Early Church Fathers
Gregory to Januarius, &c.
The preacher of Almighty God, Paul the apostle, says, Rebuke not an elder (1 Tim. v. 1). But this rule of his is to be observed in cases where the fault of an eider does not draw through his example the hearts of the younger into ruin. But, when an eider sets an example to the young for their ruin, he is to be smitten with severe rebuke. For it is written, Ye are all a snare to the young (Isai. xlii. 22). And again the prophet says, The sinner being an hundred years old is accursed (Isai. lxv. 20). But so great wickedness has been reported to us of thy old age that, unless we were humanely disposed, we should smite thee with a definitive curse. For it has been told me that on the Lord's day, before celebrating the solemnities of mass, thou wentest forth to plough up the crop of the bearer of these presents, and after ploughing it up didst celebrate the solemnities of mass. Also, after the solemnities of mass thou didst not fear to root up the landmarks of that possession. What punishment ought to follow such deeds all who hear of them know. We had, however, been in doubt as to so great perversity in thee as this; but our son Cyriacus the abbot1 , having been questioned by us, declared that when he was at Caralis he knew it to be the case. And, seeing that we still spare thy gray hairs, bethink thee at length, old man, and restrain thyself from such levity of behaviour, and perversity of deeds. The nearer thou art approaching death, the more careful and fearful oughtest thou to become. And indeed a sentence of punishment had been launched against thee; but, since we know thy simplicity accompanying thy old age, we meanwhile hold our peace. Those, however, by whose advice thou hast done these things we decree to be excommunicated for two months; but so that, if within the space of two months anything should happen to them after the manner of humanity they be not deprived of the blessing of the viaticum. But do thou henceforth be cautious to stand aloof from their counsels, lest, if thou be their disciple in evil whose master thou oughtest to have been in good, we no longer spare either thy simplicity or thy old age.
Gregory to Vitalis, &c.
What we have learnt about our brother the bishop Januarius the bearers of these presents, as well as the copies of our letters, will sufficiently inform you; and so let thy Experience judiciously carry into effect the excommunication which we have decreed to be pronounced on his perverse counsellors, that they may learn by falling not to walk unwarily.
Moreover, we have sent back by Redemptus the guardian (defensorem), the bearer of these presents, the wheat which had been sent to us under the name of a present. Let thy experience see that neither thou nor he who brought it presume to partake of anything out of it as a bounty2 , but restore the whole of it without abatement to the several persons, or to all of them together, and send me their receipts for the value; for, should I ascertain that anything has been done otherwise than as I direct, I will visit the offence with no slight severity.
Gregory to Januarius, &c.
The most distinguished lady Nereida has complained to us that your Fraternity does not blush to exact from her a hundred solidi for the burial of her daughter, and would bring upon her the additional vexation of expense over and above her groans of sorrow. Now, if the truth is so, it being a very serious thing and far from a priest's office to require a price for earth that is granted to rottenness, and to wish to make profit out of another's grief, let your Fraternity refrain from this demand, and be no more troublesome to her, especially as she tells us that Hortulanus, to whom she asserts she bore this daughter, had formerly been munificent to your Church in no small degree. Now as to this abuse, we ourselves, after we had by God's permission acceded to the dignity of the episcopate, forbade it entirely in our Church, and by no means permitted the evil custom to be taken up anew, remembering that, when Abraham demanded for a price a sepulchre for the burial of his wife's body from the sons of Emor, that is from Ephron the son of Seer, the latter refused to accept a price, lest he should appear to have made profit out of a corpse (Gen. xxiii.). If then a man that was a pagan showed such great consideration, how much more ought we, who are called priests, not to do this thing? Wherefore I admonish you that this abuse, which comes of avarice, be not ventured on any more, even in the case of strangers. But, if at any time you allow any one to be buried in your Church, and the parents, relations, or heirs of such person should of their own accord wish to offer something for lights, we do not forbid it to be accepted. But we altogether forbid anything to be asked for or exacted, this being a very irreligious proceeding, lest (which God forbid) the Church should haply be spoken of as venal, or you should seem to take joy in men's deaths, if you endeavour in any way whatever to seek profit out of their corpses.
With regard to other cases included in the petition of the aforesaid Nereida, we exhort thee, if possible, to settle them by an amicable arrangement, or certainly not to omit sending an instructed person to the court, deputed by us, for which purpose we have sent to your parts Redemptus our guardian (defensorem), the bearer of these presents, that he may compel the parties to appear for trial, and carry out with summary execution what may be adjudged.
Gregory to Januarius, a Bishop of Sardinia.
We knew before the letter of your Fraternity reached us what our enemies had effected in Sardinia. And, having for some time feared that this would be so, we now groan with you on what we foresaw having come to pass. But, if attention had been paid to what we wrote to our most excellent son Gennadius3 , as well as to yourself, telling you that this would be so, the enemy would either not have come into your regions, or, when they came, they would have incurred the danger which they have caused. Even now, then, let what has happened sharpen your vigilance for the future. For we, too, by no means omit whatever we are able to do for good, the Lord helping us.
Know, moreover, that the abbot4 whom, now a considerable time ago, we sent to Agilulph, has by the mercy of God arranged a peace with him, so far as was directed in writing by the most excellent Exarch. And so, till such time as the agreements for the confirmation of this peace shall be drawn up, lest perchance our enemies during the present delay should be inclined to come again into those parts, do you cause watches of the walls to be kept up, and careful attention given in all places. And we trust in the power of our Redeemer that the incursions or plots of our adversaries will not injure you anew.
As to your saying in your letter that many persons lay complaints against you before us, this is true; but among various things nothing has distressed us so much as what our most beloved son, the abbot Cyriacus, has reported to us; namely, that on the Lord's day before mass you caused a crop of corn to be ploughed up in the field which is in the possession of Donatus, and, as if that were not enough, went, after the sacrifice was finished, in person to the place, and dug up the boundaries5 . For this reason I exhort thee to consider with anxious attention the office which thou bearest, and to avoid entirely whatever may injure thy reputation or thy soul, and let no one persuade thee to do the like again. For know that thou hast not undertaken the care of earthly things, but the leadership of souls. On this, therefore, thou oughtest to fix thy heart, thy anxiety, thy entire devotion. and to give thy diligent thought to the winning of souls, that when thou shalt render to the Lord at His coming the talents that He has delivered to thee multiplied, thou mayest be counted worthy to receive from Him the fruit of retribution, and to be exalted among His faithful servants in eternal glory. Know, however, that what I now say in the way of reproach or blame comes not from asperity, but from brotherly love, since I desire thee to be found a priest before Almighty God, not in name only, which tends only to punishment, but also in desert, which looks to recompense. For, we being one member in the body of our Redeemer, as I am rent asunder in thy fault, so also am I rejoiced in thy good conduct.
Furthermore, with regard to your desire that we should depute a person from our side (a nostro latere), to whom you may communicate in detail the cases that are to be referred to us, write whatever you will to our most beloved son Peter and to Theodore the counsellor (consiliario), that, when it has been communicated to us through them, whatever reason may commend may be settled, the Lord revealing the way. Moreover, concerning our brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus6 , cognizance will be taken, when peace with the aforesaid Agilulph shall have been fully confirmed, and whatever the order of reason may dictate will be done.
TO Marcellus, Pro-Consul OF Dalmatia7 .
Gregory to Marcellus, &c.
We have received the letter of your Greatness, in which you speak of having incurred our displeasure, and of your wish to be in favour with us through direct satisfaction. And indeed we have heard such things of your Greatness as ought never to have been committed by a faithful man. For all assert that you are the author of all that great mischief in the case of Maximus, and that the spoiling of that Church, and the perdition of so many souls, and the audacity of that unheard-of presumption, had their beginning through you. And indeed, with regard to your seeking to be in favour with us, it is fitting that with your whole heart and soul, and with tears, as becomes you, you should satisfy our Redeemer for such things as these: for, unless satisfaction is made to Him, what certain good can our forgiveness or favour do thee? But while we observe thee to be still implicated in the ruinous conduct of pretenders, or in the advocacy of those who have gone astray, we see not of what sort your satisfaction is either to God or men. For then your Greatness may know that you openly and evidently satisfy God and men, when you bring back both what is devious to rectitude and what is presumptuous to the rule of humility. If this is done, you may know that you will thus be in favour both with God and men.
Gregory to Januarius, &c.
The Jews who have come hither from your city have complained to us that Peter, who has been brought by the will of God from their superstition to the worship of Christian faith, having taken with him certain disorderly persons, on the day after his baptism, that is on the Lord's day of the very Paschal festival, with grave scandal and without your consent, had taken possession of their synagogue in Caralis, and placed there the image of the mother of our God and Lord, the venerable cross, and the white vestment (birrum) with which he had been clothed when he rose from the font. Concerning which thing also the letters of our sons, the glorious Magister militum Eupaterius, and the magnificent governor, pious in the Lord, concur in attesting the same. And they add also that this had been foreseen by you, and that the aforesaid Peter had been prohibited from venturing on it. On learning this we altogether commended you, since, as became a truly good priest, you wished nothing to be done whence just blame might arise. But, since by not having at all mixed yourself up in these wrong doings you shew that what was done displeases you, we, considering the bent of your will in this matter, and still more your judgment, hereby exhort you that, having removed thence with fitting reverence the image and the cross, you should restore what has been violently taken away; seeing that, as legal enactment does not suffer Jews to erect new synagogues, so also it allows them to keep their old ones without disturbance. Lest, then, the above-named Peter, or others who have afforded him assistance or connivance in the wrongfulness of this disorderly proceeding, should reply that they had done it in zeal for the faith, in order that a necessity of being converted might thereby be imposed on the Jews, they should be admonished, and ought to know, that moderation should rather be used towards them; that so the will not to resist may be elicited from them, and not that they should be brought in against their will: for it is written, I will sacrifice to thee willingly (Ps. lviii. 8); and, Of my own will I will confess to him (Ps. xxvii. 7). Let, then, your Holiness, taking with you your sons who with you disapprove of these things, try to induce good feeling among the inhabitants of your city, since at this time especially, when there is alarm from the enemy, you ought not to have a divided people. But, being anxious with regard to ourselves no less than with regard to you, we think it right to give you to understand that when the present truce is over, the king Agilulph will not make peace with us8 . Whence it is necessary for your Fraternity to see to fortifying your city or other places more securely, and to give earnest attention to providing stores of provisions therein, that, when the enemy, with God incensed against him, shall come thither, he may find no harm that he can do, but may retire discomfited. But we also take thought for you as far as we can, and press upon those whose concern it is that they should prepare themselves for resistance, since, as you regard our tribulations as yours, so we in like manner count your afflictions as our own.
Gregory to Januarius, &c.
It has been laid down by the plain definition of the law that those who go into a monastery for the purpose of entering on monastic life are no longer at liberty to make wills, but that their property passes into possession of the same monastery9 . This being known to almost all, we have been greatly surprised by the notification of Gavinia, abbess of the monastery of Saints Gavinus and Luxorius, to the effect that Sirica, abbess of her monastery, after receiving the office of government, had made a will leaving certain legacies. And when we enquired of the Solicitude of your Holiness why you endured that property belonging to the monastery should be detained by others, our common son Epiphanius, your archpresbyter, being present before us, replied that the said abbess had up to the day of her death refused to wear the monastic dress, but had continued in the use of such dresses as are used by the presbyteresses10 of that place. To this the aforesaid Gavinia replied that the practice had come to be almost lawful from custom, alleging that the abbess who had been before the above-written Sirica had used such dresses. When, then, we had begun to feel no small doubt with regard to the character of the dresses, it appeared necessary for us to consider with our legal advisers, as well as with other learned men of this city, what was to be done with regard to law. And they, having considered the matter, answered that, after an abbess had been solemnly ordained by the bishop, and had presided in the government of a monastery for many years until the end of her life, the character of her dress might attach blame to the bishop for having allowed it so to be, but still could not prejudice the monastery, but that her property of manifest right belongs to the same place from the time of her entering it and being constituted abbess. And so since she [i.e. the abbess Gavinia] asserts that a guest-house (xenodochium) retains possession unduly of the property unlawfully devised, we hereby exhort you, both the monastery and the guest-house itself being situate in your city, to make provision with all care and diligence, to the end that, if this possession is derived from no previous contract, but from the bequest of the said Sirica, it be restored to the said monastery without dispute or evasion. But, if by any chance it is said to have accrued from another contract, either let your Fraternity, having ascertained the truth between the parties, determine as legal order may seem to demand, or let them by mutual consent choose arbitrators, who may be able to decide between their allegations. And whatever be appointed by them, let it be so observed under your care that no grudge may remain between the venerable places, which ought by all means to be cherished in mutual peace and concord. Wherefore all other things which are detained under the will of the above-named Sirica, seeing that none of them is permitted by legal sanction, must needs be carefully restored to the possession of the monastery through the priestly care of your Fraternity: for it is plainly laid down by the imperial constitutions hat what has been done contrary to the laws should not only be inoperative, but also be held as not having been done at all.
Gregory to Vincentius, Innocentius, Marinianus, Libertinus, Agatho, and Victor, Bishops of Sardinia.
We have learnt that it is the custom of your island after the paschal festival, for you to go, or to send your representatives to your Metropolitan, and for him, whether you know the time or not, to give you directions by a written announcement concerning the following Easter. And, as report goes, some of you, neglecting to do this according to custom, pervert the hearts of others also to disobedience. It is added also that some of you, when seeking parts beyond sea in cases that arise touching their churches, venture to travel without the knowledge of their aforesaid metropolitan, or letters from him, such as canonical order prescribes. We therefore exhort your Fraternity that, conforming to the custom of your churches, as well with respect to the announcement of Easter, as also if need should compel any of you to travel anywhere for business of your own, you should ask leave of your said metropolitan according to the rule imposed upon you; except that, if (as we hope will not be the case) you should happen to have a case against your said Metropolitan, then those who are in haste on this account to seek the judgment of the Apostolic See have licence to do so, as you know is allowed in the canons by the institution even of the ancient Fathers.
TO Callinicus, Exarch OF Italy11 .
Gregory to Callinicus, &c.
In the midst of what you have announced to me of your victories over the Sclaves, know that I have been refreshed with great joy that the bearers of these presents, hastening to be joined to the unity of holy Church from the island of Capritana12 , have been sent by your Excellency to the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles. For hereby you will the more prevail over your enemies, if you recall under the yoke of the true Lord those whom you know to be the enemies of God; and you will prosecute your causes among men with all the more effect as with sincere and devout mind you maintain the causes of God.
Now as to your having desired that a copy should be shewn me of the order13 that has been sent to you for the defence of the schismatic, your to me most sweet Excellency ought to have considered carefully how that, although that order has been elicited, you are still not therein enjoined to repel those who come to the unity of the Church, but only, at this unsettled time, not to compel those who are unwilling to come. Whence it is necessary for you with all speed to inform our most pious Emperors of these things, to the end that they may be aware how that in their times, through the succour of Almighty God and your exertions, schismatics are hastening to return of their own accord. What I have decided as to the ordering of things in the island of Caritana, your Excellency will learn through our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus14 . But I would have you know that this has caused me no slight distress; that your Majordomo, who took charge of the petition of the bishop who was wishing to return, declared that he had lost it, and that afterwards he was got hold of by the adversaries of the Church: which proceeding, in my opinion, was due not to his neglect but to his venality. Wherefore I wonder that your Excellency has not in any way visited his fault in him. And yet I soon blamed myself for wondering at this, for where the lord Justinus gives advice, there heretics cannot be arraigned.
Moreover you tell us that you wish to keep the anniversary of Peter, Prince of the apostles, in the city of Rome. And we pray Almighty God to protect you with His mercy, and grant you a fulfilment of your desires. But I beg that the aforesaid most eloquent man may come with you, or that, if he does not come, he may retire from attendance on you. Or certainly, if your Excellency should be unable to come owing to business that may arise, let him either communicate with the unity of holy Church, or I beg that he may not be a sharer of your counsels. For I hear of him as a good man, were he not in most mischievous error. As to the cause of Maximus, inasmuch as we can no longer stand against the importunity of your Sweetness, you will learn from Castorius, the notary, what we have determined.
Gregory to Marinianus, &c.
The bearers of these presents, the most distinguished men, Vicedominus and Defensor15 , came to us asserting that a certain bishop, by name John, coming from Pannonia, had been constituted in the castle which is called Novae, to which castle their island, which is called Capritana, had been appended as a diocese16 . They add that, the bishop having been violently withdrawn and expelled from this same castle, another had been ordained there; concerning whom, however, they allege that it has been resolved that he ought not to have lived in the aforesaid castle, but in his own island. They say further that, while he abode with them there, he was unwilling to remain in schismatical error, and together with all his people presented a petition to our most excellent son Callinicus the Exarch, desiring to be united, with all those that were with him, to the Catholic Church, as we have already said. But they say that, being persuaded by the schismatics, he afterwards recanted, and that now all the population of the aforesaid island are deprived of the protection of a Bishop, since, while desiring to be united to holy Church, they cannot now receive him who has turned to the error of the schismatics; and they desire to have another ordained for them. But we, inasmuch as it is necessary to investigate all things strictly and thoroughly, have taken the precaution of ordering as follows; namely that thy Fraternity should send to the said Bishop, and admonish him to return to the unity of the Catholic Church and to his own people. If, after admonition, he should scorn to return, the flock of God ought not to be deluded in the error of its pastor; and therefore let thy Holiness in that case ordain a Bishop there, and let him have the said island for his diocese, till such time as the Histrian Bishops shall return to the Catholic Faith; so that each Church may have the rights of its own diocese preserved to it, and that a population destitute of a pastor may not be without the protection and oversight of government. In all these things, however, it becomes thy Fraternity to take vigilant heed that this same people which comes back to the Church be very studiously admonished, to the end that it may be firmly fixed in its return, lest through wavering thoughts it fall back into the pit of error. But take care to request the most excellent Exarch, in his despatches, to notify these same things to the most pious ears of the Emperors, since, although the order which has been conveyed to him appears to have been elicited from them, yet he is not forbidden in that order to allow such as wish it to return to the Church, but only, at the present time, to compel the unwilling. Let, then, our aforesaid son take into his charge the management of this affair, to the end that he may so frame his reports, that whatever he may ordain may not be dubious We have, however, ourselves also written to our common son Anatolius17 , bidding him notify these things fully to the most pious princes.
