S. Gregory I, letters 20336

Epistle XXXVI. To Sabinus, Guardian (Defensorem).

20336 Gregory to Sabinus, Guardian of Sardinia.

Certain serious matters having come to our ears which require canonical correction, we therefore charge thy Experience not to neglect to cause Januarius, our brother and fellow-bishop, together with John the notary, to appear before us with all speed, all excuses being laid aside, that in his presence what has been reported to us may be subjected to a thorough investigation. Further, if the religious women Pompeiana and Theodosia, according to their request, should wish to come hither, afford them your succour in all ways, that they may be able, through your assistance, to accomplish their desires: but especially be careful by all means to bring with you the most eloquent Isidore, as he has requested, that, the merits of his case which he is known to have against the Church of Caralis having been fully gone into, he may be able to have it legally terminated.

Furthermore, some personal misdemeanours having been reported to us of the presbyter Epiphanius, it is necessary for you to investigate everything diligently, and to make haste to bring at the same time with you the women with whom he is said to have sinned, or others whom you suppose to know anything about the matter; that so the truth may be clearly laid open to the rigour of ecclesiastical discipline.

Now you will take care to accomplish all these things so efficiently as to lay yourself open to no blame for negligence, knowing that it will be entirely at your peril if this our order should in any way be slackly executed.

Epistle XXXVIII. To Libertinus, Praefect

20338 25 .
Gregory to Libertinus, Praefect of Sicily.

 From the very beginning of your administration God has willed you to go forth to vindicate His cause, and of His mercy has reserved for you this reward, with praise attending it. For it is reported that one Nasas, a most wicked Jew, has with a temerity that calls for punishment erected an altar under the name of the blessed Elias, and by sacrilegious seduction has enticed many Christians to worship there; nay, has also, it is said, acquired Christian slaves, and devoted them to his own service and profit. Whilst, then, he ought to have been most severely punished for such great crimes, the glorious Justinus26 , soothed (as has been written to us) by the charm of avarice, put off avenging the injury done to God. But let your Glory institute a strict examination into all these things, and, if it should be found manifest that such things have been done, make haste to visit them most strictly and corporally on this wicked Jew, in such sort that you may thereby both conciliate the favour of God to yourself, and shew yourself by this example, to your own reward, a model to posterity. Moreover, set at liberty, without any equivocation, according to the injunctions of the laws27 , whatever Christian slaves it shall appear that he has acquired; lest (which God forbid) the Christian religion should be polluted by being subjected to Jews. Do you therefore with all speed correct these things most strictly, that not only may we give thanks to you for this discipline, but also bear testimony to your goodness in case of need.

25 In some mss. proetori, in others exproetori. It seems probable from the contents of this letter that Libertinus had succeeded Justinus (see (I. 2) as proetor of Sicily.
26 See I. 2).

Epistle XLV. To Andrew, Bishop.

20345 Gregory to Andrew, Bishop of Tarentum [Taranto, in Calabria].

A man may look without alarm to the tribunal of the eternal Judge, if only, conscious of his own guilt, he strives to pacify Him by befitting penitence. Now that thou hadst a concubine we find to be manifestly true, with regard to whom also an adverse suspicion has arisen in the minds of some. But, since in doubtful cases judgment ought not to be absolute, we have chosen to leave the matter to thine own conscience. If, then, after being constituted in sacred orders thou rememberest having been defiled by carnal intercourse, thou must resign the dignity of priesthood, nor presume by any means to approach its ministration, knowing that thou wilt administer it to the peril of thy soul, and without doubt have to render an account to our God, if, being conscious of this crime, thou shouldest desire to continue in the order wherein thou art, concealing the truth. Wherefore we again exhort thee that, if thou knowest thyself to have been deceived by the craft of the ancient foe, thou hasten to overcome him, while thou mayest, by adequate penitence, lest, as we hope may not be, thou be reckoned as partner with him in the day of judgment. If, however, thou art not conscious of this guilt, thou must needs continue in the order wherein thou art.

