Selected Epistles, of
Gregory the Great, Bishop of RomeTranslated, with Introduction, Notes, and Indices, by the Rev. James Barmby, D.D.,
Vicar of Northallerton, Yorkshire
Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great.
Epistle III.To Velox, Magister Militium.
Gregory to Velox, &c.
We informed your Glory some time ago that soldiers had been prepared to come to your parts; but, inasmuch as your letter had signified to us that the enemy were collected and were marching hitherward, we for this reason have detained them here. But now it appears to be advantageous that a certain number of soldiers should be sent to you, whom let thy Glory be careful to admonish and exhort to be prepared for toil. And, when you find an opportunity, confer with our glorious sons Maurilius and Vitalianus, and do whatever, with the help of God, they may appoint you to do for the advantage of the republic. And, should you ascertain that the unspeakable Ariulph  is making an incursion hitherward or to the parts about Ravenna, do you labour in his rear, as becomes brave men, to the end that your renown may by God's help advance still more in the republic from the quality of your labour. This, however, before all, we admonish you to do: to release without any delay or excuse the family of Maloin and Adobin, Vigild and Grussing  , who are known to be with the glorious Magister militum Maurilius, to the end that the men of the aforesaid Maurilius, when they come to your parts, may without any impediment march along with them.
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Gregory to the clergy, nobles, gentry, and commonalty  dwelling at Naples.
Although the sincere devotion of spiritual sons in behalf of their mother Church needs no exhortation, nevertheless, it ought to be stirred up by letter, lest it should suppose itself slighted. On this account I approach your love with an admonition of paternal charity, that with many tears and with one accord we may render thanks to our Redeemer, who has not suffered you to walk along pathless ways under so perverse a teacher, but has made publicly known the crimes of your unworthy pastor. For Demetrius, to wit, who even before had not deserved to be called a bishop, has been found to be involved in transactions to such an extent and of such a kind that, if he had received judgment without mercy according to the character of his deeds, he would undoubtedly have been condemned to a most hard death by both divine and human laws. But since, being reserved for penance, he has been deprived of the dignity of the priesthood, we cannot suffer the Church of God to remain long without a teacher, since it is laid down by canonical rules that, on the death or removal of a pastor, the church should not be long deprived of the priesthood  . Wherefore, I have thought it necessary to admonish your Charity by this present writing that neither delay nor the discord which has been wont to generate scandals ensue to hinder your election of a pontiff. But seek you out with all care such a person as all by common consent may rejoice in, and as is in no respect rejected by the sacred canons; to the end that the office which the most wicked of men had polluted by his evil administration may be worthily filled and administered by him, whoever he may be, who, by the grace of Christ, and with His approval, shall be ordained.
Gregory to Maximianus, &c.
We execute more efficiently our heavenly commission, if we share our burdens with our brethren. For this cause we appoint thee, our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop, to have administration over all the churches of Sicily in the name of the Apostolical See, so that whosoever there is reckoned as being in a condition of religion may by our authority be subject to thy Fraternity, to the end that it may not hereafter be necessary for them to make such long sea-voyages in resorting to us for slight causes. But if by any chance there are matters of difficulty which can by no means be settled by the judgment of thy Fraternity, in these only let our judgment be solicited, that so we may occupy ourselves more efficaciously in greater causes, being relieved from the least. And be it understood that we give this delegation of authority, not to thy place, but to thy person, because we have learnt from thy past life what we may presume of thee in thy future conduct.
The month of December, the tenth Indiction.
Gregory to the gentry and commonalty (ordini et plebi) residing at Naples.
The communication you have addressed to us has made manifest what your opinion is of our brother and fellow-bishop Paulus  : and we congratulate you in that your experience of him for a few days has been such that you desire to have him as your cardinal bishop  . But, since in matters of supreme importance there ought to be no hasty decision, so we, Christ helping us, will arrange after mature deliberation what is to be done hereafter, his character meanwhile, in course of time, having become better known to you.
Wherefore, most beloved sons, obey ye the aforesaid man, if you truly love him, and with devoted minds meet his wishes in peaceful concurrence, to the end that the affection of your mutual charity may so bind you to each other, that the enemy who flies about you raging may find no way through any of you for creeping in to break up your unanimity. Further, when we shall have perceived the aforesaid bishop offering to God the fruit of souls which we long for, God Himself also approving, we will do afterwards whatever divine inspiration may suggest to our heart, with regard to his person and to your desire.
Gregory to Paulus, &c.
If we administer safely the priestly office which we have received, without doubt both Divine assistance and the affection of our spiritual sons will not be wanting to us. Wherefore let thy Fraternity take care to shew thyself in all things such that the testimony which the clergy, the nobility, and all the people together, of the city of Naples bears to thee may be strengthened by the increase of thy goodness. Thou oughtest, then, so to bind thyself to continual employment in exhorting the aforesaid people that the Divine husbandman may store in his garners the fruit of thy word, which thou shalt have gathered from them by thy labours. But till such time as we shall be able, God revealing to us His will, to deliberate concerning the things which our aforesaid sons request us should be done, we grant leave for clerics to be ordained from the ranks of the laity, and also for manumissions to be solemnly celebrated before thee in the same church. Moreover we desire thee to observe without hesitation the customs of the clerical order and of the presbyters of the above-named church: and do thou also keep such diligent watch in the instruction of the same, that, abstaining from all that is unsuitable or unlawful, they may stand fast, under thy exhortations, ministering with due obedience, in the service of our God. The month of January, the tenth Indiction.
Gregory to Castorius, &c.
The illustrious lady Timothea has intimated to us by a petitionary notification, as is set forth below, that she has founded an oratory within the city of Ariminum in a place belonging to her, which she desires to have consecrated in honour of the holy cross. And, accordingly, dearest brother, if the said construction is in the jurisdiction of thy city, and if it is known that no body has been buried there, then, after reception in the first place of a legitimate endowment, that is, of two-thirds of her whole property (excepting slaves), of her movables and fixtures and live stock, the usufract being reserved to her for her life, and such endowment having been secured by municipal deeds, thou wilt solemnly consecrate the aforesaid oratory without any public mass, on the condition that no baptistery shall be constructed in the same place in future times, and that thou appoint not a cardinal presbyter  . And if perchance she should prefer having masses said there, let her know that she must ask thy Love for a presbyter, to the end nothing else may be presumed by any other priest whatever. Further, thou wilt reverently deposit the holy things  she has provided.
Gregory to Paul, &c.
I appointed thy Fraternity to preside for the present over the church of Naples, to the end that thou mightest convert all thou canst to God by persuasive preaching. And, while thou oughtest to be giving thy whole mind to this work, thou art in haste to return before bringing forth this fruit to the Lord, and requestest me to settle the affairs of this same church speedily, my mind being meanwhile by no means unoccupied in this matter. But, being desirous of fortifying securely the well-being of this Church, I hold it needful to consider the matter with long continued deliberation, so as to be able to arrange its affairs by the ordination of a worthy whom Christ may reveal to us. Wherefore let thy Fraternity meanwhile study to watch for the good of souls, so that the opinion I have of thee may be strengthened by the effect of thy working. All thou hast written concerning the deacon Peter has now been made known to us by the ex-consul Theodorus. And so, now that I know that he is constant to thee, and, according to thy testimony, studies the advantage of the Church, he ought to be afraid of no one's opposition or enmity, but persevere in benefiting the Church and serving God all the more watchfully as he feels that others have a grudge against him; that so they may have no power at all to injure him. Moreover, thy Fraternity ought not hereafter to be suspected with regard to him; since no surreptitious proceedings will have effect on me  .
Gregory to Natalis, &c.
