Early Church Fathers
64 This letter, being in reply to one from the bishops addressed who are spoken of as being at the time schismatics, cannot have been meant for the universal episcopate. They were probably those of Istria or elsewhere, who were out of communion with Rome because of their refusal to accept the condemnation of the "Three Chapters" by the fifth Council. See I. 16, note 3: IV. 1, 2, 3, 4, 38, 39.
65 I.e. Theodorus of Mopsuestia, whose person, and not his writings only, was anathematized in the fifth Council. The sentence was; "Proedicta tria capitula anathematizamus, id est, Theodorum Mopsuestenum cum nefandis ejus scriptis, et quoe impie Theodoritus conscripsit, et impiam epistolam quoe dicitur Iboe, et defensores eorum."
66 Vigilius, having gone to Constantinople with pope Agapetus, who died there, was selected by the Empress Theodora as his successor, and sent back to Italy with an order from her to Belisarius to bring about his election (Liberatus, Breviar. c. 22). Gregory seems to have been unaware of the fact stated by Liberatus, namely that Vigillius had come to a secret understanding with the Empress that he would support the Monophysite party and disallow the Council of Chalcedon, as there is good evidence that he did after his accession. It is true that he afterwards declared for orthodoxy, and condemned all abettors of the Eutychian heresy. But this appears to have been not tilla.d.450, in reply to a letter received from the Emperor Justinian and therefore subsequent to the occupation of Rome by the Gothic King Theodatus, which was in 536, and to its siege by Vitiges, who retired in 538. Thus what Gregory goes on to say about Rome having been attacked and captured by enemies after the condemnation of heresy by Vigilius must be due to serious ignorance of the facts of the case. Nor does he appear to have known - at any rate he does not intimate - that the condemnation of the Three Chapters, pressed upon the fifth Council by the Emperor Justinian, had been in spite of the opposition of Vigilius, though it is true that this sorry pope did afterwards assent to it.
67 'I'he Monophysites - or some of them - had come to be so called, as being without a head, after their leader. Peter Mongus, had accepted the See of Alexandria on the doctrinal basis of Zeno's Henoticon.
68 Pelagius I., who succeeded Vigilius, though he had formerly with him opposed the condemnation of the Three Chapters, upheld it after his accession to the popedom. The "book" sent by Gregory to the bishops may have been the Epistle given as Ep. VII., among those attributed to Pelagius, addressed to Helias and the bishops of Isria.
69 See I. 19, note 5, with reff.
70 Licinianus was bishop of Carthagena in Spain, a Latin ecclesiastical writer. Isidore (Lib. de illustribus Ecclesioe scriptoribus, c. 29) says of him, "In scripturis doctus, cujus quidem nonnullas epistolas legimus. De sacramento denique baptismatis unam, et ad Eutropium abbatem postea Valentioe episcopum plurimas; reliqua vero industrioe et laboris ejus ad nostram notitiam minime pervenerunt. Claruit temporibus Mauricii Augusti; occubuit Constantinopoli veneno ut ferunt, extinctus ab oemulis Sed, ut scriptum est, Justus quacunque morte proeoccupalus fuerit, anima ejus in refrigerio est." The "Book of Rules' which he had received, was Gregory's Regula Pastoralis.
71 This and the succeeding quotations from the works of the Fathers are inaccurately given, and in places hardly intelligible. Where this is so, the original passages have been followed in the translations.
72 See I. 43.
1 The Castellum, or Castrum, Lucullanum was a small island adjoining Naples. Respecting Paul , bishop of Nepe, who had been sent as visitor to the See of Naples during a vacancy, and his difficulties there, cf. II. 9, 10, 15; III. 35.
2 See preceding Epistle.
3 Probably John, abbot of the monastery of St. Lucia in Syracuse, referred to as engaged in a dispute about property in VII. 39.
4 See II. 32, note 5.
5 This tunic is referred to by John the Deacon (Vit. S. Greg. iii. 57, 59), and supposed by him to have been that of St. John the Evangelist, and identical with one of the vestments afterwards preserved under the altar of St. John in the Basilica Constantiniana at Rome, fragments of which he says were given away as relics, and possessed of miraculous virtue.
