S. Gregory I, letters 21178
To Dominicus, Bishop of Carthage.
Gregory to Dominicus, &c.
How abundant is the charity of your heart you shew by its interpreter—your tongue, while so seasoning the words of your epistles with its sweetness that all you write is pleasant and delightful. Hence it comes that we embrace your Fraternity in the arms of love, though unable to do so in the body. For it is the office of charity to supply to souls that are in concord what distance of place denies. And since the sickness of our most loving brethren saddens us even as their health refreshes us we give thanks to Almighty God, who has solaced our sadness by good news. For, having heard that you had contracted a very severe illness, before the receipt of your letter we were in a state of great distress. But since, when we are snatched from peril of death, it is uncertain, dearest brother, for what we are reserved, let us turn the time of respite to the profit of our souls, and, having to render our accounts to the coming Judge, let us fortify our cause before Him with tears and good works, that we may be counted worthy to have security given us with regard to the things that we have done. For in secular causes also a kind judge frequently grants a respite to this end, that one who had not been prepared before may afterwards come to his trial prepared. And what a thing it would be, were we to neglect for the salvation of the soul what we carefully attend to in matters of earthly concern! And so, since, according to the words of the Apostle John, no one is without sin, let us call to mind enticements of thought, incontinence of tongue, deeds of transgression; and let us, while we may, with great knocking, do away with the stains of our iniquities, that our just and loving Redeemer may not execute vengeance according to our deservings, but according to His mercy be bent to pardon. And, since we do not sufficiently fulfil our office by weeping for our own sins only, let us the more earnestly devote ourselves to the custody of the flock committed to us, and by persuading, by exhorting, by alarming, by preaching, so far as heavenly clemency gives us power, let us hasten to fulfil our office in very deed, that, through the bounty of our Creator, we may look for the longed for reward. But, since we cannot do anything that is good without divine aid, let us implore Almighty God, most beloved brother, with united prayers, that He would direct us, with the flock committed to us, into the way of His commandments by the leading of His grace, and Himself, who by the gift of His mercy has willed us to have the name of shepherds, grant to us to understand and do what is well pleasing to Him. Moreover, we have received with the charity wherewith you sent it the blessing of the blessed martyr Agileus, transmitted to us by your Holiness. In the month of September, Indiction 5.
To Columbus, Bishop of Numidia1 .
Gregory to Columbus, &c.
How serious, and intolerable even to be beard of, is the complaint of Donadeus, the bearer of these presents, who describes himself as having been a deacon, will be made manifest to your Fraternity by the petition presented by him, which is contained in what is subjoined below. But, since it has come to our ears that he had been deposed for bodily sin, let your Love make full enquiry into this, and, if it is so, let him be consigned to penance, that be may free himself by tears from the bond of the profligacy of which he has been guilty. If, however, he should be proved innocent of any such transgression, all that his petition contains must be enquired into with diligent examination by you, together with the primate of the council, and others our brethren and fellow-bishops. And, if his complaint is supported by the truth, let both such strictness of canonical discipline be brought to bear on his bishop Victor2 , who has not lighted to commit so great a wickedness against God and his own priestly profession, that he may understand the wickedness of what he has done; and let the man himself be restored to his order: for it is indeed preposterous, and con- fessedly against ecclesiastical order, that any one whom his own fault or crime does not depose from the rank of the office which he fills should be deprived invalidly at the will of this or that person.
To John, Subdeacon of Ravenna3 .
Gregory to John, &c.
Some monks who came to me from the monastery of the late abbot Claudius have petitioned me that the monk Constantius should be constituted their abbot. But I was exceedingly set against them as touching their petition, because they appeared to me to be altogether of a worldly mind in seeking to have a very worldly man for their abbot. For I have learnt how this same Constantius studies to possess property of his own: and this is the strongest evidence that he has not the heart of a monk. And I have learnt further that he presumed to go alone, without any one of his brethren with him, to a monastery that is situate in the province of Picenum. From this proceeding of his we know that he who walks without a witness lives not aright: and how can he maintain the rule for others who knows not how to maintain it for himself?