I have learnt, dearest brother, from many who have come from thy city that, neglecting thy pastoral charge, thou occupiest thyself wholly in feastings: which report I should not have believed had not my own experience of thy conduct confirmed it. For that thou in no wise art intent on reading, in no wise givest attention to exhortation, but art even ignorant of the very use and purpose of ecclesiastical order, there is this in evidence, that thou knowest not how to observe reverence to those who are put over thee. For, when thou hadst been forbidden in writing by our predecessor of holy memory to retain in thy heart the soreness of thy long displeasure against Honoratus thy archdeacon, and when this had been positively interdicted thee by myself also, thou, disregarding the commands of God, and setting at naught our letters, didst attempt by a cunning device to degrade the aforesaid Honoratus thy archdeacon under colour of promoting him to a higher dignity. Thus it was contrived that, he being removed from the post of archdeacon, thou mightest call in another who would have fallen in with thy manner of life, the aforesaid man having, as I think, displeased thee for no other cause but that he prevented thee from giving sacred vessels and vestments to thy relations. Which case both I now, and my predecessor of holy memory formerly, have wished to subject to an accurate investigation; but thou, being conscious of what thou hadst done, hast put off sending hither a representative instructed for trial of the case. Wherefore let thy Fraternity, even after admonition so often repeated, repent of the error of thy wrongdoing, and restore the aforesaid Honoratus to his post immediately on the receipt of my letter. Which if thou shouldest defer doing, know that the use of the pallium, granted thee by this See, is taken from thee. But if, even when thou hast lost the pallium, thou still persistest in thy contumacy, know that thou art deprived of participation of the body and blood of the Lord. And after this it will be needful for us to enquire more fully into the charges against thee, and to consider with the utmost care and investigation whether thou shouldest retain even thy episcopate. Him also who, against the rule of justice, has consented to be promoted to the place of another we depose from the dignity of the said archdeaconry. And, should he presume any longer to minister in this same office, let him know that he is deprived of participation in holy communion. Do thou, therefore, dearest brother, in no wise provoke us further, lest, having set us at naught when in an attitude of charity towards thee, thou shouldest find us very hard in our severity. Having, therefore, restored the archdeacon Honoratus to his place, send to us with speed a person instructed in the case, who may be able to shew to me by his allegations how the matter should be equitably proceeded with. For we have commanded the said archdeacon to come to us, that, having heard the assertions of the parties, we may come to whatever decision may be just and well-pleasing to Almighty God. For we defend no one on the ground of personal love, but, God helping us, keep the rule of justice, putting aside respect to any man's person.
Gregory to all the bishops constituted throughout Dalmatia.
Though desiring to visit your Fraternity frequently through the intercourse of letters, yet, when some special case demands our attention, we wish to take the opportunity of fulfilling two duties at once, so as both to refresh our brotherly souls in the way of visitation and to explain accurately matters that come up for notice, lest ignorance of them should leave the mind confused. Now when our brother Natalis, bishop of the city of Salona, wished to advance the archdeacon Honoratus to the order of the priesthood, who thereupon declined being advanced to a higher order, the latter demanded my predecessor of holy memory, in a petition that he sent, that he should not be so advanced against his will. For he alleged that the thing was attempted, not for the sake of promoting him, but in consequence of displeasure against him. Thereupon our predecessor of holy memory addressed letters to Natalis, our brother and fellow-bishop, interdicting him from promoting the archdeacon Honoratus against his will, or retaining in his heart the soreness of the displeasure which he had conceived against him. And when we too had laid the same interdiction on the said Natalis, he, not only disregarding the commands of God, but also setting at naught our letters, attempted, it is said, craftily to degrade the aforesaid archdeacon, in a way contrary to custom, under colour of promoting him to a higher dignity. Thus it was contrived that, having removed him from the archdeaconry, he might call in another person to minister in the place of the deposed archdeacon. Now we think that this Honoratus may have fallen under the displeasure of his bishop on account of having prevented him from giving sacred vessels to his relations: and both my predecessor of holy memory formerly and I now have wished to investigate the case accurately; but he, conscious of what he had done, has put off sending a representative with a view to its trial, lest the truth with respect to his doings might appear. We therefore, now that he has been already so often admonished by letter, and has so far been pertinaciously obstinate, have taken order for his being admonished once more in letters sent to him through the bearer of these presents, to the end that he may, immediately on the arrival of the bearer of these presents, receive the archdeacon Honoratus into his former place. And if, with heart still hardened, he should contumaciously defer restoring him to the said position, we order that for his contumacy so many times exhibited he be deprived of the use of the pallium granted to him by this See. But if, even after loss of the pallium, he should persevere in the same pertinacity, we order him to be debarred from participation in the body and blood of the Lord. For it is right that he should find those severe in justice whom he set at naught when they approached him in charity. Wherefore neither do we now deviate from the path of justice, which the aforesaid bishop has despised; but, when he whose guilt has by no means been made apparent to us has been restored to his place, we enjoin the bishop Natalis to send to us a person with instructions, who may be able by his allegations to prove to us the right intentions of the said bishop. For we have caused also the said archdeacon to come to us, that, having heard the assertions of both parties, we may decide whatever may be just, whatever may be well pleasing to Almighty God. For we defend no one on the ground of personal love, but, God helping us, keep the rule of justice without respect to any man's person.
Gregory to Antoninus, &c.
Honoratus, archdeacon of the Church of Salona, had demanded from my predecessor of holy memory, in a petition that he sent, that he should by no means be forced by his bishop to be advanced against his will, in a way contrary to custom, to a higher order.
[Here follows an account of the subsequent proceedings, almost word for word the same as that given in Epistle XIX.]
Wherefore we have thought it right to support thy Experience by the authority of this present order, that thou mayest resort to Salona, and at least try by exhortation to induce Natalis, our brother and fellow-bishop, who has been admonished by so many letters, to restore the above-mentioned Honoratus to his place immediately. But if, as has been his wont, he should contumaciously delay doing this, forbid him by authority of the Apostolic See the use of the pallium which has been granted him by this See. But if, even after loss of the pallium, thou shouldest find him persevering in the same pertinacity, thou shalt deprive the said bishop of participation in holy communion. Moreover, him who, against the rule of justice, has consented to be promoted to another man's place we order to be deposed from the dignity of the same archdeaconry. And, if he should presume to minister further in the same place, we deprive him of participation in holy communion. For it is right that he should find those severe in justice whom he sets at naught when approaching him in charity. Wherefore, when the archdeacon Honoratus has been restored to his place, let the aforesaid bishop, at thy instigation, send to us a person with instructions, who may be able by his allegations to prove to us that the bishop's intention is or has been just.
[What follows corresponds exactly with the conclusion of Epistle XIX.]
As to our brother and fellow-bishop Malchus  , thou wilt take care to make him find a surety, that he may come to us as soon as possible, to the end that, without any delay or loitering, he may render us an account of his proceedings, and so be able to return to his own with security.
Gregory to all the bishops, &c.
It both affords us joy for your carefulness, and makes your Fraternity safe in your own ordination, if the order of ancient custom is maintained. Since, then, we have learnt from the letters which you have sent to us through the presbyter Maximianus and the deacon Andreas that the consent of all of you and the will of the most serene Prince have concurred in the person of our brother and fellow-bishop John, we feel great exultation that, under God's direction, such a one has been advanced to the office of priesthood  as the judgment of all has approved as worthy. Wherefore, in accordance with your request, we confirm our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop by the authority of our assent in the order of priesthood wherein he has been constituted, and declare our ratification of his consecration by sending him the pallium. And since, according to custom, we have committed to him vicariate jurisdiction in our stead, we must of necessity take the precaution of exhorting your Fraternity that you in no wise hesitate to obey him in matters pertaining to ecclesiastical order and the right course of discipline, or in other things not precluded by canonical decrees; that the soundness of your judgment in electing him may be declared by the obedience which you shew.
Gregory to John, Bishop of Prima Justiniana in Illyricum.
It is clearly a manifest evidence of goodness that the consent of all should concur in the election of one person. Since, then, the account which we have received from our brethren and fellow-bishops declared that you are summoned to the position of priesthood by the unanimous consent of the whole council and the will of the most serene Prince, we have rendered thanks with great exultation to Almighty God our Creator, who has made your life and actions so commendable in the past as to bring about (what is exceedingly to your credit) your approving yourself to the judgment of all. With them we also fully agree with regard to the person of your Fraternity. And we implore Almighty God that, as His Grace has chosen your Charity, so He would keep you in all respects under His protection. We have sent you the pallium according to custom, and, renewing our commission, we appoint you to act as vicar of the Apostolic See, admonishing you that you so shew yourself gentle to your subjects that they may be provoked to love you rather than to fear you. And, if perchance any fault of theirs should require notice, you will be careful so to correct their transgressions as by no means to discard paternal affection from your mind. Be watchful and assiduous in the care of the flock committed to you, and strict in the zeal of discipline, so that the wolf lying in wait may not prevail to disturb the Lord's sheepfold, or have opportunity for deceit, so as to hurt the sheep. Make haste with full purpose of heart to win souls to our God; and know that we have received the name of shepherd not for repose, but for labour. Let us, then, shew forth in our work what our name denotes. If we weigh with right consideration the prerogative of the priesthood, it will be to those who are diligent and do their duty well for honour, but to those who are negligent assuredly for a burden. For, as this name, in the sight of God, conducts those who labour and are assiduous for the salvation of souls to eternal glory, so in the case of the idle and sluggish it tends to punishment. Through our tongue let the people committed to us learn that there is another life. Let the teaching of your Fraternity be to them an acceptable spur to urge them on, and your life an example for imitation. For your Fraternity's preaching should disclose to them what to love and what to fear, and your efficiency in this way should reap the fruit of eternal retribution. But let your deliberate care especially constrain you never to attempt to make any unlawful ordinations; but, whenever any are promoted to the clerical order, or, it may be, to some higher rank, let them be ordained, not for bribes or entreaties, but for merit. In no ordination let any consideration, in any way whatever, surreptitiously reach your Fraternity, lest you should be entangled (which God forbid) in the snares of simoniacal heresy. For what shall it profit a man, as the Truth says, if he shall gain the whole word, and lose his own soul (Mark viii. 36)? Hence it is necessary for us to look to God in all we do, to despise temporal and perishable things, and to direct the desire of our heart to the good things of eternity. Your Holiness's present  I was altogether unwilling to accept, since it were very unseemly for us to seem to have received gifts from our plundered and afflicted brethren. But your messengers got the better of me by another argument, proffering it to one from whom your Fraternity's offerings may not be withheld  . For this you ought before all things to study: how you may provide imperishable gifts to be offered to the coming judge of souls, to the end that He may have respect both to you for your profitable labour, and to us likewise for our exhortation.