6 As to the See of Prima Justiniana, the Metropolitan jurisdiction assigned to it by the Emperor Justinian, and the vicariate jurisdiction that had been transferred to it from Thessalonica by the popes, see note on Lib. II., Ep. 22. The circumstances referred to in this and the following letter are interesting as shewing, among other things, the relations of the See of Rome to the Church in Illyricum, and the action of the Emperors with regard to it. They may be epitomized as follows. Theboe Phthioticoe was a See in the province of Thessalia, of which Larissa was the Metropolis. But, as appears from what Gregory says in Epistle VII., Theboe had been for some reason exempted from the metropolitan jurisdiction of the bishop of Larissa by pope Pelagius II. John and Cosmas, two deposed deacons of the Church of Theboe, had sent a representation to the Emperor, accusing their bishop, Adrian, of defalcations in money matters, and also of certain misdemeanours; the latter being that he had retained in office one of his deacons, Stephen, whose shameful life was notorious, and that he had ordered baptism to be refused to certain infants, who had consequently died unbaptized. The Emperor (Mauricius) referred the matter to John, bishop of Larissa, as Metropolitan of Thessalia, who, notwithstanding the exemption of Theboe from his jurisdiction by pope Pelagius II., took it up, and decided against Adrian, at any rate with respect to his alleged pecuniary defalcations. Adrian appealed against this decision to the Emperor, who thereupon deputed certain persons (not bishops) to enquire and report, and, on receiving their report, exempted Adrian from further proceedings, sending an order to that effect to the Bishop of Corinth, who was Metropolitan of the adjoining province of Achaia. Meanwhile John of Larissa had imprisoned Adrian, and elicited from him (under compulsion, it was said) an ambiguous confession of his guilt, and also obtained from the Emperor a second order committing the reinvestigation and final adjudication of the case to John, bishop of Prima Justiniana, who confirmed the sentence of John of Larissa, and deposed Adrian from his See. Adrian now at last appealed to the pope, and went himself to Rome to seek aid from Gregory, who took up the case at once and strenuously declared the past proceedings unfair, uncanonical, and void, ordered the immediate restoration of Adrian to his See, excommunicated John of Prima Justiniana, and forbade John of Larissa, under pain of excommunication, to assume hereafter any metropolitan jurisdiction over the church of Theboe. Now it is plain that, till Adrian's final appeal, no recourse was had by any of the parties concerned to the See of Rome, and that the Emperor, who alone was at first appealed to, took the matter up on his own authority without reference to Rome: nor was it till he had failed of redress from Constantinople that Adrian himself appealed to Gregory. But it is equally evident that Gregory,when appealed to, asserted his own plenary jurisdiction as matter of course and without hesitation: nor is there any evidence to shew that his assertion of authority was resisted either by the Illyrican prelates or the Emperor. It was probably a case in which the Emperor himself took little interest; and he might be glad that the pope should take it out of his hands and settle it. It was otherwise, however, in a subsequent case (though occurring not in Eastern, but in Western Illyricum), in which Gregory was at issue with the Emperor with respect to the appointment of a bishop to the See of Salona, as will be seen hereafter. See III. 47, note 2.
7 Otherwise he could not have been examined by scourging, as it appears he was. For clerics were by law exempt from the question.
8 "Relegenda tradidimus," not "relegimus;" presumably because, the Acts being drawn up in greek, Gregory was unable to read them himself.
9 The Emperor Mauricius had associated his son Theodosius, being four years of age, with himself in the empire. Hence "princibus."
10 See I. 39, note.
11 Natalis was Metropolitan of the province of Dalmatia. See note II. 18, note 3.
12 I.e. episcopal rank. Here, as below in this Epistle and elsewhere, by sacerdotes are meant bishops.
13 I.e. of Dalmatia. The case referred to in this and the preceding letter is interesting as illustrating canonical procedure against incriminated bishops. Natalis as Metropolitan, had entertained a charge against one of his suffragans and pronounced Judgment against him on his own authority. Gregory insists that he had no right to do so except in a synod of bishops. It appears that Natalis (as to whose character and relations to Gregory, see II. 18, and reff. in note), paid no regard in this instance to the pope's remonstrances, and the latter found no means of enforcing his orders. For, in a letter written five years later (a.d.597), long after the death of Natalis, we find Gregory writing, "The inhabitants of the city of Epidaurus have most urgently demanded that Florentius, who they say is their bishop, should be restored to them by us, asserting that he had been driven into exile invalidly by the mere will of the bishop Natalis." (Lib. viii. Indict. i. Ep. 11).
14 It does not Appear who this Savinus was. The Epistle refers to the condemnation of the Three Chapters by the fifth General Council. See Poleg. p. xi.