I have received repeated and pressing letters from my most excellent son, the lord Exarch Callinicus, in behalf of Maximus18 . Overcome by his importunity, I see nothing further to be done but to commit the cause of Maximus to thy Fraternity. If, therefore, this same Maximus should come to thy Fraternity, let Honoratus, archdeacon of his Church, appear also; that thy Holiness may ascertain if he was rightly ordained, if he fell into no simoniacal heresy, if there was nothing against him in respect of bodily transgressions, if he did not know himself to be excommunicated when he presumed to celebrate mass; and whatever may seem right to thee in the fear of God do thou determine, that we, under God, may give our assent to thy ordering. But, if our aforesaid son should hold thy Fraternity in suspicion, let our most reverend brother Constantius, bishop of Milan, come also to Ravenna, and sit with thee; and do you decide together on the said cause: and whatever may seem good to both of you, hold it for certain that it will seem good to me. For, as we ought not to be obstinate towards the humble, so we ought to shew ourselves strict towards the proud. Let, then, your Fraternity, as you have learnt in the pages of holy Scripture. decide in this business whatever you may consider just.
Gregory to Brunichild, Queen of the Franks19 .
With what firmness the mind of your Excellency is settled in the fear of Almighty God you shew in a praiseworthy manner, among the other good things that you do, by your love also of His priests; and great joy for your Christianity is caused us, since you study to advance with honours those whom you love and venerate as being truly Christ's servants. For it becomes you, most excellent daughter, it becomes you to be such as to be able to subject yourself to a lord above you. For in submitting the neck of your mind to the fear of the Almighty Lord you confirm your dominion also over subject nations, and by subjecting yourself to the service of the Creator you bind your subjects the more devotedly to yourself. Wherefore, having received your letters, we signify to you that your Excellency's earnest desire has greatly pleased us, and we have been desirous of sending the pallium to our brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius20 , inasmuch as the disposition of our most serene lord the Emperor is also favourable, and, so far as we have been informed by our deacon, who was the representative of our Church at his Court, he is altogether desirous that this thing should be granted21 , and many good reports have reached us of our aforesaid brother both on your testimony and that of others; and especially we learnt what his life is from John the Regionarius22 on his return to us. And hearing what he did in the case of our brother Augustine, we bless our Redeemer, because we feel that he fulfils in his deeds the meaning of his name of priest.
But there have been many hindrances which have meanwhile prevented us from doing this thing. First indeed, that he who had come to receive this pallium is implicated in the error of the schismatics23 ; further, that you wished it to be understood that it was sent, not on your petition, but froth ourselves. But there was this besides; that neither had he who desires to use it requested it to be granted him by a special petition addressed to us: and it was by no means right for us to concede so great a matter without his request; especially as an ancient custom has obtained, that the dignity of the pallium shall not be given except when the merits of a case demand it, and to one who urgently requests it. Still, lest we should seem perchance to wish, under pretext of any excuse, to put off the desire of your Excellency, we have provided for the pallium being sent to our most beloved son Candidus the presbyter, charging him, with befitting precaution, to deliver it in our stead. Hence it is requisite that our above-written brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius must hope for it, when he has of his own motion drawn up a petition with some of his bishops; and this he must give to the aforesaid presbyter, to the end that he may be in a position to obtain properly the use of the same pallium with the favour of God.
In order, then, that the charge you bear may be of fruit to you before the eyes of our Creator, let the solicitude of your Christianity be diligently on the watch, and suffer no one who is under your dominion to attain to holy orders by the giving of money, or the patronage of any persons whatever, or by right of relationship; but let such a one be elected to the episcopate, or to the office of any other sacred order, as his life and manners have shewn to be worthy; lest if, as we do not expect, the dignity of the priesthood should be venal, simoniacal heresy, which was the first to come up in the Church, and has been condemned by the sentence of the Fathers, should arise in your parts, and (which God forbid) should weaken the powers of your kingdom. For it is a serious matter, and a wickedness beyond what can be told, to sell the Holy Spirit, who redeemed all things.
But let this also be your care, that, since, as you know, the excellent preacher entirely forbids a novice to accede to the ruling position of priesthood, you suffer no one to be consecrated bishop from being a layman. For what sort of master will he be who has not been a disciple? Or what kind of leadership can he supply to the Lord's flock who has not been previously subjected to a shepherd's discipline? If, then, any one's life should be such as to shew him worthy of being promoted to this order, he ought first to serve in the ministry of the Church, to the end that by the experience of long practice he may see what to imitate, and learn what to teach; lest perchance the newness of his charge bear not the burden of government, and occasion of ruin arise from the immaturity of his promotion.
Moreover, how your Excellency conducted yourself towards our brother and fellow-bishop Augustine, and how great charity, through the inspiration of God, you bestowed upon him, we have leaner from the relation of divers of the faithful; for which we return thanks, and implore the mercy of Divine Power to keep you here under its protection, and cause you to reign, as among men, so also after a course of many years in life eternal.
Furthermore, those whom the error of the schismatics severs from the unity of the Church, strive ye, for your own reward, to recall to the unity of concord. For on no other ground are they enveloped so far in the blindness of their ignorance but that they may escape ecclesiastical discipline, and have licence to live perversely as they please, since they understand neither what they defend nor what they follow. But as for us, we venerate and follow in all respects the synod of Chalcedon, from which they take to themselves the clouds of a pestiferous excuse; and, if any one should presume to diminish or add anything with regard to the faith thereof, we anathematize him. But they are so impregnated with the taint of error that, giving credence to their own ignorance, they reject the universal Church, and all the four patriarchs, not with reason, but with malicious intent; so that he who was sent to us by your Excellency, when he was asked by us why he stood separated from the universal Church, acknowledged that he did not know. But neither what he said nor what else he gave ear to had he the power of knowing. As to this also we no less exhort you, that you should restrain the rest of your subjects under the control of discipline from sacrificing to idols, being worshippers of trees, or exhibiting sacrilegious sacrifices of the heads of animals; seeing that it has come to our ears that many of the Christians both resort to the churches and also (horrible to relate!) do not give up their worshipping of demons. But, since these things are altogether displeasing to our God, and He does not own divided minds, provide ye for their being salubriously restrained from these unlawful practices; lest (God forbid it!) the sacrament of holy baptism serve not for their rescue, but for their punishment. If therefore you know of any that are violent, if of any that are adulterers, if of any that are thieves, or bent on other wicked deeds, make haste to appease God by their correction, that He may not bring upon you the scourge due to unfaithful races, which, so far as we see, is already lifted up for the punishment of many nations; lest, if-as we do not believe will be the case-the wrath of Divine vengeance should be kindled by the doings of the wicked, the plague of war should destroy the sinners whom the precepts of God recall not to the way of rectitude. We must, then, needs make haste, with all earnestness and continual prayer, to betake ourselves to the mercy of our Redeemer, wherein there is a place of safety and great security for all. For whoso steadfastly abides there, him danger crushes not, nor fear alarms.
We have sent the volume, as you desired us by letter, to our aforesaid most beloved son Candidus the presbyter, to be offered to you, being in haste to be sharers in your good purpose. May Almighty God keep you under His protection, and by His outstretched arm defend your kingdom from unbelieving nations, and bring you after long courses of years to eternal joys. Given in the month of October, the first indiction24
Gregory to John, &c.
One coming from Sicily has told me that some friends of his, whether Greeks or Latins I know not, as though moved by zeal for the holy Roman Church, murmur about my arrangements [i.e. of divine service], saying, How can he be arranging so as to keep the Constantinopolitan Church in check, when in all respects he follows her usage? And, when I said to him, What usages of liners do we follow? he replied; you have caused Alleluia to be said at mass out of the season of Pentecost25 ; you have made appointment for the sub-deacons to proceed disrobed26 , and for Kyrie Eleison to be said, and for the Lord's Prayer to be said immediately after the canon. To him I replied, that ill none of these things have we followed another Church.
For, as to our custom here of saying the Alleluia, it is said to be derived from the Church of Jerusalem by the tradition of the blessed Jerome in the time of pope Damasus of blessed memory; and accordingly in this matter we have rather curtailed the former usage which had been handed down to us here from the Greeks.
Further, as to my having caused the sub-deacons to proceed disrobed, this was the ancient usage of the Church. But it pleased one of our pontiffs, I know not which, to order them to proceed in linen tunics. For have your Churches in any respect received their tradition from the Greeks? Whence, then, have they at the present day the custom of the subdeacons proceeding in linen tunics, except that they have received it from their mother, the Roman Church?
Further, we neither have said nor now say the Kyrie Eleison, as it is said by the Greeks: for among the Greeks all say it together; hut with us it is said by the clerks, and responded to by the people; and as often as it is said, Christe Eleison is said also, which is not said at all among the Greeks. Further, in daily masses we suppress some things that are usually said, and say only Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, so as to devote ourselves a little longer to these words of deprecation. But the Lord's prayer (orationem Dominicam) we say immediately after the prayer (mox post precem) for this reason, that it was the custom of the apostles to consecrate the host of oblation to (ad) that same prayer only. And it seemed to me very unsuitable that we should say over the oblation a prayer which a scholastic had composed, and should not say the very prayer27 which our Redeemer composed over His body and blood28 . But also the Lord's Prayer among the Greeks is said by all the people, but with us by the priest atone. Wherein, then, have we followed the usages of the Greeks, in that we have either amended our own old ones or appointed new and profitable ones, in which, however, we are not shewn to be imitating others? Wherefore, let your Charity, when an occasion presents itself, proceed to the Church of Catana; or in the Church of Syracuse teach those who you believe or understand may possibly be murmuring with respect to this matter, holding a conference there, as though for a different purpose, and so desist not from instructing them. For as to what they say about the Church of Constantinople, who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See, as both the most pious lord the emperor and our brother the bishop of that city continually acknowledge? Yet, if this or any other Church has anything that is good, I am prepared in what is good to imitate even my inferiors, while prohibiting them from things unlawful. For he is foolish who thinks himself first in such a way as to scorn to learn whatever good things he may see
Gregory to Demetrian and Valerian, clerks of Firmum (Fermo).
Both the ordinances of the sacred canons and legal authority permit that ecclesiastical property may be lawfully expended for the redemption of captives. And so, since we are informed by you that, nearly eighteen years ago, the most reverend Fabius, late bishop of the Church of Firmum, paid to the enemy eleven pounds of the silver of that Church for your redemption, and that of your father Passivus, now our brother and fellow-bishop, but then a clerk, and also that of your mother, and that you have some fear on this account, lest what was given should at any time be sought to be recovered from you;-we have thought fit by the authority of this precept to remove your suspicion, ordaining that you and your heirs shall henceforth sustain no annoyance for recovery of the debt, and that no process shall be instituted against you by any one; since the rule of equity requires that what has been paid with a pious intent should not be attended with burden or distress to those who have been redeemed.
Gregory to Romanus, &c.
Our care for the purpose before us prompts us to commit the looking after ecclesiastical interests to active persons. And so, since we have found thee, Romanus, to have been a trusty and diligent guardian, we have thought fit to commit to thy government from this present second indiction the patrimony of the holy Roman Church, which by the mercy of God we serve, lying in the parts about Syracuse, Catana, Agrigentum, and Mile (partibus Milensibus). Hence it is needful that thou go thither immediately, that, in consideration of the divine judgment, and in memory also of our admonition, thou mayest study to acquit thyself so efficiently and faithfully that thou mayest be found to incur no risk for negligence or fraud, which God forbid should be the case. But act thus all the more in order that thou mayest be commended to divine grace for thy faithfulness and industry. Moreover, we have sent orders according to custom to the familia of the same patrimony29 , that there may be nothing to hinder thy carrying out what has been enjoined thee.
TO The Husbandmen (Colonos) OF The Syracusan Patrimony30 .
Gregory to the Coloni, &c.
I would have you know that we have arranged for you to be put under the care of our guardian (defensoris). And accordingly we order you to obey him without any reluctance in what he may see fit to do, and enjoin on you to be done, for the advantage of the Church. We have given him such power as to enable him to inflict strict punishment on those who may attempt to be disobedient or contumacious. And we have likewise charged him that he delay. not with instant attention to recover to ecclesiastical jurisdiction any slaves who are in hiding outside their limits, or any one by whom boundaries have been invaded. For know that he has been warned on his peril, that he presume not ever under any kind of excuse to do any wrong or robbery in regard to what belongs to others.
Gregory to John, &c.
Our son the glorious exconsul Leontius has made a serious complaint to us of our brother and fellow-bishop Leo; and his complaint has altogether disturbed us, since a bishop ought not to have acted so precipitately and lightly. This case we have committed, to be thoroughly enquired into, to our Guardian (defensoris) Romanus when he comes to you. Further, the messenger who was sent by him (i.e. by Leontius) complains of your Fraternity, that in the defence of the illustrious physician Archelaus the interests of our brother and fellow-bishop, the Metropolitan Domitian, suffer damage31 . And indeed your Fraternity ought justly to protect your sons, or it may be in this case the interests of holy Church, and to give no occasion for evil-speaking to adversaries. I doubt not, however, even while thus speaking, that you do take heed to this: yet we have enjoined on the same Romanus, when he comes to you, to arrange with you what is right with regard to this case also
Gregory to Romanus, &c.
Our son Theodosius, abbot of the Monastery founded by the late Patrician Liberius in Campania, is known to have intimated to us that the late illustrious lady Rustica about one and twenty years ago, in the will that she made, appointed in the first place Felix, her husband, to be her heir, and delegated to him the foundation of a Monastery in Sicily; but on this condition,-that if he should not within the space of one year pay all the legacies bequeathed to her freedmen, or establish the aforesaid Monastery as she desired, then the holy Roman Church should have undisputed claim to the portion which she was understood to have in the farm of Cumas, and that it should lend aid for paying the above legacies, and for the construction of the said monastery. Hence, seeing that, as is said, the bequeathed property has not so far been made over in full to this same monastery, and some part of the possession is up to this time detained by her heirs, let thy Experience thoroughly enquire into and examine the case. And in the first place indeed, if under the conditions of the will any heirship comes in wherein our Church may have a plea, we desire thee to investigate and clearly ascertain it, and act for the advantage of the poor, as the order of the business may require; and then to be instantly solicitous for the due establishment of that cell, and the recovery of the bequeathed property, to the end that the pious desire of the testatrix may be fulfilled in both respects, and the unjust detainers of the property may learn from just loss the guilt of their undue retention. With all vivacity, then, we desire thee both to enquire into this case and, with the help of the Lord, to bring it to an issue, that the pious devotion of the ordainer may at length take effect. But we desire thee also, as far as justice allows, to succour this monastery in all ways, that lay persons who ought to have rendered the succour of their assistance may not, as is asserted, have power of doing hurt in the name of the founder.
Gregory to Romanus, &c.
Although the law with reason allows not things that come into possession of the Church to be alienated, yet sometimes the strictness of the rule should be moderated, where regard to mercy invites to it, especially when there is so great a quantity that the giver is not burdened, and the poverty of the receiver is considerably relieved. And so, inasmuch as Stephania, the bearer' of these presents, having come hither with her little son Calixenus (whom she asserts that she hare to her late husband Peter, saying also that she has laboured trader extreme poverty), demanded of us with supplication and tears that we should cause to he restored to the same Calixenus the possession of a house in the city of Catana, which Ammonia, her late mother-in-law, the grandmother of Calixenus, had offered by title of gift to our Church; asserting that the said Ammonia had not power to alienate it, and that it belonged altogether to the aforesaid Calixenus, her son; which assertion our most beloved son Cyprian, the deacon, who was acquainted with the case, contradicted, saying that the complaint of the aforesaid woman had not justice to go on, and that she could not reasonably claim or seek to recover that house in the name of her son; but, lest we should seem to leave the tears of the above named woman without effect, and to follow the way of rigour rather than embrace the plea of pity, we command thee by this precept to restore the said house to the above-named Calixenus, together with Ammonia's deed of gift with respect to this same house, which is known to be there in Sicily;-since, as we have said, it is better in doubtful cases not to execute strictness, but rather to be inclined to the side of benignity, especially when by the cession of a small matter the Church is not burdened, and succour is mercifully given to a poor orphan.
Given in the mouth of November, Indiction 2.
Gregory to Romanus, &c.
It has come to our ears that certain men, having altogether too little discernment, desire us to become implicated in their risks, and wish to be so defended by ecclesiastical persons, that the ecclesiastical persons themselves may be bound by their guilt. Wherefore I admonish thee by tills present injunction, and through thee our brother and fellow-bishop, the lord John, or others whom it may concern, that with regard to ecclesiastical patronage of people (whether you should have received letters from me, or none should have been addressed to you), you should bestow it with such moderation that, if any have been implicated in public peculations, they may not appear to be unjustly defended by us, lest we should in any way transfer to ourselves, by venturing on indiscreet defence, the ill repute of evil doers: but so far as becomes the Church, by admonishing and applying the word of intercession, succour whom you can; so that you may both give them aid, and not stain the repute of holy Church.
TO Andrew32 .
Gregory to Andrew.