Gregory to John, &c.
Inasmuch as we have enjoined on our brother and fellow-bishop Paulus the work of the visitation of the Neapolitan church, therefore let not Fraternity shrink from assuming the visitation of the Nepesine Church, to the end that, according to the requirements of the Paschal festivity, whatever the solemnity of divine service demands may, through thy operation, be in all respects fulfilled. Until, then, we may be able to consider what should be done with regard to our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop, let thy Fraternity strive to shew thyself so skilful and vigilant in all things that the absence of the bishop aforesaid may not at all be felt  .
The month of April, the tenth Indiction.
Gregory to Rusticiana, &c.
On receiving the epistle of your Excellency I was relieved by the welcome news of your welfare, hoping that the Lord in His mercy may protect and direct your life and doings. But I wondered much why you have turned from your intention and vow to accomplish a good work in respect of your meditated journey to the holy places  , seeing that, when anything good is by the gift of the Creator conceived in the heart, it is needful that it be carried out with quick devotion, lest, while the cunning plotter strives to ensnare the soul, he should afterwards suggest impediments, whereby the mind, weakened by occupations, may fail to carry its desires into effect. Whence it is necessary that your Excellency should anticipate all impediments that come in the way of pious designs, and gasp after the fruit of good work with all the efforts of your heart, that so you may succeed in living tranquilly in the present world and gaining possession of a heavenly kingdom in the future. But as to what you have written to us of Passivus having attempted to spread some calumnies against you, consider, on the other hand, that the most pious emperors have not only been unwilling to listen to them, but have also received the author of them roughly; and turn the whole hope of your soul to Him Who powerfully prevents men in this world from doing as much harm as they long to do, that so He may beat back the wicked intentions of men by the opposition of His arm, and Himself mercifully shatter their attempts, as He has been wont to do. I entreat that the glorious Lord Appio and the lady Eusebia, the Lord Eudoxius and the lady Gregoria, be greeted in my name through you.
Gregory to Maurilius and Vitalianus, magistris militum.
On receiving your Glory's letters we gave thanks to God that we were assured of your safety; and we greatly rejoiced at your careful provision; and what you wrote about was at once prepared. But the magnificent Aldio wrote to us after the arrival of your men that Ariulph was already near at hand, and we feared that the soldiers sent to you might fall into his hands. Yet here also, so far as God may give aid, our son the glorious magister militum has prepared himself against him. But, if the enemy himself should advance hither, let your Glory also, as you have been accustomed to do, accomplish what you can in his rear. For we hope in the power of Almighty God, and that of the blessed Peter himself, the Prince of the apostles, on whose anniversary he desires to shed blood, that he may find him also without delay opposed to him.
Gregory to Maurilius and Vitalianus, magistris militum  .
We have entreated your Glory through our son Vitalianus both by word and letter, charging you to communicate with him. But on the eleventh day of the month of January  Ariulph sent us this letter which we forward to you. Wherefore, when you have read it, see if the people of Suana  have stood fast in the fidelity they promised to the republic, and take adequate hostages from them, such as you can rely on; and moreover bind them anew by oaths, restoring to them what you took from them in the way of a pledge, and bringing them to a right mind by your discourses. But, should you quite distinctly ascertain that they have treated with Ariulph about their surrender to him, or at any rate have given him hostages, as the letter of Ariulph which we have forwarded to you leads us to suspect, then (after wholesome deliberation, lest your souls or mine be burdened with respect to our oaths), do ye whatever ye may judge to be of advantage to the republic. But let your Glory so act that neither anything be done for which we could be blamed by our adversaries, nor (which may the Lord avert) anything neglected which the advantage of the republic requires. Furthermore, my glorious sons, take anxious heed, since the enemy, so far as I have ascertained, has an army collected, and is said to be stationed at Narina  ; and if, God being angry with him, he should resolve to bend his course hitherward, do you plunder his positions so far as the Lord may aid you, or certainly let those whom you send carefully require night-watches  , lest news of any sad event should reach us  .
Gregory to Peter, &c.
By information received from Romanus the guardian (defensore) I have learnt that the monastery of handmaidens of God which is on the farm of Monotheus has suffered wrong from our church of Villa Nova with respect to a farm belonging to the latter, which is said to have been leased to the said monastery. If this is so, let thy Experience restore to them the farm, and also the payments from the same farm for the two indictions during which thou hast exacted them. Moreover, since many of the Jews dwell on the estates of the Church, I desire that, if any of them should be willing to become Christians, some little of their dues be remitted to them, to the end that others also, incited by this benefit, may be moved to a like desire.
Cows which are now barren from age, or bulls which appear to be quite useless, ought to be sold, so that at least some profit may accrue from their price. But as to the herds of mares which we keep very unprofitably, I wish them all to be dispersed, and four hundred only of the younger kept for breeding; which four hundred ought to be presented to the farmers  --so many to each, to the end that they may make some return to us from them in successive years: for it is very hard for us to spend sixty solidi on the herdsmen, and not get sixty pence from these same herds. Let then thy Experience so proceed that some may be divided among all the farmers, and others dispersed and converted into money. But so arrange with the herdsmen themselves throughout our possessions that they may be able to make some profit by cultivation of the ground. All the implements which, either at Syracuse or at Panormus, can be claimed by the Church must be sold before they perish entirely from age.
On the arrival of the servant of God, brother Cyriacus, at Rome I questioned him closely as to whether he had communicated with thee about the receiving of a bribe in the cause of a certain woman. And the same brother says that he had learnt the state of the case from thy telling him, for that he had been commissioned by thee to ascertain who was the person commissioned to pay the bribe. This I believed, and immediately received him familiarly into favour, introduced him to the people and clergy, increased his stipend  , placed him in a superior rank among the guardians, praising his fidelity before all, in that he had acquitted himself so faithfully in thy service; and I have consequently sent him back to thee. But, inasmuch as thou art in great haste, and I, though sick, am desirous of seeing thee, do thou leave some one whom thou hast fully proved to take thy place in the Syracusan district, and thyself make haste to come to me, that, if it should please Almighty God, we may consult together as to whether thou thyself oughtest to return thither or another person should be appointed in thy place. At the same time I have sent Benenatus the notary to occupy thy place in the patrimony in the district of Panormus till such time as Almighty God may ordain what pleases Him.
I have strongly rebuked Romanus for his levity, because in the Guest-house (xenodochium) which he kept, as I have now discovered, he has been taken up more with his own profits than with [heavenly] rewards. Him, therefore, if it should haply seem good to thee, leave in thy place. See how thou mayest best fortify him, by alarming and admonishing him, that he may act kindly and carefully towards the peasants (rusticos  ); and shew himself towards strangers and townspeople changed and active. In saying this, however, I am not selecting any person, but leave this to thy judgment. It is enough for me to have selected an occupier of thy place in the district of Panormus; and I wish thee to see thyself to providing one for the Syracusan district. When thou comest, bring with thee the moneys and ornaments (ornamenta) on the part, or of the substance of Antoninus. Bring also the payments of the ninth and tenth indictions which thou hast exacted, and with them all thy accounts. Take care, if it should please God, to cross the sea for this city before the anniversary of Saint Cyprian, lest any danger should ensue (which God forbid) from the constellation which always threatens the sea at that season.
