S. Gregory I, letters 29123
TO Venantius And Italica85 .
Gregory to the lord Venantius, Patrician, and Italica his wife.
I have taken care, with due affection, to enquire of certain persons who have come from Sicily about your Excellency’s health. But they have given me a sad report of the frequency of your ailments. Now, when I say this, neither do I find anything to tell you about myself, except that, for my sins, lo it is now eleven months since it has been a very rare case with me if I have been able now and then to rise from my bed. For I am afflicted by so great sufferings from gout, and so great from troubles, that my life is to me most grievous pain. For every day I faint under my sufferings, and sigh in expectation of the relief of death. Indeed among the clergy and people of this city there has been such an invasion of feverous sicknesses that hardly any freeman, hardly any slave, remains fit for any office or ministry. Moreover, from the neighbouring cities we have news daily of havocs and of mortality. Then, how Africa is being wasted by mortality and sickness I believe that you know more accurately than we do, insomuch as you are nearer to it. But of the East those who come from thence report still more grievous desolations. In the midst of all these things, therefore, since you perceive that there is a general smiting as the end of the world draws near, you ought not to be too much afflicted for your own troubles. But, as becomes wise nobles, bring ye back your whole heart to the care of your souls, and fear the strict judgment all the more as it is so much nearer at hand. Devote yourselves to piety, of which it is written that It hath promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come (1Tm 4,8). But Almighty God is powerful both to preserve the life of your Excellency for a long time here, and to bring you after many courses of years to eternal joys. I beg my most sweet daughters, the lady Barbara and the lady Antonina, to be greeted in my name; whom I pray that heavenly grace may protect, and grant them to be prospered in all things.
TO Maximus, Bishop OF Salona86 .
Gregory to Maximus, &c.
Having received the letters of our brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus, and Castorius, our chartularius, having also returned, we learn that your Fraternity have made most full satisfaction with regard to the matters about which there had been uncertainty; and we return great thanks to Almighty God that froth our inmost heart all rancour of sinister suspicion has been eradicated. On this account I have been desirous of dismissing with the utmost speed our common son, your deacon Stephen. But the frequent pains of my sicknesses have compelled me to retain him with me for a few days. As soon, however, as I have begun to be even slightly better, I have provided for sending him forthwith back to you with joy.
Accordingly we send to you, according to custom, the pallium for the sacred solemnities of mass; the meaning of which we desire you in all respects to vindicate. For the dignity of this vestment is humility and justice. Let, then, your Fraternity make haste with all your heart to shew yourself humble in prosperity, and in adversity, if ever it should ensue; upright in justice; friendly to the good, and opposed to the froward; never discountenancing any one who speaks for the truth; instant in works of mercy according to thy means, and yet beyond thy means desiring to be instant; sympathizing with the weak; rejoicing with men of good will; regarding the woes of others as thine own; exulting for the joys of others as if for thine own; in correcting vices severe, in cherishing virtues, soothing the minds of hearers; in anger, retaining judgment without anger, but in calmness not relinquishing the censorship of your severity. This, dearest brother, is the meaning of the pallium which you will receive, which if you act up to, you will have inwardly what you are seen to have received outwardly.
Furthermore I commend in all respects to your Fraternity our brother and fellow-bishop Sabinianus87 ; and if there be any matters of dispute between you, let them meanwhile be laid aside. Let charity remain fixed between you, that so, in case of contention ever arising about external things, they may be examined without charity deserting the heart. We commend also our common son Honoratus: concerning whom if it is the case, as we have learnt through Castorius our chartularius; that through him three previous archdeacons have been compelled to observe the ecclesiastical custom by retiring at the expiration of five years, we desire indeed that he may experience the charity of thy Holiness. For a judgment ought not to be solicited in a case which he himself has judged. If, however, it is not so, then, all swelling of heart being repressed, and all grudge set aside, he ought to be received, and by no means removed from the place which he now occupies. Messianus also, the cleric who had taken refuge with us, we have confidently committed to the charge of our common son Stephen the deacon, being assured that in the case of one whom we ourselves send to your Fraternity, you will not show any grudge, but lend the countenance of your authority. May Almighty God keep you in His protection, and grant us so to act that after the billows of this temporal state we may be able to attain with joy to things eternal.
From S). Columbanus TO Pope Gregory88 .
To the holy lord, and father in Christ, the Roman [pope], most fair ornament of the Church, a certain most august flower, as it were, of the whole of withering Europe, distinguished speculator, as enjoying a divine contemplation of purity (?)89 . I, Bargoma90 , poor dove in Christ, send greeting.
Grace to thee and peace from God the Father [and] our [Lord] Jesus Christ. I am pleased to think, O holy pope, that it will seem to thee nothing extravagant to he interrogated about Easter, according to that canticle, Ask thy father, and he will skew time; thine elders and they will tell thee (Dt 32,7). For, though on me, who am indeed a trifler (micrologo) may be branded that excellent expression of a certain wise man, who is reported to have said, on seeing a certain woman, contupictam91 , I do not admire the art, but I admire the brow, in that I who am vile write to thee that art illustrious; yet, relying on my confidence in shy evangelical humility, I presume to write to thee, and impose on thee the matter of my grief. For writing is not in vain, when necessity compels one to write, though it be to one’s betters.