On hearing that your Glory had been severely afflicted with grief and sickness, I condoled with you exceedingly. But learning presently that the malady had entirely left you, I soon turned my sorrow into joy, and returned great thanks to Almighty God lot that He smote that He might heal, afflicted that He might lead to true joys. For hence it is written, Whom the Lord Loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Heb. xii. 6). Hence the Truth in person says, My Father is the husbandman, and every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he will take away; but every branch that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit (Job. xv. 1, 2). For the unfuitful branch is taken away, because a sinner is utterly rooted up. But the fruitful branch is said to be purged, because it is cut down by discipline that it may be brought to more abundant grace. For so the grain of the ears of corn, beaten with the threshing instrument, is stript of its awn and chaff. So the olives, pressed in the oil-press, flow forth into the fatness of oil. So the bunches of grades pounded with the heels, liquify into wine. Rejoice, therefore, good man, for that in this thy scourge and this thy advancement thou seest that thou art loved by the Eternal Judge.
Furthermore, I beg that my daughter Gloriosa, your wife, be greeted in my name. Now may Almighty God keep you under heavenly protection, and comfort you both now with abundance of gifts and hereafter with the retribution of reward.
Gregory to Fortunatus, &c.
Having learnt what zeal inflames your Fraternity in behalf of Christian slaves whom Jews buy from the territories of Gaul, we apprize you that your solicitude has so pleased us that it is also our own deliberate judgment that they should be inhibited from traffic of this kind. But we find from Basilius, the Hebrew, who has come here with other Jews, that such purchase is enjoined on them by divers judges of the republic, and that Christians along with pagans come to be thus procured. Hence it has been necessary for the business to be adjusted with such cautious arrangement that neither they who give such orders should be thwarted, nor those who say they obey them against their will should bear any expense unjustly. Accordingly, let your Fraternity with watchful care provide for this being observed and kept to; that, when they [i.e. the Jewish dealers] return from the aforesaid province, Christian slaves who may happen to be brought by them be either handed over to those who gave the order, or at all events sold to Christian purchasers within forty days. And after the completion of this number of days let none of them in any way whatever remain in the hands of the Jews. But, should any of these slaves perchance fall into such sickness that they cannot be sold within the appointed days, care is to be taken that, when they are restored to their former health, they be by all means disposed of as aforesaid. For it is not fit that any should incur loss for a transaction that is free from blame. But since, as often as anything new is ordained, it is usual so to lay down the rule for the future as not to condemn the past in large costs, if any slaves have remained in their hands from the purchase of the previous year, or have been recently taken away from them by you, let them have liberty to dispose of them while they are with you. So may there be no possibility of their incurring loss for what they did in ignorance before the prohibition, such as it is right they should sustain after being forbidden.
Further, it has been reported to us that the above-named Basilius wishes to concede to his sons, who by the mercy of God are Christians, certain slaves, under the title of a gift, with the view that, under cover of the opportunity thus afforded, they may serve him as their master all but in name; and that, if after this any should perchance have believed that they might fly to the Church for refuge in order to become Christians, they may not be reclaimed to freedom, but to the dominion of those to whom they had before been given. In this matter it befits your Fraternity to keep becoming watch. And, if he should wish to give any slaves to his sons, that all occasion of fraud may be removed, let them by all means become Christians, and let them not remain in his house; but, when circumstances may require that he should have their services, let them be commanded to render him what, even in any case, from his sons, and for God's sake, it is fitting should be supplied to him.
TO Julianus, Scribo33 .
Gregory to Julianus, &c.
If in secular offices order and the discipline handed down by our ancestors is observed, who may bear to see ecclesiastical order confounded, to disregard such things when heard of, and postpone their amendment by improperly condoning them? And indeed you do well to love charity and to persuade to concord. But, since we are compelled by consideration of our position, and for God's sake, by no means to leave uninvestigated the things that have come to our knowledge, we shall take care, when Maximus comes, to require a strict account from him of the things that have been said about him. And we trust in the guardianship of our Creator, that we shall not be turned aside by either the favour or the fault of any man from maintenance of the canons and the straight path of equity, but willingly observe what is agreeable to reason. For if (which God forbid) we neglect ecclesiastical solicitude and vigour, indolence destroys discipline, and certainly harm will be done to the souls of the faithful, while they see such examples set them by their pastors. But with regard to your saying in your letter that the good will of the palace and the love of the people are not alienated from him, this circumstance does not recall us from our zeal for justice, nor shall it cause our determination to enquire into the truth to fail through sin of ours. Every one, then, should strive, magnificent son, to conciliate to himself the love of God. For without divine favour what can I say that human love will do for us hereafter, when even among ourselves it harms us the more?
Gregory to Agilulph, &c.
We return thanks to your Excellency, that, hearkening to our petition, you have concluded such a peace as may be of advantage to both parties, as we had confidence in you that you would. On this account we greatly commend your prudence and goodness, since in choosing peace you have shewn that you love God, who is its author. For, if unhappily peace had not been made, what else could have ensued but, with sin and danger on both sides, the shedding of the blood of miserable peasants , whose labour profits both? But, that we may feel the advantage to us of this peace, as it has been made by you, we beg you, greeting you with paternal charity, that as often as opportunity offers itself, you would enjoin by letters on your dukes in divers places, and especially those who are constituted in these parts, that they keep this peace inviolate, as has been promised, and not seek for themselves any occasions whence either any contention or any ill-feeling may arise, to the end that we may be able to give thanks still more for your good will. We received the bearers of these presents, as being in very truth your own people, with the affection that was becoming, since it was right both to receive and dismiss with charity men who are wise, and who announced that by the favour of God peace had been concluded.
Gregory to Theodelinda, &c.
How your Excellency has laboured earnestly and kindly, as is your wont, for the conclusion of peace we have learnt from the report of our son, the abbot Probus. Nor indeed was it otherwise to be expected of your Christianity than that you would in all ways skew your assiduity and goodness in the cause of peace. Wherefore we give thanks to Almighty God, who so rules your heart with His loving-kindness that, as He has given you a right faith, so He also grants you to work always what is pleasing in His sight. For you may be assured, most excellent daughter, that for the saving of so much bloodshed on both sides you have acquired no small reward. On this account, returning thanks for your goodwill, we implore the mercy of our God to repay you with good in body and soul here and in the world to come.
Moreover, greeting you with fatherly affection, we exhort you so to deal with your most excellent consort that he may not reject the alliance of the Christian republic. For, as I believe you know yourself, it is in many ways profitable that he should be inclined to betake himself to its friendship. Do you then, after your manner, always strive for what tends to goodwill and conciliation between the parties, and labour wherever an occasion of reaping a reward presents itself, that you may commend your good deeds the more before the eyes of Almighty God.
TO Anastasius, Bishop OF Antioch34 .
Gregory to Anastasius, &c.
I received the letters of thy Fraternity, rightly holding fast the profession of the faith; and I returned great thanks to Almighty God, who, when the shepherds of His flock are changed, still, even after such change, guards the faith which He once delivered to the holy Fathers. Now the excellent preacher says, Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. iii. 2). Whosoever, then, with love of God and his neighbour, holds firmly the faith that is in Christ, he has laid for himself the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God and man, as a foundation. It is to be hoped therefore that, where Christ is the foundation, the edifice also of good works may follow. The Truth also in person says, He that entereth not by the door into the sheep-fold, but claimbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber; but he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep (Joh. x. 1). And a little after He adds, I am the door. He, then, enters into the sheep-fold through the door who enters through Christ. And he enters through Christ who thinks and preaches what is true concerning the same Creator and Redeemer of the human race, and holds fast what he preaches; who takes upon him the topmost place of rule for the office of carrying a burden, not for the desire of the glory of transitory dignity. He also watches wisely over the sheep-fold of which he has taken charge, lest either perverse men tear the sheep of God by speaking froward things, or malignant spirits ravage them by persuading to vicious delights.
Of a truth we remember how the blessed Jacob, who had served long for his wives, said, This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not been barren. The rams of thy flock have I not eaten, nor shewn unto thee that which had been seized by a beast. I made good every loss; whatever had been lost by theft, from me didst thou require it. By day and night I was consumed by drought and frost; sleep fled from mine eyes (Gen. xxxi. 38). If, then, he who feeds the sheep of Laban labours and watches thus, on what labour, on what watches, should he be intent who feeds the sheep of God? But in all this let Him instruct us who for our sake became a man, who vouchsafed to become what he had made. May He pour both into my weakness and into thy charity the spirit of His own love, and in all carefulness and watchfulness of circumspection open the eye of our heart.
But for men of a right faith being advanced to sacred orders thanks are to be paid without cease to the same Almighty God, and prayer ever made for the life of our most pious and most Christian lord the Emperor, and for his most tranquil spouse, and their most gentle offspring, in whose times the mouths of heretics are silent; since, though their hearts seethe with the madness of perverse thought, yet in the time of the Catholic Emperor they presume not to speak out the bad things which they think.
Furthermore, in speaking of your maintenance of the holy councils, your Fraternity declares that you maintain the first holy Ephesine synod. But, seeing that from the account given in an heretical document which has been sent me from the royal city, I have found that, according to it, certain Catholic positions had been censured along with heretical ones, because some suppose that to have been the first Ephesine synod which was got together at some time or other by the heretics in the same city, it is altogether necessary that your Charity should apply to the Churches of Alexandria and Antioch for the acts of this synod, and find how the matter really stands. Or, if you please, we will send you hence what we have here, preserved from of old in our archives. For that synod which was held under pretence of being the first Ephesine asserts that certain positions submitted to it were approved, which are the declared tenets of Coelestius and Pelagius. And, Coelestius and Pelagius having been condemned in that synod, how could those positions be approved, the authors of which were condemned35 ?
Further, since it has come to our ears that in the Churches of the East no one attains to a sacred order except by giving of bribes, if your Fraternity finds it to be so, offer your first oblation to Almighty God by restraining in the Churches subject to you the error of simoniacal heresy. For, to pass over other considerations, what manner of men can they be in sacred orders who are raised to them not by merit, but by bribes? May Almighty God guard thy Love with heavenly grace, and grant to you to carry with you to eternal joys multiplied fruit and overflowing measure from those who are committed to your charge.
Gregory to Fantinus, &c.
A little time ago we wrote to Victor, our brother and fellow-bishop, that-inasmuch as certain of the Jews have complained in a petition presented to us that synagogues with their guest-chambers, situated in the city of Panormus, had by him been unreasonably taken possession of-he should keep aloof from their congregation until it could be ascertained whether this thing had been justly done, lest perchance injury should appear to have been alleged by them of their own mere will. And indeed, having regard to his priestly office, we could not easily believe that our aforesaid brother had done anything unsuitably. But, since we find from the report of Salarius, our notary, who was afterwards there, that there had been no reasonable cause for taking possession of those synagogues, and that they had been unadvisedly and rashly consecrated, we therefore enjoin thy Experience, since what has been once consecrated cannot any more be restored to the Jews, that it be thy care to see that our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop pay the price at which our sons, the glorious Venantius the Patrician, and Urbicus the Abbot, may value the synagogues themselves with the guest-chambers that are under them or annexed to their walls, and the gardens thereto adjoining; that so what be has caused to be taken possession of may belong to the Church, and they may in no wise be oppressed, or suffer any injustice. Moreover, let books or ornaments that have been abstracted be in like manner sought for. And, if any have been manifestly taken away, we desire them also to be restored without any ambiguity. For, as there ought to be no licence for them, as we have ourselves already written, to do anything in their synagogues beyond what is decreed by law, so neither damage nor any cost ought to be brought upon them contrary to justice and equity
TO Martin, Scholasticus.36 .
Gregory to Martin, &c.
Seeing that questions arising in civil affairs need, as is known to thy Greatness, very full enquiry, let thy wisdom consider with what care and vigilance the causes of bishops should be investigated. But, in the letter which thou hast sent us by the bearer of these presents on the questions with respect to which thou wert sent to us by our brother and fellow-bishop Crementius, thou hast given only a superficial account of them, and hast been entirely silent about their root. But, had their origin and intrinsic character been manifest to us, we should have known what should be decided about them, and would then settle the mind of our aforesaid brother by a plain and suitable reply. This, however, is altogether displeasing to us, that thou givest us to understand that some of the bishops have gone to the court37 without letters from their primate, and that they hold unlawful assemblies. But since, as we have before said, the origin and nature of the questions are entirely unknown to us, we cannot pronounce anything definitely, lest, as would be very reprehensible, we should seem to pass sentence about things imperfectly known. Hence it was very needful that, for our complete information, thy Greatness should have proceeded hither to reply to our questions during the time of thy lingering in Sicily. Nevertheless, now that thou hast seen our brother and fellow-bishop John, we believe that in him thou hast seen us also. And so since he has been at pains himself also to write to us about the same questions, we have written in reply to him what seemed to us right. And, since he is a priest of ripe and caution judgment, if you are willing to treat with him on the questions which he has been commissioned to entertain, we are sure that you will find in him what is both advantageous and reasonable.
TO John, Bishop OF Syracuse38 .
Gregory to John, &c.
I have received your Fraternity's letter, wherein you inform me that the most eloquent Martin has come from the African province and communicated something to you privately. And indeed your Fraternity, as often as you find occasion, ceases not to shew your love towards the blessed apostle Peter. Wherefore we give thanks to Almighty God, that where you are, there we are not found absent. Nevertheless, your Holiness is not yet fully cognizant of the case in hand. For the Byzacene primate39 had been accused on some charge, and the most pious Emperor wished him to be judged by us according to canonical ordinance. But then, on the receipt of ten pounds of gold, Theodorus the magister militum opposed this being done. Yet the most pious Emperor admonished us to commission some one, and do whatever was canonical. But, seeing the contrarieties of men, we have been unwilling to decide this case. Now, moreover, this same primate says something about his own intention. And it is exceedingly doubtful whether he says such things to us sincerely, or in fact because he is being attacked by his fellow-bishops: for, as to his saying that he is subject to the Apostolic See, if any fault is found in bishops, I know not what bishop is not subject to it. But when no fault requires it to be otherwise, all according to the principle of humility are equal. Nevertheless, do you speak with the aforesaid most eloquent Martin as seems good to your Fraternity. For it is for you to consider what should be done; and we have replied to you briefly on the case, because we ought not to believe indiscriminately men that are even unknown to us. If, however, you, who see him before you in person, are of opinion that anything more definite should be said to him, we commit this to your Charity, being sure of your love in the grace of Almighty God. And what you do regard without doubt as having been done by us.
Gregory to Romanus the guardian, Fantinus the guardian, Sabinus the sub-deacon, Sergius the guardian, Boniface the guardian (a paribus40 ), and the six patroni.
Since, even as cautious foresight knows how to block the way against faults, and to avoid what is hurtful, so neglect opens the way to excesses, and is wont to incur what ought to be guarded against, we ought to bestow very careful attention, and see alike to the reputation and to the safeguard of our brethren and priests. Now it has come to our ears that certain of the bishops, under pretext, as it were, of help, associate themselves in one house with women. And so, lest hereby just occasion of detraction should be given to scoffers, or the ancient enemy of the human race should take advantage of an easy matter of deceit, we enjoin thee by the tenor of this mandate that thou study to shew thyself strenuous and solicitous. And, if any of the bishops included within the limits of the patrimony committed to thee are living with women, do thou entirely put a stop to this, and for the future by no means suffer any women to reside with them, except such as the censorship of the sacred canons allows, that is a mother, an aunt, a sister, and others of this sort, concerning whom there can be no ill, suspicion. Yet they do better, if they refrain from living together even with such as these. For we read that the blessed Augustine refused to live even with his sister, saying, Those who are with my sister are not my sisters.
The caution, then, of a learned man ought to be a great instruction to us. For it is a mark of uncautious presumption for one that is less firm not to fear what a strong man is afraid of. For he wisely overcomes what is unlawful who has learnt not to use even what is allowed him: and indeed we bind none in this matter against their will, but, as physicians are accustomed to do, we prescribe carefulness for health's sake, even though it be for the time distressful. And therefore we impose no necessary obligation; but, if any should choose to imitate a learned and holy man, we leave it to their own will. Let, then, thy Experience act with zeal and solicitude for the observance of what we have ordered to be prohibited. For, if hereafter it should chance to be found otherwise, know that thou wilt incur no slight risk with us. Furthermore, let it be thy care to exhort these same bishops, our brethren, that they admonish those who are subject to them, to wit those who are constituted in sacred orders, to observe in all ways after their example what they themselves observe; this only being added, that these, as canonical authority has decreed, are not to leave wives whom they ought to govern chastely. Given in the month of March, Indiction 2.
Here begins the epistle of Rechared, King of the Goths, addressed to the blessed Gregory, Bishop of Rome41 .
Rechared to the holy lord and most blessed pope, the bishop Gregory.
At the time when the Lord in His compassion caused us to be dissociated from the impious Arian heresy, and the holy Catholic Church gathered us into her bosom ameliorated in the path of faith, it was then the desire of our mind to seek with delight and with the whole bent of our mind so very reverend a man; thee who art powerful above all other bishops, that he might commend in all ways a tiring so worthy and acceptable to God for us men. But, whereas we are engaged in many cares of government, being occupied by divers occasions, three years passed without the desire of our mind being satisfied. And after this we chose, for the purpose of sending them to thee, some abbots of monasteries, who should proceed to thy presence, and offer gifts sent by us to Saint Peter, and bring us word more distinctly of thy holy reverence's health. But, as they hastened on their way, and were almost in sight of the shores of Italy, it befell them that they struck on certain rocks near Marseilles, and were scarcely able to deliver their own souls. And now we have entreated a presbyter whom thy Glory had sent as far as the city of Malaca (civilatem Malicitanam) to come into our sight. But he, detained by bodily infirmity, has in no wise been able to reach the soil of our kingdom. But, as we know most certainly that he was sent by thy Holiness, we have sent a golden cup ornamented on the outside with gems for thy Holiness (as I trust thou wilt vouchsafe to do) to offer as worthy of the apostle who shines the first in dignity. For I also beg thy Highness, when an opportunity is found, to seek us out by thy sacred golden letters. For how much I truly love thee I believe is not hidden, the Lord inspiring thee, from the fecundity of thine own breast. It is sometimes the case that those whom tracts of land or sea divide the grace of Christ glues together as if visibly. For to those who do not see thee at all in person fame discloses thy goodness.