Furthermore, I would have thee know that I have no slight compunctions of mind for having been grievously set against the servant of God Pretiosus for no grievous fault of his, and driven him from me, sad and embittered. And I wrote to the Lord bishop  requesting him to send the man to me, if willing to do so; but he was altogether unwilling. Now him I ought not to distress, nor can I do so; since, occupied as he is in the causes of God, he ought to be supported by comfort, not depressed by bitterness. But the said Pretiosus, as I hear, is altogether distressed because he cannot return to me. I, however, as I have said, cannot distress the Lord bishop, who is not willing to send him, and I am doubtful between the two. Do thou then, if in thy little diminutive body thou hast the greater wisdom, manage the matter so that I may have my will, and the Lord bishop be not distressed. Yet, if thou see him to be at all distressed, say no more about it. I have, however, taken it amiss that he has excommunicated the Lord Eusebius  , a man of so great age and in such bad health. Wherefore it is needful for thee to speak privately to the said Lord bishop, that he be not hasty in pronouncing sentences, since cases which are to be decided by sentences must needs be weighed beforehand with careful and very frequent consideration.
When the recruiting officers  come, who, as I hear, are already raising recruits in Sicily, charge thy substitute to offer them some little present  , so as to render them well-disposed towards him. But, before thou comest away, give also something, according to ancient custom, to the prætor's officials; but do it by the hands of him thou leavest in thy place, so as to conciliate their favour towards him. Also, lest we should seem to them to be at all uncivil, direct thy substitutes to carry out in all respects the orders we have given to thy Experience as to what is to be given to any individuals or monasteries. But when thou comest, we will, with the help of God consider together how these things should be arranged. The three hundred solidi which I sent to be given through thee to the poor I do not think ought to be committed to their discretion. Let them carry out, then, those directions I have spoken of with reference to particular places and persons.
Now I remember having written before now to say that the legacies, which, according to the representation of Antoninus the guardian (defensoris), are due from us to monasteries or others, were to be paid as had been appointed. And I know not why thy Experience has delayed to accomplish this. Wherefore we desire thee to pay in full our portion of these legacies from the moneys of the church, that when thou comest to me, thou mayest not leave there the groans of the poor against thee. Bring also with thee at the same time the securities which have been found relating to the substance of the same Antoninus.
I have learnt on the information of Romanus that the wife of Redemptus, when dying, directed by word of mouth one silver shell to be sold, and the proceeds given to her freedmen, and also left a silver platter to a certain monastery; in respect of both of which bequests we desire her wishes to be fully carried out, lest from the least things we be betrayed into greater sins.
Further, I have learnt on the information of the Abbot Marinianus that the building in the Prætorian Monastery is not yet even half completed: which being the case, what can we praise for it but thy Experience's fervour  ? But even now let this admonition rouse thee; and, as far as thou canst, assert thyself in the construction of this same monastery. I said that nothing was to be given them for the cost; but I did not prohibit their building the monastery. But so proceed as to enjoin in all ways on him whom thou mayest depute in thy place at Panormus that he construct this same monastery at the charge of the ecclesiastical revenue, and that I may have no more private complaints from the abbot.
Moreover, I have learnt that thou knowest certain things on the farms, even in considerable numbers, to belong to others; but, owing to the entreaty of certain persons or to timidity, thou art afraid to restore them to their owners. But, if thou wert truly a Christian, thou wouldest be afraid of the judgment of God more than of the voices of men. Take notice that I unceasingly admonish thee on this matter; which if thou neglect to set right, thou wilt have also my voice for witness against thee. If thou shouldest find any of the laity fearing God who might receive the tonsure and become agents under the rector  , I give my full con sent. It will be necessary that letters also be sent to them.
Concerning the case of the son of Commissus the scholasticus  , thou hast taken advice; and it appears that what he claims is not just in law. We are unwilling to burden the poor to their disadvantage; but, inasmuch as he has given himself trouble in this matter, we desire thee to give him fifty solidi, which must certainly be charged in thy accounts. As to the expense thou hast incurred on the business of the Church in the case of Prochisus, either reimburse thyself there out of his revenues, or, should his revenues be clearly insufficient for the repayment, thou must needs receive what is due to thee here from the deacon. But presume not to say anything about Gelasius the subdeacon, since his crime calls for the severest penance even to the end of his life.
Furthermore, thou has sent me one sorry nag and five good asses. That nag I cannot ride, he is such a sorry one; and those good asses I cannot ride, because they are asses. But we beg that, if you are disposed to content us, you will let us have something suitable. We desire thee to give to the abbot Eusebius a hundred solidi of gold, which must certainly be charged in thy accounts. We have learnt that Sisinnius, who was a judge at Samnium, is suffering from grievous want in Sicily, to whom we desire thee to supply twenty decimates  of wine and four solidi yearly. Anastasius, a religious person (religiosus  ), is said to be living near the city of Panormus in the oratory of Saint Agna, to whom we desire six solidi of gold to be given. We desire also six solidi, to be charged in thy accounts, to be given to the mother of Urbicus the Prior  . As to the case of the handmaiden of God, Honorata, what seems good to me is this: that thou shouldest bring with thee when thou comest all her substance which evidently existed before the time of the episcopate of John, bishop of Laurinum  . But let the same handmaiden of God come with her son, that we may speak with her, and do whatever may please God. The volume of the Heptateuch  out of the goods of Antoninus we desire to be given to the Prætorian monastery, and the rest of his books to be brought hither by thee.
Gregory to Justinus, &c.
The spite of the ancient foe has this way of its own, that in the case of those whom, through God resisting him, he cannot delude into the perpetration of evil deeds, he maims their reputation for a time by false reports. Seeing, then, that a sinister rumour about our brother and fellow-bishop Leo  had disseminated certain things inconsistent with his priestly profession, we caused strict and lengthened enquiry to be made as to whether they were true, and we have found no fault in him touching the things that had been said. But, that nothing might seem to be omitted, and that no possible doubt might remain in our heart, we caused him over and above to take a strict oath before the most sacred body of the blessed Peter. And, when he had done this, we rejoiced with great exultation that from a proof of this kind his innocence evidently shone forth. Wherefore let your Glory receive the aforesaid man with all charity, and shew him reverence such as is becoming towards a priest; nor let any doubtfulness remain in your heart touching the charges from which he has now been purged. But it lies upon you so to cleave in all respects to the above-named bishop, that you may be seen fittingly and becomingly in his person to honour God, whose minister he is.
Gregory to Maximianus, &c.
I remember to have often admonished you to be by no means hasty in passing sentence. And lo, I have now learnt that your Fraternity in a fit of anger has excommunicated the most reverend abbot Eusebius. Now I am much astonished that neither his former conversation, nor his advanced age, nor his long-continued sickness, could turn your mind from wrath. For, whatever his transgression may have been, the very affliction of sickness ought to have sufficed as a scourge for him. For to one crushed by divine discipline it was superfluous to add human scourges. But perhaps thou hast been allowed to exceed in the case of such a person, in order that thou mightest become more cautious in the case of others of less account, and ponder long when thou art disposed to smite any one through a sentence. Yet still comfort this same man with a sweetness proportionate to the fury with which thou hast exasperated him, since it is very unjust that the very persons who have loved thee most should find thee without cause most bitter against themselves.
Gregory to Eusebius, &c.
Let thy Charity believe me that I have been greatly saddened for thy sadness, as though I had myself suffered wrong in thee. But, when I afterwards learnt that, even after the most reverend Maximianus, our brother and fellow-bishop, had restored thee to his favour and communion, thy Love would not accept communion from him, I then knew that what had been done before was just. The humility of God's servants ought to appear in a time of affliction: but those who lift themselves up against their superiors shew that they scorn to be God's servants. And, indeed, what he once did ought not to have been done; but still it ought to have been taken by thee with all humility: and again, when he restored to thee his favour, he ought to have been met with thanks. And because it was not so done by thee, I feel that to us in every way there is cause for tears. For it is no great thing for us to be humble to those by whom we are honoured; for even any worldly man would do this: but we ought especially to be humble to those at whose hands we suffer. For the Psalmist says, See my humility before mine enemies (Psal. ix. 14). What life are we leading, if we will not be humble even to our fathers? Wherefore, most beloved son, I beseech thee that all bitterness pass away from thy heart, lest perchance the end should be near, and the ancient foe should, through the iniquity of discord, bar against us the way to the eternal kingdom. Further, we have caused a hundred solidi to be given to thy Love through Peter the subdeacon, which I beg thee to accept without offence.
Gregory to John, &c.