Giving him up, therefore, they asked to have a certain cellarer, Maurus by name, to whose life and industry there are many testimonies, the late abbot Claudius also with certain others having spoken in his praise. Let thy Experience therefore make careful enquiry; and, if his life should be such as fit him for a place of government, cause him to be ordained abbot by our brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus. But, if there is anything decidedly against him, and they cannot find any suitable person in their own congregation, let them choose some one from elsewhere, and let him whom they may choose be made abbot. Further, take care by all means to tell our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop to put down with the utmost earnestness the possession of property of their own by four or five of the monks of the monastery, which it has been found so far impossible to correct, and to make haste to cleanse this same monastery from such a pest; since, if private property is held there by monks, it will not be possible for either concord or charity to continue in this same congregation. What, indeed, is a monk’s state of life but a despising of the world? How, then, do they despise the world who while placed in a monastery seek gold? Wherefore let thy Experience so proceed that neither the ordering of the place be deferred, nor any complaint reach us any more on this subject.
Furthermore, forasmuch as my late most dear son Claudius had heard me speak something about the Proverbs, the Song of Songs, the Prophets, and also about the Books of Kings and the Heptateuch, which on account of my infirmity I was unable to commit to writing, and he himself had dictated them for transcription according to his own understanding of their meaning, lest they should be forgotten, and in order that he might bring them to me at a suitable time, so that they might be more correctly dictated (for, when he read to me what he had written, I found the sense of what I had said had been altered very disadvantageously), it is hence necessary that thy Experience, avoiding all excuse or delay, should go to his monastery, and assemble the brethren, and that they should produce fully and truly whatsoever papers on divers Scriptures he had brought thither; which do thou take, and transmit them to me with all possible speed.
Further, about thy return, having learnt that thou hast incurred serious trouble, we will consider by and by. Further, I have not been pleased to hear what has been told me by certain persons; namely that our most reverend brother and fellows—bishop Marinianus causes my comments on the blessed Jb to be read publicly at vigils; seeing that this is not a popular work, and engenders hindrance rather than advancement to rude hearers. But tell him to cause the comments on the Psalms to be read at vigils, which mould the minds of secular persons to good manners. For indeed I do not wish, while I am in this flesh, that what I may have said should be readily made known to men. For I took it amiss that Anatolius the deacon of most beloved memory gave to the lord Emperor, at his request and command, the book of Pastoral Rule, which my most holy brother and fellow-bishop Anastasius of Antioch translated into the Greek tongue. And, as I was informed by letter, it pleased him much; but it much displeased me that those who have what is better should be occupied in what is least.
Further, in the third part of the blessed Job, in the verse wherein it is written, I know that my Redeemer liveth, I suspect that my aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus has a corrupt copy. For in the copy in our book case this passage is given differently from what I find to be in the copies possessed by others; and consequently I have had this passage corrected, so that our often-named brother may have it as it is in our bookcase. For there are four words, the absence of which from the passage may cause the reader no little difficulty. Execute all these things thoroughly and speedily. And, if thou canst do nothing with the most excellent Exarch, shew thyself not to have neglected to do what is in thy power.
What shall I say concerning the place of Albinus, as to which the answer given us is plainly contrary to justice? Thou oughtest, however, to consider the case attentively. Furthermore, a little time ago we had enjoined thy Experience to treat with our most eminent son the praefect to the end that the care of the conduits (formarum) should be committed to Augustus the vicecount, in that he is in all respects a diligent and energetic man4 . And thou hast so far so put off the business as not even to inform us of what thou hast done. And so, even now, hasten thou with all earnestness to treat with the same our most eminent son, that the conduits may be entirely committed to the aforesaid most distinguished man, to the intent that he may to some extent succeed in repairing them. For these conduits are so scorned and neglected that, unless greater attention be given to them, within a short time they will go utterly to ruin. As thou knowest, then, how necessary this business is, and how advantageous to the general community, thou must use thy best endeavours that it may be committed, as we have said, to the aforesaid man for his careful attention. Given in the month of January, Indiction 5.