Further, I commend with all veneration to thy Holiness in Christ, Leander, the priest of the church of Hispalis, since through him thy benevolence has been made clearly manifest to us; and when we talk of thy life with this same bishop, we reckon ourselves as your inferiors in regard to your good deeds. I am delighted to hear of thy health, most reverend and most holy man; and I beg of thy Christian prudence that thou wouldest commend frequently in thy prayers to our common Lord us and our people, who are ruled after God under our government, and have been acquired by Christ in your times; that hereby true charity to God-ward may establish in well-being those whom the breadth of the world separates.
Gregory to Romanus, &c.
It has come to our ears that the tonsuratores42 in Sicily, with wicked presumption, take to themselves the name of defensores, and that they not only are of no utility for the interests of the Church, but also take occasion hence to commit many irregularities. Consequently we enjoin thy Experience by this present authority to enquire diligently into this. And, if thou findest any, besides those who have letters to empower them in such business43 , usurping henceforth this title, put a stop to this thing by strict correction. If, however, thou shouldest discover any who have proved themselves active and faithful in ecclesiastical affairs, thou must send us a full and particular report of them, that we may judge whether they are worthy of a letter44 .
Furthermore, we desire thee to make a thorough examination of the accounts of Fortunatus; and, when he has satisfied all the debts that appear against him, allow him no longer to have to do with the patrimony, or with any action of our Church, seeing that, as we have heard, he has conducted himself in such a manner that he ought not henceforth to have any communication with our people.
Furthermore, it has been reported to us that one Martianus, who has assumed to himself the name of a defensor, has declined to pay obedience to our brother and fellow-bishop John, to whom we had committed the charge of our patrimony. Inquire therefore; and, if it is true, let him be sent into exile, that his disobedience to him from whose Church he has seized for himself a false title of honour, and who is promoting the interests of the same, may not go unpunished. But, if there are also any others disobedient to the orders of our said brother, thou wilt by all means visit them with strict punishment.
Gregory to Januarius, Bishop of Sardinia.
It has come to our ears that some of your clerics, inflated with a spirit of elation (which is a serious thing to be said), neglect obedience to the commands of your Fraternity, and occupying themselves rather in the services and labours of others, desert the business of their own Church in which they are needed. For this reason we greatly wonder why you do not keep up the rule of discipline, and restrain them, when wandering dissolutely at large, with a rein of strict control to the requirements of the office they have undertaken. It is said also that some of these contumacious clerks, in order to obtain support against you, resort to the patronage of our guardian (defensoris) Vitalis. Wherefore we have sent a letter to him, telling him not to dare henceforth to support any one of your clerks against you unreasonably; but, if any case of fault should arise which is not a serious one but merits pardon, to approach you rather as an intercessor than as a supporter of the culprit. Be on your guard, then, that no such report shall hereafter reach us of your subjects despising you.
We have learnt also that a certain widow left her substance to the monastery of St. Julian, and that this substance has been plundered by one of your clerks who used to direct the actions of the deceased woman while she lived, and that he now evades making restitution. We therefore exhort thee that, if what is said should prove to be true, you cause him to be constrained by strict proceedings, to the end that he may make haste to restore without diminution the property left to the monastery, and be compelled to give up, even with the loss of his reputation, that which, preserving the purity of his honour, he ought not to have dared to take. But what a cause for shame it. is that we should appear as admonishing your Fraternity to restrain your clerk under the vigour of discipline, this I believe that you yourself feel in your own heart.
Also against worshippers of idols, and soothsayers, and diviners, we very earnestly exhort your Fraternity to be on the watch with pastoral vigilance, and publicly among the people hold forth against the men who do such things, and recall them by persuasive hortation from the contagion of so great sacrilege, and such temptation of divine judgment, and peril in the present life. If, however, thou shouldest find them unwilling to amend and correct themselves from such doings, we desire thee to lay hold of them with fervent zeal, and, in case of their being slaves, to chastise them with blows and torments, whereby they may be brought to amendment. But, if they are freemen, they should be directed to penitence by suitable and strict confinement; so that they who scorn to listen to salutary words reclaiming them from peril of death may at any rate be brought back by bodily torments to the desired sanity of mind. We have also been informed that, you having committed the care of your patrimony to certain laymen, they, after having been detected in depredations on your peasants and flight in consequence, both refuse to restore the property which, as not being subject to your control, they indecently retain as though it were in their own power, and also scorn to render you an account of their doings. If this be so, it is fitting that the matter be strictly investigated by you, and the case between them and the peasants of your Church be thoroughly examined. And whatever fraud may be discovered in them let them be compelled to make restitution for with the penalty appointed by the laws. But for the future your Fraternity must take care that ecclesiastical property be not committed to secular men not living under your rule, but to approved clerics holding office under you; in whom if any wrong doing should be found, you may be able to correct what has been unlawfully done, as in the case of persons under you, whom the obligation of their condition convenes before you rather than excuses.
TO Constantius, Bishop OF Milan45 .
Gregory to Constantius, &c.
Maximus, the prevaricator of the Church of Salona, after he had failed to obtain anything through the greater powers of the world, has betaken himself to the lesser ones; and by a superfluity of prayers and by attestation to his good works he strives to prevail with us. This being so, I have thought it would be inhuman in me, if he who says that he fears me much were quite unable to find me in some degree more indult. And I have therefore decided that our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus should take cognizance of his cause in the city of Ravenna. If, however, by any chance his person is suspected, we desire that your Fraternity also, if it is not too laborious for you, should take the trouble of repairing to the same city, and sit together with our aforesaid brother in the same trial. Whatever, then, may seem good to each of your Holinesses, know that it will seem good to me; and your judgment I accept as my own; and what things you both think should be remitted, be assured that I remit; taking, however, careful heed that we may not appear to be either sinfully remiss or austere to the injury of Holy Church. We have enjoined the execution of this matter on the Chartulary Castorius, that he may fully report to us all that has been done.
Gregory to Eusebius of Thessalonica, Urbicus of Dyrrachium, Andrew of Nicopolis, John of Corinth, John of Prima Justiniana, John of Crete, John of Larissa and Scodra, and many other bishops.
We are constrained by the care of government which we have undertaken to extend vigilantly the solicitude of our office, and to instruct the minds of our brethren by addresses of admonition, that no wrongful presumption. may avail to deceive the ignorant, nor any dissimulation to excuse those who know. Be it known then to your Fraternity that John, formerly bishop of the city of Constantinople, against God, against the peace of the Church, to the contempt and injury of all priests, exceeded the bounds of modesty and of his own measure, and unlawfully usurped in synod the proud and pestiferous title of oecumenical, that is to say, universal. When our predecessor Pelagius of blessed memory became aware of this, he annulled by a fully valid censure all the proceedings of that same synod, except what had therein been done in the cause of Gregory, bishop of Antioch, of venerable memory; taking him to task with most severe rebuke, and warning him to abstain from that new and temerarious name of superstition; even so as to forbid his deacon to go in procession46 with him, unless he should amend so great a wickedness. And we, adhering in all respects to the zeal of his rectitude, observe his ordinances, under the protection of God, irrefragably, since it is fitting that he should walk without stumbling along the straight way of his predecessor, whom the tribunal of the eternal Judge awaits for rendering an account of the same place of government. In which matter, lest we should seem to omit anything that pertains to the peace of the Church, we once and again addressed the same most holy John by letter, bidding him relinquish that name of pride, and incline the elation of his heart to the humility which our Master and Lord has taught us. And having found that he paid no regard, we have not desisted, in our desire of concord, from addressing the like admonitions to our most blessed brother and fellow-priest Cyriacus, his successor. But since it is the case, as we see, now that the end of this world is near at hand, that the enemy of the human race has already appeared in his harbingers, so as to have as his precursors, through this title of pride, the very priests who ought to have opposed him by living well and humbly, I exhort and entreat that not one of you ever accept this name, that not one consent to it, that not one write it, that not one admit it wherever it may have been written, or add his subscription to it; but, as becomes ministers of Almighty God, that each keep himself from this kind of poisoned infection, and give no place to the cunning lier-in-wait, since this thing is being done to the injury and rendering asunder of the whole Church, and, as we have said, to the contemning of all of you. For if one, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops.
Furthermore, it has come to our knowledge that your Fraternity has been convened to Constantinople. And although our most pious Emperor allows nothing unlawful to be done there, yet, lest perverse men, taking occasion of your assembly, should seek opportunity of cajoling you in favouring this name of superstition, or should think of holding a synod about some other matter, with the view of introducing it therein by cunning contrivances,-though without the authority and consent of the Apostolic See nothing that might be passed would have any force, nevertheless, before Almighty God I conjure and warn you, that the assent of none of you be obtained by any blandishments, any bribes, any threats whatever; but, having regard to the eternal judgment, acquit ye yourselves salubriously and unanimously in opposition to wrongful aims; and, supported by pastoral constancy and apostolical authority, keep out the robber and the wolf that would rush in, and give no way to him that rages for the tearing of the Church asunder; nor allow, through any cajolery, a synod to be held on this subject, which indeed would not be a legitimate one, nor to be called a synod. We also at the same time admonish you, that if haply nothing should be done with mention of this preposterous name, but a synod be by any chance assembled on another matter, ye be in all respects cautious, circumspect, watchful, and careful, lest anything should therein be decreed against any place or person prejudicially, or unlawfully, or in opposition to the canons. But, if any question arises to be treated with advantage, let the question in hand take such a form that it may not upset any ancient ordinances. Wherefore we once more admonish you before God and His Saints, that you observe all these things with the utmost attention, and with the entire bent of your minds. For if any one, as we do not believe will be the case, should disregard in any part this present writing, let him know that he is segregated from the peace of the blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. Let, then, your Fraternity so act that when the Shepherd of shepherds comes in judgment, you may not be found guilty with respect to the place of government which you have received.
Gregory to Eulogius, &c.
I have received at the hands of the bearer of these presents the letter of your most sweet Holiness, speaking to me about your cause being terminated speedily. But, as soon as he had come, he learnt how the possession which he sought from our Church was held, and soon satisfied himself about it. The business he had with others he settled without contention.
But concerning the matter which ought by all means to have been written about to me, your Holiness has written nothing, considering me also to be tardy therein. And indeed, for fear of its breaking out into the scandal of division, I have been unwilling to be the author of such division. For I have chosen that whatever may follow should ensue through others. But in time to come, God granting it, you will have proof that in a cause wherein I desire to please God I am not afraid of men. Concerning this I took care to write to you before now, even when you went to Constantinople.
As to the timber, I had prepared pieces of a larger size, as your Blessedness had requested in your letter; but so small a ship has been sent here that it could not carry them, unless they had been cut. But I was unwilling to have them cut, and have reserved for your judgment what should be done about them. If you do not require them, we will adapt them for other uses here. Moreover, I beg of your Holiness to pray for me earnestly, since I am incessantly pressed down by pares of gout, and swords of barbarians, and distressing cares. But, if you bestow on me the help of your prayer, I believe that you will strongly aid me against all adversities.
TO Marinianus, Bishop OF Ravenna47 .
Gregory to Marinianus, &c.
What is to be done in the ease of Maximus you have learnt from the letters which we have before sent to you. But, since we have ascertained from the report of our Chartulary Castorius, the bearer of these presents, what is the wish, or rather the request, of your Fraternity in this matter, therefore if the said Maximus, in the presence of you and our aforesaid Chartulary, shall purge himself on oath from simoniacal heresy, and with respect to other charges shall, before the body of Saint Apollinaris, as we have written, reply only, when interrogated, that he is guiltless, we commit his cause to the judgment of your Fraternity, with regard to his having presumed to celebrate the solemnities of mass while excommunicated, as to what penance such fault shall be purged by. And so, whatever according to God seems good to you, do you settle without fear, and entertain no doubt with regard to us. For whatsoever may be ordained by you concerning this cause we both thankfully accept and willingly allow. Yet we exhort you that you should be careful, and so temper what you provide for being done as both to deal kindly with him, if so it shall seem fit, and by a suitable arrangement to observe, as you ought, the genius of ecclesiastical vigour. We have instructed the above-named bearer, while present with us, how he is to act with you; and, having learnt all thoroughly from him, do you so acquit yourselves in all respects that in your anxious care we may feel that our presence has been with you.
TO Castorius, Notary48 .
Gregory to Castorius, &c.
The more thou seest thyself to be trusted by us, and charged with the conduct of cases when need arises, the more oughtest thou to shew thyself energetic and solicitous. Accordingly, if Maximus of Salons, having taken oath, shall affirm that he is not guilty of simoniacal heresy, and, as to other matters, when merely questioned before the body. of Saint Apollinaris, shall reply that he is innocent, and shall have done penance, as we have directed, for his disobedience, we desire that, to console him, thy Experience should give him the letter which we have written to him49 , wherein we have signified that we have restored to him both our favour and communion. For, as it befits us to be severe to those who persist in contumacy, so to those who are again humbled and penitent we ought not to deny a place of pardon.
Furthermore, as to our brother Sabinianus, bishop of Jadera50 , and Honoratus51 , archdeacon of Salons, or others who have had recourse to the Apostolical See, Maximus must be very earnestly dealt with, so that he may receive them with becoming charity, and in no way retain in his heart any grudge against them, but live with them with pure goodwill and sincere affection.
TO Maximus, Bishop OF Salona52 .
Gregory to Maximus, &c.
Although to what was faulty in thy ordination at the first thou hast added serious evil through the fault of disobedience, yet we, tempering with becoming moderation the authority of the Apostolic See, have never been incensed against thee to the extent that the case demanded. But our displeasure which thou hadst excited against thyself continued the longer in that a sense of the responsibility entrusted to us tormented us exceedingly, lest we might seem to be passing over without attention certain unlawful doings of thine that we had heard of. And, if thou considerest well, thou wilt see that thou thyself, by deferring to satisfy us, didst confirm these reports, and thereby didst exasperate us the more against thee. But now that, following wholesome counsel, thou hast submitted thyself humbly to the yoke of obedience, and that thy love, in doing penance53 , has purged itself, as we directed, by fitting satisfaction, understand thou that the favour of brotherly charity is restored to thee, and give thanks that thou art received into our fellowship: for, as it becomes us to be strict with those who persevere in a fault, so does it to be kind in pardoning those who return to a better mind. Now, therefore, that thy Fraternity knows that he has recovered the communion of the Apostolic See, let him send some one to us, according to custom, to receive and convey to him the pallium. For, whilst we do not suffer unlawful things to be perpetrated, we no less refuse not what is customary. Further, though the discharge of the duties of our position might have called upon us to concede this, yet we are greatly constrained thereto by the request of our most sweet and excellent son, the lord Exarch Callinicus, that we would treat thee with moderation. His most dear wish we cannot resist, nor can we cause him sorrow.
TO Anatolius, Constantinopolitan Deacon54 .
Gregory to Anatolius, &c.
To good and devoted sons it is worth our labour so to respond as to double, because we are paying a debt, what it would befit us of our own mere motion to bestow upon them. Seeing, then, that the bearer of these presents, our son the magnificent Marcellinus55 , has demeaned himself as he has in the cause of our brother and fellow-bishop Maximus and in that of the Istraians, and is anxious to employ himself for the advantage of our Church, therefore, that he may be able more and more to shew his sincere affection not only in words but also in deeds, we hereby exhort thy Love to co-operate with him when he comes to the royal city with entire zeal and earnestness, and to be at pains so to assist him with all the succour in thy power, that, supported by the aid of Almighty God and thine, he may have the less difficulty to contend with there. Thou wilt also study so to attend to him as to one who is in very truth our own, and so to bestow on him the efficiency of thy charity, that he may both recognise a return made to him for the past, and also be able to entertain a great hope of retribution in the future for his devotion which he promises to exhibit in the service of the Church. But inasmuch as, so far as we have learnt, the most serene lord the Emperor had commanded our aforesaid magnificent son to hasten to wait upon him immediately, it is fitting for thee to seek an opportunity of intimating that it was no faulty disobedience, but the cause of our brother and fellow-bishop Maximus, that has detained him: which cause, though late, has nevertheless through his exertions been brought to a conclusion. But this we desire thy Love to attend to carefully; not to allow thyself to be mixed up in any cause whatever where there is oppression of the poor; lest haply, under pressure to some extent from persons in power, thou shouldest be driven to do what could not be of advantage to thy soul. Dealing, then, with all matters in the fear of God, consider especially the eternal reward.
Gregory to Fortunatus, &c.
Inasmuch as the Father of God's servants whom I had sent to the city of Naples has, by the ordering of God as it hath pleased Him, departed this life, it has seemed good to me to send the bearer of these presents, the monk Barbatianus, for the government of the same monks. For the present we decide that he shall be Prior, so that, if his life should approve itself to thy Fraternity, thou mayest after a little time ordain him as their Father. For he has some good qualities that commend him. But he has this great fault, that he is exceedingly wise in his own conceit. And it is evidently known how many branches of sin may spring from this root. Let thy Holiness, therefore, keep careful watch over him; and if you shall find him become wary in government and humble in his own mind, then, with the permission of God, advance him to the dignity of Abbot. But, if he makes little progress in humility, defer his ordination, and report to me56 .