The care of our pastoral office warns us to appoint for bereaved churches bishops of their own, who may govern the Lord's flock with pastoral solicitude. Accordingly we have held it necessary to appoint thee, John, bishop of the civitas Lissitana (Lissus, hodie, Alessio?), which has been captured by the enemy, to be cardinal  in the Church of Squillacium, that thou mayest carry on the cure of souls once undertaken by thee, having regard to future retribution. And although, being driven from thine own Church by the invading enemy, thou must govern another Church which is now without a shepherd, yet it must be on condition that, in case of the former city being set free from the enemy, and under the protection of God restored to its former state, thou return to the Church in which thou wast first ordained. If, however, the aforesaid city continues to suffer under the calamity of captivity, thou must remain in this Church wherein thou art by us incardinated  . Moreover, we enjoin thee never to make unlawful ordinations, or allow any bigamist, or one who has taken a wife who was not a virgin, or one ignorant of letters, or one maimed in any part of his body, or a penitent, or one liable to any condition of service, to attain to sacred orders. And, shouldest thou find any of this kind, thou must not dare to advance them. Africans generally, and unknown strangers, applying for ecclesiastical orders, on no account accept seeing that some Africans are Manichæans, and some have been rebaptized; while many strangers, though being in minor orders, are proved to have pretended to a higher dignity. We also admonish thy Fraternity to watch wisely over the souls committed to thee, and to be more intent on winning souls than on the profits of the present life. Be diligent in keeping and disposing of the goods of the Church, that the coming Judge, when He comes to judge, may approve thee as having in all respects worthily executed the office of shepherd which thou hast taken upon thee.
Gregory to Castorius, Bishop of Ariminum (Rimini).
What lamentable supplications have been poured out to us by Luminosus, abbot of the monastery of St. Andrew and St. Thomas, in the city of Ariminum, appears from the text of the subjoined petition. With regard to this matter we exhort thy Fraternity that, on the death of the abbot of this same monastery, thy church shall under no pretext interfere in scheduling or taking charge of the property of the said monastery, acquired or to be acquired. And we desire thee to ordain as abbot of the same monastery none other but him whom the whole congregation may by common consent demand as being worthy in character and apt for monastic discipline. Moreover, we entirely forbid public masses to be celebrated there by the bishop, lest occasion be given for popular assemblies in the retreats of God's servants, and also lest too frequent an entrance of women be a cause of scandal (which God forbid), especially to the simpler souls. Further, we ordain that this paper by us written shall be carefully held to, and kept in force and unadulterated in all future time by thee and the bishops that shall be ordained after thee; that so, with the help of God, both thy church may be content with its own rights and no more, and also the said monastery, being subject henceforth to none but general or canonical jurisdiction, and free from all annoyances and vexations, may accomplish its divine work with the utmost devotion of heart.
[In place of the epistle as above given, the following, with the appended paper on the privileges of monasteries, is found in some Codices.]
Gregory to Castorius, Bishop of Ariminum.
What lamentable supplications Luminosus, abbot of the monastery of Saints Andrew and Thomas, in the city of Ariminum, has poured out to us, appears from the text of the subjoined petition. For from his account we learn that in very many monasteries the monks have suffered many prejudices and annoyances from prelates. It is therefore the duty of thy Fraternity to make provision for their future quiet by a wholesome arrangement, to the end that those who have their conversation therein in God's service may, His grace assisting them, persevere with minds free from disturbance. But, lest from a custom which ought to be rather amended than continued, any one should presume to cause any kind of annoyance to monks, it is necessary that the things which we have caused to be enumerated below should be so carefully observed by the fraternity of bishops that no possible occasion of introducing disquiet may be found hereafter.
Of the privileges of Monasteries.
We therefore interdict in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and forbid by the authority of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, in whose stead we preside over this Roman Church, that any bishop or secular person hereafter presume in any way to devise occasions of interfering with regard to the revenues, property, or writings of monasteries, or of the cells or vills thereto appertaining, or have recourse to any tricks or exactions: but, if any case should by chance arise as to land disputed between their churches and any monasteries, and it cannot be arranged amicably, let it be terminated without intentional delay before selected abbots and other fathers who fear God, sworn upon the most holy Gospels. Also on the death of the abbot of any congregation, let no stranger be ordained, or any but one of the same congregation whom the society of the brethren shall of its own accord have elected unanimously, and who shall have been elected without fraud or venality. But, if they cannot find a suitable person among themselves, let them in like manner elect some one from some other monastery to be ordained. Nor, when an abbot has been constituted, let any person whatever on any pretext be put over him, unless perchance (which God forbid) crimes be apparent which are shewn to be punishable by the sacred canons. Likewise the rule is to be observed, that monks must not, without the consent of the abbot, be removed from monasteries for constituting other monasteries, or for sacred orders, or for any clerical office. We also disallow ecclesiastical schedules of the property of a monastery to be made by bishops. But if, circumstances requiring it, the abbot of a place should have questions with other abbots concerning property that has come into possession, let the matter be terminated also by their counsel or judgment. On the death also of an abbot let not the bishop on any pretext intermeddle in the scheduling or taking charge of the property of the monastery, acquired, or given, or to be acquired. We also entirely forbid public masses to be celebrated by him in a convent, lest in the retreats of the servants of God and their places of refuge any opportunity for a popular concourse be afforded, or an unwonted entrance of women should ensue, which would be by no means of advantage to their souls. Nor let him dare to place his episcopal chair there, or have any power whatever of command, or of holding any ordination, even the most ordinary, unless he should be requested to do so by the abbot of the place; that so the monks may always remain under the power of their abbots: and let no bishop detain a monk in any church without a testimonial and permission from his abbot, or promote one without such permission to any dignity. We ordain, then, that this paper by us written be kept to for all future time, in force and unadulterated, by all bishops; that both they may be content with the rights of their own churches and no more, and that the monasteries be subject to no ecclesiastical conditions, or compelled services, or obedience of any kind to secular authorities (saving only canonical jurisdiction  ), but, freed from all vexations and annoyances, may accomplish their divine work with the utmost devotion of heart.
Gregory to Luminosus, abbot of the monastery of Saint Thomas of Ariminum.
We were glad to receive thine own and thy congregation's petition, and accede to thy requests, in accordance with the statutes of the Fathers and with form of law. For to our brother and fellow-bishop Castorius a letter has been sent by our order, whereby we have taken away entirely from him and his successors all power to harm thy monastery; so that neither may he any longer come among you to be a burden to you, nor schedules be made of the property of the monastery, nor any public procession  take place there; this only jurisdiction being still left to him, that he must ordain in the place of a deceased abbot another whom the common consent of the congregation may have chosen as worthy. But now, these things being thus accomplished, be you diligent in the work of God, and assiduously devote yourselves to prayer, lest you should seem not so much to have sought security of mind for prayer, as to have wished to escape strict episcopal control over you while living amiss.
Gregory to John, Bishop of Ravenna  .
That I have not replied to the many letters of your Blessedness attribute not to sluggishness on my part, but to weakness, seeing that, on account of my sins, when Ariulph, coming to the Roman city, killed some and mutilated others, I was affected with such great sadness as to fall into a colic sickness. But I wondered much why it was that that well-known care of your Holiness for me was of no advantage to this city and to my needs. When, however, your letters reached me, I became aware that you are indeed taking pains to act, but yet have no one on whom you can bring your action to bear. I therefore attribute it to my sins that this man  with whom we are now concerned both evades fighting against our enemies and also forbids our making peace; though indeed at present, even if he wished us to make it, we are utterly unable, since Ariulph, having the army of Authar and Nordulf, desires their subsidies  to be given him ere he will deign to speak to us at all about peace.
But, as to the case of the bishops of Istria  , I have learnt the truth of all you had told me in your letters from the commands which have come to me from the most pious princes, bidding me abstain for the present from compelling them. I indeed feel with you, and rejoice greatly in your zeal and ardour, with regard to what you have written, and acknowledge myself to have become in many ways your debtor. Know nevertheless that I shall not cease to write with the greatest zeal and freedom on this same matter to the most serene lords. Moreover the animosity of the aforesaid most excellent Romanus Patricius ought not to move you, since, as we are above him in place and rank, we ought so much the more to tolerate with forbearance and dignity any light conduct on his part.
If, however, there is any opportunity of prevailing with him, let your Fraternity work upon him, so that we may make peace with Ariulph, if to some small extent we may, since the soldiery have been removed from the city of Rome, as he himself knows. But the Theodosiacs  , who have remained here, not having received their pay, are with difficulty induced to guard the walls; and how shall the city subsist, left destitute as it is by all, if it has not peace?
Furthermore, as to the gift redeemed from captivity, about whom you have written to us asking us to enquire into her origin, we would have your Holiness know that an unknown person cannot easily be traced. But as to what you say about one who has been ordained being ordained again, it is exceedingly ridiculous, and outside the consideration of one disposed as you are, unless perchance some precedent is adduced which ought to be taken into account in judging him who is alleged to have done any such thing. But far be it from your Fraternity to entertain such a view. For, as one who has been once baptized ought not to be baptized again, so one who has been once consecrated cannot be consecrated again to the same order. But in case of any one's attainment of the priesthood having been accompanied by slight misdemeanour, he ought to be adjudged to penance for the misdemeanour, and yet return his orders.
