Early Church Fathers
What a crime has been committed in the Lucullan fort against our brother and fellow-bishop Paul1 the account which has been sent to us has made manifest. And, inasmuch as the magnificent Scholasticus, judge of Campania, happens at the present time to be with us here, we have especially enjoined on him the duty of visiting the madness of so great perversity with strict correction. But, since the bearer of the aforesaid account has requested us to send some one to represent ourselves, we therefore send the subdeacon Epiphanius, who, together with the aforesaid judge, may be able to investigate and ascertain by whom the sedition was raised or investigated, and to visit it with suitable punishment. Let thy Experience then make haste to give aid in this case with all thy power, to the end both that the truth may be ascertained, and that vengeance may proceed against the guilty parties. Wherefore, since the slaves of the glorious Clementina are said to have had to do with this same crime, and to have used language calculated to stir up the sedition, do thou subject them strictly to immediate punishment, nor let your severity be relaxed in consideration of her person, since they ought to be smitten all the more as they have transgressed out of mere pride as being the servants of a noble lady. But you ought also to make thorough enquirywhether the said lady was privy to so atrocious a crime, and whether it was perpetrated with her knowledge, that from our visitation of it all may learn how dangerous it is not only to lay hands on a priest, but even to transgress in words against one. For, if anything should be done remissly or omitted in this case, know that thou especially wilt have to bear the blame and the risk; nor wilt thou find any plea for excuse with us. For in proportion as thisbusiness will commend thee to us if it be most strictly investigated and corrected, know that our indignation will become sharp against thee, if it be smoothed over.
Moreover, for the rest, if any slaves from the city should have taken refuge in the monastery of Saint Severinus, or in any other church of this same fort, as soon as this has come to thy knowledge, by no means allow them to remain there, but let them be brought to the church within the city; and, if they should have just cause of complaint against their masters, they must needs leave the church with suitable arrangements made for them. But, if they should have committed any venial fault, let them be restored without delay to their masters, the latter having taken oath to pardon them.
Epistle II. To Paulus, Bishop2 .
Gregory to Paulus, &c.
Although it has distressed us in no slight degree to hear of the injury that thou hast suffered, yet we have matter of consolation in learning that the affair is to thy credit, in that, so far as the account sent to us has disclosed the facts, thou hast suffered in the cause of uprightness and equity. Wherefore, that it may redound to the greater glory of thy Fraternity, this occurrence ought neither to shake thy constancy nor turn thee aside from the way of truth. For it is to the greater reward of priests if they continue in the path of truth even after injuries. But, lest the madness of such great impiety should remain unpunished, and pernicious insubordination break out to a worse degree, we have enjoined the magnificent Scholasticus, judge of Campania, who is at present here, that he should avenge what has been done with the repression it deserves. But, inasmuch as thy men have requested us to commission some One to represent ourselves, know that we have for this reason sent to Naples the subdeacon Epiphanius, who may be able, with the judge above named, to investigate and ascertain the truth, to the end that by his instancy he may cause worthy vengeance to be executed on those who may be shewn to have instigated or perpetrated so great a crime.
Epistle III. To John, Abbot3
Gregory to John, &c.
Thy Love has requested me that brother Boniface might be ordained Prior (proepositus)4 in thy monastery; as to which request I wonder much why it has not been done before. For since the time when I caused him to be given to thee thou oughtest already to have ordained him.
With regard to the tunic of Saint John5 ,I have been altogether gratified by thy anxiety to tell me of it. But let thy Love endeavour to send me this tunic, or (better still) this same bishop who has it, with his clergy and with the tunic itself, to the end that we may enjoy the blessing thereof, and be able to derive benefit from this bishop and his clergy. I have been desirous of putting an end to the cause that is pending with Florianus, and have already advanced to him as much as eighty solidi, which I believe he proposes should be given him in compensation for the monastery's debt; and I am altogether desirous that this cause should be settled, inasmuch as Stephen the chartularius is said to be urgent that the aforesaid Florianus should transfer it to public cognizance, and it is distasteful to us to be engaged in a public lawsuit. Wherefore we must needs make some concession, so as to be able to bring this same cause to a composition. When this shall have been done, we will inform your Love of it.
But do thou give thy whole attention to the souls of the brethren. Let it be now enough that the reputation of the monastery has been stained through your negligence. Do not often go abroad. Appoint an agent for these causes, and do thou leave thyself time for reading and prayer.
Be attentive to hospitality; as far as thou art able, give to the poor; yet so as to keep what ought to be restored to Florianus.Moreover, among the brethren of thy monastery whom I see I do not find addiction to reading. Wherefore you must needs consider how great a sin it is, that God should have sent you alimony from the offerings of others, and you should neglect learning the commandments of God.
Further, with regard to the six twelfths, unless we see the original deed, or a copy ofit, we can do nothing. But I have sent an order to the servant of God, Florentinus, that, if the truth should be made apparent to him, he restore to you the six twelfths; after the restoration of which we will either grant the remaining six twelfths on lease or commute the revenue.
As we have no wish to disturb the privileges of laymen in their judgments, so, when they judge wrongfully, we desire thee to resist them with moderate authority. For to restrain violent laymen is not to act against the laws, but to support law. Since then Deusdedit, the son-in-law of Felix of Orticellum, is said to have done violent wrong to the bearer of these presents, and still unlawfully to detain her property, in such sort that the dejection of her widowhood is found not to move his compassion, but to confirm his malice, we charge thy Experience that against the aforesaid man, as well as in other cases wherein the aforesaid woman asserts that she suffers prejudice, thou afford her the succour of thy protection, and not allow her to be oppressed by any one whatever, lest either thou be found to neglect what without prejudice to equity is commanded thee, or widows and other poor persons, finding no help where they are, be put to expense by the length of the journey hither.
Gregory to John, bishop of Prima Justiniana6 .
After the long afflictions which Adrian, bishop of the city of Thebae, has endured from his fellow-priests, as though they bad been his enemies, he has fled for refuge to the Roman city. And though his first representation had been against John, bishop of Larissa, to wit that in pecuniary causes he had given judgment without regard to the laws, yet after this he complained most grievously rather against the person of thy Fraternity, accusing thee of having deposed him unjustly from the degree of priesthood. But we, giving no credence to petitions that have not been enquired into, perused the acts of the proceedings, whether before our brother and fellow-bishop John, or before thy Fraternity. And indeed concerning the judgment of the above-named John, bishop of Larissa, which was suspended on appeal, both the most pious emperors, in their orders sent to the bishop of Corinth, have sufficiently decreed, and we have decreed also, Christ helping us, in our letters directed through the bearers of these presents to the aforesaid John of Larissa. But having ventilated the conflicting judgments, the examination of which the imperial commands had committed to thee, and inspected the series of proceedings held before the bishop John concerning the incriminated persons, we find that thou hast investigated almost nothing pertaining to the questions named and assigned to thee for decision, but by certain machinations hast produced witnesses against the deacon Demetrius, who were to allege with a view to the condemnation of this same bishop, that they had heard this Demetrius bearing testimony concerning the said bishop;-a thing not even lawful tobe heard of. And when Demetrius in person denied having done so, it appears that, contrary to the custom of the priesthood and canonical discipline, thou gavest him into the hands of the praetor of the province as a deacon deposed from his dignity7 . And when, mangled by many stripes, he might perchance have said some things falsely against his bishop under the pressure of torment, we find that to the very end of the business he confessed absolutely nothing of the things about which he was interrogated. Neither do we find anything else in the proceedings themselves, whether in the depositions of witnesses or in the declaration of Adrian, to his disadvantage. But it is only that thy Fraternity, I know not with what motive, in contempt of law, human and divine, has pronounced an abrupt sentence against him; which, even though it had not been suspended on appeal, being pronounced in contravention of the laws and canons, could not rightly in itself have stood. Further, after, as is abundantly evident, the appeal had been handed to thee, we wonder why thou hast not sent thy people to us to render an account of thy judgment according to the undertaking delivered to our deacon Honoratus by the representatives of thy church. This omission convicts thee either of contumacy or of trepidation of conscience. If, then, these things which have been brought before us have the rampart of truth, inasmuch as we consider that, taking advantage of your vicariate jurisdiction under us, you are presuming unjustly, we will, with the help of Christ, decree further concerning these things, according to the result of our deliberations.
