Epistle XXXIII. To Romanus, Patrician, and Exarch of Italy.
Gregory to Romanus, &c.
Even though there were no immediate cause for writing to your Excellency, yet we ought to shew solicitude for your health and safety so as to learn through frequent intercommumcation what we desire to hear about you. Besides, it has come to our knowledge that Blandus, bishop of the city of Hortanumhyperlink , has been detained now for a long time by your Excellency in the city of Ravenna. And the result is that the Church decays, being without a ruler, and the people as being without a shepherd; and infants there, for their sins, die without baptismhyperlink . And again, since we do not believe that your Excellency has detained him except on the ground of some probable transgression, it is proper that a synod should be held to bring to light any crime that is charged against him. And, if such fault is found in him as to lead to his degradation from the priesthood, it is necessary that we should look out for another to be ordained, lest the Church of God should remain nu-tended, and destitute in what the Christian religion does not allow it to be without. But, if your Excellency should perceive that the case is otherwise with him than it is said to be, allow him, I pray you, to return to his church, that he may fulfil his duty to the souls committed to his charge.
The month of March; the ninth Indiction.
Epistle XXXIV. To Venantius, Ex-Monk, Patrician of Syracusehyperlink .
Gregory to Venantius, &c.
Many foolish men have supposed that, if I were advanced to the rank of the episcopate, I should decline to address thee, or to keep up communication with thee by letter. But this is not so; since I am compelled by the very necessity of my position not to hold my peace. For it is written, Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet (Isai. lviii. I). And again it is written, I have given thee for a watchman unto the house of Israel, thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and declare it to them from me (Ezek. iii. 17). And what follows to the watchman or to the hearer from such declaration being kept back or uttered is forthwith intimated; If, when I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, thou declare it not to him, nor speak to him, that he may turn from his wicked way and live, the wicked man himself shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou declare it to the wicked, and he turn not from his iniquity and from his wicked way, he himself indeed shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul. Hence also Paul says to the Ephesians, My hands are pure this day from the blood of all of you. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God (Acts xx. 26, 27). He would not, then, have been pure from the blood of all, had he refused to declare unto them the counsel of God. For when the pastor refuses to rebuke those that sin, there is no doubt that in holding his peace he slays them. Compelled, therefore, by this consideration, I will speak whether you will or no; for with all my powers I desire either thee to be saved or myself to be rescued from thy death. For thou rememberest in what state of life thou wast, and knowest to what thou hast fallen without regard to the animadversion of supernal strictness. Consider, then, thy fault while there is time; dread, while thou canst, the severity of the future judge; lest thou then find it bitter, having shed no tears to avoid it now. Consider what is written; Pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day (Matth. xxiv. 20). For the numbness of cold impedes walking in the winter, and, according to the ordinance of the law, it is not lawful to walk on the Sabbath day. He, then, attempts to fly in the winter or on the Sabbath day, who then wishes to fly from the wrath of the strict Judge when it is no longer allowed him to walk. Wherefore, while there is time, while it is allowed, fly thou from the animadversion which is of so great dreadfulness: consider what is written; Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is neither work, nor device, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou hastenest (Eccles. ix. 10). By the witness of the Gospel thou knowest that divine severity accuses us for idle talk, and demands a strict account of an unprofitable word (Matth. xii. 36). Consider, then, what it will do for perverse doing, if in its judgment it reprobates some for talking. Ananias had vowed money to God (Acts v. 2 seq.), which, afterwards, overcome by diabolical persuasion, he withheld. But by what death he was mulcted thou knowest. If then he was deserving of the penalty of death who withdrew the money which he had given to God, consider of how great penalty thou wilt be deserving in the divine judgment, who hast withdrawn, not money, but thyself, from Almighty God, to whom thou hadst devoted thyself in the monastic state of life. Wherefore, if thou wilt hear the words of my rebuke so as to follow them, thou wilt come to know in the end how kind and sweet they are. Lo, I confess it, I speak mourning and constrained by sorrow for what thou hast done. I scarce can utter words; and yet thy mind, conscious of guilt, is hardly able to bear what it hears, blushes, is confounded, remonstrates. If, then, it cannot bear the words of dust, what will it do at the judgment of the Creator? And yet I acknowledge the exceeding mercy of heavenly grace, in that it beholds thee flying from life, and nevertheless still reserves thee for life; that it sees thee acting proudly, and still bears with thee; that through its unworthy servants it administers to thee words of rebuke and admonition. So great a thing is this that thou oughtest anxiously to ponder on what Paul says; We exhort you, brethren that ye receive not the grace of God in vain: for he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee. Behold now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. vi. 1 seq.).