Furthermore, since, against due order, thou didst doom a woman on the Church-roll28 to be cruelly beaten with cudgels, although we do not think that she died eight months after wards, yet. because thou hast had no regard to thy order, we therefore sentence thee to abstain for two months from the administration of mass. Meanwhile, being suspended from thy office, it will become thee to weep for what thou hast done. For it is very right that, now that the examples of praiseworthy priests do not provoke thee to the tranquil rectitude befitting thy position, at any rate the medicine of correction should compel thee.

27 In Cod). lib. 1, tit.10; “Judoeus servum Christianum nec comparare debebit, nec largitatis aut alioquocungue titulo consequetur. Quod si aliquis Judoeorum . . . , non solum mancipii damno multetur, verum etiam capitali sententia puniatur.” Eusebius also (De Vita Constantini, lib. 4,c. 27) speaks of a 1aw passed by Constantine forbiding Jews to have Christian slaves, and ordering any that might be found to be set at liberty, and the Jew to be fined. Cf. II. 21.
28 Mulierem de matriculis). Matricula was probably a list or roll of names of widows and other who were supported by the Church.

Epistle XLVI. To John, Bishop.

20346 Gregory to John, Bishop of Calliopolis [Gallipoli, in Calabria].

From the reports sent to us by thy Fraternity it appears that Andrew, our brother and fellow-bishop, undoubtedly had a concubine. But, since it is uncertain whether he has touched her while constituted in sacred orders, it is necessary that thou shouldest warn him with earnest exhortation that, if he knows himself to have had intercourse with her while in sacred orders, he should retire from the office which he holds, and minister no longer. And if, though conscious of having done this thing, he should conceal his sin and presume to minister, let him know that peril hangs over his soul in the divine judgment.

As to the woman on the Church-roll, whom he caused to be chastised with cudgels, though we do not believe that she died eight months afterwards, yet, since he caused her to be thus punished inconsistently with his sacred calling, do thou suspend him for two months from the solemnization of mass, that at any rate this disgrace may teach him how to behave himself in future.

Moreover, the clergy of the aforesaid bishop, in a petition presented to us, which is subjoined below, allege that they endure much ill-treatment from him. Wherefore let thy Fraternity take care to ascertain all these things accurately, and so to correct and arrange them in a reasonable way that they may be under no necessity hereafter of resorting hither on account of this matter. In the month of July, indiction 11.

Epistle XLVII. To the Clergy of the Church of Salona

20347 29 .
Gregory to the clergy, &c.

Having read your letter, beloved, we learn that you have made choice of Honoratus your archdeacon; and know ye that it is altogether pleasing to us that you have chosen for the order of episcopacy a man tried of old and of grave manner of life. We too join with you in approbation of his personal character, inasmuch as it is already known to us; and it has been our own wish also that he should be ordained as your priest according to your desire. For which cause we exhort you to persist in his election without any ambiguity. Nor ought any circumstances to disincline you from his person, since, as this laudable choice is now approved, so it will impose both aburden on your souls and a stain of unfaithfulness on your reputation, if any one should seduce you (which God forbid) to turn aside your love from him. But as to those who are not at one with you in this desired election, we have caused them to be admonished by Antoninus our subdeacon, that they may be able to agree with you. To him also we have already given our injunctions as to what ought to be done with respect to the person of our brother and fellow-bishop Malchus30 . But, inasmuch as we have ourselves also written to him, we believe that he will without delay keep himself quiet from disquieting you. If by any chance he should in any way whatever neglect to obey, his contumacy will in every way be mulcted with the utmost rigour of canonical punishment).

