TO Augustine, Bishop OF The Angli59 .
Gregory to Augustine, &c.
Though it is certain that for those who labour for Almighty God ineffable rewards of an eternal kingdom are reserved, yet we must needs bestow honours upon them, that by reason of remuneration they may apply themselves the more manifoldly in devotion to spiritual work. And, since the new Church of the Angli has been brought to the grace of Almighty God through the bountifulness of the same Lord and thy labours, we grant to thee the use of the pallium therein for the solemnization of mass only, so that thou mayest ordain; bishops in twelve several places, to be subject to thy jurisdiction, with the view of a bishop of the city of London being always consecrated in future by his own synod, and receiving the dignity of the pallium from this holy and Apostolical See which by the grace of God I serve. Further, to the city of York we desire thee to send a bishop whom thou mayest judge fit to be ordained; so that, if this same city with the neighbouring places should receive the word of God, he also may ordain twelve bishops, so as to enjoy the dignity of a metropolitan: for to him also, if our life is continued, we propose, with the favour of God, to send a pallium but yet we desire to subject him to the control of thy Fraternity. But after thy death let him be over the bishops whom he shall have ordained, so as to be in no wise subject to the jurisdiction of the bishop of London. Further, between the bishops of London and York in the future let there be this distinction of dignity, that he be accounted first who has been first ordained. But let them arrange by council in common, and with concordant action, whatever things may have to be done in zeal for Christ; let them be of one mind in what is right, and accomplish what they are minded to do without disagreement with each other.
But let thy Fraternity have subject to thyself under our God not only those bishops whom thou shalt ordain, and those whom the bishop of York may ordain, but also all the priests of Britain, to the end that they may learn the form of right belief and good living from the tongue and life of thy Holiness, and, executing their office well in their faith and manners, may attain to heavenly kingdoms when it may please the Lord. God keep thee safe, most reverend brother. Given on the tenth day of the Kalends of July, in the 19th year of the empire of our lord Mauricius Tiberius, the 18th year after the consulship of the same lord, Indiction and.
TO Edilbert, King OF The Angli.
Gregory to Edilbert, &c.
On this account Almighty God advances good men to the government of peoples, that through them He may bestow the gifts of His loving-kindness on all over whom they are preferred. This we have found to be the case in the nation of the Angli, which your Glory has been put over to the intent that through the good things granted to you, heavenly benefits might be conferred on the nation subject to you And so, glorious son, keep guard with anxious mind over the grace which tuba hast received from above. Make haste to extend the Christian faith among the peoples under thy sway, redouble the zeal of thy rectitude in their conversion, put down the worship of idols, overturn the edifices of their temples60 , build up the manners of thy subjects in great purity of life by exhorting, by terrifying, by enticing, by correcting, by. shewing examples of well-doing; that so you may find Him your recompenser in heaven Whose name and knowledge you shall have spread abroad on earth. For He Himself will make the name of your glory even more glorious to posterity, if you seek and maintain I His honour among the nations. For so Constantine, the once most pious Emperor, recalling the Roman republic from perverse worshippings of idols, subjected it with himself to our Almighty Lord God Jesus Christ, and turned himself with his subject peoples with all his heart to Him. Hence it came to pass that that man surpassed in praise the name of ancient princes, and excelled his predecessors as much in renown as in well-doing. And now, therefore, let your Glory make haste to infuse into the kings and peoples subject to you the knowledge of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that you may both surpass the ancient kings of your race in renown and in deserts, and the more you shall have wiped away the sins of others among your subjects, the more secure you may become with regard to your own sins before the terrible scrutiny of Almighty God.
Moreover, you have with you our most reverend brother, Augustine the bishop, learned in monastic rule, replete with knowledge of holy Scripture, endowed by the grace of God with good works. Listen gladly to his admonitions, follow them devoutly, keep them studiously in remembrance: for, if you listen to him in what he speaks in behalf of Almighty God, the same Almighty God will the sooner listen to him when he prays for you. For, if (which God forbid) you disregard his words, when will it be possible for Almighty God to hear him for you, whom you neglect to hear for God? With all your heart, therefore, bind ye yourselves in fervour of faith to him, and aid his endeavours by the power which he gives you from above, that He Whose faith you cause to be received and kept in your kingdom may Himself make you partakers’ of His own Kingdom.
