with due deliberation. And so we warn your Charity by this present writing that no one need trouble himself to apply to us in favour of Ocleatinus: but, if any one is found in your own city to undertake this work with profit, so that he cannot be objected to by us, let your choice concur in his favour. But, if no one should be found fit for it, we have mentioned to the bearers of these presents one to whom you may no less accord your consent. But do you with one accord pray faithfully, that, whosoever may be ordained, he may be able both to be profitable to you and to display priestly service worthy of our God.
That you have unceasingly the fear of God before your eyes, and pursue justice, the subdued necks of enemies testify; but, that the grace of Christ may keep your Glory in the same prosperity, restrain, as you have been wont, with speedy prohibition whatever things you discover to be committed wrongfully, so that, fortified with the arms of justice, you may overcome hostile attacks with the power of faith, which is the top of all virtue. Now Marinianus, our brother and fellow-bishop of the city of Turris78 has tearfully representedto us that the poor of his city are being vexed everywhere, and afflicted by expenses in the way of gifts or payments79 ; and further that the religious80 of his church endure serious molestation from the men of Theodorus the magister militum, and suffer bodily injuries; and that this thing is breaking out to such a pitch that (shocking to say) they are thrust into prison, and that he himself also is seriously hindered by the aforesaid glorious person in causes pertaining to his Church. How opposed such things are, if indeed they are true, to the discipline of the republic you yourselves know. And, since it befits your Excellency to amend all these things, greeting your Eminence I demand of you that you suffer them to be done no more; but straightly order him to abstain from harming the Church, and that none be aggrieved by burdens laid upon them, or payments81 , beyond what reason allows, and that, if there should be any suits, they be determined not by the terror of power, but by order of law. I pray you, then, so correct all these things, the Lord inspiring you, by the menace of your injunction that the glorious Theodorus and his men may abstain from such things, if not out of regard to rectitude, yet at any rate out of fear inspired by your command; that so, to the advancement of your credit and reward, justice with liberty may flourish in the parts committed to your charge.
If our Lord Himself by the testimony of Holy Scripture declares Himself to be the husband of widows and father of orphans, we also, the members of His body, ought with the soul's supreme affection to set ourselves to imitate the head, and saving justice, to stand by orphans and widows if need be. And, having been given to understand that Catella, a religious woman who has a son serving here in the holy Roman Church over which under God we preside, is being troubled by the exactions and molestations of certain persons, we think it needful to exhort your Fraternity by this letter not to refuse (saving justice) to afford your protection to this same woman, knowing that by things of this kind you both make the Lord your debtor and bind us to you the more in the bonds of charity. For we wish the causes of the aforesaid woman, whether now or in future, to be terminated by your judgment, that she may be relieved from the annoyance of legal proceedings, and yet be by no means excused from submitting to a just judgment. Now I pray the Lord to direct your life in a prosperous course towards Himself, and Himself to bring you in His mercy to the kingdom of glory which is to come.
Epistle LXIII. To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari) in Sardinia82 .
Gregory to Januarius, &c.
Though your Fraternity in the zeal of right eousness gives fitting attention to the protection of divers persons, yet we believe that you will be the more prone to succour those whom a letter from us may commend to you. Know then that Pompeiana, a religious woman, has represented to us through one of her people that she endures many grievances continually and unreasonably from certain men, and on this account has petitioned us to commend her in our letters to you. Wherefore, greeting your Fraternity with the affection of charity that is due to you, we have felt that we must needs commend the aforesaid woman to you, that, with due regard to justice, thy Fraternity may not allow her to be aggrieved in any way contrary to equity, or to be subjected to any expense unadvisedly. But if it should happen that she has any suits, let the matter of dispute be debated before chosen arbitrators, and whatsoever shall be decided, let it be so carried into effect quietly through your assistance that both reward may accrue to you for such a work, and she who has been commended by our letters may rejoice in having found justice.
Customs which are found to bring a burden upon churches it becomes us in our consideration to discontinue, lest any should be forced to contribute to quarters from which they ought rather to look for contributions. Accordingly, it is thy duty to preserve intact the custom of the clergy and others, and to transmit to them every year what has been accustomed: but for the future we forbid thee to transmit anything to us. And, since we take no delight in presents (xeniis)83 , we have received with thanks the Palmatianoe84 which thy Fraternity has sent us, but have caused them to be sold for an adequate price, which we have transmitted separately to thy Fraternity, for fear lest thou shouldest have felt the expense. Further, since we have learnt that thy Charity is desirous of coming to us, we admonish thee by the present letter not to take the trouble of coming: but pray for us, that the more we are separated by length of way, the more we may be joined one to another in mind, with the help of Christ, by charity; to the end that, siding each other by mutual supplication, we may resign our office unimpaired to the Judge that is to come.
If with kind disposition we meet the needs of our neighbours by shewing compassion, we shall undoubtedly find the Lord mercifully inclined to our petitions. Now we have learnt that Pastor, who labours under exceeding weakness of sight, having a wife and two slaves, who also bad formerly been with the glorious lady Jonatha, is suffering from great need. Wherefore, we admonish thy Experience, by the writing of this present order, not to delay giving him for his sustenance three hundred modii of wheat, and also as many modii of beans, which may afterwards be charged in thy accounts. So act, then, as both thyself to obtain the benefit of reward for thy good service, and to carry our orders into effect. In the month of August.