With regard to the city of Naples  , in view of the urgent insistance of the most excellent Exarch, we give you to understand that Arigis  , as we have ascertained, has associated himself with Ariulph, and is breaking his faith to the republic, and plotting much against this same city; to which unless a duke be speedily sent, it may already be reckoned among the lost.
As to what you say to the effect that alms should be sent to the city of the schismatic Severus which has been burnt  , your Fraternity is of this opinion as being ignorant of the bribes that he sends to the Court in opposition to us. And, even though these were not sent, we should have to consider that compassion is to be shewn first to the faithful, and afterwards to the enemies of the Church. For indeed there is near at hand the city Fanum, in which many have been taken captive, and to which I have already in the past year desired to send alms, but did not venture to do so through the midst of the enemy. It therefore seems to me that you should send the Abbot Claudius thither with a certain amount of money, in order to redeem the freemen whom he may find there detained in slavery for ransom, or any who are still in captivity. But, as to the sum of money to be thus sent, be assured that whatever you determine will please me. If, moreover, you are treating with the most excellent Romanus Patricius for allowing us to make peace with Ariulph, I am prepared to send another person to you, with whom questions of ransom may be better arranged.
Concerning our brother and fellow-bishop Natalis  I was at one time greatly distressed, in that I had found him acting haughtily in certain matters; but, since he has himself amended his manners, he has overcome me and consoled my distress. In connexion with this matter admonish our brother and fellow-bishop Malchus  that before he comes to us he render his accounts, and then depart elsewhere if it is necessary. And if we find his conduct good, it will perhaps be necessary for us to restore to him the patrimony which he had charge of.
Gregory to Dominicus, Bishop of Carthage  .
We have received with the utmost gratification the letters of your Fraternity, which have reached us somewhat late by the hands of Donatus and Quodvultdeus, our most reverend brethren and fellow-bishops, and also Victor the deacon with Agilegius the notary. And though we thought that we had suffered loss from the tardiness of their coming, yet we find gain from their more abundant charity; seeing that from this delay in point of time there appears no interruption, but rather increase of the love which, by the mercy of God, through your contemplation of the priestly office, your practice of reading, and your maturity of age, we know to be already firmly planted in you. For it would not flow so largely from you, had it not very many most abundant veins in your heart. Let us, therefore, most holy brother, hold fast with unshaken firmness this mother and guard of virtues. Let not the tongues of the deceitful diminish it in us, or any snares of the ancient enemy corrupt it. For this joins what is divided, and keeps together what is joined. This lifts up what is lowly without tumour; this brings down what is lifted up without dejection. Through this the unity of the universal Church, which is the knitting together of the Body of Christ, rejoices in its several parts through the mind's equalization of them, though having in it dissimilarity from the diversity of its members. Through this these members both exult in the joy of others, though in themselves afflicted, and also droop for the sorrows of others, though in themselves joyful. For seeing that, as the teacher of the Gentiles testifies, if one member suffers anything, the other members suffer with it, and if one member glories, all the members rejoice with it, I doubt not that you groan for our perturbation, as it is quite certain that we rejoice for your peace.
Now as to your Fraternity rejoicing with us on our ordination, it displays to me the affection of most sincere charity. But I confess that a force of sorrow strikes through my soul from contemplation of this order of ministry. For heavy is the weight of priesthood; seeing that it is necessary for a priest, first to live so as to be an example to others, and then to be on his guard not to lift up his heart because of the example which he shews. He should ever be thinking of the ministry of preaching, considering with most intense fear how that the Lord, when about to depart to receive for Himself a kingdom, and giving talents to His servants, says, Trade ye till I come (Luke xix. 13). Which trading surely we carry on only if by our living and our speaking we win the souls of our neighbours; if by preaching the joys of the heavenly kingdom we strengthen all that are weak in divine love; if by terribly sounding forth the punishments of hell we bend the froward and the timid; if we spare no one against the truth; if, given to heavenly friendships, we fear not human enmities. And indeed it was in thus shewing himself that the Psalmist knew that he had offered a kind of Sacrifice to God, when he said, Did I not hate them, O God, that hated thee, and was I not grieved with thine enemies! Yea I hated them with a perfect hated, and they became enemies unto me (Ps. cxxxviii. 21  ). But in view of this burden I tremble for my infirmity, and look to the returning of the Master of the house, after receiving His kingdom, to take account of us. But with what heart shall I bear His coming, if from the trading I undertook I render Him no gain, or almost none? Do thou, therefore, most dear brother, help me with thy prayers; and what thou seest me to fear for myself, consider daily on thine own account with anxious dread. For through the bond of charity both what I say of myself is thy concern, and what I desire thee to do is mine.
Further, as to what your Fraternity writes about ecclesiastical privileges, keep to this without any hesitation, since, as we defend our own rights, so we observe those of several churches. Nor do I through partiality grant to any Church whatever more than it deserves, nor do I under the instigation of ambition derogate from any what belongs to it by right; but I desire to honour my brethren in all ways, and study accordingly that each may be advanced in honour, so long as there can be no opposition to it of right on the part of one against the other. Further, I greatly rejoice with you in the manners of your messengers, in whom it has been shewn me how much you love me, in that you have sent to me elect brethren and sons.
Given the tenth of the Kalends of August, tenth indiction.
Gregory to Columbus, &c.
It is known, most dear brother in Christ, that the ancient enemy, who by cunning persuasion deposed the first man from the delights of Paradise to this life of care, and in him even then inflicted the penalty of mortality on the human race, does now with the same cunning, so as more easily to seize the flock, endeavour to infect the shepherds of the Lord's sheep with infused poisons, and already to claim them as his own by right. But we, who, though unworthy, have undertaken the government of the Apostolic See in the stead of Peter the prince of the apostles, are compelled by the very office of our pontificate to resist the general enemy by all the efforts in our power. Now the bearers of these presents, Constantius and Mustellus, have in a petition presented to us given us to understand, and the deacons of the Church of Pudentiana constituted in the province of Numidia assert, that Maximianus, prelate of the same Church, corrupted by a bribe from the Donatists, has by a new licence allowed a bishop to be made in the place where he lives; which thing, though previous usage allowed it, is prohibited from remaining and continuing by the catholic faith  . On this account, then, we have deemed it necessary to exhort thy Fraternity by these present writings that, when Hilarus our chartularius comes to thee, this same case be subjected to a thorough and wise investigation in an united general council of bishops, having the terror of the coming judge before their eyes. And if this charge should be proved with sufficient evidences by the bearers of these presents against the aforesaid bishop, let him by all means be degraded from the dignity and office which he enjoys, that both he may return to the gains of penitence through acknowledgment of his fault, and others may not presume to attempt such things.
For it is right that one who has sold our Lord Jesus Christ to a heretic for money received, as is said to have been done, should be removed from handling the mysteries of His most holy body and blood. Further, if, apart from this accusation, there is any contest afoot among them, as is contained in the petition of the deacons themselves, with respect to certain wrongs or private transactions, this let thy Fraternity with our aforesaid chartularius fully enquire into with evidence adduced, and decide it according to justice between all the parties.
But, further, we have learnt through the information given us by the bearers of these presents that the heresy of the Donatists is for our sins spreading daily, and that very many, leave being given them through venality, are being baptized a second time by the Donatists. How serious a matter this is, brother, it behoves us with the whole bent of our minds to consider. Lo, the wolf tears the Lord's flock, no longer stealthily in the night, but in the open light; and we see him advance in the slaughter of the sheep, and with no solicitude, with no darts of words, do we oppose him. What fruits, then, of a multiplied flock shall we shew to the Lord, if even that of which we have undertaken the feeding we see with easy mind mangled by the wild beast? Let us therefore study to inflame our hearts by imitation of earthly shepherds, who often keep watch through winter nights, pinched with showers and frost, lest even one sheep, and perchance not a profitable one, should perish. And, if the prowler should have bitten it with greedy mouth, how do they busy themselves, with what palpitations of heart do they pant, with what cries do they leap forward to rescue the captured sheep, stimulated by the pressing need, lest anything lost through their carelessness should be required of them by the Lord of the flock! Let us then watch, lest anything should perish: and, if anything should by chance have been seized, let us bring it back to the Lord's flock by the cries of divine discourses, that He who is the Shepherd of shepherds may mercifully vouchsafe to approve us in His judgment as having kept watch over His sheepfold. This also it is needful for you to attend to wisely; that, if there should be any proper petition on the part of the same bishop against the bearers of these presents, it should be thoroughly enquired into; and, if haply they themselves also should rightly deserve to be smitten for their own fault, we pronounce that they should by no means be spared on the ground of their having had the toil of resorting to us.