To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem)5 .
Gregory to Romanus, &c.
It is well known to thy Experience that Peter, whom we have made a guardian (defensorem), is sprung from the estate belonging to our Church which is called Vitelas. And so, since we ought to shew kindness towards him in such a way that nevertheless the Church may suffer no disadvantage, we command thee by this order to charge him strictly not to presume, under any pretext or excuse, to marry his children anywhere but in that estate to which they are bound by law and their condition6 . In this matter, too, it is necessary for thy Experience to be very careful, and to threaten them, so that on no occasion whatever they may go out of the property to which by their birth they are subjected. For, if any one of them (as we do not believe will be the case) should presume to depart from it, he may be assured that our assent will never be given to any of them dwelling or being married outside the estate on which they were born, but that also their land should be superscribed7 . And then know that you will run no slight risk, if through your negligence any of them should attempt to do any of the things which we forbid.
To Columbus, Bishop of Numidia8 .
Gregory to Columbus, &c.
Inasmuch as it has long been known to us how thy Fraternity is distinguished for priestly gravity and ecclesiastical zeal, we have seen sufficient reason for thy taking part in the cognizance of things that require rebuke, lest, if they should be put off through connivance, every one should suppose that what he is able to do is allowed him. Now after what manner our brother Paulinus, bishop of the city of Tegessis is alleged by his clerics and by those who are constituted in sacred orders, to have been excessive towards them in corporal correction, thou needest not to be told, seeing that, before this complaint reached us, the matter, as we have learnt from their statement, had already been made known to thee. And, since superiors ought not to have the right of punishing their subordinates savagely, we have taken care to write to Victor our brother and fellow-bishop, who holds the primacy among you9 , that, together with thy Fraternity, or with others our brethren and fellow bishops whom you may think fit to call in, he may take cognizance of and thoroughly investigate the case between our aforesaid brother priest and his clergy. And let thy Love so give the matter thy close and careful attention, that the things that have been reported to us may not pass without a hearing, lest discord should be fomented in the Church, whence it ought by all means to be banished. And, if indeed the complaint of his clergy against him is well rounded, so take cognizance of his fault, which he has scorned of his own accord to correct, with the force of our ecclesiastical decision that he may both feel for the present what a grave offence he has committed, and may learn for the future that he cannot do more than it is lawful for him to do. Above all things, then, we exhort thee that thou study ardently to exercise the zeal which we know thee to have for the sake of God.
And, inasmuch as our said brother Paulinus is said to confer ecclesiastical orders through simoniacal heresy, which is a thing awful to hear of, let it be thy care, along with the aforesaid primate or others, to enquire thoroughly into this also with all diligence. And, if it should be found to be so (which God forbid), effort must be made and action taken that both he who has not feared to accept and he who has not feared to give a bribe may be smitten by a sentence of canonical punishment, to the end that their correction may avail as a reproof to many. And, before this deadly root acquires strength and slays many more, let it be condemned by the decision of the whole council, so that no one may ever dare to accept or to give anything for any order whatever, nor any be promoted for favour, but all for merit, test both ecclesiastical order be confounded, and probity of life be held in contempt, if one that is unworthy should receive the reward of merit.
Further we have given orders to Hilarus our Chartularius that, if the case should require it, he refuse not to take part in your enquiry.
If, therefore, it should be necessary, inform him by letter that you wish him to come to you, to the end that by treating the matter together with him you may better determine what ought to be ordained. In the month of March, Indiction 5). [N.B). This date is absent from several Codices.]
To Victor, Bishop10 .
Gregory to Victor, &c.