TO Gulfaris, Magister Militum57 .
Gregory to Gulfaris, &c.
The bearers of these presents, who come to us from the Istrian parts, have reported such good things of your Glory as to inflame us ardently to return you thanks. For we learn that, among the cares of the government of those parts which has been committed to you, you are especially anxious to Win souls, and that you so take pains to recall the hearts of wanderers to the unity of the Church that, as far as your desire goes, you would have no one there separated from the Apostolic Church; and that so great love of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, inflames you that you long with all your heart to restore the sheepfold of him to whom the keys were delivered by the Lord the Creator of all. Have, glorious son, from such and so great a work, a confident anticipation of divine retribution, wherein not only our admonition but also the words of the apostle confirm thee, since he who shall have caused a sinner to be converted from the error of his way shall save his soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins (James v.). For, however great be temporal affluence, or at any rate prosperity, it has its end,-the limit of death. But this pursuit of winning souls, which you have taken up, retains the certainty of its hope fixed; to wit, the retribution of eternal life. Wherefore, greeting you with fatherly affection, we exhort your Glory that you the more earnestly give effect to the zeal for the unity of our holy faith which the Author of unity Himself has given you; and that, recalling whomsoever you can from the error of their schism into the bosom of Mother Church, you cherish them with continual admonition. And accomplish this also,-so to protect with the succour of your defence those whom the Lord through you may grant to be restored to His fold that there may be no quarter to which those who are still in error may be able to resort for the accusation of such as return to sound counsels. For, while you uphold the cause of God on earth, He Himself will prosperously direct your actions here with the aid of His protection, and there will remain for you, in the eternal life which you long for, retribution for your so great well-doing.
Gregory to Romanus, &c.
The bearers of these presents, who came hither from the parts of Istria to find their bishop who is now living in the parts of Sicily, have asked us to speed them in their way, and we have arranged for their journey hence. Let, then, thy Experience receive them, and arrange for their reaching their said bishop as soon as possible; lest, as they allege may be the case, others of the schismatics in those parts should be beforehand to persuade them. For, so far as they indicate, the bishop himself has a desire to come to us in behalf of the unity of the faith. Assistance therefore should be given them, that, with the help of the Lord, they may accomplish the good things they desire. But let thy Experience, in person if he is near at hand or otherwise by letter, exhort this same bishop to lose no tithe in hastening, with the Lord's good favour, to the threshold of the Apostles, being assured that he will be received by us with all affection. We also desire thee to pay him the cost of his journey to enable him to come to us. But, if he finds coming here burdensome, and arranges to live in Sicily, and consents, with his security given, to remain in the unity of the Church among the perverters of Scripture, this also do not thou delay to inform us of, that we may arrange, with the help of the Lord, how provision may be made for his expenses there. But lend also thy concurrence and succour for the bearers of these letters to come to their said bishop, so that after leaving us they may experience no less attention.
TO Theodore, Curator58 OF Ravenna.
Gregory to Theodore, &c.
Although from the report of our responsalis we have long heard many things of you to rejoice our heart, yet now our son the abbot Probus, who has returned to us, has reported still further such things of the charity of your Glory as it is becoming should be told of a really good and most Christian son. And, since he has told us of such kind feeling on your part, and such earnestness in arranging the peace as has not appeared even in our own citizens who have previously been in your parts, we beg the mercy of heavenly protection to recompense you for this in body and in soul both here and in the world to come, seeing that you have not ceased to act advantageously for the weal of many.
We inform you therefore that Ariulf59 has sworn to the observance of the peace, not as his King swore60 , but under the condition that no excess should in any way be committed against himself, and that no one should march against the army of Aroges61 . This begin altogether unfair and crafty, we take it as if he had not sworn,-since to some extent he will easily find for himself an occasion of exceeding, and will deceive us the more if we are not on our guard against him.
But Warnilfrid, according to whose advice this same Ariulf acts in all respects, has scorned to swear at all. And so it has come to pass that from the peace which we so much desired, we in these parts can have hardly any remedy, since we must still, and for the future, be on our guard against the same enemies that we have been on our guard against so far.
Furthermore, be it known to your Glory that the King's men who have been sent hither press us to subscribe to the compact, But remembering the insults which, to the injury through us of the blessed Peter, Agilulph is said to have addressed to the most illustrious Basilius, though Agilulph himself has entirely denied this, we have still thought it prudent to abstain from subscription, lest we, who are petitioners and mediators between him and our most excellent son the lord Exarch, should find ourselves deceived in any respect, in case of anything being perchance secretly with drawn (i.e. from the compact), and he should find an occasion of not assenting to our petition. And so we beg, as we have requested also of our aforesaid most excellent son, that your Glory, with the charity whereby you are united to us, would take measures to the end that, before these men return from Arogis, the king may send them letters posthaste, to be, however, handed on to us, ordering them not to call on us to subscribe. But, if it serves the purpose, we will cause our glorious brother, or one of the bishops, or at any rate an archdeacon, to subscribe.
With regard to Augustus we thank you, and are giving attention to his settling his cause with his adversary in accordance with equity; having been unwilling that the trouble of putting in an appearance with you should be imposed upon him, yet so as not to deny justice to his adversary.
With regard to other matters since it has not been so far in our power to thank you adequately, we will for the future send to you our responsalis, through whom, by the mercy of God, we may be the more bound together in the charity wherein we are knit to each other. Moreover, the sorrow of your Glory affects us exceedingly; but since a wise man knows all that can be said in the way of comfort, we omit comforting you with words; but we attend you with our prayers, beseeching Almighty God to guard the life and health of yourself and all yours under the protection of His loving-kindness, and to console your heart while in a state of affliction.
Gregory to Serenus, &c.
That we have been so long in sending a letter to your Fraternity attribute not to sluggishness, but to press of business. We now commend to you in all respects the bearer of these presents, our most beloved son Cyriacus, the Father of our Monastery, that no delay may detain him in the city of Massilia, but that he may proceed under God's protection to our brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius62 with the succour of your Holiness.
Furthermore we notify to you that it has come to our ears that your Fraternity, seeing certain adorers of images, broke and threw down these same images in Churches. And we commend you indeed for your zeal against anything made with hands being an object of adoration; but we signify to you that you ought not to have broken these images. For pictorial representation is made use of in Churches for this reason; that such as are ignorant of letters may at least read by looking at the walls what they cannot read in books. Your Fraternity therefore should have both preserved the images and prohibited the people from adoration of them, to the end that both those who are ignorant of letters might have wherewith to gather a knowledge of the history, and that the people might by no means sin by adoration of a pictorial representation63 .
TO Syagrius, Aetherius, Virgilius, Anddesiderius, Bishops64 .
Gregory to Syagrius of Augustodunum (Autun), Etherius of Lugdunum (Lyons), Virgilius of Aretale (Arles), and Desiderius of Vienna (Vienne), bishops of Gaul. A paribus.
Our Head, which is Christ, has to this end willed us to be His members, that through the bond of charity and faith He might make us one body in Himself. And to Him it befits us so to adhere in heart, that, since without Him we can be nothing, through Him we may be able to be what we are called. Let nothing divide us from the citadel of our Head, lest, if we refuse to be His members, we be left apart from Him, and wither like branches cast off from the vine. Wherefore, that we may be counted worthy to be the dwelling-place of our Redeemer, let us abide in His love with entire earnestness of mind. For He Himself says, He that loveth me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (Joh. xiv. 23). But, since we cannot keep close to the author of all good, unless we cut away from us covetousness, which is the root of all evil, we therefore by these present writings (which associate us together mutually as in the alternate discourse of a wished for visitation) approach your Fraternity in accordance with apostolic institutes, that, leaning on the rules of the Fathers and the Lord's commands, we may banish from the temple of faith avarice, which is the service of idols, so as to suffer nothing hurtful, and nothing disorderly, to be in the house of the Lord.
I apprize you to wit, that we have long heard it currently reported how that in the regions of Gaul sacred orders are conferred through simoniacal heresy. And we are affected with sorrowful disgust, if money has any place in ecclesiastical offices, and that which is sacred is made secular. Whosoever, then, sets himself to buy this thing by the giving of a price, having regard not to the office but to the title, covets not to be a priest, but only to be called one. What forsooth? What comes of this but that there is no trial of a man's conduct, no carefulness about his moral character, no enquiry into his life, but that he only is counted worthy who has the means to give a price? Hence it ensues, if the matter be weighed in a true balance, that, while one wickedly makes haste to snatch a place of utility with a view to vain glory, he is all the more unworthy from the very fact of his seeking dignity. Moreover, as one who refuses when invited and flies when sought should be brought up to the sacred altar, so one that sues of his own accord and pushes himself forward importunately should without doubt be repelled. For whoever thus strives to climb to higher places, what does he but decrease in increasing, and in rising outwardly sink low inwardly? Wherefore, dearest brethren, in ordaining priests let sincerity prevail, let there be simple consent without venality, let a pure election be preferred, so that advancement to the highest place of the priesthood may be believed to be due, not to the suffrage of sellers, but to the judgment of God. For that it is a grievous crime to wish to procure or to sell the gift of God for a price evangelical authority is witness (Matth. xxi.).
For, when our Lord and Redeemer went into the temple, He overthrew the seats of them that sold doves. What else is it to sell doves but to receive a price for the laying on of hands, and to put to sale the Holy Spirit whom Almighty God gives to men? And that the priesthood of such as do so falls before the eyes of God is plainly signified by the overthrowing of the seats. And yet the perverseness of this iniquity still puts forth its strength. For it drives those to sell whom it deceives into buying. And, while attention is not paid to what is enjoined by the divine voice, Freely ye have received, freely give (Matth. x. 8), it is brought to pass that it increases, and becomes doubled in one and the same contagion of sin, to wit of the buyer and of the seller. And, it being welt known that this heresy crept into the Church with a pestiferous root before all others, and was condemned in its very origin by apostolic detestation, why is it not guarded against? Why is it not considered that blessing is turned into a curse to him who is promoted to the end that he may become a heretic?
For the most part, then, the adversary of souls, when unable to insinuate into them what is wrong on the face of it, endeavours to supplant them by throwing over it as it were a show of piety, and persuades them, perhaps, that money ought to be received from those who have it, so that there may be wherewith to give to those who have it not, if only he may even so infuse mortal poisons concealed under the appearance of almsgiving. For neither would the hunter deceive the wild beast, nor the fowler the bird, nor the fisherman catch the fish, if the former were to set their snares in open view, or if the latter had not his hook hidden by the bait. By all means, then, the cunning of the enemy is to be feared and guarded against, lest those whom he cannot subvert by open temptation he should succeed in slaying more cruelly by a hidden weapon. For indeed it is not to be accounted almsgiving if that be dispensed to the poor which is got by unlawful dealings, since he who with this intention receives amiss as though with the view of dispensing well is the worse for it rather than the better. The alms that please the eyes of our Redeemer are not those that are gathered together in unlawful ways and from iniquity, but such as are bestowed out of what has been granted to us and well acquired. Hence this also is certain, that, though monasteries or hospitals or aught else be built with the money given for sacred orders, it profits not for reward; since, when one that is perverse and a buyer of dignity is transferred to a holy place, and constitutes others after the likeness of himself for a consideration given, he destroys more by his evil administration than he who has received money from him for ordination can build up. That we should not, then, try to get anything with sin under pretence of almsgiving we are plainly warned by Holy Scripture, which says, The sacrifices of the impious are abominable which are offered of wickedness (Prov. xxi. 27). For whatever in God's sacrifice is offered of wickedness appeases not, but provokes, the anger of Almighty God. Hence again it is written, Honour the Lord from thy just labours (Prov. iii. 9). Whoso, then, takes evilly that he may, as he supposes, give well, it is evident without doubt that he honours not the Lord. Hence also it is said through Solomon, Whoso offers a sacrifice of the substance of the poor is as though he slew a son in his father's sight (Ecclus. xxxiv. 24). Now let us consider how great is a father's grief if his son be killed in his sight: and hence we easily understand how much God is grieved when a sacrifice is given Him out of pillage. Exceedingly to be shunned then, most beloved brethren, is the perpetration of the sins of simoniacal heresy under pretence of almsgiving. For it is one thing to do alms on account of sins, but another to commit sins on account of alms.
This also, which has reached our ears, we include as worthy of no dissimilar detestation; that some persons, inflated with desire of dignity, are tonsured on the death of bishops, and from being laymen are suddenly made priests, and shamelessly snatch at the leadership of religious life, not having as yet even learnt to be soldiers. What good do we suppose these will do their subjects, who, before touching the threshold of discipleship, fear not to occupy the place of mastership? In such a case it is needful that, even though any one were of unquestioned merit, he should be exercised in ecclesiastical offices by passing through distinct orders. He should see what he is to imitate, he should be formed into the shape he is to retain, so that afterwards he may not err, when chosen for shewing the way of life to the erring He should, then, be polished long by religious meditation, that he may be well-pleasing, and so shine as a candle placed on a candlestick that the adverse force of winds driving against the kindled flame of erudition may not extinguish it, but increase it. For, since it is written, That one should first be proved, and so minister ( 1 Tim. iii. 10), much more ought he first to be proved who is taken as an intercessor for the people, lest bad priests should become the cause of the people's ruin. There can therefore be no excuse, no defence against this, since it is clearly known to all how solicitous about diligent attention to this matter is the holy and excellent teacher, who forbids that a novice should accede to sacred orders (1 Tim. iii.). But, as then one was called a novice who had been newly planted in the conversation of the holy faith, so one is now to be held to be a novice who, having been suddenly planted in the habit of religion, creeps on to canvass for sacred dignities. Orders, then, should be risen to in an orderly way: for he courts a fall who seeks to rise to the topmost heights of a place by steep ascents, disregarding the steps that lead to it. And, seeing that the same apostle teaches his disciple, among other directions with regard. to sacred orders, that hands are to be laid hastily on no man (1 Tim. v.), what can be more hasty or what more headlong than to begin at the top, and that a man should commence by being a bishop before he has been a minister? Whosoever, then, desires to obtain priesthood, not for the pomp of elation but for doing good, let him first measure his own strength with the burden he is to undergo, that, if unequal to it, he may abstain, and also approach it with fear, even if he thinks himself sufficient for it.
Further, it will not be beside the mark, if, in addition to the argument from rational beings we draw one from our use of irrational things. For timber Suitable for buildings is cut from forests, and yet the weight of the building is not imposed on them while they are yet green, or till a delay of many days has dried their greenness, and rendered them fit for necessary use. And, if by any chance this precaution is neglected, they are soon broken by the mass imposed upon them, and the material provided for support begets ruin.
For hence also medical men, whose care is for the body, do not offer certain remedies to him that needs them while recently concocted, but leave them to be macerated for some time. For, should any one give them immaturely, there is no doubt that the means of health become a cause of danger. Let them learn, therefore, let priests in their office learn, those namely to whom the cure of souls is entrusted, to observe what men of various arts under the teaching of reason attend to, and restrain themselves from ambition, if not of fear, yet at any rate of very shame.
But, lest perchance any one should still wish to defend himself on the pretext of an evil custom, let the discretion of your Fraternity restrain them with the rein of reason, and not allow them to lapse into unlawful doings, since whatever is deserving of punishment ought not to be adduced as an example for imitation, but for correction.
Nor, further, can we suffer you to pass over neglectfully this other matter, which alike requires correction. For of what profit is it to have guarded all besides if through one place pernicious access be afforded to the enemy? Therefore let women be prohibited from living with those who are constituted in any sacred order. With regard to them, lest the old enemy of the human race should exult, it must be laid down by the consent of all that they may have no other women with them but those whom the sacred canons include And, though this interdiction is perhaps hitter for the time to some, there is no doubt that it will afterwards grow sweet from its very benefit to their souls, if the enemy be overcome in that whereby he might have overcome them.
In this part of our solicitude also we must not leave unnoticed what has been ordained by the provision of the Fathers, for the sake of advantage, concerning the holding of councils throughout dioceses. Wherefore, test there should be any dissension among brethren, or any fomentation of discord between superiors and subordinates, it is necessary that priests should assemble together, so that there may be discussion about cases that arise, and salutary conference about ecclesiastical observances; to the end that, while things past are corrected and things future regulated, the Almighty Lord may be praised on all sides in one accord by brethren. Know ye whose presence will be with you, seeing that it is written, Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matth. xviii. 20). If, then, He will vouchsafe to be present where there are two or three, how much more will He not be wanting where many priests have come together? And indeed it is not unknown what is appointed by the rules of the Fathers as to the holding of a council twice in the year. But, lest haply any necessity should not allow this rule to be carried out, we decree that still one shall meet, without any excuse allowed, once; so that nothing wrong, nothing unlawful, may be ventured on while a council is being expected. For commonly, though not from love of justice, yet from fear of enquiry, people abstain from that which it is known may displease the judgment of all. Let us, most beloved brethren, keep this observance to be left to our posterity; and let us meditate on all that is written in the sacred writings for our instruction, and incite all we can to follow it. For it is certain that, if with all our heart we attend to these salutary precepts, we escape all taint of vices, since, while we lean on these whereby we are built up, we shut out, no doubt, all place for deception.
Therefore for the purposes mentioned above, we desire your Fraternity, God willing, to assemble a synod, and in it, through the mediation of our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Aregius65 , and our most beloved son Cyriacus, let all things that are, as we have before said, opposed to the sacred canons, be strictly condemned under the ban of anathema; that is, that any one should presume to give any consideration for acquiring ecclesiastical orders, or receive any for conferring them; or that any one should all at once from a lay condition dare to enter on a place of rule; or that any other women should live with priests but such as are allowed, as aforesaid, by the sacred canons. Concerning all these things let our most reverend brother the bishop Syagrius, with the whole synod, when our most beloved brother Cyriacus returns to us, take care to send us word of what has been done; in order that, knowing accurately what has been decreed, and with what safeguards and in what manner, we may render thanks without ceasing to Almighty God for your life and manners.