In the month of August, tenth indiction.
Gregory to Januarius, archbishop of Caralis (Cagliari).
If with integrity of heart we consider the priestly office which we administer, the concord of personal charity ought so to unite us with our sons that, as we are fathers in name, so we should be proved by our affection to be so in deed. While, then, we ought to be such as has been said above, we wonder why such a mass of complaints has arisen against thy Fraternity. We still indeed hesitate to believe it: but, that we may be able to ascertain the truth, we have sent to your parts John the notary of our See, supported by our injunction, who may compel all parties to abide the judgment of chosen arbitrators, and by his own execution carry their judgments into effect. Wherefore we exhort thy Fraternity by this present writing to consider well with thyself beforehand the merits of the cases; and, if you find that you have taken or hold anything unjustly, in consideration of your priesthood to restore it before trial.
Now, among numerous complaints, the most distinguished Isidore has complained of having been excommunicated and anathematised by thy Fraternity for invalid reasons. And, when we had wished to learn from one of thy clergy who was here for what cause this had been done, he gave us to understand that it had been done for no other cause than that the man had done thee an injury. This distresses us exceedingly; since, if it is so, thou shewest that thou dost not think of heavenly things, but givest signs of having thy conversation among things of earth, having brought to bear the malediction of anathema to avenge a private wrong; which is a thing forbidden by the sacred rules. Wherefore for the future be thoroughly circumspect and careful, and presume not to inflict any such penalty again for vindication of thine own wrongs. For, shouldest thou do anything of the kind, know that it will afterwards be avenged on thyself.
Gregory to all bishops in the matter of the Three Chapters  .
I have received your letters with the utmost gratification: but I shall have far abundant joy, if it should be my lot to rejoice in your return from error. Now the forefront of your Epistle notifies that you suffer severe persecution. But persecution, if endured irrationally, is of no profit at all unto salvation. For it is impious in any one to expect a recompense of reward for sin. For you ought to know, as the blessed Cyprian says, that it is not the suffering that makes the martyr, but the cause for which he suffers. This being so, it is exceedingly incongruous for you to glory in the persecution whereof you speak, seeing that you are not thereby at all advanced towards eternal rewards. Let, then, purity of faith bring your Charity back to your mother church who bare you; let no bent of your mind dissociate you from the unity of concord; let no persuasion deter you from seeking again the right way. For in the synod which dealt with the three chapters it is distinctly evident that nothing pertaining to faith was subverted, or in the least degree changed; but, as you know, the proceedings had reference only to certain individuals; one of whom, whose writings evidently deviated from the rectitude of the Catholic Faith, was not unjustly condemned  .
Moreover, as to what you write about Italy among other provinces having been especially scourged since that time, you ought not to twist this into a reproach, since it is written, Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Hebr. xii. 6). If, then, it is as you say, Italy has been since that time the more loved by God, and in all ways approved, having been counted worthy of enduring the scourge of the Lord. But, since it is not as ye try to make out by way of insulting over her, attend ye to reason.
After the Pope Vigilius of illustrious memory, having been appointed in the royal city  , promulgated a sentence of condemnation against Theodora, then empress, or against the Acephali  , the city of Rome was then attacked and captured by enemies. Does it follow from this that the Acephali had a good case, or that they were unjustly condemned, because such things happened after their condemnation? Away with the thought! For it is not fit that either any one of you, or any others who have been instituted in the mysteries of the Catholic Faith, should say or in any way acknowledge this. This then being recognized, retire ye even now at length from the determination you have come to. Wherefore, that full satisfaction may be infused into your minds, and all doubt removed, with respect to the three chapters, I have judged it of advantage to send you the book which my predecessor of holy memory, Pope Pelagius, had written on this subject  . Which book if you should be willing to read again and again, putting aside the spirit of wilful self-defence, I have confidence that you will follow it in all respects, and, notwithstanding all, return to union with us. But if henceforth, after perusal of this book, you should decide to persist in your present determination, you will doubtless shew that you gave yourselves up not to reason but to obstinacy. Wherefore once more, in a spirit of compassion, I admonish your Charity, that, inasmuch as under God the purity of our faith has remained inviolate in the matter of the Three Chapters, ye put away from you all swelling of mind, and return to your mother the Church, who expects and invites her sons; and this all the more speedily as you know that she expects you daily.
Gregory to Natalis, Bishop of Salona.
As though forgetting the tenour of former letters, I had determined to say nothing to your Blessedness but what should savour of sweetness: but, now that in your epistle you have recurred in the way of argumentation to preceding letters, I am once more compelled to say perhaps some things that I had rather not have said.
For in defence of feasts your Fraternity mentions the feast of Abraham, in which by the testimony of Holy Scripture he is said to have entertained three angels (Gen. xviii.). In view of this example, neither will we blame your Blessedness for feasting, if we come to know that you entertain angels. Again you say that Isaac gave a blessing to his son when satiated (Gen. xxvii. 27). Now as to both these things in the Old Testament--since they were so done in the way of history as still to have a meaning in the way of allegory--would that we could so read through the accounts of the things done as to perceive and take thought for the things to be done. For indeed the one, in saluting one only of the three angels, declared the Persons of the Trinity to be of one Substance; the other blessed his son when satiated, because one who is filled with divine banquets has his senses extended into the power of prophecy. But the words of Holy Writ are divine banquets. If, then, you read diligently--if, drawing example from what is outward, you penetrate what is inward--you will be satiated, as it were, from hunting in the field, and fill the stomach of the soul, so as to be able to announce things to come to your son placed before you, to wit to the people you have taken in charge. But one who prophesies anything of God is already in the dark as to this world; for it is assuredly right and fit that he whose senses are bright inwardly through intelligence should see less through concupiscence here below.
Take, therefore, these things to yourselves; and, if you know yourselves to be such as I have said, you need not at all doubt of our esteem. I also find your Blessedness rejoicing if you bear the name of "a gluttonous man" along with the world's Creator. As to this I briefly comment thus; that, if you are called so falsely, you do truly bear this name along with the world's Creator; but, if it is true of you, who can doubt that it was false of Him? A like name does not avail to acquit you, if the cause for it is unlike. For even the thief who was condemned to die endured the cross with Him; but a like crucifixion did not acquit him whom his own guilt bound. But now I beseech God with all the prayers I can offer that not the name only, but the cause for it, may join your most holy Fraternity to our Creator.
Further, your Holiness in your letters rightly praises feasts which are made with the intention of bestowing charity. But yet you should know that they then truly proceed from charity, when at them the lives of the absent are not backbitten, no one is censured in derision, and no idle tales about secular affairs, but the words of sacred reading, are heard; when the body is not pampered more than is needful, but only its weakness refreshed, that it may be kept in health for the practice of virtue. If, then, you thus conduct yourselves in your feasts, I own that you are masters of abstinence.
As to your alleging to me the testimony of the apostle Paul, where he says, Let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth (Rom. xiv. 3), I think that this was altogether out of place, seeing both that I am not one that eateth not, and also that Paul did not here mean to say that the members of Christ, who are mutually bound to each other in His body, that is to say in his Church, with the bond of charity, should have no care whatever for each other. If, indeed, I had nothing to do with thee, nor thou with me, I should rightly be compelled to hold my peace, lest I should blame one whom I could not mend. This precept, then, was given only with reference to persons who go about to judge those who have not been committed to their care. But now that we, by the ordering of God, are one, we should be much in fault were we to pass over in silence what calls for our correction. Lo, thy Fraternity has taken it amiss to have been blamed by me about feasts, while I, who surpass thee in my position, though not in my life, am ready to be found fault with by all, and by all to be amended. And him only do I esteem to be a friend to me, through whose tongue I wipe off the stains of my soul before the appearance of the strict judge.
But as to what you say, most sweet brother, about your being unable to read because of the pressure of tribulations upon you, I think this avails little for your excuse, since Paul says, Whatsoever things are written are written for our instruction, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope (Rom. xv. 4). If, then, holy Scripture has been prepared for our comfort, we ought by so much the more to read it as we find ourselves the more wearied under the burden of tribulations. But if we are to rely only on that sentence which you quote in your letter, wherein the Lord says, When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you (Matth. x. 19), I say that Holy Scriptures have been given us in vain, if, being filled with the Spirit, we have no need of external words. But, dearest brother, trusting in God without doubt, when we are straightened in a time of persecution, is one thing; what we ought to do when the Church is at peace is another. For it is our duty, through this same Spirit, to learn by reading now what we may be able to shew forth also in suffering, should cause arise.