While on the one hand it is a joy to us to learn that our brethren are solicitous about their children in fatherly charity, on the other we count it no less a matter for sadness when neither regard for other brethren nor consideration of their priestly office avails to restrain them from unlawful doings. How serious, then, and how harsh is the complaint against our brother Paulinus, bishop of the city of Tegessis, made by his clerics and by those who are in sacred orders, I have no doubt is well known to thy Fraternity, since what has reached us from a distance cannot have been hidden from thee who art near at hand. And, since there is need of great caution lest this bodily injury which they complain of at his hands in excess of his powers should be ventured on with allowance, or should grow worse by being connived at, manifest excesses should ever be so suppressed by canonical control that one proceeding may serve as a reproof of what is past and a rule for the future. Accordingly it becomes thee, together with our most beloved common brother the bishop Columbus, and with other priests whom you may think fit to call on, to sift the case between our above-named brother and his clergy by means of a thorough investigation. And, if the complaint of the petitioners stands with truth, so correct ye this thing by a regular reformation, that he may both be made aware what evil thing he has done and learn for the future not to exceed the limits of his office. And suffer him not, as is said to be the case, to disregard the rank of thy position, lest his contempt be to his risk and to thy blame. For whatever is committed by an inferior, unless it be carefully corrected, reflects on the person who occupies the superior place.
That other matter also, namely that the same our brother Paulinus is said to confer ecclesiastical orders for money, you should fully and very strictly enquire into. And, if it should clearly appear to be so, as we hope will not be the case, let your zeal for God so kindle itself to avenge this wrong that both the avarice of the ordainer may be turned into a penalty, and, the unlawful ordination being void of effect, the person ordained may not enjoy the longed-for object of his ambition. Herein we exhort you and before all things admonish you, that your Fraternity study to be so solicitous that, before the iniquity of simoniacal heresy shall gain strength in your parts from the offence of one, it may be cut off from the root by the pruning-hook of your sentence after a council diligently held. For whosoever does not, in consideration of his office, burn vehemently to correct this atrocity, let him not doubt that he will have his portion with him from whom this peculiar enormity took its beginning. And so, as we have said, you must act vigilantly and earnestly, that your council, which up to this time, under God’s keeping, has been preserved from any bad repute of this kind, may not by any possibility be polluted and ruined by the poison of this wickedness.
Furthermore, we have given orders to Hilarus our Chartularius, that, if the case should require it, he defer not to join you. Wherefore, should it be necessary, inform him by your letters of the need of his coming to you, to the end that you, together with him, may be able, God helping you, to determine all these things in a salutary way.
To all the Bishops of the Council of Bizacium11 .
Gregory to all, &c.
As it is laudable and discreet to shew due reverence and honour to superiors, so it belongs to rectitude and the fear of God, if anything in them needs correction, not to put it off by any connivance, lest disease should begin to invade the whole body (which God forbid), sickness not being cured in the head. Now a considerable time ago certain things were reported to us about our brother Crementius, your primate, such as to pierce our heart with no slight sorrow. But through the pressure of divers tribulations, and especially from enemies raging round us, we had not time to into the matter. And, since it is so that it ought by no means to be passed over without investigation, we hereby exhort your Fraternity with all carefulness and activity to search out in all ways the substantial truth, in order that either if these things are so, they may be cut off by canonical punishment, or, if they are false, the innocence of our brother may not long lie under the laceration of an infamous report. Wherefore, that there may be no torpor of idleness in the enquiry, we admonish you that neither the interest nor the favour nor the cajoleries of any person whatever, nor anything else, soften any one of you in your sifting of what has been reported to us, or shake you from the path of truth; but gird ye yourselves in priestly wise to investigate the truth. For, if any one should presume to be sluggish, or to shew himself negligent in this matter, let him know that he will be a par-taker in the said crimes before Almighty God, by zeal for whom he is not moved to enquire fully into the causes of atrocious wickedness.
To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.