Furthermore, we would have your Glory know that, as we learn from the words of the Almighty Lord in holy Scripture, the end of the present world is already close at hand, and the reign of the saints is coming, which can have no end. And, now that this end of the world is approaching, many things are at hand which previously have not been; to wit, changes of the air, terrors from heaven, and seasons contrary to the accustomed order of times, wars, famine, pestilences, earthquakes t in divers places. Yet these things will not come in our days, but after our days they will all ensue. You therefore, if you observe any of these things occurring in your land, by no means let your mind be troubled, since these signs of the end of the world are sent beforehand for this purpose, that we should be solicitous about our souls, suspectful of the hour of death, and in our good deeds be found prepared for the coming Judge. These things, glorious son, we have now briefly spoken of, that, when the Christian faith shall have been extended in your kingdom, our speech to you may also extend itself to greater length, and that we may be pleased to speak so much the more fully as joy multiplies itself in our heart for the perfected conversion of your nation.
I have sent you some small presents, which to you will not be small, when received by you as of the benediction of the blessed Apostle Peter. And so may Almighty God guard and perfect in you the grace which He has begun, and extend your life here through courses of many years, and after a long life receive you in the congregation of the heavenly country. May heavenly grace keep your Excellency safe, sir son (domine fili). Given this 10th day of the Kalends of July, the 19th year of the empire of our most pious lord Mauricius Tiberius Augustus, the 18th year after the consulship of the same our lord, Indiction 4.
TO Quiricus, Bishop, &C.
Gregory to Quiricus, Bishop, and the other catholic bishops in Hiberia61 .
Since to charity nothing is afar off, let those who are divided in place be joined by letter. The bearer of these presents, coming to the Church of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, asserted that he had received letters for us from your Fraternity, and had lost them, with other things also, in the city of Jerusalem. In them, as he says, you were desirous of enquiring with regard to priests and people who have been bewildered in the error of Nestorian heresy, when they return to the Catholic Church which is the mother of all the elect, whether they should be baptized, or joined to the bowels of the same mother Church by confession only of the one true faith.
And indeed we have learnt from the ancient institution of the Fathers that whosoever among heretics are baptized in the name of the Trinity, when they return to holy Church, may be recalled to the bosom of mother Church either by unction of chrism, or by imposition of hands, or by profession of the faith only. Hence the West reconciles Arians to the holy Catholic Church by imposition of hands, but the East by the unction of holy chrism. But Monophysites and others are received by a true confession only, because holy baptism, which they have received among heretics, then acquires in them the power of cleansing, when either the former receive the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands, or the latter are united to the bowels of the holy and universal Church by reason of their confession of the true faith. Those heretics, however, who are not baptized in the name of the Trinity, such as the Bonosiaci and the Cataphrygae, because the former do not believe in Christ the Lord, and the latter with a perverse understanding believe a certain bad man, Montanus, to be the Holy Spirit, like unto whom are many others;—these, when they come to holy Church, are baptized, because what they received while in their error, not being in the name of the Holy Trinity, was not baptism. Nor can this be called an iteration of baptism, which, as has been said, had not been given in the name of the Trinity. But the Nestorians, since they are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity—though darkened by the error of their heresy in that, after the manner of Jewish unbelief, they believe not the Incarnation of the Only-begotten—when they come to the Holy Catholic Church, are to be taught, by firm holding and profession of the true faith, to believe in one and the same Son of God and man, our Lord God Jesus Christ, the same existing in Divinity before the ages, and the same made man in the end of the ages, because The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (Joh. i. 14).
