Early Church Fathers
10 See 1. 44, p. 91; also below, Ep. 36.
11 Conversam, with the usual sense of monastic profession.
12 See II. 48, note 1.
13 For subsequent proceedings with regard to this intended monastery, see IV. 15; V. 2.
14 For the meaning of this order, and its subsequent modification, see note IV. 26.
15 The word damnosa, meaning perhaps injuriously excessive.
16 On the occasion of this Epistle, see III. 47, note 2.
17 See II. 7.
18 For the canonical rule as to the fourfold division of the Church funds, cf. Gregory's letter to Augustine, XI. 64 Responsio prima.
19 See also IV. 8, and V. 2.
20 The farm Piscenas appears to have been held by the tenure called Emphyteusis, according to which the, possessor of the land (called also Emphyteuta) was not its real owner, though on condition of his cultivating it properly and paying certain fixed dues to the owner (dominus), he had a perpetual right of possession (jus in re), which passed to his heirs, and could be sold by him to others. In the latter case, however, the dominus had the option of himself buying up the possessor's right at the price offered by the proposed purchaser, and he could object to the transference of possessio to persons unable to maintain the property in good condition. In all cases of transference, other than devolution to heirs, a fiftieth part of the purchase money, or of the value of the property, was also payable to the dominus. (Article on Emphyteusis in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.) In the case before us the lord of the property seems to have refused his consent to any part of it being alienated in Mortmain to a monastery. It may be supposed that the possession of the farm Piscenas had been in Stephen the testator himself when he directed a monastery to be founded on it, and that it had passed after his death into other hands.
21 Peregrinum presbyterum; meaning apparently one not belonging to the house as a member of it, though living and maintained there.
22 See III. 47, note 2.
23 Sacerdotii ordinem, meaning here, as elsewhere, the order of episcopacy.
24 On the holding of Christian slaves by Jews, and the treatment of Jews generally, cf. Proleg. p. xxi.
25 The Barbaricini appear to have been a native tribe in Sardinia, having its own duke, Zabardas (see Ep. 24) being the duke on the island.
26 These two ecclesiastics had been sent into Sardinia to promote the conversion of the natives, which seems to have been remissly attended to, not only by the Christian lay proprietor but also by the bishops of the island. See below, Epp. 25, 26. The bishop Felix was not commissioned to supercede the ordinary episcopal jurisdiction, but to act as a missionary bishop in aid. Cf. V. 41.
27 Benedictio, here as elsewhere, means a present:-in this case, being said to be from St. Peter, containing doubtless something that had acquired sanctity from him probably, as in other cases, filings from his chains. Cf. I. 26, note 3.
28 See preceeding Epistle.
29 See above, Ep. 23.
30 As to rustici, or coloni, see l. 44, note 1.
31 Cf. IV. 23, note 8.
32 The rustici, or coloni, who cultivated the land, made their living out of it, having to pay dues in money or in kind (see I. 44). Gregory's suggestion is that such dues should be made so heavy in the case of natives who refused to be converted as to starve them into compliance. Elsewhere we find him deprecating compulsion, or any kind of persecution, for the conversion of Jews and heretics, on the ground that forced conversions were unreal. But he appears to have had no such conpunctions in the case of these illiterate pagans. This is not the only instance of religious zeal betraying him into a certain human inconsistency. Cf. IX. 65.
33 See above, IV. 9. There is some doubt as to what the practice was which Gregory had forbidden in his former epistle but now allows. In Ep IX. he had said, "Episcopi baptizatos infantes signare bis in fronte chrismate non proesumant; sed presbyteri baptizandos ungant in pectore, ut episcopi postmodum ungere debeant in fronte." There is obvious reference here to the two unctions, before and after baptism. The first, in preparation for baptism, was with simple oil, on the breast and other parts of the body, and was administered by presbyters both in the East and West: the second for confirmation after baptism, was with chrism (a mixture of oil and balsam) on the forehead, and in the Eastern Churches might be, as it still is, administered immediately after baptism by the baptizing presbyter, but in the West was usually reserved for the bishop in person. It would seem that in Sardinia the Eastern usage had been followed with regard to the presbyter signing the baptized child on the forehead with chrism immediately after baptism, but that it had been also customary for the bishop afterward to repeat the rite ("signare bis in fronte chrismate "). Such repetition Gregory, in Ep. IX.,appears to forbid in cases where the presbyter had already administered the rite; but, in the second clause of the sentence, he directs that the Western usage should thenceforth be observed: the presbyter who baptized was to anoint on the breast before the baptism; but the bishop, and he alone, on the forehead with chrism afterwards. Such being the most obvious meaning of what is said in Ep. IX. the equally obvious meaning of the concession in Ep. XXVI. would be allowance for presbyters in the absence of bishops, to confirm with chrism after baptism, according to the Eastern usage, but for the fact that the expression now used is not baptizatos, but baptizandos. Hence one opinion is that all that is here allowed to presbyters is the anointing of the forehead with chrism, as well as the breast with oil, previously to baptism; in which case of course it would not be confirmation. But it seems more likely that the intention to allow presbyters to administer confirmation in the absence of bishops, the term baptizandos being used loosely to denote candidates for baptism. The fact that it is only where bishops could not be had (ubi desunt episcopi) that the practice is allowed adds probability to this view; and also his sayinig that in his previous prohibition he had been following the ancient custom of the Roman Church, which was to reserve the signing the forehead with chrism after baptism, i.e. confirmation, to the bishop. Innocent I. (Ep. i. ad. Decent. c. iii.) lays down the rule thus; "Presbyteris, qui, seu extra episcopum seu proesente episcopo, baptizant, chrismate baptizatos ungere licet, sed quod ab episcopo fuerit consecratum; non tamen frontem ex eodem oleo signare, quod solis debetur episcopis, quum tradunt Spiritum Sanctum Paracletum." Here, we observe, the usage of the Roman Church allows the baptizing presbyter to anoint with chrism after baptism, only not therewith to sign the forehead for actual confirmation; and this is still the Roman usage. It should be observed further that in all cases, in the East as well in the West confirmation was regarded as belonging peculiarly to the Bishop's office, the chrism used having always been consecrated by him, though it might be applied by presbyters: and thus Gregory, in allowing presbyters to administer the rite in Sardinia would not regard any essential principle of Church order as being infringed. He only shews the same wise liberality as we find evidence of in other cases, allowing varieties of usage in various churches, where no important principle seemed to be involved. Thus he approves of single instead of triune immersion in baptism being practised in Spain (I. 43), and bids Augustine in England adopt according to his discretion the customs of other Churches (XI. 64). With regard to the essential form of confirmation recognized in the time of Gregory, it appears evidently from these epistles to have been unction, and not mere imposition of hands. It is also evident that it was administered, as in the East now, to infants; cf. XIII. 18, where the phrase is "ad consignandos imantes."