29 For notice of the Metropolitan See of Salona, and Gregory’s dealings with its former bishop Natalis, see II. 18, note 3. The appointment of a successor to Natalis engaged Gregory in a longstruggle for maintenance of his authority over the Illyyrican churches, which on this occasion seems to have been, for some time at least, slightly regarded. What took place, as gathered from his extant letters, may be thus summarised. Immediately on hearing of the death of Natalis he wrote to Antoninus, the rector patrimonii in Dalmatia, charging him to see to the canonical election of a successor and to its notification, when made, to himself, that it might be approved, as was customary, by the See of Rome (III. 22). This was in the 11th Indiction, i.e. between Sept.a.d.592 and Sept.a.d.593. Subsequently. having been informed that the clergy of Salona had elected their archdeacon Honoratus, he wrote to them in the letter before us approving their choice, and exhorting them to stick to it, being evidently aware of a party opposed to it. This Honoratus was the man whom he had previously supported against Bishop Natalis, who had attempted to deprive him of his archdeaconry. See II. 18, 19, 20; III. 32. Hence it was not improbable that the election of Honoratus would be opposed by the partizans of the late bishop who, as appears from his correspondence with Gregory, had been a convivial man, with a pleasant vein of wit, and thus likely to be popular with many. But, whatever the cause, Gregory before long received the startling intelligence that not only had the election of Honoratus, confirmed by himself, been set aside, but that another candidate, one Maximus, had been actually ordained under the alleged authority of an order from the Emperor. This defiance of his authority was the more offensive as he had already, having apparently got wind of the candidature of Maximus, prohibited his ordination under pain of excommunication of both him and his ordainers (IV. 10). He accordingly wrote a strongly-worded letter (IV. 20), dated May,a.d.594, prohibiting Maximus from undertaking any episcopal functions, and from officiating at the altar, till it should be ascertained whether the emperor had really ordered his consecretion. But Maximus treated this prohibition with contempt and appealed against the Pope to the Emperor, who thereupon wrote to Gregory, requesting him to condone the fact of the ordination having taken place without his assent, and bidding him receive Maximus with honour if he should resort to Rome, as he was apparently desired to do. This was at the time when John Jejunator, the patriarch of Constantinople, had recently incensed Gregory by his assumption of the title of Universal Bishop, and when the latter was urging the Emperor to disallow the title. Writing on this subject to the Empress Constantina, he alludes also to the case of Maximus, hoping through her whose religious reverence for St. Peter he appeals to, to move the Emperor. In his letter to her (V. 72), written in the 13th Indiction (594–5), he consents, in deference to the Emperor’s wish, to look over the fact of Maximus having been ordained without his leave; but he insists on his appearing at Rome to answer to other charges, including especially that of simony, and his having disregarded the excommunication pronounced against him. He also protests strongly against his bishops being allowed to appeal to the secular power in ecclesiastical causes. But he did not thus move the Emperor, who appears from one of Gregory’s letters to Maximus (VI. 25) to have directed any charges against the latter to be entertained in his own locality rather than at Rome. Meanwhile Maximus continued to disregard Gregory’s, repeated letters summoning him to Rome, being apparently supported by a majority of his own people and of his suffragan bishops. For in a letter to the Salonitans (VI. 26). written in the 14th Indiction (395–6), Gregory expresses his surprise that Honoratus alone among the clergy of Salona, and one only of the suffragan bishops, had refused to communicate with Maximus, notwithstanding his excommunication. However, as time went on, Gregory’s persistence seems to have had some effect. In the 15th Indiction (596–7) one of the suffragan bishops, Sabinianus of Jadera, who had previously communicated with Maximus, deserts him, and is invited by Gregory to come to Rome to be absolved,and to bring with him any other whom he could persuade to come (VII. 15) Sabinianus did not go, but retired for a time to a monastery by way of expressing penitence, afer which Gregory in the following year granted him full absolution (VIII. 10, 24). Perhaps about a year later, in the 2nd Indiction (IX. 5) we find Gregory writing to Marcellus, the proconsul of Dalmatia, in reply to a letter from him in which he had expressed his regret for being apparently out of favour with the pope, and his wish to be reconciled. This Marcellus had been, according to what Gregory says in his reply, the prime and original abettor of Maximus; and it would seem that he had now become desirous of cominig to terms with the pope. In the same year we find a letter to one Julianus, described as Scribo, at Salona, who had addressed Gregory with a view to peace, asserting that Maximus enjoyed both the affection of his people and the favour of the court (IX. 41). In replying to both these correspondents Gregory shews no signs of giving way: but in the same Indiction (588–9) he did give way to an extent that seems at first sight surprising, considering the resolute tone of his previous correspondence. He may have been partly moved to make some concession by such letters as those from Marcellus and Julianus, testifying to the character of Maximus and to the support he continued to receive; but the intercessor who really prevailed with him at last appears evidently to have been Callinicus, Exarch of Italy,resident at Ravenna, to whom Maximus had applied after failing to induce the Emperor himself to interfere. In one of his letters (IX. 67), Gregory says that Maximus, having failed to influence “the greater powers of the world” in his behalf, had betaken himself to the lesser ones, and implies that it was to their intercession that the concession he was prepared to make was due. It may be supposed that by “the greater power” are meant the imperial family, and that among “the lesser” Callinicus was at any rate the most influential: for in writing to the latter (IX. 9) he says, “In the cause of Maximus we can no longer resist the importunity of thy Sweetness;” and again to Marinianus, bishop of Ravenna, “I have received repeated and pressing letters from my most excellent son the lord exarch Callinicus in behalf of Maximus. Overcome by his importunity, &c.” (IX. 10). Nor is the reason far to seek why the intercession of Callinicus should at that particular time prevail. For Gregory was in correspondence with him, and most anxious to secure his co-operation, in the reconciliation to the Roman Church of the Istrian bishops, who had so far been out of communion with Rome in the matter of “the Three Chapters” and was therefore likely to wish to oblige him. However induced, he now consented that Maximus should appear not before himself at Rome as he had before so resolutely insisted, but before Marinianus, bishop of Ravenna, and promised to accede to whatever the latter might determine (IX. 10). Nay, he even accepted the proposal of Marinianus that the charges against Maximus should not be investigated at all, but that a declaration on oath by the accused of his own innocence should be accepted as a sufficient purgation; requiring only that he should do such penance as the bishop of Ravenna might impose for having disregarded the excommunicition pronounced at Rome (IX. 79, 80). He wrote also to Constantius, bishop of Milan requesting him to proceed to Ravenna in order to act in concert with Marinianus in case of Maximus not having confidence in the latter (IX. 67). But the bishop of Ravenna appears to have acted alone: and the result was that Maximus was acquitted of simony and all other charges, and, after doing the penance assigned by Marinianus at Ravenna, was, seven years after his ordination, cordially received by Gregory into commuunion, and had the pallium sent him (IX. 81, 82, 125). The epistles to be consulted for a view of the whole proceedings are III. 22, 47; IV. 10, 20, 47; V. 21; VI. 3, 25, 26, 27; VII. 17; VIII. 10, 24; IX. 5, 10, 41, 67, 79, 80, 81, 82, 125).
30 See III. 22).