But we say that the Word was made flesh not by losing what He was, but by taking what He was not. For in the mystery of His Incarnation the Only-begotten of the Father increased what was ours, but diminished not what was His. Therefore the Word and the flesh is one Person, as He says Himself, No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven (Joh. 3,14). He Who is the Son of God in heaven was the Son of man who spoke on earth. Hence Jn says, We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding ( 1 Jb 5,20). And as to what understanding He has given us, he straightway added, That we may know the true God. Whom in this place does he mean as the true God but the Father Almighty? But, as to what he conceives also of the Almighty Son, he added, And that we may be in his true Son Jesus Christ. Lo, he says that the Father is the true God, and that Jesus Christ is His true Son. And what he conceives this true Son to be he shews more plainly; This is the true God, and eternal life. If, then, according to the error of Nestorius the Word were one and the man Jesus Christ were another, he who is true man would not be the true God and eternal life. But the Only-begotten Son, the Word before the Ages, was made man. He is, then, the true God and eternal life. Certainly, when the holy Virgin was about to conceive Him, and heard the angel speaking to her, she said, Behold the hand-maid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Lc 1,38). And, when she had conceived Him, and went to Elizabeth her kinswoman, at once she heard, Whence am I worthy that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Lo, the same Virgin is called both the handmaid and the mother of the Lord. For she is the handmaid of the Lord, because the Word before the Ages, the Only-begotten, is equal to the Father; but the mother, because in her womb from the Holy Spirit and of her flesh He was made man. Nor is she the handmaid of one and the mother of another, because, when the Only-begotten of God, existing before the ages, of her womb was made man, by an inscrutable miracle she became both the handmaid of man by reason of the divinity and the mother of the Word by reason of the flesh. It was not that the flesh was first conceived in the womb of the Virgin, and the divinity afterwards came into the flesh; but that as soon as the Word came into the womb, immediately the Word, retaining the excellence of His own nature, was made flesh. And the Only-begotten Son of God, through the womb of the Virgin, was born a perfect man, that is, in verity of flesh and of rational soul. Whence also He is called Anointed above his fellows, as the Psalmist says, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows (Ps 44,8)62 . For He is anointed with oil, that is to say with the gift of the Holy Spirit. But He was anointed above His fellows, because all we men first exist as sinners, and afterwards are sanctified through the unction of the Holy Spirit. But He Who, existing as God before the ages, was conceived as man through the Holy Spirit in the Virgin’s womb at the end of the ages, was there anointed by the same Spirit, even where He was conceived. Nor was He first conceived and afterwards anointed; but to be conceived by the Holy Spirit of the flesh of the Virgin was itself to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. This truth, then, concerning His nativity let all who are brought back from the perverse error of Nestorius confess before the holy congregation of your Fraternity, anathematising the same Nestorius with all his followers, and all other heresies. The venerable synods also which the universal Church receives let them promise to receive and venerate; and let your Holiness without any hesitation receive them in your assembly, allowing them to retain their own orders, in order that, while you both carefully sift the secrets of their hearts, and teach them through true knowledge the right things they ought to hold, and in gentleness make no difficulty or contradiction with them with respect to their own orders, you may snatch them from the mouth of the ancient foe; and that the retribution of eternal glory with Almighty God may increase to you the more as you gather together many who may glory with you in the Lord without end. Now may the Holy Trinity keep you in its protection while you pray for us, and grant you in its love still more manifold gifts.
[In Colbert. and Collect. Paul, “Given on the tenth day of the Kalends of Jul. Indict. 4.”]
(TO Virgilius, Bishop OF Arelate Arles.)
Gregory to Virgilius, &c.
What affection should be bestowed on brethren who come to us of their own accord is apparent from the fact that they are usually invited to visit us for the sake of charity. And so, if our common brother the bishop Augustine should chance to come to you, let your Love, as is fit, so affectionately and sweetly receive him as both to refresh him with the boon of your consolation and teach others also how fraternal charity should be cultivated. And, since it often happens that those who are placed at a distance learn first from others of things that require amendment, if he should perchance intimate to your Fraternity any faults in priests or others, do you, in concert with him, enquire into them with all subtle investigation. And do you both shew yourselves so strict and solicitous against things that offend God and provoke Him to wrath that, for the amendment of others, both vengeance may smite the guilty and false report not afflict the innocent. God keep thee safe, most reverend brother. Given the 10th day of the Kalends of July, the 19th year of the empire of our most pious lord Mauricius Tiberius Augustus, the 18th year after the same our lord’s consulship, Indiction 4.