But as regards the present, by the authority of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, we decree that, the decrees of thy judgment being first annulled and made of none effect, thou be deprived of holy communion for the space of thirty days, so as to implore pardon of our God for so great transgression with the utmost penitence and tears. But, if we should come to know that thou hast been remiss in carrying out this our sentence, know thou that not the injustice only, but also the contumacy, of thy Fraternity will have to be more severely punished. But, as to our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop Adrian, condemned by thy sentence, which, as we have said, was consistent with neither canons nor laws, we order that he be restored, Christ being with him, to his place and rank; so that neither may he be injured by the sentence of thy Fraternity pronounced in deviation from the path of justice, nor may thy Charity remain uncorrected; that so we may appease the indignation of the future judge.
Our brother Adrian, bishop of the city of Thebae, has come to Rome, bitterly complaining of having been condemned, neither lawfully nor canonically, on certain charges by thy Fraternity, and also by John, bishop of Prima Justiniana. And, when for a long time we saw no representative of the opposite party arrive here who might have replied to his objections, we delivered for perusal8 , with a view to the necessary ascertainment of the truth, the proceedings which had taken place before you. From these we ascertained that John and Cosmas, deacons who had been deposed from their office, one for frailty of the body and the other for fraudulent dealing with ecclesiastical property, had sent a representation to our most pious emperors against him, with respect to pecuniary matters and also criminal charges.
They, in their commands sent to thee, desired thee (that is with strict observance of law and canons) to take cognizance of the matter so as to pass a sentence firm in law as to the pecuniary questions, but, as to the criminal charges, to report to their Clemency after a searching examination. Now if thy Fraternity had received in a right frame of mind these such right commands, you would never have accepted for a general accusation of their bishop men removed from their own office for their transgressions, and already hostilely disposed; especially as by their representation addressed to our most pious lords their untruthfulness is detected, in that they declared that they made it with the consent of all the clergy.
Yet after this, to touch briefly and summarily on some of the proceedings before thee, the first head of accusation was concerning the Theban deacon Stephen, whom the bishop Adrian had failed to deprive of the dignity of his order, though supposed to have been aware of his most shameful life As to this head, no witnesses were produced to show that bishop Adrian had any know ledge of the matter, except that Stephen alone, a man of shameful life and on his own confession to be condemned, is alleged to have said so. The second charge made against him appears to have been concerning infants having been debarred by his order from receiving holy baptism, and so having died with the filth of sin unwashed away. But none of the witnesses brought forward against him declared their knowledge of anything of the kind having come under the notice of bishop Adrian, but said that they had learnt it from the mothers of the infants, whose husbands, it is said, had been removed from the church for their crimes. But even so they did not declare that the hour of death had overtaken those infants while unbaptized, as was contained in the invidious representation of the accusers, it being evident that they had been baptized in the city of Demetrias. So much then for the criminal charges.
But, as to the pecuniary matters, after what manner they were adjudged by thee is attested by the enquiry of the men deputed by the prince in pursuance of the most pious order of the most serene princes9 . For, when the oft-named Adrian had appealed against thy sentence, then, so far as we have ascertained from the depositions of four witnesses which were laid before John, bishop of Prima Justiniana, he was thrust into most close confinement, and forced by thy Fraternity to produce a document in which be confessed the charges brought against him. And it is true that in the document so produced by him he is found to have assented to thy sentence as to pecuniary matters. But the criminal charges he touched on in an indefinite and dubious sort of way, so that both thy purpose might be frustrated by the raising of certain clouds, and he might afterwards the better escape from his confession in the obscurity of a perplexed mode of speech. And when the appeal handed in by his people, and the rest of the proceedings under thy cognizance, had been reported to the most pious princes, and Honoratus, deacon of our See, with the glorious antigraphus10 Sebastian having been deputed, as we have said, he was exempted by the most serene lords from all further orders. But, by what sought out contrivances I know not, another imperial order was again elicited, requiring John, bishop of Prima Justiniana, to enquire closely and pass judgment concerning all the aforesaid charges. In which trial all bishop Adrian's clergy, and Demetrius the deacon, the latter in the midst of torments, declared that all this calumny against bishop Adrian had been got up by the contrivance of thy Fraternity. Nor were any of the criminal charges that had been made in thy audience against the bishop Adrian proved. But there came up, contrary to canons and laws, another cruel and crafty enquiry directed against his deacon Demetrius and other persons, in the course of which nothing was discovered for which the oft-mentioned Adrian could have been lawfully condemned, but rather ground for his acquittal. But with respect to John, prelate of the city of Prima Justiniana, and his most iniquitous and abominable judgment, we shall take further measures. As to bishop Adrian, we find both that he has laboured under thy enmity in a way ill-befitting thy priestly character, and that he has been condemned in pecuniary matters for no just cause by the sentence of thy Fraternity.
Since then, having been deposed also by the above-said John bishop of Prima Justiniana in contravention of law and canons, he could not be left deprived of his rank and honour, we have decreed that he be reinstated in his church, and recalled to the order of his proper dignity. And, though thou oughtest to havebeen deprived of the communion of the Lord's body, for that, setting at naught the admonition of my predecessor of holy memory, whereby he exempted him and his church from the jurisdiction of thy authority, thou hast again presumed to retain some jurisdiction over them, yet we, decreeing more humanely, and still allowing thee the sacrament of communion, decree that thy Fraternity shall abstain from all exercise of the jurisdiction formerly held by thee over him and his church; but that, according to the written instructions of our predecessor, if any case should possibly arise, whether touching the faith, or criminal, or pecuniary, against the aforesaid Adrian our fellow-priest, it be either taken cognizance of, if the question be a slight one, by those who are or may be our representatives in the royal city, or, if it be an arduous one, it be brought hither to the Apostolic See, to the end that it may be heard and decided before ourselves. But, if thou shouldest attempt at any time, on any pretext or by any surreptitious device, to contravene these our ordinances, know that we decree thee to be deprived of holy communion, and not to partake of it except at the close of thy life, unless upon leave granted by the Roman pontiff. For this we lay down as a rule, agreeably to the teaching of the holy fathers, that whosoever knows not how to obey the holy canons, neither is he worthy to minister or receive the communion at the holy altars. Moreover let thy Fraternity restore to him without any delay the sacred property, or any other, movable or immovable, which thou art said to retain so far; a specification whereof, that has been handed to us, we append to this letter. Concerning which if any question arises between you, we desire it to be considered by our representative in the royal city.
Gregory to Natalis, archbishop of Salona11 .
Whilst every kind of business demands12 anxious investigation of the truth, what pertains to deposition from sacerdotal rank should be considered with especial strictness, since here the matter in hand is not concerning persons constituted in a humble position, but, as it were, concerning reversal of divine benediction. This consideration has also moved us to exhort your Fraternity with respect to the person of Florentius, bishop of the city of Epidaurus. For indeed we have been told that he had been accused on certain criminal charges, and that, without any canonical proof being sought, and without previous sentence of any sacerdotal council, he has been deposed from his office of dignity, not by law, but by authority. Inasmuch, then, as no man can be removed from the rank of episcopacy except for just causes by the concordant sentence of priests, we exhort your Fraternity to cause the aforesaid man to be recalled from the banishment into which he has been driven, and his case enquired into in a consultation of bishops. And, should he be convicted by canonical proof of the charges brought against him, without doubt he must be visited with canonical punishment. But, should the facts be found by the synodical inquisition to be otherwise than had been supposed, it is necessary both that his accusers should dread the rigour of justice, and that the incriminated person should have the approbation of his innocence preserved inviolate. But we have committed by our order the execution of the above-mentioned business to Antoninus, our subdeacon, to the end that decisions may be come to in accordance with the laws and canons, and, with the help of the Lord, be carried into effect.
Epistle IX. To Antoninus, Subdeacon13 .
Gregory to Antoninus, &c.
It has come to our ears that Florentius, bishop of the city of Epidaurus, his property having first been seized, has been condemned, for certain crimes not proved, without a sacerdotal council. And, inasmuch as he ought not to suffer canonical punishment, no canonical sentence having been pronounced for his condemnation, we enjoin thy Experience to urge upon our brother and fellow-bishop Natalis that he should cause the aforesaid man to he recalled from the banishment into which he is said to have been driven. And a council of bishops having been assembled, if the charges brought against him should be canonically proved, we will that the sentence of our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop Natalis shall take effect against him. But, should he be absolved by a general judgment, thou must not permit him to be subject to prejudice on the part of any one, and must carefully and rigorously insist on his aforesaid property being restored to him. It is therefore needful that the heavier thou feelest the burden of such negotiations to be, with the maturer and more vigilant execution thou take pains to fulfil them.