Thou hast learnt from a former letter85 that we have desired our brethren and fellow-bishops dwelling in the island of Sicily to assemble here for the anniversary of the blessed Peter the apostle. But, seeing that their suit with the magnificent Justin the ex-praetor86 has meanwhile hindered them, and that there is not now sufficient time for coming and returning, we do not wish them to be troubled before winter. But Gregory of Agrigentum, Leo of Catana, and Victor of Panormus, we by all means desire to come to us before winter87 . Further, get together from strangers88 corn of this year's growth to the value of fifty pounds of gold, and lay it up in Sicily in places where it will not rot, that we may send thither in the month of February as many ships as we can to convey this corn to us. But, in case of our delaying to send ships, do thou thyself provide some, and, with the help of the Lord, transmit this same corn to us in February, with the exception, however, of the corn which we expect to have sent to us now, according to custom, in the months of September or October. Let thy Experience, then, so proceed that, without annoyance to any husbandman (colonus) of the Church89 , the corn may be collected, since there has been here such a scanty crop that, unless by God's help corn be collected from Sicily, there is a serious prospect of famine. But keep guard in all ways over the ships that have always been assigned to the use of Holy Church, as the letters also addressed to thee by the glorious ex-consul Leo concur in directing thee to do. Moreover, many come hither desiring sundry lands or islands belonging to our Church to be leased to them; and some, indeed, we refuse, but to others we have already granted their request. But let thy Experience see to the advantage of Holy Church, remembering that thou hast before the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter received power over his patrimony. And, though letters should reach you from hence, allow nothing to be done in any way to the disadvantage of the patrimony, since we neither remember to have given, nor are disposed to give away, any thing without good reason.
As the Lord hath made your Excellency to shine with the light of victories in the military wars of this life, so ought you to pose the enemies of the Church with all activity of mind and body, to the end that from both kinds of triumph your reputation may shine forth more and more, when in forensic wars, too, you firmly resist the adversaries of the Catholic Church in behalf of the Christian people, and bravely fight ecclesiastical battles as warriors of the Lord. For it is known that men heretical in religion, if they have liberty allowed them to do harm (which God forbid), rise strenuously against the catholic faith, to the end that they may transfuse, if they can, the poison of their heresy to the corrupting of the members of the Christian body. For we have learnt that they are lifting up their necks against the Catholic Church, the Lord being opposed to them, and desire to pervert the faith of the Christian profession. But let your Eminence suppress their attempts, and subdue their proud necks to the yoke of rectitude90 . Moreover, order the council of catholic bishops to be admonished not to appoint their primate on the ground of his standing, without regard to the merits of his life, since before God it is not the more distinguished rank, but the action of a better life, that is approved91 . But let the primate himself live, not, as is customary, here and there in the country, but in one city according to their selection, to the end that he may be better able to bring to bear the influence of the dignity that has fallen to him in resisting the Donatists. Moreover, if any from the Council of Numidia should desire to come to the Apostolic See, permit them to do so; and stop any who may be disposed to bring charges against their character. Great increase of glory will accrue to your Excellency with the Creator, if through you the union of the divided churches could be restored. For when He beholds the girls granted by Him given back to His glory, He bestows gifts so much the more abundantly as He sees the dignity of His religion to be thereby enlarged. Furthermore, bestowing on you, as is due, the affection of our paternal charity, we beseech the Lord to make your arm strong for subduing your enemies, and to sharpen your soul with zeal for the faith like the edge of a quivering sword.
Gregory to Gennadius, Patrician, &c.
Had not such great success of the military exploits of your Excellency arisen from the merit of your faith and from the grace of the Christian religion, it would not have been so greatly to be wondered at, since we know that the like has been granted to military leaders of old time. But when, God granting it, you forestall future victories, not by carnal provision,but rather by prayers, it becomes a matter of astonishment how your glory comes down upon you, not from counsels of this world, but from God, who bestows it from above. For where is not the renown of your deserts in people's mouths? And report goes that it is not from a desire of, shedding blood that you constantly court thesewars, but for the sake of extending the republicin which we see that God is worshipped, to the · end that the name of Christ may be spread abroad through subject nations by preaching of the faith. For, as your outward deeds of valour make you eminent in this life, so also the inward adornment of your character, proceeding from a clean heart, glorifies you in making you partaker of celestial joys to come. For we have learnt that your Excellency has done very many things of advantage for feeding the sheep of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, so as to have restored to him no small portions of his patrimony, which had been denuded of their proper cultivators, by supplying them with Datitian settlers. Whatever, then, with Christian disposition you confer on him, you receive retribution for through hope in the judgment to come. Wherefore we have thought fit to commend to your Eminence Hilarus92 , who is also the hearer of these presents, that you may bestow on him (though ever with regard to justice) your accustomed affection in matters wherein he may intimate his need of your help. Now, addressing to you the greeting of our paternal charity, we beseech our God and Saviour mercifully to protect your Eminence for the consolation of the holy republic, and to fortify you with the strength of His arm for spreading His name more and more through the neighbouring nations.