TO Brunichild, Queen OF The Franks.
Gregory to Brunichild, &c.
Since it is written, Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin maketh peoples miserable (Pr 14,34), a kingdom is then believed to he stable when a fault that is known of is quickly amended. Now it has come to our ears by the report of many, what we cannot mention without exceeding affliction of heart, that certain priests in those parts live so immodestly and wickedly that it is a shame for us to hear of it and lamentable to tell it. Lest, then, now that the rumour of this iniquity has extended as far as here, the wrong doing of others should smite either our soul or your kingdom with the dart of its sin, we ought to arise with ardour to avenge these things, lest the wickedness of a few should be the perdition of many. For bad priests are the cause of the ruin of a people. For who may offer himself as an intercessor for a people’s sins, if the priest who ought to have prayed for it commits more grievous offences? But, since those whose place it is to prosecute these things are stirred neither by care to enquire into them nor by zeal to punish them, let letters from you be addressed to us, and let us send over, if you order it, a person with the assent of your authority, who together with other priests may search into these things thoroughly, and amend them according to the will of God. For indeed what we speak of is not a thing to be winked at, since one who can amend a fault and neglects to do so without doubt makes himself partaker in it. See therefore to your own soul, see to your grandsons, whom you wish to reign happily, see to the provinces; and, before our Creator stretches out His hand to smite, take most earnest thought for the correction of this wickedness, lest He afterwards smite by so much the more sharply as He now waits longer and more mercifully. Know moreover that you will offer a great sacrifice of expiation to our God, if you cut off speedily from your territories the infection of so great a sin.
TO Mellitus, Abbot.
Gregory to Mellitus, Abbot in France63 .
Since the departure of our congregation, which, is with thee, we have been in a state of great suspense from having heard nothing of the success of your journey. But when Almighty God shall have brought you to our most reverend brother the bishop Augustine, tell him that I have long been considering with myself about the case of the Angli; to wit, that the temples of idols in that nation should not be destroyed, but that the idols themselves that are in them should be. Let blessed water be prepared, and sprinkled in these temples, and altars constructed, and relics deposited, since, if these same temples are well built, it is needful that they should be transferred from the worship of idols to the service of the true God; that, when the people themselves see that these temples are not destroyed, they may put away error from their heart, and, knowing and adoring the true God, may have recourse with the more familiarity to the places they have been accustomed to. And, since they are wont to kill many oxen in sacrifice to demons, they should have also some solemnity of this kind in a changed form, so that on the day of dedication, or on the anniversaries of the holy martyrs whose relics are deposited there, they may make for themselves tents of the branches of trees around these temples that have been changed into churches, and celebrate the solemnity with religious feasts. Nor let them any longer sacrifice animals to the devil, but slay animals to the praise of God for their own eating, and return thanks to the Giver of all for their fulness, so that, while some joys are reserved to them outwardly, they may be able the more easily to incline their minds to inward joys. For it is undoubtedly impossible to cut away everything at once from hard hearts, since one who strives to ascend to the highest place must needs rise by steps or paces, and not by leaps. Thus to the people of Israel in Egypt the Lord did indeed make Himself known; but still He reserved to them in His own worship the use of the sacrifices which they were accustomed to offer to the devil, enjoining them to immolate animals in sacrifice to Himself; to the end that, their hearts being changed, they should omit some things in the sacrifice and retain others, so that, though the animals were the same as what they had been accustomed to offer, nevertheless, as they immolated them to God and not to idols, they should be no longer the same sacrifices. This then it is necessary for thy Love to say to our aforesaid brother, that he, being now in that country, may consider well how he should arrange all things. God keep thee safe, most beloved son. Given this 15th day of the Kalends of July, the 19th year of the empire of our most pious lord Mauricius Tiberius Augustus, the 18th year after the consulship of the same our lord, Indiction 4.
To Boniface, Guardian (Defensorem), in Corsica.
Gregory to Boniface, &c.