Epistle XLVIII. To Columbus, Bishop

20348 31 .

Gregory to Columbus, &c.

Even before receiving thy Fraternity’s letter, I knew thee from the report of thy deserved reputation to be a good servant of God. And now that I have received it, I understand more fully that what fame had already spread abroad was well founded; and I greatly rejoice in thy deserts, in that thou exhibitest manners and deeds that testify to a praiseworthy life. Since, then, I feel that these things are conferred on thee by the Supernal Majesty, I congratulate thee; and I bless God our Creditor, who denies not the gifts of His mercy to His humble servants. On this account I declare it to be true that thy Fraternity so kindles me with the flame of charity to love thee, and my spirit is so united to thee, that I both desire to see thee and am also with thee in heart, though absent. Thou perceivest in thine own thoughts that this is so. For in truth unity of minds in charity has power to unite more than bodily presence can. Furthermore, that with thy whole mind, thy whole heart, thy whole soul, thou cleavest and art devoted to the Apostolic See I am now assured, as, indeed before thy letter had borne testimony to the fact, I plainly knew. Wherefore, first addressing thee with the greeting of charity which is due, I exhort thee not to cease to be mindful of what thou hast promised to the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles.

Wherefore be thou urgent with the primate of thy synod32 , that boys be in no wise admitted to sacred orders, lest they fall by so much the more dangerously as they hasten more speedily to mount to higher places. Let there be no venality in ordination: let not the influence or entreaty of any persons obtain anything in contravention of these our prohibitions. For without doubt God is offendedif any one is promoted to sacred orders, not for merit, but by favour (which God forbid) or venality.