What, then, dose thou say concerning Easter on the 21st or 22nd day of the moon, which (with thy peace be it said) is proved by many calculators not to be Easter, but in truth a time of darkness? For it is not unknown, as I believe, to thy Efficiency, how Anatolius92 (a man of wonderful learning, as says Saint Hieronymus, extracts from whose writings Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, inserted in his Ecclesiastical History, and Saint Hieronymus praised this same work about Easter in his catalogue) disputes with strong disapprobation about this age of the moon. For against the Gallican Rimarii93 , who erred, as he says, about Easter, he introduced an awful sentence, saying, Certainly, if the rising of the moon be delayed tilt the end of two watches, which indicates midnight, light does not overcome darkness, but darkness light; which thing is certainly not allowable in the Easter Festival, namely, that any part of the darkness should dominate over the light, since the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection is light, and there is no communion of light with darkness And, if the moon has not shone forth tell the third watch, there is no doubt that the moon has risen on its 21st or 22nd day, in which it is not possible for a true Paschal offering to be made. For those who lay down that it is possible for a true Easter to be celebrated at this age of the match, not only are unable to affirm this by authority of divine Scripture, but also incur the guilt of sacrilege and contumacy and peril of their souls, while affirming that the true Light, which dominates over all darkness, can be offered while there is any domination of darkness Also in the book of holy dogma we read, Easter, that is, the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection, cannot be celebrated before the beginning of the vernal equinox is past, to wit, that it may not come before the vernal equinox94 : which rule assuredly Victorius95 has gone beyond in his cycle, and hereby has already introduced error into Gaul, or to speak less boldly, has confirmed one of old standing. For indeed how can either of these things stand with reason; either that the Lord’s Resurrection should be celebrated before His Passion (the thought of which is absurd), or that the seven days sanctioned by the Lord’s command in the Law, during which only it is enjoined that the Lord’s Passover could lawfully be eaten (which are to be numbered from the 14th day of the moon to the 20th), should against law and right be exceeded? For a moon in its 21st or 22nd day is out of the dominion of light, as having risen at that time after midnight; and, when darkness overcomes light, it is said to be impious to keep the solemnity of light. Why then dost thou, who art so wise, the brilliant lights indeed of whose sacred genius are diffused, as in ancient times, through the world,—why dost thou keep a dark Easter? I wonder, I confess, that this error of Gaul, ac si Schynteneum96 , has not long ago been swept away by thee; unless I should perchance suppose, what I can hardly believe, that, as it is evident that thou hast not corrected it, it has thy approval
In another way, however, may thy Expertness be more honourably excused, if, fearing to subject thyself to the mark of Hermagoric97 novelty, thou art content with the authority of thy predecessors, and especially of pope Leo.
Do not, I pray thee, in such a question trust to humility only or to gravity, which are often deceived, Better by far is a living dog in this problem than a dead lion (Qo 9,4). For a living saint may correct what had not been corrected by another who came before him. For know thou that by our masters and the Irish ancients, who were philosophers and most wise computists in constructing calculations, Victorius was not received, but held rather worthy of ridicule or of excuse than as carrying authority. Wherefore to me, as a timid stranger rather than as a sciolist, afford the support of thy judgment, and disdain not to send us speedily the suffrage of thy Placability for assuaging this tempest which surrounds us; since, after so many authors whom I have read, I am not satisfied with that one sentence of those bishops who say only, We ought not to keep the Passover with the Jews. For this is what the bishop Victor formerly said; but none of the Easterns accepted his figment98 . But this the benumbing (numb?) backbone of Dagon; this the dotage of error drinks in99 . Of what worth, I ask, is this sentence, so frivolous and so rude and resting, as it does, on no testimonies of sacred Scripture; We ought not to keep the Passover with the Jews? What has it to do with the question? Are the reprobate Jews to be supposed to keep the Passover now, seeing that they are without a temple, outside Jerusalem, and Christ, who was formerly prefigured, having been crucified by them? Or, can it be rightly supposed that the 14th day of the moon for the Passover was of their own appointment, and is it not rather to be acknowledged to be of God’s, who alone knew clearly with what mysterious meaning the 14th day of the moon was chosen for the passage [out of Egypt]. Perhaps to wise men and the like of thee this may be in some degree clearer than to others. As to those who make this objection, although without authority, let them upbraid God for that He did not then beforehand guard against the contumacy of the Jews by enjoining on them in the Law nine days of unleavened bread, if He would not have its keep the Passover with them, so that the beginning of our solemnity should not exceed the end of theirs. For, if Easter is to be celebrated on the 21st or 22nd day, from the 14th to the 22nd nine days will be reckoned, that is, seven ordered by God, and two added by men. But, if it is allowed for men to add anything of their own accord to divine decree, I ask whether this may not seem opposed to that sentence of Deuteronomy, Lo (he saith), the word which I give unto thee, thou shall not add unto it nor take from it (Dt 4,2).
But in writing all this more forwardly than humbly, I know that I have involved myself in an Euripus of presumption attended with great difficulty, being perchance unskilled to steer out of it. Nor does it befit our place or rank that anything should be suggested in the way of discussion to thy great authority, and that my Western letters should ridiculously solicit thee, who sittest legitimately on the seat of the apostle and key-bearer Peter, on the subject of Easter. But thou oughtest to consider not so much worthless me in this matter as many masters, both departed and now living, who confirm what I have pointed out, and suppose thyself to be holding a colloquy with them: for know that I open my thick-lipped month dutifully though it may be incoherently and extravagantly. It is for thee, therefore, either to excuse or to condemn Victorius, knowing that, if thou approvest him, it will be a question of faith between thee and the aforesaid Hieronymus, seeing that he approved Anatolius, who is opposed to Victorius; so that whoso follows the one cannot receive the other. Let, then, thy Vigilance take thought that, in approving the faith of one of the two authors aforesaid who are mutually opposed to each other, there be no dissonance, when thou pronouncest thy opinion, between thee and Hieronymus, lest we should be on all sides in a strait, as to whether we should agree with thee or with him. Spare the weak in this matter, lest thou exhibit the scandal of diversity. For I frankly acknowledge to thee that any one who goes against the authority of Saint Hieronymus will be one to be repudiated as a heretic among the churches of the West: for they accommodate their faith in all respects unhesitatingly to him with regard to the Divine Scriptures. But let this suffice with respect to Easter.