Thy experience is not free from blame, in that, knowing Aleria and Adjacium, cities of Corsica, to have been long without bishops, thou hast delayed admonishing their clergy and people to choose for themselves priests. But, since they ought to be no longer without rulers of their own, hasten thou, on receiving this authority, to exhort the clergy and people of these cities severally, that they disagree not among themselves, but that each city with one consent choose for itself a priest to be consecrated. And, when they have made their decree, let such person as shall have been elected come to us. But, if they should be unwilling to come to an unanimous decision, being divided in their choice between two persons, let both in like manner come to us, the decree having been made in the usual way, that, after enquiry made into their lives and characters, the one who may appear to be most fit may be ordained. Seeing, moreover, that many poor persons there are said to be oppressed and to suffer prejudice, let thy Experience give heed to this, and not allow them to be unjustly aggrieved; but so endeavour thyself that neither they who take action be unreasonably hindered nor those against whom action is taken be in danger of sustaining damage unjustly.
Furthermore, it has reached our ears that some of the clergy, thou being on the spot, are held in custody by laymen. If this is so, know that the blame will be imputed to thee, since, if thou wert a man, it would not have been the case. And accordingly thou must needs pay attention in future so that thou permit not the like to be done; but that, if any one should have a cause of complaint against a clerk, he resort to his bishop. And, if perchance the latter should be suspected, a commissioner must be deputed by him—or, if this too should be objected to by the plaintiff, by thy Experience,—who may compel the parties to choose arbitrators by mutual consent. And whatever may be decided by them, let it be in all ways so carried out, with due observance of law, by thy own or the bishop’s care, that there may be no occasion for them to weary themselves with disputes.
To Barbara and Antonina64 .
Gregory to Barbara, &c.
On receiving your epistles, I was in all manner of ways delighted to hear of your well being, and I entreat Almighty God that He would guard you by His protection from malignant spirits in thought, and from perverse men, and from all contrariety; and that He would, with the grace of His fear, settle you in unions worthy of you, and cause us all to rejoice in your settlement65 . But do you, most sweet daughters, rest your hope on His help, and, being always under the shadow of His defence, both by praying and by well doing, escape the plots of bad men. For, whatever human comforts or adversities there may be, there are none, unless either His grace protects or His displeasure troubles you. Rest therefore your hope on no one among men, but bind your whole soul to trust in Almighty God. While we sleep, then, He will protect you, of whom it is written, Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep (Ps 120,4)66 .
As to your saying that you are in haste to approach the threshhold of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, I wish exceedingly, and wait with fervent desire, to see you in his church united to husbands well worthy of you; that so both you may obtain some little comfort from me, and I no little joy from your presence. I have also commended your causes to thy most reverend brother the bishop John67 , and to Romanus the guardian (defensori), that under God they may accomplish what they have begun.
Your present of two racanae68 , which you sent me word were your work, I accepted gladly. But yet know ye that I did not believe the word you sent me. For you are seeking praise from the work of others, seeing that you have perhaps never yet put hand to spindle. Nor yet does this circumstance distress me, since I wish you to love the reading of Holy Scripture, that, so long as Almighty God shall unite you to husbands, you may know how you should live and how you should manage your houses.
1 No doubt the Jn called Climacus, Scholasticus, and Sinaita, commemorated as a saint on 30 March. Having entered the monastery of Mount Sinai at the age of 16, he is said to have retired thence to live the life of an anchoret, to have been elected abbot at the age of 75, to have again after a time retired into solitude, and to have died early in the 7th century. While abbot, he wrote a work called Scala (kli;max) Paradisi, whence his name of Climacus. The monastery on Mount Sinai was a place to which pilgrimages were made. Cf. IV. 46.
2 Properly a hospital for aged persons.
3 The meaning of the word rachana, racana, or racahina, is uncertain. It occurs again in Xl. 78, where Barbara and Antonina, two young ladies at Constantinople, are thanked for a present of two racanae, which they had alleged to be of their own workmanship. It is usually supposed to mean some wooller article of dress, worn by monks. Others understand blankets.
4 See VI. 56, note 7. The abbot Stephen, addressed in that letter, was probably the predecessor of Conon.
5 (He was bishop of Telona (Toulon). See Xl. 58.