If, then, thou art aware of these things being done, keep not silence, but oppose them urgently; since, if perchance thou shouldest neglect them, or conceal them when known of, the chain of sin will bind not those alone who do such things, but no light guilt before God will touch thee also in the matter. If, then, anything of the kind is committed, it ought to be restrained by canonical punishment, lest so great a wickedness, with sin in others, acquire strength from connivance.

I have, therefore, the sooner given leave of departure to the bearer of these presents, Victorinus, thy Fraternity’s deacon, whom I think to be thy imitator, and whom I have received with charity; and by him I have transmitted to thee for a blessing keys of the blessed Peter, in which something from his chains is included.

Lastly, with regard to the unity and peace of the council which, under God, you are taking measures to assemble, let thy Charity rejoice my mind by informing me of everything particularly.

31 See II. 48, note 8.
32 With regard to Primates in Africa, see I. 74, note 9. The primate of Numidia at this time was Adeodatus. See below, Ep. 49).

Epistle XLIX. To Adeodatus, Bishop.

20349 Gregory to Adeodatus, Primate bishop of the province of Numidia.

After what manner the charity of affection has bound your Fraternity to usward the tenour of your letters has evidently shewn; and they bare afforded us great matter of rejoicing, in that we have found them to be composed in a spirit of loving-kindness, and to glow with affection well-pleasing to God. As, then, we have briefly said, the epistle which you have addressed to us has so laid open your mind that its author might be supposed not to be absent from us at all. For, indeed, persons are not to be accounted absent whose feelings are not at variance with mutual charity. And though, as you say in your letter, neither your strength nor your age allow you to come to us, that we might be gratified by the bodily presence of your Fraternity, yet, seeing that we are one with you and you with us in feeling, we are entirely present one to the other, while we see each other in a mind made one through love. Furthermore, greeting your Fraternity with the suitable affection of charity, we exhort you that you study with all your heart so to acquit yourself wisely in the office of primacy which under God you hold, that it may both profit your soul to have attained to this rank, and that you may stand out as a good example for imitation to others in the future.

Be, then, especially careful with regard to ordination; and by no means admit any to aspire to sacred orders but such as are somewhat advanced in age and pure in deeds, lest perchance they cease for ever to be what they immaturely haste to be. For you must first examine the life and manners of those who are to be placed in any sacred order; and, that you may be able to admit such as are worthy to this office, let not the influence or the entreaty of any persons whatever inveigle you. But before all things it behoves you to be cautious that no venality may have place in ordination, lest (which God forbid) the greater danger hang over both the ordained and the ordainers. If ever, then, there is need for such things to be taken in hand, call grave and experienced men into your counsels, and consider the matter in common deliberation with them. And before all others it is fit that you should in all cases call in Columbus our brother and fellow-bishop. For we believe that, if you shall have done what is to be done with his advice, no one will find anything in any way to find fault with in you; and know ye that it will be as acceptable to us as if it had been done with our advice; inasmuch as his life and manners have in all respects so approved themselves to us that it is clearly apparent to all that what is done with his consent will be darkened by no blot of faultiness. But the bearer of these presents, Victorians, deacon of our fellow-bishop above-named, has been such a herald of your merits as exceedingly to refresh our spirits With regard to your behaviour. And we pray the Almighty Lord to cause the good that has been reported of you to shine forth more fully in operation as well-pleasing to Him. When, therefore, the council which you are taking measures to assemble has, with the succor of God, been brought to a conclusion, rejoice us by telling of its unity and concord, and give us information on all points,

Epistle LI. To Maximianus, Bishop.

Gregory to Maximinianus, Bishop of Syracuse33 .

My brethren who live with me familiarly urge me by all means to write something briefly about the miracles of the Fathers done in Italy, which we have heard of. With this view I am in great need of the assistance of your Charity, to mention to me shortly what comes back to your memory, and what you happen to have known. For I remember your telling me something, which I have now forgotten, about the Lord34 Abbot Nonnosus, who was with the Lord35 Anastasius of Pentomi36 . And therefore this, or anything else, I beg thee to communicate to me by letter without delay, if indeed thou art not intending to come to me thyself shortly.