But I ask what thy judgment is about those bishops whom thou hast written of as simoniacal, and whom the writer Giltas100 calls pests. Should communion be had with them? For there are known to be many such in this province, whereby the matter is made more serious. Or as to others, who having been polluted in their diaconate, are afterwards elected to the rank of bishops? For there are some whom we know to have conscientious scruples on these grounds; and in conferring with our littleness about them, they wished to know for certain whether they may minister without peril after such transgressions; that is, either after having bought their rank for money, or after adultery in their diaconate. I mean, however, concealed adultery with their dependents101 , which with our teachers is accounted as no less criminal.
As to a third head of enquiry, say in reply, I pray thee, if it is not troublesome, what should be done in the case of those monks who for a closer sight of God, or inflamed by a longing for a more perfect life, going against their vows, leave the places of their first con version, and, against the will of their abbots, the fervour of monks compelling them, either go free or fly to deserts. The author Vennianus enquired about these of Giltas, who replied to him most elegantly: yet still to one who is anxious to learn there is ever an increase of greater fear. These things, and much more which epistolary brevity does not admit of, might well have been enquired about more humbly and more clearly in a personal interview, but that weakness of body and the care of my fellow-pilgrims keeps me bound at home, though desirous of going to thee, so as to draw from that spiritual vein of a living well and from the living water of knowledge flowing from heaven and springing up unto eternal life. And, if my body were to Follow my mind, Rome would once more be in danger of being itself despised; seeing that—even as we read in the narration of the learned Hieronymus how certain persons once came to Rome from the utmost boundaries of the Heuline coast102 ; and then (wonderful to be told) sought something else outside of Rome—so I too, saving reverence for the ashes of the saints should seek out longingly, not Rome but thee: for, though I confess myself not to be wise, but athirst, I should do this same thing if I had time and opportunity.
I have read thy book containing the Pastoral Rule, short in style, lengthy in teaching, full of mysteries; and acknowledge it to be a work sweeter than honey to one that is in need. Wherefore bestow, I pray thee, on me who am athirst for what is thine, the works on Ezekiel, which, as I have heard, thou hast elaborated with wonderful genius. I have read the six books of Hieronymus on that prophet; but he has not expounded the middle part. But, if thou wilt do me the favour, send for me to the city some of thy remaining writings; to wit, the concluding expositions of one book, and (? namely) the Song of Songs from that place where it is said, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and rite hill of frankincense, to the end, treated with short comments, either of others, or thine own: and I beg that thou wouldest expound the whole obscurity of Zachariah, and make manifest its hidden meaning, that Western blindness may give thee thanks for this. I make unreasonable demands, and ask to have great things told me: who can fail to see this? But it is true also that thou hast great things, and knowest well that from a little less, and from much more should be put out to use. Let charity induce thee to write in reply; let not the roughness of my letter hinder thee from expounding, seeing that it is my mode of expression that has been in fault, and I have it in my heart to pay thee due honour. It was for me to provoke, to interrogate, to request: it is for thee not to refuse what thou hast received freely, to put thy talent out to use, to give to him that asks the bread of doctrine, as Christ enjoins. Peace be to thee and thine; pardon my forwardness, blessed pope, in that I have written so boldly; and I pray thee in thy holy prayers to our common Lord to pray for me, a most vile sinner. I think it quite superfluous to commend to thee my people, whom the Saviour judges fit to be received, as walking in His name; and if, as I have heard from thy holy Candidus103 , thou shouldest be disposed to say in reply that things confirmed by ancient usage cannot be changed, error is manifestly ancient; but truth which reproves it is ever more ancient still.
1 See V.2, note I.
2 In pretio commodi. On commodum, see I.44, p.90, note 4.
3 Gennadius was Exarch of Africa.
4 Probably the Abbot Probos. See IX. 43, 9
5 See also IX. 1.
6 A bishop in Sardinia, see I. 61. What his case was does not appear.
7 See III .47, note 2.
8 For references to the truce now in course of negotiation (a.d. 598–9), with the Lombard King Agilulph, cf IX. 4, 42, 43, 98.
9 Cf. I. 44, p. 92. note 2.
10 Presbyter(. So the wives of presbyters who had been married before their ordination were called. So in Canon XIX. of the second council of Tours, “(Si inventus fuerit presbyter cum sua presbytera,” and Canon XXI. of Council of Auxerre, “Non licet presbytero, post acceptam benedictionem, in ono lecto cum presbytera sua dormire.” Or deaconesses may possibly be meant, one designation of whom in Greek was presbuvtide"
11 Callinicus had recently succeeded Romanus at Ravenna as Exarch of Italy. The main purport of this letter to him is to secure his hoped-for co-operation in bringing back the Istrian and Venetian schismatics to Catholic communion. See I. 16, note 3; also II. 46, 51. The predecessor of Callinicus, viz. Romanus, had given great dissatisfaction to Gregory by his conduct with regard to the schismatics (see (II. 46); but better things are expected from the new Exarch. See also below, Ep. XCIII., &c. As to the case of Maxinius of Salona, briefly referred to at the end of the letter, see III.47, note 2.
12 Capritana was a small island in the Adriatic, not far from the shore of Venetia, containing the episcopal see of Capsula, or Cahorla. More about the desire of the church of this island to return to communion with Rome will be found in the letter which follows to Marinianus, bishop of Ravenna.
13 Mention of a previous order from the emperors, during the exarchate of Romanus, to Gregory himself, bidding him refrain from compelling the Istrians to return to communion, will be found in II.46.
14 See the letter following.
15 So, with initial capitals as proper names, in the Benedictine Edition. Perhaps rather, “the steward (vicedominus) and the guardian (defensor).”