Gregory to Eulogius, &c
The bearers of these presents, coming to Sicily, were converted from the error of the Monophysites, and united themselves to the holy universal Church. Having proceeded to the church of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, they requested of me that I should commend them by letter to your Blessedness, to the end that they may not now be allowed to suffer any wrong from the heretics that are near them. And because one of them says that the monastery in which he was had been rounded by his kindred, he desires to receive authority from your Holiness that the heretics who are in it may either return to the bosom of holy Church or be expelled from the same monastery. Let it be enough for us to have indicated this to you: for we know of your Blessedness that whatever pertains to zeal for Almighty God you hasten with all fervour to do. But for me I beg you to pray, since amid the swords of the Lombards which I endure I am excessively afflicted by pains of gout.
1 Cf. II. 48, note 8.
2 Victor was Primate of Numidia. See IV. 34, note 4.
3 This subdeacon Jn appears to have bee at this time the pope’s representative to Ravenna, the seat of the exarch of Italy.
4 The reference is to the conduits or aqueducts for supplying water to Rome, which it was the duty of the officer called “praefectus”, who appears to have been at ths time resident at Ravenna, to keep in order.
5 Romanus had been appointed guardian (defensor) of the patrimony in Sicily. See IX. 18.
6 This was a case of a native of Sicily, who had been ascriptuss glebae, having been appointed a Defensor Ecclesiae. The purpose of the epistle is to guard against his supposing that such appointment exempted his children from the restrictions imposed by their birth.
7 Sed et superscribi terram eorum. The meaning may be that notices should be put on the land to which such defaulters were attached, declaring that such and such persons belonged to it and were boond to remain on it. Cf. V. 41, note 3, on the phrase titulos imponere.
8 See II. 48. note 1.
9 For the custom in Africa with regard to the primacy, see I.74, note 9.
10 At this time primate of Numidia. See preceding epistle.
11 Cf. IX. 58, note 1 and IX. 59).
In the Sixth Indiction, and the Thirteenth Year From His Ordination.
To the Roman Citizens.
Gregory, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved sons the Roman citizens.
It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these but preachers of Antichrist, who, when he comes, will cause the Sabbath day as well as the Lord’s day to be kept free from all work. For, because he pretends to die and rise again, he wishes the Lord’s day to be had in reverence; and, because he compels the people to judaize that he may bring back the outward rite of the law, and subject the per-tidy of the Jews to himself, he wishes the Sabbath to be observed.
For this which is said by the prophet, Ye shall bring in no burden through your gates on the Sabbath day (Jr 17,24), could be held to as long as it was lawful for the law to be observed according to the letter. But after that the grace of Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ has appeared, the commandments of the law which were spoken figuratively cannot be kept according to the letter. For, if any one says that this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal sacrifices are to be offered: he must say too that the commandment about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained. But let him hear the Apostle Paul saying in opposition to him, If ye be circumcised, Christ profiteth you nothing (Ga 5,2).
We therefore accept spiritually, and hold spiritually, this which is written about the Sabbath. For the Sabbath means rest. But we have the true Sabbath in our Redeemer Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. And whoso acknowledges the light of faith in Him, if he draws the sins of concupiscence through his eyes into his soul, he introduces burdens through the gates on the Sabbath day. We introduce, then, no burden through the gates on the Sabbath day if we draw no weights of sin through the bodily senses to the soul. For we read that the same our Lord and Redeemer did many works on the Sabbath day, so that he reproved the Jews, saying, Which of you doth not loose his ox or his ass on the Sabbath day, and lead him away to watering (Lc 13,15)? If, then, the very Truth in person commanded that the Sabbath should not be kept according to the letter, whoso keeps the rest of the Sabbath according to the letter of the law, whom else does he contradict but the Truth himself?