33 See II. 7, note 5.
34 Domno., “Abbas autem, quia vices Christi agere creditur, Domnus et Abbas vocetur.” Regula S. Benedicti, c. 63.
35 Domno., “Abbas autem, quia vices Christi agere creditur, Domnus et Abbas vocetur.” Regula S. Benedicti, c. 63.
36 The miracles attributed to Nonnosus,which are here referredto, are told in Dialog. I. 7, as having been communicated to Gregory by Maximianus and an old monk called Laurio. Nonnosos, at the time when they were wrought, had been Prior under Anastasiaus of a monastery on the summit of Mount Soracte.

Epistle LIII. To John, Bishop.

20353 Gregory to John, Bishop of Constantinople37 .

Though consideration of the case moves me, yet charity also impels me to write, since I have written once and again to my most holy brother the Lord John, but have received no letter from him. For some one else, a secular person, addressed me under his name; seeing that, if those were really his letters, I have not been vigilant, having believed of him something far different from what I have found. For I had written about the case of the most reverend presbyter John, and about the questions of the monks of Isauria, one of whom, being in priest’s orders, has been beaten with clubs in your church; and thy most holy Fraternity (as appears from the signature of the letter) has written back to me professing ignorance of what I wrote about. At this reply I was exceedingly astonished, revolving within myself in silence, if he speaks the truth, what can be worse than that such things should be done against the servants of God, and even he who was close at hand should not know? For what. excuse can a shepherd have if the wolf devours the sheep and the shepherd knows it not? But, if your Holiness knew both what I referred to in my letter and what had been done, whether against John the presbyter or against Athanasius, monk of Isauria and presbyter, and wrote to me, I know not; what can I reply to this, since the Truth says through His Scripture, The mouth that lieth slayeth the soul (
Sg 1,11)? I demand of thee, most holy brother; has that so great abstinence of thine come to this, that by denial thou wouldest hide from thy brother what thou knewest to have been done? Had it not been better that flesh should go into that mouth for food, than that falsehood should come out of it for deceiving a neighbour; especially when the Truth says, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man (Mt 15,11)? But far be it from me to believe anything of the kind of your most holy heart. Those letters were headed with your name, but I do not think they were yours. I had written to the most blessed Lord John; but I believe that that familiar of yours has replied,—that youngster, who as yet has learnt nothing about God; who knows not the bowels of charity; who in his wicked doings is accused by all; who daily lays snares against the deaths of divers people by means of concealed wills; who neither fears God nor regards men. Believe me, most holy brother, you must first correct this man, that from the example of those who are near to you those who are not near may be better amended. Do not give ear to his tongue: he ought to be directed after the counsel of your holiness; not your holiness swayed by his words. For, if you listen to him, I know that you cannot have peace with your brethren. For I, as my conscience bears me witness, wish to quarrel with no man; and with all my power I avoid it. And, though I desire exceedingly to be at peace with all mankind, it is especially so with you, whom I exceedingly love, if only you are yourself the person whom I knew. For, if you do not observe the canous, and wish to tear to pieces the statutes of the Fathers, I know not who you are. So act, then, most holy and most dear brother, that we may mutually recognize each other, lest, if the ancient foe should move us two to take offence, he slay many through his most atrocious victory. As for me, to shew that I seek to do nothing in a haughty spirit, if that youngster of whom I have before spoken did not hold the topmost place of evil doing with thy Fraternity, I could meanwhile have passed over in silence what is ready to my hand from the canons, and have sent back to thee with confidence the persons who came to me at the first, knowing that your Holiness would receive them with charity. But even now I say; Either receive these same persons, restoring them to their orders, and leaving them in quiet; or, if perchance thou art unwilling to do this, observe in their case the statutes of the Fathers and the definitions of the canons, putting aside all altercation with me. But, if thou shouldest do neither, we indeed are unwilling to bring on a quarrel, but still do not shun one if it comes from your side. Moreover your Fraternity knows well what the canons say about bishops who desire to inspire fear by blows. For we have been made shepherds, not persecutors. And the excellent preacher says, Argue, beseech, rebuke, with all longsuffering and doctrine (2Tm 4,2). But new and unheard of is this preaching, which exacts faith by blows. But I need not speak at length by letter about these things, since I have sent my most beloved son, the deacon Sabinianus, as my representative in ecclesiastical matters, to the threshold of our lords; and he will speak with you about everything more particularly. Unless you are disposed to wrangle with us, you will find him prepared for all that is just. Him I commend to your Blessedness, that he at least may find that Lord John whom I knew in the royal city.