TO Aregius, Bishop OF Vapincum66 .
Gregory to Aregius, Bishop in Gaul.
The affliction of your Fraternity, which we have learnt that you have had for the loss of your people, has given us such cause of grief that, since charity makes us two one, we feel our heart to be especially in your tribulations. But in the midst of this we have been much consoled by your having brought your mind to discern how it becomes you to bear sorrow patiently, and, in the hope of another life, not to have long continued grief for death. Still, lest some tribulation should still maintain itself in your soul, I exhort you to rest from sorrow, to cease to be sad. For it is unseemly to addict oneself to wearisomeness of affliction for those of whom it is to be believed that they have attained to true life by dying. Those have perhaps just excuse for long continued grief who know not of another life, and have no trust that there is a passing from this world to a better. We, however, who know this, who believe it and teach it, ought not to be too much distressed for them that depart, lest what in others has a show of affection, be to us rather a matter of blame. For it is, as it were, a kind of distrust to be tormented by sadness in opposition to what everyone preaches, as the Apostle says, But we would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope (1 Thess. iv. 12).
Having, therefore, this reason before us, dearest brother, we should try, as we have said, not to afflict ourselves about the dead, but bestow affection on the living, to whom pity may be of advantage and love bear fruit. Let us henceforth hasten, by reproving, exhorting, persuading, soothing, comforting, to profit all we can. Let our tongue be an encouragement to the good, a goad to the bad; let it beat down the puffed up, appease the angry, stir up the slow, kindle the idle by exhortation, persuade the shrinkers back, soothe the rough, comfort the despairing; that, as we are called leaders, we may shew the way of salvation to them that are advancing forward. Let us be vigilant in keeping guard, let us defend all approaches against the snares of the enemy. And, if ever error should have drawn aside a sheep of the flocks committed to us through devious ways, let us strive with all our endeavours to recall it to the Lord's sheepfolds, so that from the name of shepherd which we bear we may reap not punishment, but a reward. Seeing, then, that in all this there is need of the help of divine grace, let us implore the clemency of Almighty God with continual prayers, to the end that for doing these things He may give us the will and grant us the power, and, with the fruit of good work, direct us in that way in which He has declared Himself to be the Shepherd of shepherds; that so, through Him, without whom we cannot rise to the doing of anything, we may be able to accomplish all
Furthermore, our common son, Peter the deacon, has given us to understand that your Fraternity at the time when you were here requested that we would grant to yourself and your archdeacon license to use dalmatics67 . But, because compelled by the sickness of your people, you departed in such haste that the very grief that weighed upon you did not suffer you to press the matter any longer, as was fit and as the nature of your request required; and because we had many engagements, and consideration of ecclesiastical propriety did not allow us to concede a new thing inconsiderately and suddenly; for these reasons the carrying into effect of the thing demanded has been long postponed. Now, however, recalling to mind your Charity's good deservings, by the tenor of this our authority we grant you your request, and have granted to thee or to thy archdeacon to be decorated by the use of dalmatics; and we have sent the same dalmatics by the hands of our most beloved son, the abbot Cyriacus.
Furthermore, at the synod which we have decreed should be assembled through our brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius against simoniacal heresy, we desire thee to be present; and we have ordered the pallium which we have sent for our said brother to be accordingly given him, on condition of his promising to remove from holy Church, by a definition of the synod, the unlawful things which we have prohibited. Concerning which synod we desire thy Fraternity to report to us fully by letter all its proceedings, that thou thyself, whose holiness we are well acquainted with, mayest inform us about everything.
Gregory to Syagrius, Bishop of Augustodunum (Autun).
Mistress of all good things is charity, which savours of nothing extraneous, nothing rough, nothing confused; which so exercises and strengthens hearts that nothing is heavy, nothing difficult, but all that is done becomes sweet. Since, then, it is its peculiar quality to foster things that are concordant, to preserve things that are united, to join together things that are dissociated, to set right things that are wrong, and to consolidate all other virtues by the bulwark of its own perfection, whosoever grafts himself into its roots neither falls away from greenness, nor becomes empty of fruits, because effective work loses not the moisture of fecundity. And so I am much delighted with thee, and rejoice with thee in the Lord, most beloved brother, for that I find thee, by the testimony of many, so endowed with this same charity that thou both thyself becomingly exhibitest what befits a priest, and laudably shewest an example for imitation to others.
Inasmuch, then, as in the work of preaching (which after long thought I have taken care to supply to the nation of the Angli through Augustine, then provost (praepositum) of my monastery, and now our brother and fellow-bishop), I have found thee to be, as was right, so solicitous, devoted, and in all ways helpful, as to lay me under a great debt to thee in this matter, therefore moved by the consideration of so great an obligation, I cannot bear to put aside thy Fraternity's petition, lest I should appear towards thee unprofitable. Consequently, according to the tenor of thy request, we have provided under God for thy being dignified by the use of the pallium68 , to be worn within thy church, in the celebration of mass only. Nevertheless we have decided that it should be given thee only on condition of thy first promising to amend by the definition of a synod the things that we have ordered to be corrected; for we certainly deem it fit that, with the gravity of mind in which by the mercy of God we have learnt that thou excel-lest, a more distinguished adornment of outward apparel should accrue to thee; especially as we think that thou hast asked for it, not with a view to the pomp of needless elation but with regard to the character and dignity of thy Church. And, lest in this vestment we should seem to be bestowing as it were a bare bounty, we have taken thought at the same time for the granting of this also;-that, while the Metropolitan has in all respects his place and dignity preserved to him, the Church of Augustodunum should be next after the Church of Lugdunum (Lyons), and should claim to itself this place and rank by the indulgence of our authority. But as to the other bishops, we decree that they shall take their places according to the date of their ordination, whether for sitting in council, or for subscribing, or in any other matter, and shall claim to themselves the prerogative of their several ranks: for it seems to us consonant to reason that with the use of the pallium we should together with it, as we have said, bestow some privileges.
But, since with augmentation of dignity the sense of responsibility ought also to increase, that the adornments of action may agree with the decoration of vestments, your Fraternity should exercise yourself the more earnestly in all your pursuits. Be vigilant with regard to the doings of those who are under you; let your example be their instruction, and your life their teacher. By the exhortation of your tongue let them learn what to fear, and be taught what to love; that, when thou givest up the talents entrusted to thee with multiplied gain, in the day of retribution thou mayest be counted worthy to hear, Well done, good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matth. xxv. 23).
Gregory to Brunichild, &c.
Now that your Excellency's royal solicitude is in all matters of government praiseworthy, you ought, for the increase of your glory, to show yourself more watchful, and careful not to allow those whom you rule with counsel outwardly to perish inwardly among themselves. So may you, through the fruit of your pious solicitude, after occupying this topmost height of a temporal kingdom, attain under God to kingdoms and joys that are eternal. And this we trust you will be able after the following manner to succeed in; if, among other good deeds, you pay attention to the ordination of priests69 ; whose office, as we have learnt, has come in your parts to be such an object of ambition that priests are ordained all at once from being laymen. This is a very serious matter. For what can they effect, I what good can they do the people, who covet being made bishops, not for doing good, but for distinction? These, then, who have not yet learnt what they have to teach-what do they effect, but that the unlawful advancement of a few becomes the ruin of many, and that the observance of ecclesiastical government is brought into confusion, seeing the no regular order is observed? For whoso comes to the control thereof inconsiderately and hurriedly, with what admonition can he edify those who are put under him, his example having taught them, not reason, but error? It is a shame in truth, it is a shame, for one to command others what he knows not how to observe himself.
Nor do we pass over that other thing which in like manner requires amendment, but detest it as utterly execrable and a most serious matter; that in your parts sacred orders are conferred through simoniacal heresy, which was the first to arise against the Church, and was condemned with a rigorous malediction. Hence, therefore, it is brought about that the dignity of the priesthood comes into contempt, and holy honour under condemnation. And so reverence perishes, discipline is destroyed, since he who ought to have corrected faults committed them; and by nefarious ambition the honourable priesthood is brought under censure and disparagement. For who will any more venerate what is sold, or not think worthless what is bought? Hence I am greatly distressed, and condole with that land; since, while they scorn to have as a divine gift, but compass by bribes, the Holy Spirit which Almighty God deigns to bestow on men through the imposition of hands, I do not think that the priesthood can long subsist there. For where the gifts of heavenly grace are sold, the life is not sought for God's service, but rather money is venerated in opposition to God. Seeing then that so great a wickedness is not only a danger to them, but also in no small degree injurious to your kingdom, greeting your Excellency with fatherly affection we beseech you to make God propitious to you by the correction of this enormity. And, that there may be henceforth no opportunity of committing it, let a synod be held by your order, at which, in the presence of our most beloved son, the abbot Cyriacus70 , it shall be interdicted strictly under pain of anathema that any one should dare to pass suddenly from a lay condition to the degree of the Episcopate, or any one whatever dare to give or receive anything for ecclesiastical orders; that so our Lord and Redeemer may so deal with the things that are yours as He shall see you to be solicitous with pious devotion in the things that are His. But we have taken special care to delegate the charge and management of this synod, which we have decided should be held, to our brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius, whom we know to be peculiarly your own; and we beg you to deign both to lend a willing ear to his supplication, and to support him by your aid; to the end that what may redound to your reward, namely a pious and God-pleasing ordination of priests, the contagion of this evil being removed, may take effect within all the limits of your jurisdiction.
To this our brother, in that he has shewn himself exceedingly devoted with regard to the mission which has been sent, under God, to the nation of the Angli, we have sent a pallium to be used in the solemnities of mass, so that, having given aid in things spiritual, he may find himself advanced by the favour of the Prince of the apostles in the spiritual order itself.
Furthermore, we have altogether wondered why in your kingdom you allow Jews to possess Christian slaves. For what are all Christians but members of Christ? And we all know that you sincerely honour the Head of these members. But let your Excellency consider how inconsistent it is to honour the Head and to allow the members to be trampled on by his enemies. And so we beg that your Excellency's ordinance may remove the mischief of this iniquity from your kingdom; so that you may prove yourself the more to be a worthy worshipper of Almighty God, in that you set his faithful ones free from His enemies.
TO Theoderic And Theodebert, Kings OF The Franks71 .
Gregory to Theoderic, &c.
Since the renown of your kingdom has been resplendent of old among all others by the grace of the Christian religion, great pains should be taken that, wherein you stand out more glorious than other nations, you should therein please more perfectly the Almighty Lord who gives health and wealth to kings, and have the faith which you observe in all ways helpful to you. We had wished indeed, most excellent sons, to address to you a discourse of friendly greeting only, so as to shew our fatherly affection in offices of charity. But, seeing that an unlawful proceeding distresses us exceedingly, it befits us so to exhibit one thing as by no means to pass over in silence the other which needs amendment. If you give diligent attention, you will find that we speak entirely for the security of your well-being.
Now it is said that simoniacal heresy (which was the first to creep in by the devil's planting against the Church of God, and was at its very rise smitten and condemned by the weapon of apostolical vengeance) prevails within the limits of your kingdom, though faith together with good life ought to be chosen in priests.
If good life is wanting, faith has no merit, as the blessed James attests, who says, Faith without works is dead (Jam; ii. 18). But what can be the works of a priest who is convicted of obtaining the dignity of so great a sacrament by a bribe? Thus it is brought about that even the very persons who are desiring sacred orders take no pains to amend their lives or order their conduct, but busy themselves in amassing wealth wherewith to buy sacred dignity. Hence also it comes to pass that the innocent and poor recoil from sacred orders, being debarred and looked down upon. And while the innocence of the poor man displeases, there is no doubt that the bribe in the other case commends delinquencies; for, where gold pleases, so does vice. Hence, therefore, not only is a deadly wound inflicted on the souls of the ordainer and of the ordained, but also the Kingdom of your Excellence is weighed down by the fault of your bishops, by whose intercessions it ought rather to have been aided. For, if he is thought worthy of the priesthood who is supported, not by the merits of his doings, but by the abundance of his bribes, it remains that neither gravity nor industry can put in any claim for ecclesiastical dignities, but that the profane love of gold obtains all. And, while vices are remunerated with dignity, he is promoted to the place of the avenger who perhaps ought to have vengeance executed on himself; and hence priests are shewn not to profit others, but rather themselves to perish. For, when the shepherd is wounded, who may apply medicine for healing the sheep? Or how shall he protect the people with the shield of prayer who exposes himself to be stricken by hostile darts? Or what kind of fruit shall he produce out of himself, whose root is infected by sore disease? Greater calamity, then, is to be apprehended in those places where such intercessors are promoted to places of rule, being such as to provoke the more the anger of God against themselves which they ought, through themselves, to have appeased in behalf of the people.
Moreover, we have heard that the farms of the Churches do not pay tribute; and we are consequently lost in great surprise, if unlawful payments be sought from those to whom even lawful ones are remitted72 .
Nor does our solicitude allow us to pass over this evil also; that some, lured by the instigation of vain glory, snatch all at once, from a lay condition of life, at the dignity of priesthood, and (what it shames one to say, though it is too serious a matter to pass over in silence) those who require to be ruled neither blush nor fear to appear as rulers, and those that require to be taught as teachers. Persons assume shamelessly the leadership of souls to whom the whole way to be taken by the leader is unknown, and who know not whither even they themselves are walking. How bad and how venturesome this is, is shewn even by secular order and discipline. For, seeing that a leader of an army is not chosen unless he has been tried in labour and carefulness, let those who desire with immature haste to mount to the height of episcopacy consider, at any rate by the aid of this comparison, of what sort leaders of souls should be; and let them abstain from attempting suddenly untried labours, lest a blind ambition for dignity both be to their own penalty and also sow seeds of pestiferous error to others, they themselves not having learnt what they have to teach. Accordingly, greeting you with fatherly affection, we beg, most excellent sons, that you would be at pains to banish this so detestable an evil from the limits of your kingdom, and that no excuse, no suggestion against your soul, find place with you; since he who neglects to amend what he is able to correct, undoubtedly has the guilt of the doer. Wherefore, that you may be able to offer a great gift to Almighty God, order a synod to be assembled, in which (as we have enjoined our brethren and fellow-bishops), in the presence of our most beloved son the abbot Cyriacus, it may be ordained under the obligation of anathema that no one may ever give and no one ever receive anything for an ecclesiastical order, nor any one of the laity pass all at once to the priesthood; that so our Redeemer, whose priests you suffer not to be ruined among themselves by the enemy, may recompense you for this service both here and in the life to come.
Furthermore, we are altogether astonished that in your kingdom you allow Jews to possess Christian slaves. For what are all Christians but members of Christ? The Head of these members we all know that you honour faithfully: but let your Excellency consider how inconsistent it is to honour the Head and to allow His members to be trodden on by His enemies. And so, we beg that an ordinance of your Excellency may remove the evil of this wrong-doing from your kingdom, that you may thus shew yourselves the more. to be worthy worshippers of Almighty God, in that you set free His faithful servants from His enemies.
Gregory to Virgilius, &c.
Inasmuch as the desire of a pious purpose and the bent of a laudable devotion ought always to be aided by the earnest endeavours of priests, anxious care should be taken that neither remissness, neglect nor presumption disturb whatever has been ordained for the quiet of monks and of religious conversation. But, as it was right that what reason required should be profitably prescribed, so what has been prescribed ought not to be violated. Now Childebert of glorious memory, King of the Franks, inflamed by love of the Catholic religion, in founding for his own reward a monastery for men within the walls of the city of Arelate, as we find set down in writing, granted certain things there for the sustentation of its inmates. And, lest his purpose should ever be frustrated, and what had been arranged for the quiet of the monks be disturbed, he prayed in his letters that whatever rights he conceded to the said monastery might be confirmed by apostolical authority; adding this also to his petition, that certain privileges might at the same time be accorded to the same monastery, as well in the management of its affairs as in the ordination of its abbot. This he did as knowing such reverence to be paid by the faithful to the Apostolic See that what had been settled by its decree no molestation of unlawful usurpation would thereafter shake. Hence, since the royal purpose as well as the thing desired, urgently demanded effect to be given to it, letters were sent by our predecessor Vigilius, bishop of the Roman See, to your predecessor Aurelius, wherein all things that a desire to embrace that purpose demanded were willingly confirmed by the support of apostolical authority, inasmuch as a thing of this kind, when requested, could not be allowed to encounter difficulty. But, that your Fraternity may know what was decreed at that time, we have seen to the written orders of our aforesaid predecessor being added to this letter. These having been perused, we exhort thee to keep them all inviolate with priestly earnestness, as becomes thee, and to allow nothing undue or unlawful to be imposed on that monastery, or the said orders to be infringed by any usurpation. For, though what has once been sanctioned by the authority of the Apostolic See has no lack of validity, yet we do, over and above, once more corroborate by our authority in all respects all things that were ordained by our predecessor for quiet in this matter. Let your Fraternity, then, so acquit yourself in observing them as both to shut out all occasion of disturbance, and also to persuade others to carry these things out, while you shew yourself careful and devoted, as becomes yon, in observing the most pious will of the departed one.
Gregory to Virgilius, Bishop of Arelate (Arles), and Syagrius, Bishop of Augustodunum ( Autun).