Another thing also has been brought to my knowledge; namely that it has been preached to you by perverse men that no one ought to wash on the Lord’s day. And indeed if any one craves to wash for luxury and pleasure, neither on any other day do we allow this to be done. But if it is for bodily need, neither on the Lord’s day do we forbid it. For it is written, No man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth it and cherisheth it (Ephes. 5, 29). And again it is written, Make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rm 13,14). He, then, who forbids provision for the flesh in the lusts thereof certainly allows it in the needs thereof. For, if it is sin to wash the body on the Lord’s day, neither ought the face to be washed on that day. But if this is allowed for a part of the body, why is it denied for the whole body when need requires? On the Lord’s day, however, there should be a cessation of earthly labour, and attention given in every way to prayers, so that if anything is done negligently during the six days, it may be expiated by supplications on the day of the Lord’s resurrection.
These things, most dear sons, being endowed with sure constancy and right faith, observe; despise the words of foolish men, and give not easy belief to all that you hear of having been said by them; but weigh it in the scale of reason, so that, while in firm stability you resist the wind of error you may be able to attain to the solid joys of the heavenly kingdom.
[In two mss., one Colbert, and Vatic. F., “mense Septembri, indict. 6.”]
To Etherius, Bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons).
Gregory to Etherius, Bishop.
Although what we say is very distressing to us, and fraternal compassion rather moves us to weep than allows us to lay down anything concerning the things we have heard of, yet solicitude for the government undertaken by us pricks our heart with an urgent spur to see with great care to the good of churches, and to arrange what should be done before their interests might possibly suffer irretrievably. It has come, then, to our ears from the report of certain persons that an affection of the head has so befallen a certain bishop that it is a matter of groaning and weeping to hear of what he is wont to do under alienation of mind. Lest, therefore, while the shepherd is sick, the flock should be exposed to be torn by the teeth of the lyer-in-wait (which God forbid), or the interests of the Church itself should suffer irretrievably, it is necessary for us to treat the case with cautious provision, And so, since during the life of a bishop, whom unadvoidable infirmity and not crime withdraws from his office, no reason allows another to be ordained in his place except on his resignation1 , let him, if he is accustomed to have intervals of sanity, himself make petition, declaring that he is no longer equal to this ministry owing to subversion of his intellectual faculties by infirmity, and let him request that another be ordained in his place. Which being done, let another who may be worthy be solemnly consecrated bishop in his place, by the election of all; yet so that, as long as life shall retain the said bishop in this world, his due expenses be supplied to him by the same Church. If, however, he at no time recovers the faculties of a sound mind, a trustworthy person of approved life must be chosen, who may be fit for the government of the Church, take thought for the benefit of souls, restrain the unquiet under the bond of discipline, take care of ecclesiastical property, and exhibit himself in all respects ripe and efficient. And also, should he survive the bishop who is now sick, he should be consecrated in his place.
But as to ordinations of presbyters or deacons, or of any other order, if cause requires any to be made in that Church, know that this is to be reserved to thy Fraternity, to the end that, it being in thy diocese, thou mayest enquire concerning the life, manners, and conduct of him who is chosen to such office. And if thou shouldest be satisfied, and there is nothing in him liable to the censure of canonical strictness, let him attain to his destined order not otherwise than through ordination by thee. Let thy Fraternity then, so proceed, and so order these things with vigilant provision, that the Church of God may no longer suffer from any neglect, and that thou mayest warn thy fellow-priests, not only by word but also by example, to have a care laudably for venerable places.
To Brunichild, Queen of the Franks2 .
Gregory to Brunichild, &c.
Among other excellencies in you this holds the chief place beyond the rest, that in the midst of the waves of this world, which are wont with turbulent vexation to confound the minds of rulers, you so bring back your heart to the love of divine worship and to providing for the quiet of venerable places as if no other care troubled you. Whence, since conduct of this kind on the part of potentates is wont to be a great defence to subjects, we declare the nation of the Franks happy beyond other nations, having been accounted worthy to have a queen thus endowed with all good qualities.