Epistle X. To Savinus, Subdeacon14 .
Gregory to Savinus, &c.
Bad men have gone forth and disturbed your minds, understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm, pretending that in the times of Justinian of pious memory something was detracted from the faith of the holy synod of Chalcedon, which with all faith and all devotion we venerate. And in like manner all the four synods of the holy universal Church we receive as we do the four books of the holy Gospel. But concerning the per sons with respect to whom something had been done after the close of the synod, there was something ventilated in the times of Justinian of pious memory: yet so that neither was the faith in any respect violated, nor anything else done with regard to these same persons but what had been determined at the same holy synod of Chalcedon. Moreover, we anathematize any one who presumes to detract anything from the definition of the faith which was promulgated in the said synod, or, as though by amending it, to change its meaning: but, as it was there promulgate, so in all respects we guard it. Thee, therefore, most dear son, it becomes to return to the unity of Holy Church, that thou mayest end thy days in peace; lest the malignant spirit, who cannot prevail against thee through thy other works, may from this cause find a way at the day of thy departure of barring thy entrance into the heavenly Kingdom.
I wrote some time ago to your Fraternity desiring you to send to the Roman city those who had alleged anything against Gregory, bishop of the city of Agrigentum15 . And we exhort you by this present epistle that this should be immediately done. Wherefore hasten to send with speed the persons themselves, and the rest of the documents, that is the reports of proceedings and the petitions that have been given in. Nor do we allow any delay or excuse to be sought; to the end that, when they have been sent, as we have said, with speed to the Roman city, we may know how, with the help of God, we may most advantageously deal with him
While we were greatly distressed in our care for the city of Naples, bereaved of the solace of a priest16 , the arrival of the bearers of these presents with the decree for the election of our subdeacon Florentius, had afforded us some relief under so great a burden of thought. But, when it appeared that our said subdeacon, flying from the very city. had deprecated his ordination with tears, know ye that our sadness increased, as if from some heavier dispensation. Wherefore, greeting you well, we exhort your Greatness to assemble the chief men or the people of the city, so as to take thought for the election of another, who may be worthy to be promoted to the priesthood with the consolation of Christ. Then, the decree having been solemnly passed, and transmitted to this city, let the ordination proceed, with the help of Christ, among yourselves. But, should you not find a suitable person on whom you can agree, at any rate choose ye three upright and wise men, to be sent to this city as representing the community, and to whose judgment the whole population may assent. Perhaps, when they come hither, they will find such a one as may be ordained as your bishop without reproach, to the end that your bereaved city may neither within itself want an inspector of its deeds, nor, when the care of a priest is supplied to it, afford entrance to hostile snares from without.
Gregory to Antoninus, Subdeacon, Rector of the patrimony in Dalmatia.
It is commonly reported in these parts that our brother and fellow-bishop, Natalis of the Church of Salona, is dead. If this is true, let thy Experience with all speed and all care hasten to admonish the clergy and people of that city that with one consent they elect a priest for ordination; and, when the nomination of the person who may be elected has been made, thou wilt take care to transmit it to us, that he may be ordained with our consent, as has been the case from ancient times. And this above all things thou must look to, that in this election neither any bribery in any way whatever come in, nor the patronage of any persons whatever prevail. For if one is elected through the patronage of certain persons, he is obliged out of deference to them to comply with their wishes after his ordination, and so it comes to pass that the possessions of that church are lessened, and ecclesiastical order. is not maintained. They must, therefore, under thy superintendence, elect such a person as will not be unsuitably subservient to the will of any one, but one who in the adornment of his life and conversation may be found worthy of such a high degree. But of the possessions or ornaments of the same church cause an inventory to be faithfully written out in thy presence. And, lest any of the possessions themselves should be lost. admonish Respectus the deacon and Stephanus the chief notary (primicerium notariarum) to take sole charge of these possessions, warning them that they will have to make good out of their own substance any diminution of them that may have arisen from their negligence.
Moreover, strictly charge Malchus17 , our brother and fellow-bishop, that he refrain entirely from intermeddling in this matter. For, should we learn that anything has been done or attempted by him against our will, let him know that he will incur no slight guilt and danger. But of this also take care to warn him, that be mast be careful to set down and complete the accounts of our patrimony which he has had in charge; for doing which let him make baste, laying aside all excuses, to come to us from the Sicilian parts. Let him, then, in no wise presume to meddle with the affairs of the Church of Salona, lest he should be under further liability to it, and possibly found culpable. For he is said to have many things belonging to the aforesaid church; and report goes that he was well-nigh the prime mover in the sale of its possessions, and in other unlawful doings. And, should this be found in manifest truth to be as it is said to be, he may be certain that it will by no means remain unavenged.
Let any necessary expenses be defrayed by the steward who was in office at the time of the aforesaid bishop's death, that so he may explain his accounts to the future bishop as he knows them to be. All the things that we have enjoined on thee to be done it is certainly necessary that thou shouldest do with the advice of our son, the magnificent and most eloquent Marcellus18 , to the end that thou mayest be able to carry out carefully and effectively all that is contained in this paper of directions, and that no blame for negligence may belong to thee.
Epistle XXIX. To the Presbyters and Clergy of Mediolanum (Milan)19 .
Gregory to the presbyters, deacons, and clergy of the church of Mediolanum.
We have received your Love's epistle, which, though it bore no subscription, was accredited by the persons of the bearers, the presbyter Magnus and the cleric Hippolytus. Having read it, we find that you are all agreed in favour of our son Constantius, deacon of your church, who has been well known to me for long. And, when I represented the Apostolical See in the royal city, he stuck close to me for a long time; but i never found anything in him that could at all be found fault with. Nevertheless, since it has been for long my deliberate determination to interfere in no man's favour with a view to his undertaking the burden of pastoral care, I can but follow up your election with my prayers that Almighty God, who is ever prescient of our future doings, may supply you with a pastor such that in his tongue and manners you may be able to find pastures of divine exhortation; one in whose disposition humility may shine forth together with rectitude, and severity with loving-kindness; one who may be able to shew you the way of life not in his speaking only but also in his living; that so from his example your love may learn to sigh with longing for the eternal country. Wherefore, most dear sons, we, warned by our sense of the censorship of our office, urge you in this matter of getting yourselves a bishop that none of you look to your own gain without regard to the common advantage, lest, if any one is eager after his own individual interest, he should be deceived by a frivolous estimate: for the mind that is bound by cupidity does not examine with a free judgment a person's claims to preference. Considering, therefore, what things are profitable for all, pay ye ever in all things most complete obedience to him whom Divine grace may put over you. For, when once put over you, he must not be further judged by you; though now he ought to be the more thoroughly judged as he may not be judged hereafter. But, when with God's leave a pastor has been consecrated for you, commit ye yourselves to him with all your heart, and in him serve the Lord the Almighty, who has put him over you.
But, inasmuch as supernal judgment is wont to provide pastors for peoples according to their deservings, do you seek spiritual things, love heavenly things, despise things temporal and fugitive; and hold it for most certain that you will have a pastor who shall please God, if you in your own doings please God. Lo, all the things of this world, which we used to hear from the sacred page were doomed to perish, we see already ruined. Cities are overthrown, camps uprooted, churches destroyed; and no tiller of the ground inhabits our land. Among ourselves who are left, very few in number, the sword of man incessantly rages along with calamities wherewith we are smitten from above. Thus we see before our eyes the evils which we long ago beard should come upon the world, and the very regions of the earth have become as pages of books to us. In the passing away, then, of all things, we ought to take thought how that all that we have loved was nothing. View, therefore, with anxious heart the approaching day of the eternal judge, and by repenting anticipate its terrors. Wash away with tears the status of all your transgressions. Allay by temporal lamentation the wrath that hangs over you eternally. For our loving Creator, when He shall come for judgment, will comfort us with all the greater favour as He sees now that we are punishing ourselves for our own transgressions.
We are now sending to you, by the favour of God, John our subdeacon, the bearer of these presents, to this end;-that, with the help of Almighty God, he may see to your bishop-elect being consecrated after the manner of his predecessor. For, as we demand our rights from others, so we conserve their several rights to all.