If ever, most dear brethren in Christ, a troublesome mixture of tares intrudes itself among green corn, it is necessary for the hand of the husbandman to root it up entirely, lest the future fruit of the fertile corn should be obstructed. Wherefore let us too, who, however unworthy, have undertaken the cultivation of the field of the Lord, hasten to render the corn pure from all offence of tares, that the field of the Lord may fructify with more abundant increase. Now you requested through Hilarus our chartulary93 from our predecessor of blessed memory that you might retain all the customs of past time, which, from the beginnings of the ordinances of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, long antiquity has so far retained. And we, indeed, according to the tenour of your representation, allow your custom (so long as it clearly makes no claim to the prejudice of the catholic faith)to remain undisturbed, whether as to constituting primates or as to other points; save that with respect to those who attain to the episcopate from among the Donatists, we by all means forbid them to be advanced to the dignity of primacy, even though their standing should denote them for that position94 . But let it suffice them to take care of the people committed to them, without aiming at the topmost place of the primacy in preference to those prelates whom the Catholic faith hath both taught and engendered in the bosom of the Church. Do you, therefore, most dear brethren, anticipate our admonitions in the zeal of the charity of theLord, knowing that the strict Judge will bring into examination all we do, and will approve every one of us with regard not to the prerogative of a higher rank, but to the merits of our works. I beseech you, therefore, love ye one another mutually, having peace among yourselves in Christ, and with one purpose of heart oppose ye heretics and enemies of the Church. Be ye solicitous for the souls of your neighbours: persuade all ye can to faith by the preaching of charity, holding before them also the terror of the future judgment; inasmuch as ye are appointed to be shepherds, and the Lord of the docks expects from the shepherds to whom He has committed them the fruit of a multiplied flock. And if He should foresee an augmentation of His own flock through your bestowal of more diligent care upon it, He will assuredly adorn you with manifold gifts of the heavenly kingdom. Furthermore, addressing to you the greeting of fraternal love, I pray the Lord that He would make you, whom He has chosen to be shepherds of souls, worthy in His sight, and Himself so order our deeds here that He may accept them as they deserve in the future life.
Our pastoral charge constrains us to come with anxious consideration to the succour of a church that is destitute of the control of a priest95 . And, inasmuch as we have learnt that the church of Saona for many years, since the death of its pontiff, has been thus entirely destitute, we have thought it needful to enjoin on thy Fraternity the work of visiting it, to the end that through thy ordering its welfare may be promoted. In this church also and in its parishes we grant thee licence to ordain deacons and presbyters; concerning whom, however, let it be thy care to make diligent enquiry, that they be not personally in any respect such as are rejected by the sacred canons. But whomsoever thy Fraternityhas perceived to be worthy of so great a ministry, having ascertained that their manners and actions fit them for ordination, them, by permission of our authority, thou mayest freely promote to the aforesaid office. We desire thee, therefore, to make use of all the property of the above named church as though thou wert its proper pontiff, until we write to thee again. Be, then, so diligent and careful in all these matters that through thy ordering all things may, with the help of God, be salubriously arranged to the Church's profit.
To those who ask for what is just it behoves us to lend a kindly ear, to the end both that the petitioners may find the remedies they hope for, and that the anxious care of a shepherd be not wanting to the Church. And inasmuch as the church of Tanates, in which thy Fraternity was formerly adorned with sacerdotal dignity, has for its sins been so taken possession of and ruined by hostile savagery that no further hope remains of thy returning thither, we appoint thee, by authority of these presen's, undisputed cardinal priest96 in the Church of Saona, which has now been long deprived of the aid of a pontiff. Do thou therefore so arrange and order all things according to the injunctions of the canons with vigilant care in the love of God, that both thy Fraternity may rejoice in having attained thy desires, and the Church of God may be filled with answering joy for having received thee as Cardinal pontiff.
Gregory to the Clergy, &c. . . . A paribus97 .Although for a long time it has caused you no sorrow that the Church of God should be without a pontiff, yet as for us, we are both compelled by the charge of the office we bear and bound especially by the charity of our love for you, to take thought for its government, knowing that in its supervision lies at the same time advantage to your souls. For, if the care of a shepherd be wanting to a flock, it easily falls into the snares of the lier in wait. Accordingly, inasmuch as the church of Saona has long been deprived of the aid of a priest, we have held it necessary to constitute Martinus, our brother and fellow-bishop, cardinal priest of the same98 , but to enjoin on Leo our brother and fellow-bishop the work of its visitation. To the latter we have also granted licence to ordain presbyters and deacons in it and in its parishes, and have permitted him to make use of its property so long as be shall be there, as though he were its proper pontiff. And so we admonish you by these present writings that your Charity receive the aforesaid visitor with all devotion, and shew him obedience in whatever is reasonable, as becomes sons of the Church, to the end that, supported by your devotion, he may be able to accomplish all that is found to conduce to the advantage of the above-named church.