On learning from the information contained in your letters that you have built the Church of Saint Martin in the suburbs of Augustodunum (Autun), and a monastery for hand-maidens of God, and also a hospital in the same city, we rejoiced greatly, and returned thanks to Almighty God, who stimulates the sincerity of your heart to the doing of these things. In this case, that we may be held to some degree sharers in your good deeds, we have granted privileges according to your wish, to those places for the quiet and protection of those who live in them; nor have we borne to defer even in the least degree our embracing of your Excellency’s desires.
Furthermore, addressing you in the first place with the greeting of paternal charity, we inform you that to our illustrious sons, but your servants and legates, Burgoaldus and Varmaricarius, we have granted a private interview in accordance with what you wrote to us; and they have disclosed to us in detail all that they said they had been charged with. It will be our care in time to come to inform your Excellency of whatever is done with regard to these things. For, as for us, whatever is possible, whatever is profitable, and tends to the settlement of peace between you and the republic, we desire, under God, with the utmost devotion, that it should be accomplished.
As to Mennas, our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop, after we had enquired into what had been said about him, and found him in no way culpable, and he having made satisfaction under oath before the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter, and so proved himself to be unaffected by what had been objected against his reputation, we have allowed him to return to his post purged and acquitted, since, as it was right, if he were in any respect guilty, that we should punish his fault canonically, so it was not right when he had the support of innocence, that we should detain him longer, or any way distress him.
Moreover, with respect to a certain bishop who, as the aforesaid magnificent men have told us, is prevented by infirmity of the head from administering his office, we have written to our brother and fellow-bishop Etherius3 , that if he should have intervals of freedom from this infirmity, he should make petition, declaring that he is not competent to fill his own place, and requesting that another be ordained to his Church. For during the life of a bishop, whom not his own fault but sickness, withdraws from the administration of his office, the sacred canons by no means allow another to be ordained in his place. But, if he at no time recovers the exercise of a sound mind, a person should be sought adorned with good life and conversation, who may be able both to take charge of souls, and look with salutary control after the causes and interests of the same church; and he should be such as may succeed to the bishop’s place in case of his surviving him. But, if there are any to be promoted to a sacred order, or to any clerical ministry, we have ordained that the matter is to be reserved and announced to our aforesaid most reverend brother Etherius, provided it belong to his diocese4 , so that, enquiry having then been made, if the persons are subject to no fault which the sacred canons denounce, he himself may ordain them. Let, then, the care of your Excellency conjoin itself with our ordering, to the end that the interests of the Church, which you have exceedingly at heart, may not suffer damage, and that increase of reward may accrue to the good deeds of your Excellency.
Having been asked likewise concerning a certain bigamist whether he might be admitted to a sacred order, we have, according to canonical rule, altogether forbidden it. For God forbid that in your times, in which you do so many pious and religious things, you should allow anything to be done contrary to ecclesiastical ordinance.
Moreover the aforesaid magnificent men, our sons, having delivered us a schedule, have requested among other things, what they said had been enjoined on them by your order, that such a person may be sent from us into Gaul as may, on the assembling of a synod, correct under the guidance of Almighty God whatever has been perpetrated against the most sacred canons. Herein we recognize the care of your Glory, how you take thought for the life of the soul and the stability of your kingdom, seeing that, fearing our Redeemer, and observing His precepts in all ways, you act in this case also so that the government of your kingdom may long subsist, and that after long courses of years you also may pass from an earthly to a heavenly kingdom. At a fitting time, if what we have said should be pleasing to God, we will take care to fulfil the venerable desires of your Excellency.
We, then, for the defence of the places about which your Excellency has written to us have been careful to order all things as you wish. But, lost haply our decrees should be suppressed at any time by the governors of those places on the ground that they are found to be interdicted from doing certain things, this same ordinance must be inserted among the public acts, that so it may be kept in your royal archives as well as in ours.
May Almighty God ever keep your Excellency in His tear, and so fulfil your desires and those of our sons the most excellent kings your grandsons, through the intercession of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, to whom you commend them, as to grant you to have stable joy in their continual welfare, as you desire. Given in the month of November, Indiction 6.
S. Gregory I, letters 21178