Inasmuch as it is manifest that the Apostolic See is, by the ordering of God, set over all Churches, there is, among our manifold cares, especial demand for our attention, when our decision is awaited with a view to the consecration of a bishop. Now on the death of Laurentius, bishop of the church of Mediolanum, the clergy reported to us that they had unanimously agreed in the election of our son Constantius, their deacon. But, their report not having been subscribed, it becomes necessary, that we may omit nothing in the way of caution, for thee to proceed to Genua (Genoa), supported by the authority of this order20 . And, inasmuch as there are many Milanese at present there under stress of barbarian ferocity, thou must call them together, and enquire into their wishes in common. And, if no diversity of opinion separates them from the unanimity of the election-that is to say, if thou ascertainest that the desire and consent of all continues in favour of our aforesaid son, Constantius,-then thou art to cause him to be consecrated by his own bishops, as ancient usage requires, with the assent of our authority, and the help of the Lord; to the end that through the observance of such custom both the Apostolic See may retain the power belonging to it, and at the same time may not diminish the rights which it has conceded to others.
We believe that your Excellency is already aware of the death of Laurentius, bishop of the church of Mediolanum. And since, so far as we have learnt from the report of the clergy, all have agreed in the election of our son Constantius, deacon of the same church, it was necessary for us, for keeping up old usage, to send a soldier of our church, to cause him in whose favour he finds the will and consent of all to concur unanimously to l be consecrated by his own bishops, as ancient usage requires, though still with our assent. Wherefore, greeting you with fatherly affection as in duty bound, we request your Excellency to vouchsafe your support, justice approving, to the aforesaid Constantius, whether elected or not, whenever need may arise; to the end that this service may both exalt you here before your enemies, and commend you beforehand in the future life before God. For he is one of mine, and was once associated with me on very intimate terms. And you ought to hold as yours, and to love peculiarly, those whom you know to be ours.
Gregory to Honoratus, Archdeacon of Salona21 .
The mandates of ourselves and of our predecessor had reached thy Love not long ago, in which thou wert acquitted of the charges calumniously brought against thee; and we ordered thee to be reinstated without any dispute in the order of thy rank. But, inasmuch as again after no great lapse of time, thou camest to the city of Rome complaining of some improper proceedings among you concerning the alienation of sacred vessels, and as, while we had persons with us here who might have replied to thy objections, Natalis, thy bishop, departed this life, we have judged it necessary to confirm further by this present letter those same mandates, both our predecessor's and our own, which (as has been said) we sent not long ago for thy acquittal. Wherefore, acquitting thee fully of all the charges brought against thee, we will that thou continue without any dispute in the rank of thy order, so that the question raised by the aforesaid man may not on any pretext prejudice thee in the least degree. Moreover, as to the heads of thy complaint, we have straitly charged Antoninus, subdeacon and rector in your parts of the patrimony of holy Church over which, by God's providence, we preside, that, if he should find ecclesiastical persons implicated in them, he decide these cases with the utmost strictness and authority. But, in case of the business being with such persons as the vigour of ecclesiastical jurisdiction cannot reach, he is to deposit the proofs under each particular head among the public acts, and transmit them to us without any delay, that, being accurately informed, we may know how, with the help of Christ, to dispose of the matter.
He who administers faithfully what is other's shews how well he dispenses what is his own. And this your Glory makes manifest to us in that, intent on your annual offering, you have rendered the blessed Peter, Prince ofthe apostles, the fruits of his revenues. In paying him what is his faithfully, you have made these gifts to him your own. For indeed it becomes the glorious people of this earth who think of eternal glory so to act that in virtue of their excelling in temporal power, they may procure for themselves a reward that is not temporal. Accordingly, addressing to you the greeting which we owe, we implore Almighty God both to replenish your life with present good, and to extend it to the lofty joys of eternity. For we have received through our son Hilarus (al Hilarius) of the aforesaid revenues of our Church four hundred Gallican solidi22 . We now send you as the benediction of the blessed apostle Peter a small cross, wherein are inserted benefits from his chains23 , which for a time bound his neck: but may they loose yours from sins for ever. Moreover in its four parts round about are contained benefits from the gridiron of the blessed Laurence, whereon he was burnt, that it, whereon his body was consumed by fire for the truth's sake, may inflame your soul to the love of the Lord.
Gregory to Peter, subdeacon of Campania24 .
Our brother and fellow-bishop Paul has often requested us to allow him to return to his own church. And, having perceived this to be reasonable, we have thought it needful to accede to his petition. Consequently let thy Experience convene the clergy of the Neapolitan church, to the end that they may choose two or three of their number, and not omit to send them hither for the election of a bishop. But let them also intimate, in their communication to us, that those whom they send represent them all in this election, so that their church may have its own bishop validly ordained. For we cannot allow it to be any longer without a ruler of its own. Should they perchance try in any way to set aside thy admonition, bring to bear on them the vigour of ecclesiastical discipline. For he will be giving proof of his own perverseness, whosoever does not of his own accord assent to this proceeding. Moreover, cause to be given to the aforesaid Paul, our brother and fellow-bishop, one hundred solidi, and one little orphan boy, to be selected by himself, for his labour in behalf of the same church. Further, admonish those who are to come hither as representing all for the election of a bishop, to remember that they must bring with them all the episcopal vestments, and also as much money as they may foresee to be necessary for him who may be elected bishop to have to his own use. But lose no time in despatching those of the clergy who are selected as we have said, that, seeing that there are present here divers nobles of the city of Naples, we may treat with them concerning the election of a bishop, and take counsel together with the help of the Lord.
Certain serious matters having come to our ears which require canonical correction, we therefore charge thy Experience not to neglect to cause Januarius, our brother and fellow-bishop, together with John the notary, to appear before us with all speed, all excuses being laid aside, that in his presence what has been reported to us may be subjected to a thorough investigation. Further, if the religious women Pompeiana and Theodosia, according to their request, should wish to come hither, afford them your succour in all ways, that they may be able, through your assistance, to accomplish their desires: but especially be careful by all means to bring with you the most eloquent Isidore, as he has requested, that, the merits of his case which he is known to have against the Church of Caralis having been fully gone into, he may be able to have it legally terminated.
Furthermore, some personal misdemeanours having been reported to us of the presbyter Epiphanius, it is necessary for you to investigate everything diligently, and to make haste to bring at the same time with you the women with whom he is said to have sinned, or others whom you suppose to know anything about the matter; that so the truth may be clearly laid open to the rigour of ecclesiastical discipline.
Now you will take care to accomplish all these things so efficiently as to lay yourself open to no blame for negligence, knowing that it will be entirely at your peril if this our order should in any way be slackly executed.
Epistle XXXVIII. To Libertinus, Praefect25 .
Gregory to Libertinus, Praefect of Sicily.
From the very beginning of your administration God has willed you to go forth to vindicate His cause, and of His mercy has reserved for you this reward, with praise attending it. For it is reported that one Nasas, a most wicked Jew, has with a temerity that calls for punishment erected an altar under the name of the blessed Elias, and by sacrilegious seduction has enticed many Christians to worship there; nay, has also, it is said, acquired Christian slaves, and devoted them to his own service and profit. Whilst, then, he ought to have been most severely punished for such great crimes, the glorious Justinus26 , soothed (as has been written to us) by the charm of avarice, put off avenging the injury done to God. But let your Glory institute a strict examination into all these things, and, if it should be found manifest that such things have been done, make haste to visit them most strictly and corporally on this wicked Jew, in such sort that you may thereby both conciliate the favour of God to yourself, and shew yourself by this example, to your own reward, a model to posterity. Moreover, set at liberty, without any equivocation, according to the injunctions of the laws27 , whatever Christian slaves it shall appear that he has acquired; lest (which God forbid) the Christian religion should be polluted by being subjected to Jews. Do you therefore with all speed correct these things most strictly, that not only may we give thanks to you for this discipline, but also bear testimony to your goodness in case of need.
A man may look without alarm to the tribunal of the eternal Judge, if only, conscious of his own guilt, he strives to pacify Him by befitting penitence. Now that thou hadst a concubine we find to be manifestly true, with regard to whom also an adverse suspicion has arisen in the minds of some. But, since in doubtful cases judgment ought not to be absolute, we have chosen to leave the matter to thine own conscience. If, then, after being constituted in sacred orders thou rememberest having been defiled by carnal intercourse, thou must resign the dignity of priesthood, nor presume by any means to approach its ministration, knowing that thou wilt administer it to the peril of thy soul, and without doubt have to render an account to our God, if, being conscious of this crime, thou shouldest desire to continue in the order wherein thou art, concealing the truth. Wherefore we again exhort thee that, if thou knowest thyself to have been deceived by the craft of the ancient foe, thou hasten to overcome him, while thou mayest, by adequate penitence, lest, as we hope may not be, thou be reckoned as partner with him in the day of judgment. If, however, thou art not conscious of this guilt, thou must needs continue in the order wherein thou art.