6 Other epistles to Serenus of Marseilles are VI. 52, IX. 205, Xl. 58. In IX. 105 he had already been reproved for his inconsiderate zeal in breaking pictures of saints, which is the main subject of the present letter. His reply to the former letter, of which he had affected to suspect the genuineness, seems to have called forth this Ionger and severer admonition.
7 Cyriacus, once abbot of Gregory’s own monastery of St. Andrew on the C(lian at Rome, is named in the former epistle to Serenus (IX. 105) as its bearer. As to the cause of his being sent at that time into Gaul, see notes to IX. 106, and IX. 109.
8 See IX. 105.
9 Gentibus. The term gentes was used not only to denote Gentiles as usually understood, and pagan races as distinct from Christians, but also nations outside the Roman republic.
10 Cf. Ep. LV. in this book to Virgilius of Arles, the metropolitan of Sereuns, in which this laxity on the part of the latter is alluded to.
11 See I. 62, and reff.
12 See I. 48.
13 For further reference to the subject of this letter, see XIV. 2. It appears there that Epiphanius, mentioned in this letter, had been a son-in-law of Pompeiana. It appears further that this lady afterwards accused both the bishop Januarius and the defensor Vitalis of having unjustly withheld her son-in-law’s pious bequest, notwithstanding the admonition contained in this letter.
14 For reasons for supposing this letter to Angustine to have been written earlier than the 4th Indiction (a.d. 600–1), to which it is assigned by the Benedictine Editors, and for a summary of the whole series of letters relating to the English mission, see Prolegom., p. xxv.
15 As to the apparent inference from this letter that King Ethelbert of Kent had not been converted when it was written and as to when it may have been sent to queen Bertha, see Prolegom., p. xxvi., note 2.
16 See I. 34, note 8: It is significant of Gregory’s delicate tact, that he does not in this letter, when his friend was suffering, allude to his past renunciation of monastic life as among the sins to be repented of, or urge him to return to it, though that the subject was still on his mind appears from his letter about the same time to the Bishop of Syracuse (XI. 36).
17 i.e. Agilulph, the Lombard king, referred to as Ago also in IV. 11. It was the Lombard occupation of a great part of Italy at that time that was apprehended as likely to impede a journey from Ravenna to Rome.
18 Cf. I. 34, note 8.
19 The reason why trouble to the orphans of Venantius was apprehended appears further in the letter that follows to the bishop of Syracuse.
20 Cf. I.34, note 8.
21 Viz. Monasticism, which Venantius had renounced in spite of the earnest remonstrance of Gregory ten years previously.
22 It may have been that Venantius had filled some public office, in connexion with which it was alleged that his estate was liable to seizure by the goverment officials. Gregory evidently believes that there is not such liability; but, in view of the attempt to assert it, he is anxious that no pretext should be afforded the authorities for taking charge of the property of the deceased, such as they might have had if the orphans had been made wards of the Emperor.
23 See II. 27, note 2.
24 For the appointment of Romanus, cf. IX. 18.
25 Cf. V. 29.
26 Primicerius notariarum occ. III. 22. “Primicerius, Primus cujusque ordinis.—Secundicerius, Qui post primicerium est in schola qualibet.” D’Arnis’ Lexicon.
27 Cf. Ep. XXXIII., supra.
28 See II.27, note 2.
29 The gifts that had been sent were, as appears below, veils or hangings (vela) for the shrine of St. Peters in the Vatican basilica.
30 Strategius (as appears from other letters) was the young grandson of Ruaticiana, being the child of Appio and Eusebia. See II. 27, note 2.
31 Sister of the emperor Mauricius, and governess of the imperial children See also I. 5, VII. 26. This long letter to her was called forth by her having complained to Gregory of erroneous views in matters of religion being imputed to her at Constantinople, for which she seems to have been maligned in certain quarters. In his reply, with his habitual courtesy, he takes for granted that such imputations were unfounded, though the pains he takes to combat the errors with which she was charged may perhaps suggest the idea of his not being in his heart quite assured of her soundness. The whole letter, both for its tone and for its style of argumentation, is very characteristic of the writer.