16 Erat quasi per diocesim conjuncta. The meaning is, that the castellum Nov( on the main land had been made the episcopal see of a diocese of the island of Capritana, though not properly within its limits. Cf. IX. 9, note 3.
17 At this time Gregory’s apocrisiarius at Constantinople. Cf. VII. 30.
18 See III.47, note 2.
19 Four Vatican mss. and Cod. Colbert give a date to this epistle, viz. “mense Octobris, indictione prima, ”i.e. Oct a.d. 597. The Benedictine editors assign it, from certain internal evidence to the following year, and have therefore placed it in this ninth Book of the Epistles. There is this additional reason for placing it later than a.d. 597. Its first purpose is to reply to a request from queen Brunechild that a palliuium should be sent to Syagrius, bishop of Augustoduisum (Autun). Now Autun was in the kingdom of Burgundy, which was reigned over at that time by Brunechild’s younger grandson Theoderic II. But it was not till the year 599, according to Gregory of Tours (Hist. Franc. 11,19), that she had been expelled from the kingdom of Austrasia, and taken up her residence with Theoderic. She had previously been guardian of her elder grandson Theodebert II, who reigned over Austrasia, having his capital at Metz, and she was more likely to have sought the pall for the bishop Autun after she had become the virtual potentate of the Burgundian kingdom than previously; and indeed she seems to be evidently addressed as ruling the country to which the letter refers. The date assigned to this epistle by the Benedictine editors, viz. Indiction 2 (i.e. from September 598 to September 599), is consistent with these circumstances.
20 Bishop of Augustodunum (Autun), one of the bishops to whom Augustine had carried commendatory letters from Gregory on his progress to England (VI. 54). The see of Augustodunum was under the metropolitan jurisdiction of Lugdonum (Lyons); and Brunechild, for some reason, appears to have desired to have it invested with peculiar dignity. She afterwards founded a church, a nunnery, and a hospital there (see (XIII. 6). It is to be observed that the sending of the pallium to a bishop did not in all cases imply metropolitan jurisdiction. It did not in this case. See Epistle CVIII. to Syagrius, in which he is told that the Metropolitan of Lyons was to retain his position unimpaired; only that the bishop of Autun was thenceforth to be next to him in place and dignity.
21 We observe here the requirement of the Emperor’s Consent for sending the Pallium to a see not previously thus dignified.
22 It seems not to be known with any certainty what the title Regionarius, thus used absolutely, implies, though no doubt some honourable function. Jn the Deacon (Vit. S. Gregor). speaks of Gregory’s father Gordianus, a layman, as having been a Regionarius. As to Notariregionarii, Sub-diaconi regioaii, Defensores regionarii, cf. VIII. 14.
23 Meaning those who were out of communion with Rome with regard to “The Three Chapters”. see I. 16, note 3. There were some in Gaul, as well as in Istria and elsewhere, who long refused assent to the condemnation of the Chapters by the fifth Council. Cf. IV. 2, 3, 4, 38,39; XVI. 12.
24 See note 1.
25 I.e. the fifty days between Easter and Whitsuntide. It appears from St. Augustine (see (Migne Patrolog. note in loc). that it was the custom everywhere to sing the Allelula between Easter and Pentecost, but that its use at other tinses varied. The point of what Gregory here says seeems to be that the Roman custom of saying it at other times had not been derived from the Greeks; but that, on the contrary it was said at other times less frequently at Rome than among the Greeks.
26 Procedere spoliatos: i.e. to proceed to the altar for celebration without linen tunics on. The verb procedere and the noun processio are commonly used by Gregory and others in the special sense of approaching the altar for mass. It would seem from what is here said that the subdeacons at mass had not been originally distinguished by a vestment, and that some pope before Gregory had first vested them at Rome. He, as further appears, had disrobed the subdeacons; and his point here is, that his doing so was not an imitation of the Greeks, but a return to ancient usage.
27 The word found here is traditionem: but, because of the undoubted reference to the Lord’s Prayer (dominica oratio), and of the verb composuit, it is conjectured that the reading ought to be orationem.
28 This whole passage in the original is;—“Orationem vero Dominicam idcirco mox post precem dicimus, quia mos apostolorum fuit or ad ipsam solummodo orationem oblatlonis hostiam consecarent Et valde mihi inconveniens visum est ut precem quam scholasticus composuerat super oblationem diceremus, et ipsam traditionem (Qy. for orationnem?)quam Redemptor noster composuit super ejus corpus et sanguinem non diceremus.” It is to be observed that, for lack of suitable words in English, the translation does not retain the distinction in the original between precem and orationem, the former denoting the prayer of consecration in the Canon, exclusive of the Lord’s Prayer, the latter the Lord’s Prayer itself, which Gregory appended to it. By the scholasticus, to whom he assigns the composition of the former, is meant apparently the liturgist, whoever he might be, who had compiled the Canon of the Mass. It would thus seem that, according to the Roman use before the time of Gregory, the Lord’s Prayer did not occur at all “over the oblation”, or “over the Body and Blood,” i.e. (as the expression must be taken to mean) between consecration and distribution, though, of course, it may have been used before or after. Such omission was undoubtedly peculiar. Among other authorities for the general usage, S. Augustine (Ep. CXLIX). ad Paulin). affirms that nearly every Church concludes the whole petition (i.e. the prayer of consecration of which he has been speaking) with the Lord’s Prayer:—“Quam totam petitionem fere omnis Ecclesia Oratione Dominica concludit.” In saying “fere omnis”, he may possibly have had the Roman Church in view. As to what is said by S. Gregory of the custom of the Apostles, the most Obvious meaning of which is, that they used no prayer of consecratIon but the Lord’s Prayer, we have no means of ascertaining whence be derived this tradition, or what the value of it might be. It does not, of course, imply that the words of institution were not said over the elements by the Apostles, but only that they used no other prayer for the purpose of consecration. Ways have been suggested, though not satisfactory, for evading the apparent meaning ot the statement.