Furthermore, since, against due order, thou didst doom a woman on the Church-roll28 to be cruelly beaten with cudgels, although we do not think that she died eight months after wards, yet. because thou hast had no regard to thy order, we therefore sentence thee to abstain for two months from the administration of mass. Meanwhile, being suspended from thy office, it will become thee to weep for what thou hast done. For it is very right that, now that the examples of praiseworthy priests do not provoke thee to the tranquil rectitude befitting thy position, at any rate the medicine of correction should compel thee.
From the reports sent to us by thy Fraternity it appears that Andrew, our brother and fellow-bishop, undoubtedly had a concubine. But, since it is uncertain whether he has touched her while constituted in sacred orders, it is necessary that thou shouldest warn him with earnest exhortation that, if he knows himself to have had intercourse with her while in sacred orders, he should retire from the office which he holds, and minister no longer. And if, though conscious of having done this thing, he should conceal his sin and presume to minister, let him know that peril hangs over his soul in the divine judgment.
As to the woman on the Church-roll, whom he caused to be chastised with cudgels, though we do not believe that she died eight months afterwards, yet, since he caused her to be thus punished inconsistently with his sacred calling, do thou suspend him for two months from the solemnization of mass, that at any rate this disgrace may teach him how to behave himself in future.
Moreover, the clergy of the aforesaid bishop, in a petition presented to us, which is subjoined below, allege that they endure much ill-treatment from him. Wherefore let thy Fraternity take care to ascertain all these things accurately, and so to correct and arrange them in a reasonable way that they may be under no necessity hereafter of resorting hither on account of this matter. In the month of July, indiction 11.
Epistle XLVII. To the Clergy of the Church of Salona29 .
Gregory to the clergy, &c.
Having read your letter, beloved, we learn that you have made choice of Honoratus your archdeacon; and know ye that it is altogether pleasing to us that you have chosen for the order of episcopacy a man tried of old and of grave manner of life. We too join with you in approbation of his personal character, inasmuch as it is already known to us; and it has been our own wish also that he should be ordained as your priest according to your desire. For which cause we exhort you to persist in his election without any ambiguity. Nor ought any circumstances to disincline you from his person, since, as this laudable choice is now approved, so it will impose both aburden on your souls and a stain of unfaithfulness on your reputation, if any one should seduce you (which God forbid) to turn aside your love from him. But as to those who are not at one with you in this desired election, we have caused them to be admonished by Antoninus our subdeacon, that they may be able to agree with you. To him also we have already given our injunctions as to what ought to be done with respect to the person of our brother and fellow-bishop Malchus30 . But, inasmuch as we have ourselves also written to him, we believe that he will without delay keep himself quiet from disquieting you. If by any chance he should in any way whatever neglect to obey, his contumacy will in every way be mulcted with the utmost rigour of canonical punishment.
Epistle XLVIII. To Columbus, Bishop31 .
Gregory to Columbus, &c.
Even before receiving thy Fraternity's letter, I knew thee from the report of thy deserved reputation to be a good servant of God. And now that I have received it, I understand more fully that what fame had already spread abroad was well founded; and I greatly rejoice in thy deserts, in that thou exhibitest manners and deeds that testify to a praiseworthy life. Since, then, I feel that these things are conferred on thee by the Supernal Majesty, I congratulate thee; and I bless God our Creditor, who denies not the gifts of His mercy to His humble servants. On this account I declare it to be true that thy Fraternity so kindles me with the flame of charity to love thee, and my spirit is so united to thee, that I both desire to see thee and am also with thee in heart, though absent. Thou perceivest in thine own thoughts that this is so. For in truth unity of minds in charity has power to unite more than bodily presence can. Furthermore, that with thy whole mind, thy whole heart, thy whole soul, thou cleavest and art devoted to the Apostolic See I am now assured, as, indeed before thy letter had borne testimony to the fact, I plainly knew. Wherefore, first addressing thee with the greeting of charity which is due, I exhort thee not to cease to be mindful of what thou hast promised to the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles.
Wherefore be thou urgent with the primate of thy synod32 , that boys be in no wise admitted to sacred orders, lest they fall by so much the more dangerously as they hasten more speedily to mount to higher places. Let there be no venality in ordination: let not the influence or entreaty of any persons obtain anything in contravention of these our prohibitions. For without doubt God is offendedif any one is promoted to sacred orders, not for merit, but by favour (which God forbid) or venality.
If, then, thou art aware of these things being done, keep not silence, but oppose them urgently; since, if perchance thou shouldest neglect them, or conceal them when known of, the chain of sin will bind not those alone who do such things, but no light guilt before God will touch thee also in the matter. If, then, anything of the kind is committed, it ought to be restrained by canonical punishment, lest so great a wickedness, with sin in others, acquire strength from connivance.
I have, therefore, the sooner given leave of departure to the bearer of these presents, Victorinus, thy Fraternity's deacon, whom I think to be thy imitator, and whom I have received with charity; and by him I have transmitted to thee for a blessing keys of the blessed Peter, in which something from his chains is included.
Lastly, with regard to the unity and peace of the council which, under God, you are taking measures to assemble, let thy Charity rejoice my mind by informing me of everything particularly.
Gregory to Adeodatus, Primate bishop of the province of Numidia.
After what manner the charity of affection has bound your Fraternity to usward the tenour of your letters has evidently shewn; and they bare afforded us great matter of rejoicing, in that we have found them to be composed in a spirit of loving-kindness, and to glow with affection well-pleasing to God. As, then, we have briefly said, the epistle which you have addressed to us has so laid open your mind that its author might be supposed not to be absent from us at all. For, indeed, persons are not to be accounted absent whose feelings are not at variance with mutual charity. And though, as you say in your letter, neither your strength nor your age allow you to come to us, that we might be gratified by the bodily presence of your Fraternity, yet, seeing that we are one with you and you with us in feeling, we are entirely present one to the other, while we see each other in a mind made one through love. Furthermore, greeting your Fraternity with the suitable affection of charity, we exhort you that you study with all your heart so to acquit yourself wisely in the office of primacy which under God you hold, that it may both profit your soul to have attained to this rank, and that you may stand out as a good example for imitation to others in the future.
Be, then, especially careful with regard to ordination; and by no means admit any to aspire to sacred orders but such as are somewhat advanced in age and pure in deeds, lest perchance they cease for ever to be what they immaturely haste to be. For you must first examine the life and manners of those who are to be placed in any sacred order; and, that you may be able to admit such as are worthy to this office, let not the influence or the entreaty of any persons whatever inveigle you. But before all things it behoves you to be cautious that no venality may have place in ordination, lest (which God forbid) the greater danger hang over both the ordained and the ordainers. If ever, then, there is need for such things to be taken in hand, call grave and experienced men into your counsels, and consider the matter in common deliberation with them. And before all others it is fit that you should in all cases call in Columbus our brother and fellow-bishop. For we believe that, if you shall have done what is to be done with his advice, no one will find anything in any way to find fault with in you; and know ye that it will be as acceptable to us as if it had been done with our advice; inasmuch as his life and manners have in all respects so approved themselves to us that it is clearly apparent to all that what is done with his consent will be darkened by no blot of faultiness. But the bearer of these presents, Victorians, deacon of our fellow-bishop above-named, has been such a herald of your merits as exceedingly to refresh our spirits With regard to your behaviour. And we pray the Almighty Lord to cause the good that has been reported of you to shine forth more fully in operation as well-pleasing to Him. When, therefore, the council which you are taking measures to assemble has, with the succor of God, been brought to a conclusion, rejoice us by telling of its unity and concord, and give us information on all points,
Gregory to Maximinianus, Bishop of Syracuse33 .
My brethren who live with me familiarly urge me by all means to write something briefly about the miracles of the Fathers done in Italy, which we have heard of. With this view I am in great need of the assistance of your Charity, to mention to me shortly what comes back to your memory, and what you happen to have known. For I remember your telling me something, which I have now forgotten, about the Lord34 Abbot Nonnosus, who was with the Lord35 Anastasius of Pentomi36 . And therefore this, or anything else, I beg thee to communicate to me by letter without delay, if indeed thou art not intending to come to me thyself shortly.
Gregory to John, Bishop of Constantinople37 .