The nature of the office committed to me, dearest brethren, drives me to break out into a cry of grief, and to sharpen your love with the anxiety of charity, for that it is said that you in your parts have been too negligent and remiss, where the rectitude of justice and zeal for chastity ought to have inflamed your earnestness. Now it has come to our ears that a certain Syagria had entered on a religious life, having even changed her dress, and was afterwards united by force to a husband (a thing iniquitous to be told), and that you have been moved by no sorrow to interfere in her defence. If this is so, I groan for it the more heavily for fear lest with the Almighty Lord (which God forbid) you should have the office of hirelings, and not the merit of shepherds, as having left without a struggle a sheep in the mouth of the wolf to be torn. For what will ye say, or what account will ye give of yourselves to the future judge; you whom the lewdness of ravishment has not moved, whom regard to the religious habit has in no wise excited to stand up in defence, whom priestly consideration has not roused to protect the purity of virgin modesty? Even now, then, let your neglect return to your memory; let remembrance of this fault stir you, and consideration of your office impel you to exhortation of the aforesaid woman. And, lest haply in course of time constraint should have passed into willing consent, let your tongue be her cure, and through your exhortations let her give herself diligently to prayer; let not the lamentations of penitence depart from her memory; let her exhibit a penitent heart to our Redeemer; and let her make amends with weeping for the loss of chastity, which in her body it was not allowed leer to preserve.
Wherefore, inasmuch as the aforesaid woman desires, as it is said, even now to devote her property to pious uses, we exhort you that she experience the favour and enjoy the support of your Fraternity in this thing, and that it be lawful for her, a competent portion being reserved for her children, to decide as she will about her substance. For without doubt you do good yourselves, if you render aid to those who wish to do good. Consider, therefore, most beloved brethren, from how great love these things which we speak proceed, and take them all in the same spirit of charity that inspires them. For, we being one body in Christ, I burn with you in this which I feel to be to your hurt. And with what earnestness, and what affection I send you this epistle, may the Author of truth disclose to your hearts. And so let not this brotherly admonition distress you, since even a bitter cup is taken gladly, when offered with a view to health. Finally, dearest bethren, let us with united prayers implore the mercy of our God, that He would favourably order our life in His fear, to the end that we may both serve Him here as priests should do, and be able to stand in His sight hereafter secure and without fear.
Gregory to Syagrius, &c.
If in secular affairs every man should have his right and his proper rank preserved to him, how much more in ecclesiastical arrangements ought no confusion to be let in; lest discord should find place there, whence the blessings of peace should proceed. And this will in this way be secured, if nothing is yielded to power but all to equity.
Now it has been reported to us that our most beloved brother Ursicinus, bishop of the city of Taurini73 , after the captivity and plunder which he endured, has suffered serious prejudice in his parishes74 , which are said to be situated within the boundaries of the Franks, even to the extent of another person being constituted bishop there in contravention of ecclesiastical ordinances, no crime of his demanding it. And, lest this prejudicial proceeding should perchance seem to be a light matter, there has been also some hardship added in the taking from him of the property of his Church which he might have held. Now, if these things are really so, seeing that it is a very cruel thing and opposed to the sacred canons, that the ambition of any should remove from his own altar an innocent priest who does not deserve to be superseded on account of crime, let all regard his cause as their own, and strive against the imposition on others of what they would be unwilling to endure themselves. For if the entrance for an evil thing is not closed before it has been long open, it grows wider by use; and what is evidently forbidden by reason will be allowed by custom. But, beyond all others, let the solicitude of your Fraternity, in consideration of our commendation and your own sense of what you owe to God, devote itself earnestly to his defence, and not allow him to be any longer removed against reason from his parishes. But, as well in your own person as by making supplication to the most excellent kings75 , whom we believe to cause you no sadness in any respect, do you bring it about that this thing which has been done amiss may be corrected, and that what has been taken away by force may under the patronage of truth be restored; for, seeing that it is written, A brother helping a brother shall be exalted (Prov xviii. 19), your Charity may know that it will receive by so much the more from Almighty God as His precepts shall have been gladly and constantly executed in helping a brother.
Gregory to Theoderic, &c.
It is the chief good in kings to cultivate justice, and to preserve to every man his rights, and not to suffer subjects to have done to hem what there is power to do, but what is equitable. Our trust that you both love and altogether aim at this invites us to indicate to your Excellency things that call for amendment, that so we may be able by our letters both to succour the oppressed and to acquire reward for you.
Now they say that our brother and fellow-bishop Ursicinus, bishop of the city of Taurini (Turin), suffers very serious prejudice in his parishes that are within the limits of your kingdom, in such sort that, contrary to ecclesiastical observance, contrary to priestly gravity, and contrary to the definitions of the sacred canons, no crime of his requiring it, another has not feared to be ordained bishop there. And, it being thought not enough unless unlawfulness were added to unlawfulness, even the property of his church, as is said, has been taken away. If the truth is so, it being exceedingly intolerable that one should be oppressed by force whom guilt has not harmed, we beg of you, addressing you in the first place with a greeting of paternal charity, that what out of reverence for the Church and regard to equity your Excellency might of your own accord bestow, you would study to grant all the more kindly on our intercession, and would cause justice to be observed towards him in all respects according to the trust we have in the goodness of your equity; and that, having ascertained the truth, you would order what has been unlawfully done to be corrected, and the property that has been wrongfully taken from him to be equitably restored to him. Nor should the fact of his church being detained for the present by his enemies be at all to his disadvantage: but this ought to move more and more the disposition of your Christianity to succour him, that, being consoled by the gifts of your bounty, he may not feel the loss arising from the captivity which he has endured. For the good, then, of your soul let this our exhortation find place with you, that to your own reward you may lift up again his dejection with the outstretched hand of justice, to the end that from your observance of equity towards priests you may ever flourish through their prayers before the eyes of God.
Gregory to Brunichild, &c.
Whereas for the government of a kingdom valour stands in need of justice, and power of equity, nor for this purpose can one suffice without the other, with what great love your care for these things is resplendent is shewn plainly enough by the fact of your governing crowds of nations so laudably. Who then, considering this, can distrust the goodness of your Excellency, or be doubtful of obtaining his request, when he thinks it right to ask for what he knows you would willingly bestow upon your subjects? The bearer, then, of these presents, Hilarius76 , a servant of your Excellency, supposing that our intervention with your power will aid him, has requested to be supported by letters of commendation from us; holding it as certain that he will more abundantly obtain such favours as you grant to others if our intercession should speak for him. Accordingly, paying you our address of greeting with the affection of paternal charity, we beg that, as he states that he is labouring under adversities from the iniquity of certain persons, the protection of your Excellence may defend him; and, lest he should possibly be oppressed against reason, that by your command you would order him to be kept safe; that so, while no one's opposition shall have place unjustly and of mere will, both we may return thanks for having obtained what rather for your own reward we request, and that the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, whom you will venerate in us with Christian devotion by granting what we ask, may recompense your Excellency.
TO Claudius IN Spain77 .
Gregory to Claudius, &c.
The renown of good deeds being fragrant after the manner of ointment, the odour of your glory has extended from the Western parts as far as here. Besprinkled by the sweetness of which breath of air, I declare that I greatly loved one whom I knew not, and within the bosom of my heart seized thee with the hand of love; nor did I love without already knowing him to be one whose good qualities I had learnt. For of him who is known to me by great intenseness of feeling, but remains unknown by bodily vision, I undoubtedly can say truly that I know his person, though I know not his home. Now herein is a great assertion of your good repute, that your Glory is said to cleave sedulously to the excellent king of the Goths; since, while good men always displease bad ones, it is certain that you are good, who have pleased one that is good. For this reason, addressing you with the greeting that is due to you, I hope that you are being exercised in these things which you have begun, so that that true sentence of Solomon may be fulfilled in you-The path of the just is as a shining light, and groweth unto the pearl day (Prov iv. 18). For, now that the light of truth shines upon us, and the sweetness of the heavenly kingdom discloses itself to our minds, it is indeed already day, but not yet perfect day. But it will then be perfect day, when there shall be no longer anything of the night of sin in our souls. But do you grow unto the perfect day, that, until such time as the heavenly country shall appear, there may be spreading increase of good works here; to the end that in the retribution hereafter the fruit of reward may be by so much the greater as earnestness in labour has been increasing now. Wherefore we commend to your Glory our most beloved son Cyriacus, the Father of our monastery, that, after he has accomplished what has been enjoined him, there be no hindrance to delay his return. May Almighty God guard you by the protection of His heavenly arm, and grant unto you to be glorious both now among men and after long courses of years among the angels.
Gregory to Leander, Bishop of Spain.
I have the epistle of thy Holiness, written with the pen of charity alone. For what the tongue transferred to the paper had got its tincture from the heart. Good and wise men were present when it was read, and at once their bowels were stirred with emotion. Everyone began to seize thee in his heart with the hand of love, for that in that epistle the sweetness of thy disposition was not to be heard, but seen. All severally were inflamed, and all admired, and the very fire of the hearers shewed what had been the ardour of the speaker. For, unless torches burn themselves, they will not kindle others. We saw, then, with how great charity thy mind was aflame, seeing that it so kindled others also. Your life indeed, which I always remember with great reverence, they did not know; but the loftiness of your heart was manifest to them from the lowliness of your language. As to my life, this your epistle speaks of it as worthy of imitation by all: but may that which is not as it is said to be become so because it is said to be so, lest one should lie who is not wont to lie. In reply to this, however, I speak shortly the words of a certain good woman, Call me not Noemi, that is, fair; but call me Mara, for I am full of bitterness (Ruth i. 20). For indeed, good man, I am not to-day the man you knew. For I confess that in advancing outwardly I have fallen much inwardly, and I fear that I am of the number of those of whom it is written, Thou didst cast them down while they were lifted up (Ps. lxxii. 1878 ). For he is cast clown when he is lifted up who advances in honours, and falls in manners. For I, following the ways of my Head, had determined to be the scorn of men and the outcast of the people, and to run in the lot of him of whom again it is said by the Psalmist, The ascents in his heart he hath disposed in the valley of tears (Ps. lxxxiii. 779 ); that is, that I should ascend inwardly all the more truly as I lay outwardly the more humbly in the valley of tears. But now burdensome honour much depresses me, innumerable cares din me, and, when my mind collects itself for God, they cleave it with their assaults as if with a kind of swords. My heart has no rest. It lies prostrate in the lowest place, depressed by the weight of its cogitation. Either very rarely or not at all does the wing of contemplation raise it aloft. My sluggish soul is torpid, and, with temporal cares barking round it, already almost reduced to stupor, is forced now to deal with earthly things, and now even to dispense things that are carnal; nay sometimes, by force of disgust, is compelled to dispose of some things with accompanying guilt. Why should I say more? Overcome by its own weight, it sweats blood. For, unless sin were reckoned under the name of blood, the Psalmist would not say, Deliver me from blood guiltiness (Ps. l. 1680 ). But, when we add sin to sins, we fulfil this also which is said by another prophet, Blood hath touched blood (Hos. iv. 2.) For blood is said to touch blood when sin is joined to sin, so as to multiply the load of iniquity. But in the midst of all this I implore thee by Almighty God to hold me who am fallen into the billows of perturbation with the hand of thy prayer. For I sailed as it were with a prosperous breeze when I led a tranquil life in a monastery: but a storm, rising suddenly with gusty surges, caught me in its commotion, and I lost the prosperity of my voyage; for in loss of rest I suffered shipwreck. Lo, now I am tossed in the waves, and I seek for the plank of thy intercession, that, not being counted worthy to reach port rich with my ship entire, I may at least after losses be brought to shore by the aid of a plank.
Your Holiness writes of being afflicted with the pains of gout, by continual suffering from which I too am grievously worn down. But comfort will be readily at hand, if amid the scourges under which we suffer we recall to mind whatever faults we have committed; and then we shall see that they are not scourges, but gifts, if by pain of the flesh we purge the sins which we did for delight of the flesh.
Furthermore we have sent you, with the blessing of the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, a pallium, to be used only in celebration of Mass. In sending it to you I ought to admonish you much as to how you ought to live: but I suppress speech, since in your manner of life you anticipate my words. May Almighty God keep you under His protection, and bring you to the rewards of the heavenly country with multiplied fruits of souls. As to me, with what amount of business and with what weakness I am weighed down this short letter hears witness, in which I say little to one whom I greatly love.
TO Rechared, King OF The Visigoths81 .
Gregory to Rechared, &c.
I cannot express in words, most excellent son, how much I am delighted with thy work and thy life. For on hearing of the power of a new miracle in our days, to wit that the whole nation of the Goths has through thy Excellency been brought over from the error of Arian heresy to the firmness of a right faith, one is disposed to exclaim with the prophet, This is the change wrought by the right hand of the Most High (Ps. lxxvi. 1182 ). For whose breast, even though stony, would not, on hearing of so great a work, soften in praises of Almighty God and love of thy Excellency? As for me, I declare that it delights me often to tell these things that have been done through you to my sons who resort to me and often together with them to admire. These things also for the most part stir me up against myself, in that I languish sluggish and unprofitable in listless ease, while kings are labouring in the gathering together of souls for the gains of the heavenly country. What then shall I say to the coming Judge in that tremendous assize, if I shall then come thither empty, where thy Excellency shall bring after thee flocks of faithful ones, whom thou hast now drawn to the grace of a true faith by assiduous and continual preaching? But this, good man, by the gift of God, affords me great comfort, that the holy work which I have not in myself I love in thee. And, when I rejoice with great exultation for thy doings, the results of thy labour become mine through charity. With regard, therefore, to the conversion of the Goths, both for your work and for our exultation, we may well exclaim with the angels, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill(Luk. ii. 14). For we, as I think, owe the more thanks to Almighty God for that, although we have done nothing with you, we are nevertheless par-takers in your work by rejoicing with you. Further, how gladly the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, has accepted the gifts of your Excellency your very life witnesses evidently to all. For it is written, The vows of the righteous are his delight (Prov. xv. 8). For indeed in the judgment of Almighty God it is not what is given, but by whom it is given, that is regarded.
For hence it is that it is written, The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his gifts, but unto Cain and to his gifts he had not respect (Gen. iv. 4, 5). To wit, being about to say that the Lord had respect to the gifts, he was careful to premise that He had respect unto Abel. Thus it is plainly shewn that the offerer was not acceptable by reason of the gifts, but the gifts were so by reason of the offerer. You shew, therefore, how acceptable your offering is, seeing that, being about to give gold, you have first given gifts of souls by the conversion of the nation subject to you.
With regard to your telling us that the abbots who were sent to us to bring your offering to the blessed Apostle Peter bad been wearied by the violence of the sea and returned to Spain without accomplishing their voyage83 , your gifts were not kept back, for they reached us afterwards; but the constancy of those who had been sent has been tried, as to whether they knew how with holy desire to overcome dangers in their way, and, though fatigued in body, by no means to be wearied in mind. For adversity which comes in the way of good purposes is a trial of virtue, not a judgment of reprobation. For who can be ignorant how prosperous an event it was that the blessed Apostle Paul came to Italy to preach, and yet in coming suffered shipwreck? But the ship of the heart stood unharmed among the billows of the sea.
Furthermore, I must tell you that I have been led to praise God the more for your work by what I have learnt from the report of my most beloved son Probinus the presbyter; namely that, your Excellency having issued a certain ordinance against the perfidy of the Jews, those to whom it related attempted to bend the rectitude of your mind by offering a sum of money; which your Excellency scorned, and, seeking to satisfy the judgment of Almighty God, preferred innocence to gold. With regard to this what was done by King David recurs to my mind, who, when the longed for water from the cistern of Bethlehem, which was wedged in by the enemy, had been brought him by obedient soldiers, said, God forbid that I should drink the blood of righteous men (1 Chron. xi. 19). And, because he poured it out and would not drink it, it is written, He offered it a libation to the Lord. If, then, water was scorned by the armed king, and turned into a sacrifice to God, we may estimate what manner of sacrifice to Almighty God has been offered by the king who for His love has scorned to receive, not water, but gold. Wherefore, most excellent son, I Will confidently say that thou hast offered as a libation to the Lord the gold which thou wouldest not have in opposition to Him. These are great things, and redound to the praise of Almighty God.
But in the midst of all these things we must guard with vigilant attention against the snares of the ancient foe, who, the greater gifts he sees among men, with the more subtle snares seeks to take them away. For robbers too do not look out for empty travellers to seize them on their road, but such as carry vessels of gold and silver. For indeed the present life is a road. And every one must needs be the more on his guard against ambushed spirits in proportion as the gifts are greater which he carries. It is the duty, then, of your Excellency, with regard to this so great gift which you have received in the conversion of the nation subject to you, to keep with all your might, first humility of heart, and secondly cleanness of body. For where it is written, Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke xiv. 11; xviii. 14), it is assuredly evident that he truly loves what is lofty who does not cut off his soul from the root of humility. For often the malignant spirit, in order to destroy the good that previously he had not power to oppose, comes into the mind of the worker after accomplishment of his work, and agitates it with silent thoughts of self-praise, so that the deluded mind admires itself for the great things that it has done. And, being exalted in its own sight through hidden tumour, it is deprived of the grace of Him Who bestowed the gift. For hence it is that it is said through the voice of the prophet to the soul that waxes proud, Having trust in thy beauty thou playedst the harlot because of thy renown (Ezek. xvi. 15). For indeed a soul's having trust in its beauty is its presuming within itself on its righteous doings. And it plays the harlot because of its renown, when in what it has done aright it desires not the praise of its Maker to be spread abroad, but seeks the glory of its own reputation. Hence again it is written through the prophet, In that thou art more beautiful, go down (Ezek. xxxii. 19). For the soul goes down because of being more beautiful when, owing to the comeliness of virtue whereby it ought to have been exalted before God, it falls from His grace through elation. What then is to be done in this case but that, when the malignant spirit employs the good things that we have done to exalt the mind, we should ever recall to memory our evil deeds, to the end that we may acknowledge that what we have done sinfully is our own, but that it is of the gift of Almighty God alone when we avoid sins. Cleanness also of body is to be guarded in our strivings after well-doing, since, according to the voice of the apostolic preacher, The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (1 Cor. iii. 17). And again he says, Far this is the will of God, even your sanctification (1 Thess. iv. 3). As to which sanctification, what he means by it he shews by straightway adding, That ye should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lusts of concupiscence.