32 Cf. Theodoret, (Qo Hist.lib, 2,c. 6, where this is told; “asseruerunt arcam Joannis Baptistae, et ossibus combustis dissiparunt cinerem.”
33 Religionis, in the sense of monastic life.
34 Conversio, in the usual sense of embracing monastic life.
35 In English Bible, 73,28.
36 In English Bible, 34,25.
37 Written in reply to a letter from the new patriarch of Jerusalem, announcing, as was usual, his election, and containing his confession of faith.
38 In A.V. 33,7.
39 In A.V. 130,3.
40 Cf. XIII. 5 for a similar assertion of the unlawfulness of superseding a bishop, except at his own request, when incapacitated by illness. See also VII. 19 In this epistle may be observed Gregory’s habitual deference to the Emperors, whose subject he ever declared himself to be even in matters of ecclesiastical import, together with his avoidance of giving his own sanction to anything he regarded as irreligious or uncanonical. Similarly in the case of an imperial prohibition of soldiers becoming monks . See III. 65; VIII. 5; X. 24. Cf. also IV. 47, in the case of Maximus of Salona. We find him, howerer, in a letter to the empress, in which this case of Maximus is referred to (V. 21), making a respectful protest against imperial interference in matters of ecclesiastical cognizance.
41 Conversum, in the usual sense of adopting monastic life.
42 Cf. VI. 48, and XI. 45.
43 Desiderius was bishop of Vienne, cf. VI. 54. This letter, with others that follow (Epp. LV., LVI., LVII., LVIII, LIX., LX., LXI., LXII., LXIV., LXV., LXVl., and possibly also the preceding Epistle, XXIX). were carried, as appears from its conclusion, by Mellitus and his companions, who, in answer to Augustine’s request, were sent by Gregory from Rome to reinforce the mission to Britain (Bede, H.E. 1.27, 29). See Prolegomena, p. 26,It is notable as shewing Gregory’s views with regard to the study of secular literature.
44 The bishop of Arles had vicariate jurisdiction committed to him under Rome. Cf. V. 53.
45 In two mss. (Teller). “die decimo Kalendas Julii, indict. 4,” i.e. 22 June, a.d. 601. This may be taken as correct, agreeing with other dated epistles sent through Mellitus and his companions.
46 Cf. IX. 107, to the same Aregius.
47 Licinius (afterwards canonized) was bishop of Andegavum (Angers).
48 Cf. VI. 58, note 1.
49 Cf. VI. 58, note 1.
50 Clotaire II., at this time king of Neustria, his capital being Soissons. There is no letter to him among those which had been carried by Augustine. But it appears from this epistle that the missionaries had passed through his dominions and had been well received.
51 Brunechild was at this time with her grandson Theoderic in the kingdom of Burgundy, having been expelled from Austrasia, according to Greg. Turon, a.d. 599.
52 This important epistle is given below as published in the Benedictine edition, with notes pointing out its main variations from Bede (H.E. I. 27), and with addition of the Preface, first published by Mansi (Supplem. ad Concil. tom. 6,p. 385 ) from a ms. Codex of the eighth century (Cod. Lucen ). Bede’s copy may be regarded as the most authentic, having been brought to him from Rome by Nothelm, a.d. 715–731 (Bede H.E. Praef.). However, he does not give the Preface, which has internal evidence of authenticity. Subsequently to Nothelm’s visit to Rome, it would seem that the whole epistle had been mislaid there, not having been kept among the rest of Gregory’s letters. For St Boniiface, a.d. 736 (Epist. XL. ad Nothelm.. Episc Cantuar)requests Nothelm to send him a copy of these Questions and Answers from England, saying that no copy of them could at that time be found at Rome. They were, we may conclude, discovered subsequently. Internal evidence, as well as historic probability, supports the superior genuineness of Bede’s copy (Cf). Councils, &c., re1ating to Great Britain and Ireland, 0xf , 1871 Vol. III., p.32). The edition of the Epistle (Cod Luen) above referred to as published by Mansi, though containing several variations, agrees in many respects with that of Bede, and especially in the absence of “the request of Augustine” (obsecratio Augustini) and “the grant of Gregory” (Concessio Gregorii)after the answer to the ninth question. See note there.