Though consideration of the case moves me, yet charity also impels me to write, since I have written once and again to my most holy brother the Lord John, but have received no letter from him. For some one else, a secular person, addressed me under his name; seeing that, if those were really his letters, I have not been vigilant, having believed of him something far different from what I have found. For I had written about the case of the most reverend presbyter John, and about the questions of the monks of Isauria, one of whom, being in priest's orders, has been beaten with clubs in your church; and thy most holy Fraternity (as appears from the signature of the letter) has written back to me professing ignorance of what I wrote about. At this reply I was exceedingly astonished, revolving within myself in silence, if he speaks the truth, what can be worse than that such things should be done against the servants of God, and even he who was close at hand should not know? For what. excuse can a shepherd have if the wolf devours the sheep and the shepherd knows it not? But, if your Holiness knew both what I referred to in my letter and what had been done, whether against John the presbyter or against Athanasius, monk of Isauria and presbyter, and wrote to me, I know not; what can I reply to this, since the Truth says through His Scripture, The mouth that lieth slayeth the soul (Wisd. i. 11)? I demand of thee, most holy brother; has that so great abstinence of thine come to this, that by denial thou wouldest hide from thy brother what thou knewest to have been done? Had it not been better that flesh should go into that mouth for food, than that falsehood should come out of it for deceiving a neighbour; especially when the Truth says, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man (Matth. xv. 11)? But far be it from me to believe anything of the kind of your most holy heart. Those letters were headed with your name, but I do not think they were yours. I had written to the most blessed Lord John; but I believe that that familiar of yours has replied,-that youngster, who as yet has learnt nothing about God; who knows not the bowels of charity; who in his wicked doings is accused by all; who daily lays snares against the deaths of divers people by means of concealed wills; who neither fears God nor regards men. Believe me, most holy brother, you must first correct this man, that from the example of those who are near to you those who are not near may be better amended. Do not give ear to his tongue: he ought to be directed after the counsel of your holiness; not your holiness swayed by his words. For, if you listen to him, I know that you cannot have peace with your brethren. For I, as my conscience bears me witness, wish to quarrel with no man; and with all my power I avoid it. And, though I desire exceedingly to be at peace with all mankind, it is especially so with you, whom I exceedingly love, if only you are yourself the person whom I knew. For, if you do not observe the canous, and wish to tear to pieces the statutes of the Fathers, I know not who you are. So act, then, most holy and most dear brother, that we may mutually recognize each other, lest, if the ancient foe should move us two to take offence, he slay many through his most atrocious victory. As for me, to shew that I seek to do nothing in a haughty spirit, if that youngster of whom I have before spoken did not hold the topmost place of evil doing with thy Fraternity, I could meanwhile have passed over in silence what is ready to my hand from the canons, and have sent back to thee with confidence the persons who came to me at the first, knowing that your Holiness would receive them with charity. But even now I say; Either receive these same persons, restoring them to their orders, and leaving them in quiet; or, if perchance thou art unwilling to do this, observe in their case the statutes of the Fathers and the definitions of the canons, putting aside all altercation with me. But, if thou shouldest do neither, we indeed are unwilling to bring on a quarrel, but still do not shun one if it comes from your side. Moreover your Fraternity knows well what the canons say about bishops who desire to inspire fear by blows. For we have been made shepherds, not persecutors. And the excellent preacher says, Argue, beseech, rebuke, with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. iv. 2). But new and unheard of is this preaching, which exacts faith by blows. But I need not speak at length by letter about these things, since I have sent my most beloved son, the deacon Sabinianus, as my representative in ecclesiastical matters, to the threshold of our lords; and he will speak with you about everything more particularly. Unless you are disposed to wrangle with us, you will find him prepared for all that is just. Him I commend to your Blessedness, that he at least may find that Lord John whom I knew in the royal city.
Gregory to John, Bishop of Ravenna38 .
It is not long since certain things had been told us about thy Fraternity concerning which we remember having declared ourselves in full, when Castorius, notary of the holy church over which we preside, went into your parts. For it had come to our ears that some things were being done in your church contrary to custom and to the way of humility, which alone, as you well know, exalts the priestly office. Now, if your Wisdom had received our admonitions kindly or with episcopal seriousness, you ought not to have been incensed by them, but have corrected these same things with thanks to us. For it is contrary to ecclesiastical use, if even unjust correction (the which be far from us) is not most patiently borne.
But your Fraternity has been too much moved; and when, in the swelling of thy heart, as if to justify thyself, thou wrotest that thou didst not use the pallium except after the sons of the Church had been dismissed from the sacristy39 , and at the time of mass, and in solemn litanies, thou madest acknowledgment in words with most manifest truth of having usurped something contrary to the usage of the Church in general. For how can it be that at a time of ashes and sackcloth, through the streets among the noises of the people thou couldest do lawfully what thou hast disclaimed the doing of as being unlawful in the assembly of the poor and nobles, and in the sacristy of the Church? Yet this, dearest brother, is not, we think, unknown to thee; that it has hardly ever been heard of any metropolitan in any parts of the world that he has claimed to himself the use of the pallium except at the time of mass. And that you knew well this custom of the Church in general you have shewn most plainly by your epistles, in which you have sent to us appended the precept of our predecessor John of blessed memory, to the effect that all the customs conceded in the way of privilege to you and your church by our predecessors should be retained. You acknowledge, then, that the custom of the Church in general is different, seeing that you claim the right of doing what you do on the score of privilege. Thus, as we think, we can have no remaining doubtfulness in this matter. For either the usage of all metropolitans should be observed also by thy Fraternity, or, if thou sayest that something has been specially conceded to thy church, it is for your side to shew the precept of former pontiffs of the Roman City wherein these things have been conceded to the Church of Ravenna. But, if this is not shewn, it remains, seeing that you establish your claim to do such things on the score neither of general custom nor of privilege, that you prove yourself to have usurped in what you have done. And what shall we say to the future judge, most beloved brother, if we defend the use of that heavy yoke and chain on our neck with a view, I do not say to ecclesiastical, but to a certain secular dignity; judging ourselves to be lowered if we are without so great a weight even for a short space of time? We desire to be adorned with the pallium, being, it may be, unadorned in character; whereas nothing shines more splendidly on a bishop's neck than humility.
It is therefore the duty of thy Fraternity, if thou art firmly determined to defend thy honours with any kind of arguments, either to follow the use of the generality without written authority, or to defend thyself under privileges shewn in writing. Or, if lastly thou doest neither, we will not have thee set an example of presumption of this sort to other metropolitans. But, lest thou shouldest perchance think that we, in thus writing to you, have neglected what belongs to fraternal charity, know ye that careful search has been made in our archives for the privileges of thy Church. And indeed some things havebeen found, sufficient to obviate entirely theaims of thy Fraternity, but nothing to support the contentions of your Church on the points in question. For even concerning the very custom of thy Church which thou allegest against us, which custom we wrote before should be proved on your side, we would have you know that we have already taken thought sufficiently, having questioned our sons, Peter the deacon and Gaudiosus the primicerius40 , and also Michael the guardian (defensorem) of our see, or others who on various commissions have been sent by our predecessors to Ravenna; and they have most positively denied that thou hast done these things in their presence. It is therefore apparent that what was done in secret must have been an unlawful usurpation. Hence what has been latently introduced can have no firm ground to justify its continuance. What things, then, thou or thy predecessors have presumed to do superfluously do thou, having regard to charity, and with brotherly kindness, study to correct. To no degree attempt-I do not say of thine own accord, but after the fashion set by others, even thy predecessors,-to deviate from the rule of humility. For, to sum up shortly what I have said above, I admonish thee to this effect; that unless thou canst shew that this has been allowed thee by my predecessors in the way of privilege, thou presume not any more to use the pallium in the streets, lest thou come not to have even for mass what thou audaciously usurpest even in the streets. But as to thy sitting in the sacristy, and receiving the sons of the Church with the pallium on (which thing thy Fraternity has both done and disclaimed), we now for the present make no complaint; since, following the decision of synods, we refuse to punish minor faults, which are denied. Yet we know this to have been done once and again, and we prohibit its being done any more. But let thy Fraternity take careful heed, lest presumption which in its commencement is pardoned be more severely visited if it proceeds further.