The very government also of your kingdom in relation to your subjects ought to be tempered with moderation, test power steal upon your mind. For a kingdom is ruled well when the glory of reigning does not dominate the disposition. Care also is to be taken that wrath creep not in, lest whatever is lawful to be done be done too hastily. For wrath, even when it prosecutes the faults of delinquents, ought not to go before the mind as a mistress, but attend as a handmaid behind the back of reason, that it may come to the front when bidden. For, if once it begins to have possession of the mind, it accounts as just what it does cruelly. For hence it is written, The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (Jam. i. 20). Hence again it is said, Let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to wrath (Ib. 19). However I doubt not that trader the guidance of God you observe all these things. Still, now that an opportunity of admonition has arisen, I join myself furtively to your good deeds, so that what you do though not admonished you may not do alone, having an admonisher to boot. Now may Almighty God protect you in all your doings by the stretching out of His heavenly arm, and grout you prosperity in the present life, and alter a course of many years eternal joys.
We have sent you a small key from the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter to convey his blessing, containing iron from his chains, that what had bound his neck for martyrdom may loose yours from all sins. We have given also to the bearer of these presents, to be offered to you, a cross in which there is some of the wood of the Lord's cross, and hairs of the blessed John the Baptist, from which you may ever have the succour of our Saviour through the intercession of His forerunner.
Moreover we have sent to our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Leander a pallium from the See of the blessed Apostle Peter, which we owe both to ancient custom, and to your character, and to his goodness and gravity84 .
A long time ago, when a certain Neapolitan youth came hither, your to me most sweet Excellency had thought fit to charge me to write to the most pious Emperor to the end that he might search in the record office for the treaties that had formerly been concluded with the prince Justinian of pious memory as to the claims of your kingdom, so as to gather from them what he should observe with regard to you. But there were two things seriously in the way of my doing this. One was that the record-office in the time of the aforesaid prince Justinian of pious memory had been so burnt by a fire which had crept in suddenly that hardly any paper of his times remained. The other was that, as no one need be told, thou oughtest to look in thy own archives for the documents that are against thee, and produce these instead of my doing so. Wherefore I exhort your Excellency to arrange matters suitably to your character, and carefully to carry out whatever makes for peace, that the times of your reign may be memorable with great L praise through many courses of years. Furthermore, we have sent you another key from the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter, which, being laid up with due honour, may multiply with blessing whatever it may find you enjoying.
TO Venantius And Italica85 .
Gregory to the lord Venantius, Patrician, and Italica his wife.
I have taken care, with due affection, to enquire of certain persons who have come from Sicily about your Excellency's health. But they have given me a sad report of the frequency of your ailments. Now, when I say this, neither do I find anything to tell you about myself, except that, for my sins, lo it is now eleven months since it has been a very rare case with me if I have been able now and then to rise from my bed. For I am afflicted by so great sufferings from gout, and so great from troubles, that my life is to me most grievous pain. For every day I faint under my sufferings, and sigh in expectation of the relief of death. Indeed among the clergy and people of this city there has been such an invasion of feverous sicknesses that hardly any freeman, hardly any slave, remains fit for any office or ministry. Moreover, from the neighbouring cities we have news daily of havocs and of mortality. Then, how Africa is being wasted by mortality and sickness I believe that you know more accurately than we do, insomuch as you are nearer to it. But of the East those who come from thence report still more grievous desolations. In the midst of all these things, therefore, since you perceive that there is a general smiting as the end of the world draws near, you ought not to be too much afflicted for your own troubles. But, as becomes wise nobles, bring ye back your whole heart to the care of your souls, and fear the strict judgment all the more as it is so much nearer at hand. Devote yourselves to piety, of which it is written that It hath promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come (1 Tim. iv. 8). But Almighty God is powerful both to preserve the life of your Excellency for a long time here, and to bring you after many courses of years to eternal joys. I beg my most sweet daughters, the lady Barbara and the lady Antonina, to be greeted in my name; whom I pray that heavenly grace may protect, and grant them to be prospered in all things.
TO Maximus, Bishop OF Salona86 .
Gregory to Maximus, &c.
Having received the letters of our brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus, and Castorius, our chartularius, having also returned, we learn that your Fraternity have made most full satisfaction with regard to the matters about which there had been uncertainty; and we return great thanks to Almighty God that froth our inmost heart all rancour of sinister suspicion has been eradicated. On this account I have been desirous of dismissing with the utmost speed our common son, your deacon Stephen. But the frequent pains of my sicknesses have compelled me to retain him with me for a few days. As soon, however, as I have begun to be even slightly better, I have provided for sending him forthwith back to you with joy.
Accordingly we send to you, according to custom, the pallium for the sacred solemnities of mass; the meaning of which we desire you in all respects to vindicate. For the dignity of this vestment is humility and justice. Let, then, your Fraternity make haste with all your heart to shew yourself humble in prosperity, and in adversity, if ever it should ensue; upright in justice; friendly to the good, and opposed to the froward; never discountenancing any one who speaks for the truth; instant in works of mercy according to thy means, and yet beyond thy means desiring to be instant; sympathizing with the weak; rejoicing with men of good will; regarding the woes of others as thine own; exulting for the joys of others as if for thine own; in correcting vices severe, in cherishing virtues, soothing the minds of hearers; in anger, retaining judgment without anger, but in calmness not relinquishing the censorship of your severity. This, dearest brother, is the meaning of the pallium which you will receive, which if you act up to, you will have inwardly what you are seen to have received outwardly.
Furthermore I commend in all respects to your Fraternity our brother and fellow-bishop Sabinianus87 ; and if there be any matters of dispute between you, let them meanwhile be laid aside. Let charity remain fixed between you, that so, in case of contention ever arising about external things, they may be examined without charity deserting the heart. We commend also our common son Honoratus: concerning whom if it is the case, as we have learnt through Castorius our chartularius; that through him three previous archdeacons have been compelled to observe the ecclesiastical custom by retiring at the expiration of five years, we desire indeed that he may experience the charity of thy Holiness. For a judgment ought not to be solicited in a case which he himself has judged. If, however, it is not so, then, all swelling of heart being repressed, and all grudge set aside, he ought to be received, and by no means removed from the place which he now occupies. Messianus also, the cleric who had taken refuge with us, we have confidently committed to the charge of our common son Stephen the deacon, being assured that in the case of one whom we ourselves send to your Fraternity, you will not show any grudge, but lend the countenance of your authority. May Almighty God keep you in His protection, and grant us so to act that after the billows of this temporal state we may be able to attain with joy to things eternal.
From S. Columbanus TO Pope Gregory88 .
To the holy lord, and father in Christ, the Roman [pope], most fair ornament of the Church, a certain most august flower, as it were, of the whole of withering Europe, distinguished speculator, as enjoying a divine contemplation of purity (?)89 . I, Bargoma90 , poor dove in Christ, send greeting.
Grace to thee and peace from God the Father [and] our [Lord] Jesus Christ. I am pleased to think, O holy pope, that it will seem to thee nothing extravagant to he interrogated about Easter, according to that canticle, Ask thy father, and he will skew time; thine elders and they will tell thee (Deut. xxxii. 7). For, though on me, who am indeed a trifler (micrologo) may be branded that excellent expression of a certain wise man, who is reported to have said, on seeing a certain woman, contupictam91 , I do not admire the art, but I admire the brow, in that I who am vile write to thee that art illustrious; yet, relying on my confidence in shy evangelical humility, I presume to write to thee, and impose on thee the matter of my grief. For writing is not in vain, when necessity compels one to write, though it be to one's betters.
What, then, dose thou say concerning Easter on the 21st or 22nd day of the moon, which (with thy peace be it said) is proved by many calculators not to be Easter, but in truth a time of darkness? For it is not unknown, as I believe, to thy Efficiency, how Anatolius92 (a man of wonderful learning, as says Saint Hieronymus, extracts from whose writings Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, inserted in his Ecclesiastical History, and Saint Hieronymus praised this same work about Easter in his catalogue) disputes with strong disapprobation about this age of the moon. For against the Gallican Rimarii93 , who erred, as he says, about Easter, he introduced an awful sentence, saying, Certainly, if the rising of the moon be delayed tilt the end of two watches, which indicates midnight, light does not overcome darkness, but darkness light; which thing is certainly not allowable in the Easter Festival, namely, that any part of the darkness should dominate over the light, since the solemnity of the Lord's Resurrection is light, and there is no communion of light with darkness And, if the moon has not shone forth tell the third watch, there is no doubt that the moon has risen on its 21st or 22nd day, in which it is not possible for a true Paschal offering to be made. For those who lay down that it is possible for a true Easter to be celebrated at this age of the match, not only are unable to affirm this by authority of divine Scripture, but also incur the guilt of sacrilege and contumacy and peril of their souls, while affirming that the true Light, which dominates over all darkness, can be offered while there is any domination of darkness Also in the book of holy dogma we read, Easter, that is, the solemnity of the Lord's Resurrection, cannot be celebrated before the beginning of the vernal equinox is past, to wit, that it may not come before the vernal equinox94 : which rule assuredly Victorius95 has gone beyond in his cycle, and hereby has already introduced error into Gaul, or to speak less boldly, has confirmed one of old standing. For indeed how can either of these things stand with reason; either that the Lord's Resurrection should be celebrated before His Passion (the thought of which is absurd), or that the seven days sanctioned by the Lord's command in the Law, during which only it is enjoined that the Lord's Passover could lawfully be eaten (which are to be numbered from the 14th day of the moon to the 20th), should against law and right be exceeded? For a moon in its 21st or 22nd day is out of the dominion of light, as having risen at that time after midnight; and, when darkness overcomes light, it is said to be impious to keep the solemnity of light. Why then dost thou, who art so wise, the brilliant lights indeed of whose sacred genius are diffused, as in ancient times, through the world,-why dost thou keep a dark Easter? I wonder, I confess, that this error of Gaul, ac si Schynteneum96 , has not long ago been swept away by thee; unless I should perchance suppose, what I can hardly believe, that, as it is evident that thou hast not corrected it, it has thy approval
In another way, however, may thy Expertness be more honourably excused, if, fearing to subject thyself to the mark of Hermagoric97 novelty, thou art content with the authority of thy predecessors, and especially of pope Leo.
Do not, I pray thee, in such a question trust to humility only or to gravity, which are often deceived, Better by far is a living dog in this problem than a dead lion (Eccles. ix. 4). For a living saint may correct what had not been corrected by another who came before him. For know thou that by our masters and the Irish ancients, who were philosophers and most wise computists in constructing calculations, Victorius was not received, but held rather worthy of ridicule or of excuse than as carrying authority. Wherefore to me, as a timid stranger rather than as a sciolist, afford the support of thy judgment, and disdain not to send us speedily the suffrage of thy Placability for assuaging this tempest which surrounds us; since, after so many authors whom I have read, I am not satisfied with that one sentence of those bishops who say only, We ought not to keep the Passover with the Jews. For this is what the bishop Victor formerly said; but none of the Easterns accepted his figment98 . But this the benumbing (numb?) backbone of Dagon; this the dotage of error drinks in99 . Of what worth, I ask, is this sentence, so frivolous and so rude and resting, as it does, on no testimonies of sacred Scripture; We ought not to keep the Passover with the Jews? What has it to do with the question? Are the reprobate Jews to be supposed to keep the Passover now, seeing that they are without a temple, outside Jerusalem, and Christ, who was formerly prefigured, having been crucified by them? Or, can it be rightly supposed that the 14th day of the moon for the Passover was of their own appointment, and is it not rather to be acknowledged to be of God's, who alone knew clearly with what mysterious meaning the 14th day of the moon was chosen for the passage [out of Egypt]. Perhaps to wise men and the like of thee this may be in some degree clearer than to others. As to those who make this objection, although without authority, let them upbraid God for that He did not then beforehand guard against the contumacy of the Jews by enjoining on them in the Law nine days of unleavened bread, if He would not have its keep the Passover with them, so that the beginning of our solemnity should not exceed the end of theirs. For, if Easter is to be celebrated on the 21st or 22nd day, from the 14th to the 22nd nine days will be reckoned, that is, seven ordered by God, and two added by men. But, if it is allowed for men to add anything of their own accord to divine decree, I ask whether this may not seem opposed to that sentence of Deuteronomy, Lo (he saith), the word which I give unto thee, thou shall not add unto it nor take from it (Deut. iv. 2).
But in writing all this more forwardly than humbly, I know that I have involved myself in an Euripus of presumption attended with great difficulty, being perchance unskilled to steer out of it. Nor does it befit our place or rank that anything should be suggested in the way of discussion to thy great authority, and that my Western letters should ridiculously solicit thee, who sittest legitimately on the seat of the apostle and key-bearer Peter, on the subject of Easter. But thou oughtest to consider not so much worthless me in this matter as many masters, both departed and now living, who confirm what I have pointed out, and suppose thyself to be holding a colloquy with them: for know that I open my thick-lipped month dutifully though it may be incoherently and extravagantly. It is for thee, therefore, either to excuse or to condemn Victorius, knowing that, if thou approvest him, it will be a question of faith between thee and the aforesaid Hieronymus, seeing that he approved Anatolius, who is opposed to Victorius; so that whoso follows the one cannot receive the other. Let, then, thy Vigilance take thought that, in approving the faith of one of the two authors aforesaid who are mutually opposed to each other, there be no dissonance, when thou pronouncest thy opinion, between thee and Hieronymus, lest we should be on all sides in a strait, as to whether we should agree with thee or with him. Spare the weak in this matter, lest thou exhibit the scandal of diversity. For I frankly acknowledge to thee that any one who goes against the authority of Saint Hieronymus will be one to be repudiated as a heretic among the churches of the West: for they accommodate their faith in all respects unhesitatingly to him with regard to the Divine Scriptures. But let this suffice with respect to Easter.
But I ask what thy judgment is about those bishops whom thou hast written of as simoniacal, and whom the writer Giltas100 calls pests. Should communion be had with them? For there are known to be many such in this province, whereby the matter is made more serious. Or as to others, who having been polluted in their diaconate, are afterwards elected to the rank of bishops? For there are some whom we know to have conscientious scruples on these grounds; and in conferring with our littleness about them, they wished to know for certain whether they may minister without peril after such transgressions; that is, either after having bought their rank for money, or after adultery in their diaconate. I mean, however, concealed adultery with their dependents101 , which with our teachers is accounted as no less criminal.
As to a third head of enquiry, say in reply, I pray thee, if it is not troublesome, what should be done in the case of those monks who for a closer sight of God, or inflamed by a longing for a more perfect life, going against their vows, leave the places of their first con version, and, against the will of their abbots, the fervour of monks compelling them, either go free or fly to deserts. The author Vennianus enquired about these of Giltas, who replied to him most elegantly: yet still to one who is anxious to learn there is ever an increase of greater fear. These things, and much more which epistolary brevity does not admit of, might well have been enquired about more humbly and more clearly in a personal interview, but that weakness of body and the care of my fellow-pilgrims keeps me bound at home, though desirous of going to thee, so as to draw from that spiritual vein of a living well and from the living water of knowledge flowing from heaven and springing up unto eternal life. And, if my body were to Follow my mind, Rome would once more be in danger of being itself despised; seeing that-even as we read in the narration of the learned Hieronymus how certain persons once came to Rome from the utmost boundaries of the Heuline coast102 ; and then (wonderful to be told) sought something else outside of Rome-so I too, saving reverence for the ashes of the saints should seek out longingly, not Rome but thee: for, though I confess myself not to be wise, but athirst, I should do this same thing if I had time and opportunity.
I have read thy book containing the Pastoral Rule, short in style, lengthy in teaching, full of mysteries; and acknowledge it to be a work sweeter than honey to one that is in need. Wherefore bestow, I pray thee, on me who am athirst for what is thine, the works on Ezekiel, which, as I have heard, thou hast elaborated with wonderful genius. I have read the six books of Hieronymus on that prophet; but he has not expounded the middle part. But, if thou wilt do me the favour, send for me to the city some of thy remaining writings; to wit, the concluding expositions of one book, and (? namely) the Song of Songs from that place where it is said, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and rite hill of frankincense, to the end, treated with short comments, either of others, or thine own: and I beg that thou wouldest expound the whole obscurity of Zachariah, and make manifest its hidden meaning, that Western blindness may give thee thanks for this. I make unreasonable demands, and ask to have great things told me: who can fail to see this? But it is true also that thou hast great things, and knowest well that from a little less, and from much more should be put out to use. Let charity induce thee to write in reply; let not the roughness of my letter hinder thee from expounding, seeing that it is my mode of expression that has been in fault, and I have it in my heart to pay thee due honour. It was for me to provoke, to interrogate, to request: it is for thee not to refuse what thou hast received freely, to put thy talent out to use, to give to him that asks the bread of doctrine, as Christ enjoins. Peace be to thee and thine; pardon my forwardness, blessed pope, in that I have written so boldly; and I pray thee in thy holy prayers to our common Lord to pray for me, a most vile sinner. I think it quite superfluous to commend to thee my people, whom the Saviour judges fit to be received, as walking in His name; and if, as I have heard from thy holy Candidus103 , thou shouldest be disposed to say in reply that things confirmed by ancient usage cannot be changed, error is manifestly ancient; but truth which reproves it is ever more ancient still.