29 See the following Epistle XIX. For the meaning of familia here see note 3 to the same epistle. Gregory sent at the same time letters (which have not been translated) to three influential laymen in Sicily, desiring them to assist and support Romanus in the exercise of his authority. Four other letters (23, 24, 26, 27) are translated, as intimating the kind of duties devolving on Romanus in connexion with his government of the Patrimony.
30 For the meaning of Coloni, see I. 44. The body of them is called the familia of the patrimony in the preceding epistle to Romanus(Ep. Xviii)..
31 This Domitian was bishop of Melitina and Metropolitan of Armenia, being a relation of the Emperors, see III. 67. The physician Archelaus is commended in an epistle not translated (V. 32) to Cyprian, the previous rector patrimonii in Sicily, for protection in some question about property.
32 Andreas Scholasticus, so addressed V.48.
33 Cf. II. 32, note 7; V. 30, note 8. On the subject of the epistle, see III. 47, note 2.
34 This was the younger Anastasius, who succeeded the patriarch of the same name to whom previous epistles are addressed.
35 Cf VI. 14.
36 On the designation Scholasticus, see II.32, note 2; V.36, note 9. The occasion of this and the following epistle appears to have been as follows. Crementitis, who was at that time primate of the province of Bizacia in Africa, had been accused by other African bishops. The Emperor, appealed to by them, had desired Gregory to take cognizance of the case; but his interference had been objected to in Africa, where, as appears elsewhere, there was still jealousy of the claims of the Roman See. Gregory had commissioned John, Bishop of Syracuse, to investigate the matter, and to him Crementius (who now professed—though Gregory doubted his sincerity—to defer to the Roman bishop) had sent the lawyer Martin to state his case. The latter seems to have been directed to go on to Rome too, but had not done so. Both Martin and Jn had subsequently written to Gregory on the subject, and to them he now replies. Some three years seem to have afterwards elapsed without anything more being done : see XII. 32, where Gregory urges the bishops of the province to investigate the old charges against their primate in synod : but with what result does not further appear.
37 Ad comitatum; referring to the suffragans of Crementius having complained to the Emperor against their primate.
38 See preceding epistle, note I. On this John’s election to the See of Syracuse on Gregory’s strong recommendation after the death of Maximianus, see V. 17.
39 Viz. Crementius. See preceding epistle.
40 See I. 25, note 8
41 The genuineness of this letter is considered doubtful. It may have been a forgery founded on Epistle CXXII. in this book from Gregory to Reccared. The Latin in the original is in many parts incorrect and ungrammatical; being such indeed Reccared’s was not unlikely to be. Other letters relating to the conversion of Reccared are I. 43: IX, 121, 122.
42 “Tonsuratores dici potuere qui erant pr(positi colonis seu possesseribus pr(diorum Ecclesi( Roman(, qui erant tonsurati in signum subjectionis, more Romanorum”). Alteserra.
43 i.e. letters of appointment under the hand of the bishop of Rome. See V. 29, XI. 38, for the form of such letters.
44 See note above.
45 See III. 47, note 2.
46 Porcedere; i.e. proceed to the Holy Table for celebration. Cf. VII. 34, note 7.
47 See III.47, note 2.
48 See below, Ep. LXXIX., and III.47, note 2.
49 See below, Ep. LXXXI.
50 See VII. 15, VIII. 10.
51 See VI. 25, and note there.
52 See above, Ep. LXXX, and III.47, note 2.
53 According to a narrative found in some few codices of the Registrum Epistolartim, and printed in in appendix by the Benedictine Editors, the penance done by Maximus at Ravenna consisted in his prostrating himself on the pavement of the city for three hours and exclaiming, “Peccavi Deo, et beatissimo pap( Gregorio.”
54 Gregory’s apocrisiarius at Constantinople.
55 Supposed to be identical with Marcellus, Proconsul of Dalmatia, who, having originally and for some time afterwards supported Maximus as bishop of Salona against Gregory, had apparently made overtures for reconciliation with the latter. See IX. 5, and on the whole subject III. 47, note 2. He seems to have now fully satisfied Gregory, whose laudation of him in this letter is in marked contrast to the tone of IX. 5, addressed to Marcellus himself previously.
56 See X. 24.
57 As to Gregory’s renewed efforts, now with better hope after the accession of Callinicus as Exarch of Italy to recover the Istrian schismatics in the matter of “the Three Chapters,” see above, IX. 9, 10. Gulfaris, addressed in this epistle, was in military comniand in Istria, and appears to have exerted himself to further the aims of Gregory, who ever gladly availed himself of the aid of the secular arm. Other letters on the same subject follow.
58 “Erat forte magistratus municipalis, qui annon( civitatis curam gerit.” Note to Benedictine Edition.
59 The Lombard duke of Spoletum, who had besieged Rome, a.d. 592, previously to the invasion of King Agilulph in person Cf. II.3,29, 30, 46, and Prolegom., p. xix.
60 For notice of the peace concluded with the Lombard King Agilulph, cf. IX. 4, 42, 43; and Prolegom., p. xx.
61 Arogis (or Arigis) was the Lombard duke of Beneventum, Cf. II. 46.
62 It appears from Epistle CIX. below that Cynacus was being now sent to the bishop of Autun with the special view of getting a synod called by queen Brunechild for restraining the simony and other ecclesiastical irregularities which were prevalent in Gaul. Cf. also above, IX. II, to Brunechild.
63 Cf. XI. 13.
64 This is a circular letter to the metropolitan bishops to prepare thern for the general synod which Gregory was anxious should be held in Gaul for checking the simony, and other abuses, continually referred to by him as prevalent there. Cf. in this book, Epistle XI., CVII., CVIII, CIX , CX. On a paribus, See I.25, note 8.