Furthermore, you have complained that certain of the sacerdotal order in the city of Ravenna are involved in serious criminal charges. Their case we desire thee either to examine on the spot, or to send them hither (unless, indeed, difficulty of proof owing to the distance of the places stands in the way of this), that the case may be examined here But if, relying on the patronage of great people, which we do not believe, they should scorn to submit to thy judgment or to come to us, and should refuse contumaciously to answer to the charges made against them, we desire that after thy second and third admonition, thou interdict them from the ministry of the sacred office, and report to us in writing of their contumacy, that we may deliberate how thou oughtest to make a thorough enquiry into their doings. and correct them according to canonical definitions. Let, therefore, thy Fraternity know tint we are most fully absolved from responsibility in this case, seeing that we have committed to you a thorough investigation of the matter; and that, if all their sins should pass unpunished, the whole weight of this enquiry redounds to the peril of thy soul. And know, beloved, that thou wilt have no excuse at the future judgment, if thou dost not correct the excesses of thy clergy with the utmost severity of canonical strictness, and if thou allowest any against whom such excesses shall have been proved to profane sacred orders any longer.
Further, what you have written in defence of the use of napkins by your clergy is strenuously opposed by our own clergy, who say that this has never been granted to any other Church whatever, and that neither have the clergy of Ravenna, either there or in the Roman city, presumed, to their knowledge, in any such way, nor, if it has been attemptedin the way of furtive usurpation, does it form a precedent. But, even though there had been such presumption in any church whatever, they assert that it ought to be corrected, not being by grant of the Roman pontiff, but merely a surreptitious presumption. But we, to save the honour of thy Fraternity, though against the wish of our aforesaid clergy, still allow the use of napkins to your first deacons (whose former use of them has been testified to us by some), but only when in attendance upon thee. The use of them, at any other time, or by any other persons, we most strictly prohibit.
From John, Bishop of Ravenna to Pope Gregory41 .
My most reverend fellow-servant Castorius, notary of your Apostolical See, has delivered to me my Lord's epistle, compounded of honey and of venom; which has yet so infixed its stings as still to leave place for healing appliances. For my Lord, while he reproves pride and speaks of divine judgment following it, in a certain way professes himself with reason to be mild and placid.
You have alleged, then, that I, ambitious of novelty, have usurped the use of the pallium beyond what had been indulged to my predecessors. This let not the conscience of my own Lord, which is governed by the divine right hand, in any way allow itself to believe; nor let him open his most sacred ears to the uncertainty of common report. First, because I, though a sinner, still know how grave a thing it is to transgress the limits assigned to us by the Fathers, and that all elation leads to nothing but a fall. For, if our ancestors did not tolerate pride in kings, how much more is it not to be endured in priests! Then, I remember how I was nourished in the lap and in the bosom of your most holy Roman Church, and therein by the aid of God advanced. And how should I be so daring as to presume to oppose that most holy see, which transmits its laws to the universal Church, for maintaining whose authority, as God knows, I have seriously excited the ill-will of many enemies against myself? But let not my most blessed Lord suppose that I have attempted anything contrary to ancient custom, as is attested by many and nearly all the citizens of this city, and as the above-written most reverend notary, even though he had taken no part in the proceedings, might have testified, inasmuch as it was not till the sons of the Church were descending from the sacristy42 , and the deacons were coming in for proceeding immediately [to the altar] that the first deacon has been accustomed to invest the bishop of the Church of Ravenna with the pallium, which he has also been accustomed in like manner to use in solemn litanies.
Wherefore let no one endeavour to insinuate anything against me to my Lord, since if any one wishes to do so, he cannot prove that any novelty has been introduced by me. For in what manner I have obeyed your commands and served your interests when cause required, may Almighty God make manifest to your most sincere heart: and I attribute it to my sins that after so many labours and difficulties which I endure within and without I should deserve to experience such a change. But again this among other things consoles me, that most holy fathers sometimes chastise their sons for the purpose only of advancing them the more, and that, after this devotion and satisfaction, you will not only conserve to the holy Church of Ravenna her ancient privileges, but even confer greater ones in your own times.
For with respect to the napkins, the useof which by my presbyters and deacons your Apostleship alleges to be a presumption, I confess in truth that it irks me to say anything on the subject, since the truth by itself, which alone prevails with my Lord, is sufficient. For this being allowed to the smaller churches constituted around the city, the apostleship of my Lord will also be able in all ways to find, if he deigns to enquire of the venerable clergy of his own first Apostolical See, that as often as priests or levites of the Church of Ravenna have come to Rome for the ordination of bishops or for business, they all have proceeded43 with napkins before the eyes of your most holy predecessors without any blame. Wherefore also at the time when I, sinner as I am, was ordained there by your predecessor, all mypresbyters and deacons used them while proceeding44 in attendance on the Lord pope. Andsince our God in His providence has placedall things in your hand and most pure conscience, I adjure you by the very Apostolical See, which you formerly adorned by your character, and now govern with due dignity, that you in no respect diminish on account of my deservings the privileges of the Church of Ravenna, which is intimately yours; but, even according to the voice of prophecy, let it be laid upon me and upon my father's house, according to its deserving. I have, therefore, for your greater satisfaction, subjoined all the privileges which have been indulged by your predecessors to the holy Church of Ravenna, though none the less finding assurance in your venerable archives in reference to the times of the consecration of my predecessors. But now whatever, after ascertaining the truth, you may command to be done, is in God's power and yours; since I, desiring to obey the commands of my Lord's Apostleship, have taken care, notwithstanding ancient custom, to abstain till I receive further orders.
Some time ago we ordered that the baptistery45 should be removed from the monastery of Saint Andrew, which is above Mascalae, because of inconvenience to the monks, and that an altar should be erected in the place where the fonts now are. But the carrying out of this order has been put off so far. We therefore admonish thy Fraternity that thou interpose no further delay after receiving this our letter, but that the fonts themselves be filled up46 , and an altar at once erected there for celebration of the sacred mysteries; to the end that the aforesaid monks may be at liberty to celebrate more securely the work of God, and that our mind be not provoked against thy Fraternity for negligence.
Epistle LX. To Italica, Patrician47 .
Gregory to Italica, &c.
We have received your letter, which is full of sweetness, and rejoice to hear that your Excellency is well. Such is the sincerity of our own mind with regard to it that paternal affection does not allow us to suspect any latent ill-feeling concealed under its calmness. But may Almighty God bring it to pass, that, as we think what is good of you, so your mind may respond with good towards us, and that you may exhibit in your deeds the sweetness which you express in words. For the most glorious health and beauty on the surface of the body profit nothing if there is a hidden sore within. And that discord is the more to be guarded against to which exterior peace affords a bodyguard. But as to what your Excellency in your aforesaid epistle takes pains to recall to our recollection, remember that you have been told in writing that we would not settle anything with you concerning the causes of the poor so as to cause offence, or with public clamour. We remember writing to you to this effect, and also know, God helping us how to restrain ourselves with ecclesiastical moderation from the wrangling of suits at law, and, according to that apostolical sentence, to endure joyfully the spoiling of our goods. But this we suppose you to know; that our silence and patience will not be to the prejudice of future pontiffs after me in the affairs of the poor. Wherefore we, in fulfilment of our aforesaid promise, have already determined to keep silence on these questions; nor do we desire to mix ourselves personally in these transactions, wherein we feel that too little kindness is being shewn. But, lest you should hence imagine, glorious daughter, that we still altogether renounce what pertains to concord, we have given directions to our son, Cyprianus the deacon, who is going to Sicily, that, if you arrange about these matters in a salutary way, and without sin to your soul, he should settle them with you by our authority, and that we should be no further vexed by the business which may thus be brought to a conclusion amicably. Now may Almighty God, who well knows how to turn to possibility things altogether impossible, may He inspire you both to arrange your affairs with a view to peace, and, for the good of your soul, to consult the benefit of the poor of this Church in matters which concern them.
Epistle LXV. To Mauricius Augustus48 .
Gregory to Mauricius, &c.
He is guilty before Almighty God who is not pure of offence towards our most serene lords in all he does and says. I, however, unworthy servant of your Piety, speak in this my representation neither as a bishop, nor as your servant in fight of the republic, but as of private right, since, most serene Lord, you have been mine since the time when you were not yet Lord of all.