Now, I rejoice exceedingly that you declare in your letter that you are giving attention to exhortation. For thus I know that you are wisely fulfilling the duties of your position, if you take pains to draw others also to your Maker. But your saying in the same sentence that you are not like me saddens me at once, after I had begun to rejoice, since I think that it is in derision that you give me praises which in truth I do not recognize as due. However, I give thanks to Almighty God that through you heretics are being recalled to holy Church. But it is needful for you to have a care that those also who are contained in the bosom of holy Church live so that they be not her adversaries through their evil lives. For, if they give themselves not to heavenly desires, but to earthly lusts and pleasures, sons of strangers are being nourished in her bosom.
Now as to your declaring that you cannot possibly be ignorant of the degrees of ecclesiastical rank, I too fully know them with regard to you; and I am therefore much distressed that, if you knew the order of things, you have failed, to your greater blame, in knowing it with regard to me. For, after letters had been addressed to your Blessedness by my predecessor and myself in the cause of the archdeacon Honoratus, then, the sentence of both of us being set at nought, the said Honoratus was deprived of the rank belonging to him. Which thing if any one of the four patriarchs had done, such great contumacy could by no means have been allowed to pass without the most grievous offence. Nevertheless, now that your Fraternity has returned to your proper position, I do not bear in mind the wrong done either to myself or to my predecessor.
But as to your saying that what has been handed down and guarded by my predecessors ought to be observed in our times also, far be it from me to infringe in any church the statutes of our ancestors with regard to my fellow priests, since I do myself an injury if I disturb the rights of my brethren. But when your accredited messengers arrive, I shall know the rights of the case between you and the aforesaid archdeacon Honoratus; and my own personal examination of it will shew you that, if you have the support of justice on your side, you will sustain no injury from me; as indeed you never have done. But in case justice supports the plea of the often-before-named Honoratus, I will shew by my acquittal of him that in judgment I have no knowledge even of persons whom I knew.
Concerning the article of excommunication which, if I may say so, was of necessity added to our letters (though even the second and the third time with a condition interposed), your Blessedness complains unreasonably, since the apostle Paul says, Having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience (2 Cor. x. 6). But let these things pass: let us return to what concerns us now. For, if the lord Natalis acts as he should do, I cannot but be friends with him, knowing how much I am a debtor to his affection.
To the most blessed Lord pope Gregory, Licinianus, bishop.
The Book of Rules issued by Thy Holiness, and by the aid of divine grace conveyed to us, we have read with all the more pleasure for the spiritual rules which we find contained in it. Who can fail to read that with pleasure wherein by constant meditation he may find medicine for his soul; wherein, despising the fleeting things of this world which vary in their mutability, he may open the eyes of his soul to the settled estate of eternal life? This book of thine is a palace of all virtues. In it prudence fixes the boundary line between good and evil; justice gives each one his own, while it subjects the soul to God, and the body to the soul. In it fortitude also is found ever the same in adversity and in prosperity, being neither broken by opposition nor lifted up by success. In it temperance subdues the rage of lust, and discriminately imposes a limit upon pleasures. In it thou comprehendest all things that pertain to the partaking of eternal life: and not only for pastors layest down a rule of life, but also to those who have no office of government thou suppliest a rule of life. For pastors may learn in thy fourfold division what they should be in coming to this office; what life they should lead after coming to it; how and what they should teach, and what they should do to avoid being lifted up in so high a position as that of priesthood. This excellent teaching of thine is attested by the holy ancient fathers, doctors, and defenders of the Church; Hilary, Ambrose Augustin, Gregory Nazianzen: these all bear testimony to thee as did the prophets to the apostles. Saint Hilary says, in expounding the words of the Apostle who was the teacher of the Gentiles, "For so he signifies that the things belonging to discipline and morals serve to the good desert of the priesthood, if those things also which are necessary for the science of teaching and guarding the faith shall not be wanting among the rest; since it does not all at once constitute a good and useful priest only to act innocently, or only to preach knowingly, seeing that, though a man be innocent, he profits himself only unless he be learned, and that he that is learned is without the authority of a teacher unless he be innocent  ." Saint Ambrose gives attestation to this book of thine in the books which he wrote about Duties (de officiis). Saint Augustin gives attestation, saying, "In action dignity should not be loved in this life, neither power; since all things under the sun are vain." But the work itself which is done by means of this dignity or power, if it is rightly and profitably done, this is what avails for that weal of subjects which is according to God. Wherefore the Apostle says, "He that desireth the office of a bishop desireth a good work." He wished to explain what episcopus means; that it is a title denoting work, not dignity. For it is a Greek word derived hence;--that he who is put over others overlooks those whom he is put over, to wit, as taking care of them; for episcopacy is overlooking. Therefore, if we choose, we may say in Latin that to exercise the office of a bishop is to overlook; so that one who delights to be over others and not to profit them may understand that he is no bishop. For so it is that no one is prohibited from longing to become acquainted with truth, for which purpose leisure is to be commended; but as to a position of superiority, without which the people cannot be governed, though it may be held and administered becomingly, it is unbecoming to covet it. Wherefore charity seeks holy leisure, so as to have time for perceiving and defending the truth. But if [the burden of government] be imposed, it is to be undertaken on account of the obligation of charity. But not even so should delight in the truth be altogether forsaken, lest the former sweetness should be withdrawn, and the present obligation be oppressive (Lib. viii. de Trinit, num. 1).
Saint Gregory attests, whose style thou followest, and after whose example thou didst desire to hide thyself in order to avoid the weight of priesthood; which weight, of what sort it is, is clearly declared in the whole of thy book: and yet thou bearest what thou wast afraid of. For thy burden is borne upwards, not downwards; not so as to sink thee to the depths, but to lift thee to the stars; whilst by the grace of God, and the merit of obedience, and the efficiency of good work, that is made sweet which seemed to have heaviness through human weakness. For thou sayest the things that are in agreement with the apostles and with apostolic men. For, being fair, thou hast said things fair, and in them hast shewn thyself fair. I would not have thee liken thyself to an ill-favoured painter painting fair things, seeing that spiritual teaching issues from a spiritual soul. The human painter is by most men esteemed more highly than the inanimate picture. But put not this down to flattery or adulation, but to truth: for it neither becomes me to lie, nor thee to commend what is false. I then, though plainly sincere, have seen thee and all that is thine to be fair, and have seen myself as ill-favoured enough in comparison with thee. Wherefore I thee pray by the grace of God which abounds in thee that thou reject not my prayer, but willingly teach me what I confess myself ignorant of. For we are compelled of necessity to do what thou teachest.
For, when there is no skilled person found for the sacerdotal office, what is to be done but that an unskilled one such as I am, should be ordained? Thou orderest that no unskilled one should be ordained. But let thy prudence consider whether it may not suffice him for skill to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified: for, if this does not suffice, there will, according to this book, be no one who can be called skilled: and so no one will be a priest, if none, unless he be skilled, should be one. For with open front we resist bigamists, lest the sacrament should be thus corrupted. What if the husband of one wife should have touched a woman before his wife? What if he should not have had a wife, and yet should not have been without touch of a woman? Comfort us with thy pen, that we may not be punished either for our own sin or that of others. For we are exceedingly afraid lest we should be forced to do what we ought not to do. Lo, obedience must be paid to thy precepts, that such a one may be made a priest as apostolical authority approves; and such a one as is sought is not found. Thus faith will cease which cometh of hearing; baptism will cease, if there should be no one to baptize; those most holy mysteries will cease which are effected through priests and ministers. In either case danger remains: either such a one must be ordained as ought not to be, or there must be no one to celebrate or administer sacred mysteries.
A few years ago Leander, Bishop of Hispalis, on his return from the royal city, saw us in passing, and told us that he had some homilies issued by your Blessedness on the Book of Job. And, as he passed by in haste, he did not shew them to us as we requested. But thou wrotest afterwards to him about trine immersion, and saidest in thy letter, as I am told, that thou wast dissatisfied with that work, and hadst determined on maturer consideration to change those homilies into the form of a treatise  .
We have indeed six books of Saint Hilary, Bishop of Pictavia, which he turned into Latin from the Greek of Origen: but he has not expounded the whole of the book of holy Job in order. And I am not a little surprised that a man so very learned and so holy should translate the silly tales of Origen about the stars. I, most holy father, can in no wise be persuaded to believe that the heavenly luminaries are rational spirits, Holy Scripture not declaring them to have been made either along with angels or along with men. Let then your Blessedness deign to transmit to my littleness not only this work, but also the other books on morals which in this Book of Rules thou speakest of having composed. For we are thine, and are delighted to read what is thine. For to me it is a desirable and glorious thing, as thy Gregory says, to learn even to extreme old age. May God the Holy Trinity vouchsafe to preserve your crown unharmed for instructing His Church, as we hope, most blessed father.
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