37 (Jn Jejunator (or the Faster), so called from his ascetic habits. Gregory had known and esteemed him during his residence at Constantinople. See above, III. 4. The occasion of the letter before us was as follows. Two presbyters, John of Chalcedon and Athanasius of Isauria (the latter being also a monk in the monastery of St. Mile in Isauria), had been accused of heresy at Constantinople, found guilty, and one of them beaten with cudgels in the church. They had gone to Rome to lay their grievances before the pope, who had written to John Jejunator the Patriarch more than once to protest against so uncanonical a punishment. The Patriarch seems to have replied that he knew nothing about the matter: whereupon Gregory sent him this stinging letter. In the following year (593–4), it appears from a letter to Narses, a patrician at Constantinople, that the case was still pending. Narses had reported the Patriarch as wishing to act canonically; and Gregory, doubtfully hoping so, threatens strong measures if it should be otherwise (IV. 32). Afterwards (a.d.594–5) it seems as if the Patriarch had written on the subject pleasantly: for at the end of a long letter to him protesting against his assumption of the title of “Oecumenical Bishop,” Gregory alludes to his “scripta dulcissima atque suavissima” in the matter of John and Athanasius, promising a reply (V. 18). In the following year (a.d.595–6) we find that the charges of heresy against the two presbyters had been entertained before Gregory in a Roman synod; and this apparently with the assent of the Patriarch, who had transmitted a statement of the case. John of Chalcedon had been fully acquitted of heresy; but some doubt still remained as to the orthodoxy of Athanasius. Accordingly John was at once sent back to Constantinople with a letter from Gregory to the Patriarch, reversing the sentence against him which had been passed at Constantinople and demanding that he should be received with favour and reinstated. As though doubtful of the Patriarch’s compliance, Gregory addressed also the Emperor, and Theoctistus, a relation of the Emperor’s, requesting them to protect the acquitted appellant (VI. 14, 15, 16, 17). In the same year Athanasius, who had explained or retracted what had been objected to in his writings, was also declared orthodox, and sent back to Constantinople as acquitted. But this was after the death of John Jejunator; and accordingly the letter demanding the reinstatement of Athanasius was addressed to his successor Cyriacus (VI. 66; VII. 5). How John Jejunator would have acted at this stage of the proceedings, had he lived, we have no means of knowing; nor is there record of the action of Cyriacus. The only further reference to the subject in the epistles is in one to the two Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch (VII. 34), in writing to whom Gregory sets forth at some length the doctrinal questions that had been treated in the trial of Athanasius, as though desirous of having the assent of those apostolical and patriarchal sees, which (as we have seen) he elsewhere acknowledges as sharing with his own the authority of St. Peter, to the decision come to at Rome. The whole history of the case, which, as has been seen, was protracted through several years, is of some importance as illustrating Gregory’s claim to entertain appeals from Constantinople, and to reverse at Rome what had been decided there, though it is not equally clear, from what is before us in this particular case, how such claims were viewed at Constantinople. On the one hand we find no sign of the appeal of the two presbyters to Rome having been objected to; while on the other, Gregory evidently had his doubts as to whether the Roman decision would be acted on at Constantinople; and whether it was so or not we do not know. The letters about it, above referred to, are III. 53; IV. 32; V. 18; VI. 14, 15, 16, 17, 66; VII. 5, 34).

S. Gregory I, letters 20336