On the arrival here of the most illustrious Longinus, the equerry (stratore), I received the law of my lords, to which, being at the time worn out by bodily sickness, I was unable to make any reply. In it the piety of my lords has ordained that it shall not be lawful for any one who is engaged in any public administration to enter on an ecclesiastical office. And this I greatly commended, knowing by most evident proof that one who is in haste to desert a secular condition and enter on an ecclesiastical office is not wishing to relinquish secular affairs, but to change them. But, at its being said in the same law that it should not be lawful for him to become a monk, I was altogether surprised, seeing that his accounts can be rendered through a monastery, and it can be arranged for his debts also to be recovered from the place into which he is received. For with whatever devout intention a person may have wished to become a monk, he should first restore what he has wrongly gotten, and take thought for his soul all the more truly as he is the more disencumbered. It is added in the same law that no one who has been marked on the hand49 may become a monk. This ordinance, I confess to my lords, has alarmed me greatly, since by it the way to heaven is dosed against many, and what has been lawful until now is made unlawful. For there are many who are able to live a religious life even in a secular condition: but there are very many who cannot in any wise be saved with God unless they give up all things. But what am I, in speaking thus to my lords, but dust and a worm? Yet still, feeling that this ordinance makes against God, who is the Author of all, I cannot keep silence to my lords. For power over all men has been given from heaven to the piety of my lords to this end, that they who aspire to what is good may be helped, and that the way to heaven may be more widely open, so that an earthly kingdom may wait upon the heavenly kingdom. And lo, it is said in plain words that one who has once been marked to serve as an earthly soldier may not, unless he has either completed his service or been rejected for weakness of body, serve as the soldier of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To this, behold, Christ through me the last of His servants and of yours will answer, saying; From a notary I made thee a Count of the bodyguard; from Count of the bodyguard I made thee a Caesar; from a Caesar I made thee Emperor; and not only so, but also a father of emperors. I have committed my priests into thy hand; and dost thou withdraw thy soldiers from my service? Answer thy servant, most pious Lord, I beseech thee; what wilt thou answer to thy Lord when He comes and thus speaks?
But peradventure it is believed that no one among them turns monk with a pure motive. I, your unworthy servant, know how many soldiers who have become monks in my own days have done miracles, have wrought signs and mighty deeds. But by this law it is forbidden that even one of such as these should become a monk.
Let my Lord enquire, I beg, what former emperor ever enacted such a law, and consider more thoroughly whether it ought to have been enacted. And indeed it is a very serious consideration, that now at this time any are forbidden to leave the world; a time when the end of the world is drawing nigh. For lo! there will be no delay: the heavens on fire, the earth on fire, the elements blazing, with angels and archangels, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, the tremendous Judge will appear. Should He remit all sins, and say only that this law has been promulgate against Himself, what excuse, pray, will there be? Wherefore by the same tremendous Judge I beseech you, that all those tears, all those prayers, all those fasts, all those alms of my Lord, may not on any ground lose their lustre before the eyes of Almighty God: but let your Piety, either by interpretation or alteration, modify the force of this law, since the army of my lords against their enemies increases the more when the army of God has been increased for prayer.
I indeed, being subject to your command, have caused this law to be transmitted through various parts of the world; and, inasmuch as the law itself is by no means agreeable to Almighty God, lo, I have by this my representation declared this to my most serene lords. On both sides, then, I have discharged my duty, having beth yielded obedience to the Emperor, and not kept silence as to what I feel in behalf of God.
What benefits I enjoy from Almighty God and my most serene Lord the Emperor my tongue cannot fully express. For these benefits what return is it in me to make, but to love their footsteps sincerely? But, on account of my sins, by whose suggestion or counsel I know not, in the past year he has promulgate such a law in his republic that whoso loves him sincerely must lament exceedingly. I could not reply to this law at the time, being sick. But I have just now offered some suggestions to my Lord. For he enjoins that it shall belawful for no one to become a monk who has been engaged in any public employment, for no one who is a paymaster50 , or who has been marked in the hand, or enrolled among the soldiers, unless perchance his military service has been completed. This law, as those say who are acquainted with old laws, Julian was the first to promulge, of whom we all know how opposed he was to God. Now if our most serene Lord has done this thing because perhaps many soldiers were becoming monks, and the army was decreasing, was it by the valour of soldiers that Almighty God subjugated to him the empire of the Persians? Was it not only that his tears were heard, and that God, by an order which he knew not of, subdued to his empire the empire of the Persians?
Now it seems to me exceedingly hard that he should debar his soldiers from the service of Him who both gave him all and granted w him to rule not only over soldiers but even over priests. If his purpose is to save pro- petty from being lost, why might not those same monasteries into which soldiers have been received pay their debts, retaining the men only for monastic profession? Since these things grieve me much, I have represented the matter to my Lord. But let your Glory take a favourable opportunity of offering him my representation privately. For I am unwilling that it should be given publicly by my representative (responsalis), seeing that you who serve him familiarly can speak more freely and openly of what is for the good of his soul, since he is occupied with many things, and it is not easy to find his mind free from greater cares. Do thou, then, glorious son, speak for Christ. If thou art heard, it will be to the profit of the soul of thy aforesaid Lord and of thine own. But if thou art not heard, thou hast profited thine own soul only.
Epistle LXVII. To Domitian, Metropolitan51 .
Gregory to Domitian, &c.
On receiving the letters of your most sweet Blessedness I greatly rejoiced, since they spoke much to me of sacred Scripture. And, finding in them the dainties that I love, I greedily devoured them. Therein also were many things intermingled about external and necessary affairs. And you have acted as though preparing a banquet for the mind so that the offered dainties might please the more from their diversity. And if indeed external affairs, like inferior and ordinary kinds of food, are less savoury, yet they have been treated by you so skilfully as to be taken gladly, since even contemptible kinds of food are usually made sweet by the sauce of one who cooks well. Now, while the truth of the History is kept to, what I had said some time ago about its divine meaning ought not to be rejected. For, although, since you will have it so, its meaning may not suit my case, yet, from its very context, what was said as being drawn from it may be held without hesitation. For her violator (i.e. Dinah's) is called the prince of the country (Genes. xxxiv. 2), by whom the devil is plainly denoted, seeing that our Redeemer says, Now shall the prince of this world be cast out (John xii. 31). And he also seeks her for his wife, because the evil spirit hastens to possess lawfully the soul which he has first corrupted by hidden seduction. Wherefore the sons of Jacob, being very wroth, take their swords against the whole house of Sichem and his country (Genes. xxxiv. 25), because by all who have zeal those also are to be attacked who become abettors of the evil spirit. And they first enjoin on them circumcision, and afterwards, while they are sore, slay them. For severe teachers, if they know not how to moderate their zeal, though cutting off the bias of corruption by preaching, nevertheless, when delinquents already mourn for the evil they had done, are frequently still savage in roughness of discipline, and harder than they should be. For those who had already cut off their foreskins ought not to have died, since such as lament the sin of lechery, and turn the pleasure of the flesh into sorrow, ought not to experience from their teachers roughness of discipline, lest the Redeemer of the human race be Himself loved less, if in His behalf the soul is afflicted more than it should be. Hence also to these his sons Jacob says, Ye have troubled me, and made me odious to the Canaanites (Ibid. v. 30). For, when teachers still cruelly attack what the delinquents already mourn for, the weak mind's very love for its Redeemer grows cold, because it feels itself to be afflicted in that wherein of itself it does not spare itself.
So much therefore I would say in order to shew that the sense which I set forth is not improbable in connexion with the context. But what has been inferred from the same passage by your Holiness for my comfort I gladly accept, since in the understanding of sacred Scripture whatever is not opposed to a sound faith ought not to be rejected. For, even as from the same gold some make necklaces, some rings, and some bracelets, for ornament, so from the same knowledge of sacred Scripture different expositors, through innumerable ways of understanding it, compose as it were various ornaments, which nevertheless all serve for the adornment of the heavenly bride. Further, I rejoice exceedingly that your most sweet Blessedness, even though occupied with secular affairs, still brings back its genius vigilantly to the understanding of Holy Writ. For so indeed it is needful that, if the former cannot be altogether avoided, the latter should not be altogether put aside. But I beseech you by Almighty God, stretch out the hand of prayer to me who am labouring in so great billows of tribulation, that by your intercession I may be lifted up to the heights, who am pressed down to the depths by the weight of my sins. Moreover, though I grieve that the Emperor of the Persians has not been converted, yet I altogether rejoice for that you have preached to him the Christian faith; since, though he has not been counted worthy to come to the light, yet your Holiness will have the reward of your preaching. For the Ethiopian, too, goes black into the bath, and comes out black; but still the keeper of the bath receives his pay.
Further, of Mauricius you say well, that from the shadow I may know the statue; that is, that in small things I may perpend greater things. In this matter, however, we trust him, since oaths and hostages bind his soul to us.