65 Perhaps an error for Syagrios, bishop of Angustodonum (Autun), to whom the use of the pallium had been recently conceded on certain conditions, and to whom the assembling of the synod was committed, though he was not thus authorized to take precedence of his metropolitan, the bishop of Lyons. See Ep. CVIII. and Ep. XI. note 2. Cyriacus, mentioned below, had been sent specially from Rome to foward and regulate the proceedings (see (Ep. CIX., note 2), Aregius of Vapincum being also directed to send Gregory a full report of the proceedings (see (Ep. CVII).. If the intended synod was held at all, it appears to have failed to put a stop to the abuses complained of. For a year or two later we find Gregory still referring to them, and pressing for a synod to suppress them. See XI. 55, 56, 57, 59,60, 63.
66 A see in Narbonensis Secunda under the Metropolis of Aqu((Aix); the modern Gap.
67 For the use of Dalmatics, see Dict. of Christ. Ant. (Smith and Cheetham, 1875), under Dalmatic.
68 Cf. IX. II, 109.
69 Sacerdotibus, in the usual sense of bishops.
70 Cyriacus, abbot of St. Andrew’s monastery at Rome, had been sent, for the purpose indicated, to Syagrius, bishop of Autun. Cf. IX. 105.
71 See VI. 58, note I.
72 The majority of mss. have been nunc pr(beant instead of non tribuant: but the reading adopted in the text has good support, and seems to give more intelligible meaning. The drift seems to be that, while it was the custom in Gaul to relieve Church property even from tribute that might have been exacted lawfully, it was monstrously inconsistent to burden it unlawfully by the exaction of bribes for promotion.
73 Augusta Taurinarum, the modern Turin.
74 In parochiis suis. Though the term paroikiva< meant originally what we should now call a bishop’s whole diocese, it came after the third century to be applied to parishes wlthln such diocese. Hence here parochiiss in the plural. Cf. Bingham, Bk. IX., ch. ii., sect.I ; Ch. viii., Sect. I.
75 Viz. Theoderic and Theodebert (see VI. 58, note 1), to whom a letter on the same subject was sent at the same time, viz, Ep. CXVI., which follows. The former would be in this year (a.d. 598–9) about ten, and the latter about thirteen years of age.
76 Who this Hilarius was, and what were his grievances, does not appear.
77 This Claudius appears to have been a person of influence in the court of King Reccared, and no doubt a good Cathoilic, of whose virtues Gregory may have heard from his friend Leander of Seville. The object of this very complimentary letter to him was to commend to his favour the abbot Cyriacus, who, as appears from preceding epistles, had been sent into Gaul to bring about the assembling of a synod there, and who appears from this epistle to have been sent on into Spain, though for what particular purpose does not appear. Cf). Proleg., p. xi.
78 In English Bible, 73,18.
79 In English Bible, 74,5,6, differently
80 li. 14, in English Bible.
81 Reccared, the Visigoth king of Spain, previously an Arian, had declared himself a Catholic a.d. 587, and had formally adopted Catholicism as the creed of the Spanish Church at the council of Toledo, a.d. 589. See I.43, note 9. Tliis is the only extant letter addressed to the king himself by Gregory, its date, if rightly placed, being a.d. 598–9, and thus as much as ten years after the council of Toledo. Gregory had been long informed of what had been done at Toledo, as appears in his epistle to Leander (I.43), written, if correctly placed, a.d. 590–1; and it may appear strange that his letter to the king himself had been so long delayed. He may have waited for a letter to himself from Reccared; and, if Ep. LXI. in this book (see (note thereon) be genuine, it would be in reply to it that the letter before us was written. But in Ep. LXI. only three years are said to have elapsed since Reccared’s conversion, and gifts spoken of sent at that time to Rome are acknowledged in the Epistle before us. Hence the dates assigned to the Epistles by the Benedictine Editors are open to suspicion.
82 In English Bible, 77,10, differently.
83 See IX.61.
84 What follows is preceded by “Item in anagnostico.” (The word is thus explained in D’Arnis’ Lexicon Manuale; “ Graecis id omne est quod legitur aut recitatur. Unde Gregorius Magnus pro epistola out quovis scripto vocem hanc usurpat.”) The whole is absent from many mss., and in one of those preserved in Bibliotheca Colbertina it is given, without the heading Item in anognostico, as a separate epistle, entitled “Secunda ad Recharedum.” and concludes thus : “Furthermore we have received the gifts of your Excellency, which have been sent for the poor of the blessed apostle Peter, namely three hundred cocull( (cowls): and, as much as we can, we earnestly pray that you may have as your protector in the tremendous day of judgment Him whose poor you have protected by abundance of clothes. Our not sending at once a man of ours to your Excellency has been owing to the want of a ship: for none can be found that can proceed from these parts to the shores of Spain.”The fact of a second key containing filings of St. Peter’s chains being referred to as sent to Reccared in this concluding portion of the epistle confirms the probability of its having been part of a subsequent letter. For two such keys were not likely to be sent st the same time.
85 See I.34, note 8.
86 See III.47, note 2, and IX.. 81.
87 See IX. 80, VI. 27, note 6; VII. 17, IX. 80.
88 This epistle of the Irish saint Columbanus to Gregory was added to the Reigistrum Epistolarum by the Benedictine editors, having been first published, with other writings of S. Coluumban, by Patrick Fleming in Collectanea sacra; Lovan. a.d. 1667. (See Galland). Bibliotheca veterum partum). S(c VI. circ. a.d. 589). It is assigned by the Benedictines to a.d. 598–9, and hence placed at the end of Book IX. of Gregory’s Epistle.