53 In Bede, and Cod. Luc., this question does not appear, what follows as a reply to it being in continuation of the answer to Question I. The form of the beginning of the reply, “Si qui vero sunt clerici,” favors it having been so.
54 This allowance of marriage between second cousins seems to have caused surprise in some quarters. Cf. Epistle of Felix of Messana to Gregory (XlV. 16). The motive of St. Boniface in his letter to Nothelm, referred to above under note 1, in which he asked for a copy of these Questions and Answers, seems to have been a desire to ascertain whether Gregory had really allowed such marriages. He writes, “in qua inter caetera capitula continetur quod in tertia generatione propinquitatis fidelibus liceat matrimonia copulare.”
55 This question is not in Bede, or in Cod. Lucens., what follows being given as a continuation of the preceding answer. It begins with “Quia vero.” Cf. note 2.
56 It is to be observed that Gregory, though aware of the existence of British bishops, as his answer to the following questions shews, does not contemplate their taking part in ordinations. He may have been unwilling to invite their co-operation till assured of their orthodoxy and submission to the Roman See. The failure of Augustine’s negociations with them has been attributed to his own imperious attitude towards them. But it is at least a question whether his instructions did not justify the position he assumed (See Bede, H.E. 11.2)..
57 Cf. XI. 68.
58 This question, with the answer to it, is absent from Bede, and Cod. Lucens., and may be regarded as an interpolation.
59 In the scheme, sketched in this letter for the constitution of the Church in England which Gregory seems to have contemplated being carried out in Angustine’s own day, he shews serious ignorance of the state of things in England at the time, and consequently of possibilities. Among other things he appears to have known little of the ancient Brtish Church or of the independent position which its bishops would be likely to assume. Still it is interesting to observe that the scheme in its main features—that of two independent Metropolitans in the North and in the South, each with his suffragan bishops under them—was after all eventually realized, and that the present constitution of the English Church may be traced to this letter; only that Canterbury never yielded its primitive dignity, as had been proposed, to London.
60 This direction was modified in a subsequent letter to Mellitus (XI. 76).
61 Or Iberia, corrected from Hibernia by the Benedictine Editors, with the support of some few mss. That the letter was addressed to the bishops of Hibernia (i.e. Ireland) is highly improbable. Not only is it unlikely that the Eastern heresy of Nestorianism would have infected Ireland, but the fact also, mentioned in the beginning of the letter, that the messenger from the bishops addressed had passed through Jerusalem on his way to Rome evidently points to some Eastern locailty. For similar reasons it cannot well be supposed that Iberia here denotes Spain. It may have been the territory so-called in the neighbourhood of Armenia, between Cholchis on the West, and Albania on the East, now Gurgistan.
62 xlv. 7.
63 This letter was sent after the departure of Mellitus with the band of new missionaries from Rome to Britain (see (Prolegomena, p. xxvi)., being intended to reach him while still in France. In the date given at the end there is evidently an error with regard to the day of the month. For several of the letters sent by Mellitus being dated 10 Kal. Jul. (i e. June 22), this, which was subsequent, cannot have been originally dated xv Kal. Jul. (i.e June 17). The Indiction is given correctly. Gregory had directed King Ethelbert (XI. 66) to destroy the heathen temples. He now sees reason to modify any such orders.
64 See above, Epp. XXXV., XXXVI., in this book, and I.34, note 8, there referred to.
65 If the marriage of the parents, Venantius and Italica, took place as connjectured in the note to I.34, in the eleventh Indiction (a.d. 592–3) and this letter was written in the fourth (a.d. 600–1), the daughters would not be more than seven or eight years of age. Still, even at this early age, their betrothal may have been contemplated with a view to their settlement in life. But Venantius may have married earlier than 592–3, soon after his return to a secular life, and so the girls may have been a little older. Neither, however, if our dates are right, could be more than ten years old.
66 In English Bible, 121,4.
67 Viz. John, bishop of Syracuse. See above, Ep. XXXVI.
68 On the meaning of this word, see XII., note 3).