At this time St. Columban was at the monastery founded by him at Luxovium (Luxueil) among the Vosges mountains in Burgundy over which country Theoderic II. was now king. He had already given offence in Gaul, not only by his protest in life and teaching against prevalent laxity, but also by his continuing to observe and uphold the custom of his own Celtic Church with regard to the time for keeping Easter, which differed from what had now been adopted by Rome atid prevailed in the West generally. The main purpose of this epistle is to pIead with pope Gregory for approval of the Celtic tradition. Subsequently, a synod being held in Gaul for considering the question, he addressed the bishops there assembled in a letter which is also extant, defending, as in this epistle, the Celtic usage, and pleading for being allowed at any rate to follow it himself in peace (S. Columbani, Ep. II). in Collectan.sacr).
It may be observed in the epistle before us, as also in subsequent one to pope Boniface IV. with reference to the same subject (S. Columbani, Ep. V.; Collectan.sacr), that, though addressing the bishop of Rome in language of the utmost deference, and recognizing his high position, he shews no disposition to submit to his authority; telling him on the contrary that should he declare himself so as to contradict the supposed teaching of St. Jerome, he would be rejected as heretical by all the Celtic churches. And throughout the letter there runs a vein of sarcasm. There is no extant reply from Gregory to the letter. Probably none was sent. Possibly the letter never reached its destination : for in the subsequent letter, above referred to, to Boniface IV. Columban says, “Once and again Satan hindered the bearers of our letters written formerly to pope Gregory of good memory, which are subjoined below.”
The point at issue, and Columban’s argument, as it appears in this letter, may be briefly stated thus. Apart from any differences in the cycles for calculating the true day of the Paschal full moon in successive years, there was this difference between the Celtic and Roman usages. While all agreed in keeping Easter on a Sunday, the Celtic use was to keep it on the day of the Paschal full moon itself (i.e. the calculated 14th day of the moon falling on, or next after, the Vernal Eqiunox), in case of such a day falling on a Sunday; whereas the Roman was, in such a case, to defer their Easter celebration till the following Sunday, so as to avoid coincidence with the actual day of the Jewish Passover. Hence, in Bede’s account of the controversy on the subject between the British and Scottish (i.e. Irish) Churches on the one hand and the Roman on the other, he speaks of the former keeping their Easter between the 14th and the 20th days of the moon inclusive, but the latter between the 15th and the 21st (Bede, H.E). II. 2; III. 25). In Gaul however, as appears from the letter before us, it was the rule to defer Easter for a week in case of the day of the Paschal full moon (i.e. the 14th) falling on a Saturday, so as to avoid coincidence even with the 15th day of the moon. Hence, agreeing with Bede as to the Celtic usage being to keep Easter between the 14th and 20th days, he speaks not of the 15th and 21st, but of the 16th and the 22nd being the extreme limits according to the Gallic usage. The reason of this difference was, that it had once been the Latin use, as against the Alexandrian, to keep Easter from the 16th to the 22nd days, thus avoiding the 15th; and this rule had been retained in the cycle of Victorius (as to whom see below, note 7),which was still received in Gaul.
The arguments of St. Columban in defence of the Celtic usage may be thus summarized. 1. It had been sanctioned by Anatolius (see (below, note 5), whose view had been approved by St. Jerome. 2. To defer Easter to the 22nd, or even the 21st day was incongruous, seeing that the moon then entered last quarter, rising so late as to give darkness preponderance over light; and the solemnity of light should not be celebrated under the domination of darkness He quotes Anatolius as having insisted on this principle, of which (we may here observe) we find an intimation in Philo with reference to the Jewish Passsover:—“That not only by day but also by night the world may be full of all-beauteous light, inasmuch as sun and moon on that day succeed each other with no interval of darkness between.” (De Sept. et Fest. 1191. ) 3. The alleged objection to keeping Easter on the day of the Jewish Passover was unfounded and futile. 4. The Mosaic Law enjoined seven days, beginning with the 14th, as the duration of the Passover festival; and within the same limits should he kept the Easter festival). [This argument, it may be observed, whatever its worth in other respects, appears to be founded on an error. For the Passover, having been killed before sunset on the 14th of Nisan, is believed to have been after sunset, i.e. after the 15th day, reckoned from evening to evening, had begun; and from the latter day inclusive the seven days of unleavened bread were reckoned thus ending with the 21st, which was a special day of “holy convocation.” Cf . below, note 5.]
89 Theoria utpote divina castulitatis potito. The word castulitatis may possibly have been in use among the Irish monks as an endearing diminutive of castitas (i.e. chastity or purity), regarded as the object of their affections in the contemplative life. Their writers appear to have been given to the use of such diminutives, not only of the names of people, but of other words also.—“ In the following pages (sc. in Adamnan’s Life of St. Columba) the reader will observe the liberal employment of diminutives, so characteristic of Irish composition; and he will find them, in many cases, used without any grammatical force, and commutable, in the same chapters, with their primitives.” (Reeve’s Adamnan. Appendix to Preface, Ed., 1857 p. lxi)..
90 Perhaps an error for Barjona, meaning ’‘son of a dove,0’’ in allusion to his name, Columba, or Columbanus. He afterwards calls himself “vilis columba”. Cf. “Pauperculus pr(potenti (mirum dictu! nova res !) rara avis scribere audet Bonifacio patri Palumbus:” “Sed talia suadenti, utpote torpenti actu, ac dicenti potius quam facienti mihi, Jon( Hebraice, Perister( Gr(ce, Columb( Latine, potius tantum [al.tamen]) vestr( idiomate liogu( nancto [al. nuncupato], ”(S. Columbani Ep. V. ad Bonifaciumn papam IV. Collectan. sacr. Patr.Fleming. Galland. s(c. VI. C). a.d. 598). Cf. “Vir erat vit( venerabilis et beat( memori(, monasteriorum pater et fundator, cum Jora propheta homonymum sortitus nomen ; nam licet diverso trium diversarum sono linguarum, unam tamen eandemque rem significant huc quod Hebraice dicitur Jona, Gr(citas vero PERISTERA vocitat, et Latina lingua Columba nuncupatur.” (Adamnan’s Life of S. Columba; Secunda Pr(fatio). Du Cange suggests a corruption of Barginna, said to be a low Latin word, equivalent to peregrinus.
91 The meaning of this word is obscure. Patrick Fleming (Collect. Sacr). suggests an error for compte pictam: Du Cange for comptam, or acu comptam, some artificial arrangement of the hair being supposed to be referred to. The intended point of the comparison seems to be, that Gregory will still be admirable, though the writer may set him off unskilfully.
92 Anatolius, an Alexandrian by birth and bishop of Laodicea, a.d. 269, is referred to by Eusebius (H. E. VII. 32) as distinguished for learning, and the writer of a work on the Paschal question, which he quotes. A “Canon Paschalis,” purporting to be this work, was published by Bucherius in a Latin Version (Doct. Temp. Antv. 1634); but its genuineness is doubted. Anatoluis was adduced by Colman at the Synod of Whitby (Bede, H.E. III. 25), as an authority for the 14th and 20th days of the moon being the limits for Easter. But Wilfrid replied that Anatolius had been misunderstood; for that, having in view the Egyptian mode of reckoning days from sunset to sunset, he had meant the day which began after sunset on the 14th day, i.e. really the 15th. And so also wiht regard to the 20th day. His language, as quoted by Eusebius, supports this explanation of his meaning:—“Given that the day of the Passover is on the fourteenth of the moon after evening (meth esperan).” See above, end of note .
93 “Forte sic dictos, quod obscura et fifficilia rimarentur.” Benedictine edit. Migne.—“Nostri rimeurs vocant poetastras, sed an ea sit hic notio non defino.” Du Cange.
94 The original here, being probably an incorrect citation, is obscure. It is “Pascha, ed est solemnitas dominic( Resurrectionis, ante transgressum vernalis (quinoctii 16 initiam non potest celebari, ut scilicet (quinoctium non antecedai.”
95 Pope Leo I. referred the question between the Roman and Alexandrian Churches as to the computation of Easter to his archdeacon (afterwards pope) Hilarius for investigation; and he referred it to Victorius of Aquitaine, who consequently (a.d. 457) drew up a cycle, which was accepted first in the Gallican Churches (Concil. Aurel. IV., an. 541), and continued to be observed there after it had been superseded in Italy by that of Dionysius Exiguus (a.d. 527). See above. note I.
96 “Schyntencum Gr(cam vocem sxoinotenhv" putat Editor, id est, tanquam si rectum et legitimum esset.” Du Cange. This interpretation appears probable from the fact that the Irish writers of the period were given to air their Greek learning by the rise of such words.—“He (Adamnan) occasionally employs Greek or Gr(co-Latin words” (Reeves’s Adamnan. p. 61,See also p. 158, note, for other evidence of this Irish tendency). The meaning in the text would thus be, “I wonder that this error should be tolerated by thee as though it were right and legitimate.”
97 Hermagoric( novitatis; the epithet heing apparently formed from the name of Hermagoras of Temnos, a distinguished Greek rhetorician of the time of Pompey and Cicero. He devoted peculiar attention to what is called the invention. Quintilian refers to him and approves his system : Cicero (De Invent. 1,6) was opposed to it. The use of a word like this is again characteristic of the Irish writers.
98 i.e. pope Victor in his opposition towards the end of the second century to the Asiatic Quarto-decimans who kept their Pasch on the day of the Paschal full moon, whatever the day of the week might be. Colman at the synod of Whitby had alleged St. Jn to whom the Asiatics had traced their tradition, as an authority for the Scottish usage. But Wilfrid truly alleged in reply that the question at issue between the Scots and Romans at that time was a different one, since both parties agreed in keeping Easter on a Sunday only. Still, Columban’s argument here is to the point as shewing that the Easterns had not objected to keeping Easter on the actual day of the Jewish Passover. It may be noted here how the authority of Victor, as well as of other popes is set at naught by S. Columbanus.
99 Sed hoc soporansi spina Dagonis, hoc imbibit bubum err oris. On these obscure expressions it may be observed that spina Dagonis evidently means what was left to the fish-god (rjavxi" in LXX)., after his head and hands had been severed. Gregory, in his comment on I Sam 5,, interprets it as denoting heathenism prostrate, and at length deprived of even the semblance of rationality, in the presence of the Gospel. which was represented by the ark. Columban may possibly have got the idea from Gregory’s own intreptation of the incident, and been pleased to use it against him). Bubum according to Du Cange is a late Latin word denoting senium, or languor, the noun bubula also being used in the sense of fabula. The idea seems to be that pope Victor’s view was a figment , worthy only to be received (or, as we might now say, swallowed) by senseless heathenism or wandering dotage.
100 Meaning Gildas.
101 Cum clientelis: meaning perhaps living with females of their own households as concubines, in distinction from open transgression. The word can hardly denote, as suggested by the Benedictine Editors, wives lawfully married before ordination.
102 De ultimis Heulini, litoris finibus.— “Loco Heulini esse legendum Hualini, vel Huelini constat ex contextu Hieronymiano. Est vox Gr(ca, a rad.u[alo", sive u[elo", vitrum, crystallus. Sic mare vocatur (Apocal. iv)). qavlassa ujalivnh. In Hieronymo hic legimus; De ultimis Hispaci( Gallarumque finibus” (note in Benedictine Edition). See above, note 8, as to the fondness of the old Irish writers for the use of Greek words.
103 Candidus had been sent by Gregory to Gaul as rector patrimonii there. See previous Epistles).
S. Gregory I, letters 29123