But I know that, when my letter is received, forthwith friends come about thee, thy literary clients are called in, and advice about the purpose of life is sought from the promoters of death; who, loving not thee, but what belongs to thee, tell thee nothing but what may please thee at the time. For such, as thou thyself rememberest, were those thy former counsellors, who drew thee on to the perpetration of so great a sin. To quote to thee something from a secular authorhyperlink , "All things should be considered with friends, but the friends themselves should be considered first." But, if in thy case thou seekest an adviser, take me, I pray thee, as thy adviser. For no one can be more to be relied on for advice than one who loves not what is thine, but thee. May Almighty God make known to thy heart with what love and with what charity my heart embraces thee, though so far only as not to offend against divine grace. For I so attack thy fault as to love thy person; I so love thy person as not to embrace the viciousness of thy fault. If, therefore, thou believest that I love thee, approach the threshold of the apostles, and use me as an adviser. But if perchance I am supposed to be too keen in the cause of God, and am suspected for the ardour of my zeal, I will call the whole Church together into counsel on this question, and whatever all are of opinion should be done for good, this I will in no wise contradict, but gladly fulfil and subscribe to what is decided in common. May Divine grace keep thee while accomplishing what I have warned thee to do.
Epistle XXXV. To Peter, Bishop of Terracina.
Gregory to Peter, &c.
Joseph, a Jew, the bearer of these presents, has informed us that, the Jews dwelling in the camp of Terracina having been accustomed to assemble in a certain place for celebrating their festivities, thy Fraternity had expelled them thence, and that they had migrated, and this with thy knowledge and consent, to another place for in like manner observing their festivities; and now they complain that they have been expelled anew from this same place. But, if it is so, we desire thy Fraternity to abstain from giving cause of complaint of this kind, and that they be allowed, as has been the custom, to assemble in the place which, as we have already said, they had obtained with thy knowledge for their place of meeting. For those who dissent from the Christian religion must needs be gathered together to unity of faith by gentleness, kindness, admonition, persuasion, lest those whom the sweetness of preaching and the anticipated terror of future judgment might have invited to believe should be repelled by threats and terrors. It is right, then, that they should come together kindly to hear the word of God from you rather than that they should become afraid of overstrained austerity.
Epistle XXXVI. To Peter the Subdeacon.
Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Peter the Subdeacon.
The code of instructions which I gave thee on thy going to Sicily must be diligently perused, so that the greatest care may be taken concerning bishops, lest they mix themselves up in secular causes, except so far as the necessity of defending the poor compels them. But what is inserted in the same code concerning monks or clerics ought, I think, in no respect to be varied from. But let thy Experience observe these things with such great attention as may fulfil my desire in this regard. Further, it has come to my ears that from the times of Antoninus, the defensor, till now, during these last ten years, many persons have endured certain acts of violence from the Roman Church, so that some publicly complain of their boundaries having been violently invaded, their slaves abstracted, and their moveables carried off by force, and not by any judicial process. In all such cases I desire thy Experience to keep intent watch, and whatsoever during these last ten years may be found to have been taken away by violence, or retained unjustly in the name of the Church, to restore it by authority of this my order to him to whom it is found to belong; lest he who has suffered violence should be obliged to come to me, and undertake the labour of so long a journey, in which case it could not be ascertained here before me whether or not he spoke the truth. Having regard, then, to the majesty of the Judge who is to come, restore all things that have been sinfully taken away, knowing that thou bringest great gain to me, if thou gatherest [heavenly] reward rather than riches. But we have ascertained that what the greater part complain of is the loss of their slaves, saying that, if any man's bondman, peradventure running away from his master, has declared himself to belong to the Church, the rectorshyperlink of the Church have at once kept him as a bondman belonging to the Church, without any trial of the case, but supporting with a high hand the word of the bondman. This displeases me as much as it is abhorrent from the judgment of truth. Wherefore I desire thy Experience to correct without delay whatever may be found to have been so done: and it is also fit that any such slaves as are now kept in ecclesiastical possession, as they were taken away without trial, should be restored before trial; so that, if holy Church has any legitimate claim to them, their possessors may then be dispossessed by regular process of law. Correct all these things irretractably, since thou wilt be truly a soldier of the blessed apostle Peter if in his causes thou keep guard over the truth, even without his receiving anything. But, if thou seest anything that may justly be claimed as belonging to the Church, beware lest thou ever try to assert such claim by force; especially as I have established a decree under pain of anathema, that tituli may not ever be put by our Church on any urban or rural farmhyperlink ; but whatever may in reason be claimed for the poor ought also to be defended by reason; lest, a good thing being done in a manner that is not good, we be convicted of injustice before Almighty God even in what we justly seek. Moreover, I pray thee, let noble laymen, and the glorious [Praetor]hyperlink love thee for thy humility, not dread thee for thy pride. And yet, if by any chance thou knowest them to be doing any injustice to the indigent, turn thy humility at once into exaltation, so as to be always submissive to them when they do well, and opposed to them when they do ill. But so behave that neither thy humility be remiss nor thy authority stiff, to the end that uprightness season humility, and humility render thy very uprightness gentle. Further, since it has been customary for bishops to assemble here for the anniversaryhyperlink of the pontiff, forbid their coming for the day of my ordination, since foolish and vain superfluity delights me not. But if they must needs assemble, let them come for the anniversaryhyperlink of Peter, the prince of the apostles, to render thanks to him by whose bounty they are pastors. Farewell. Given this XVII day of the Kalends of April, in the ninth year of the Emperor Mauricius.
We charged thee on thy departure, and remember to have afterwards enjoined on thee by letter, to take care of the poor, and, if thou shouldest find any in those parts to be in want, to inform me by letter: and thou hast been at pains to do this with regard to very few. Now, I desire that, as soon as thou hast received this present order, thou offer to Pateria, my father's sister, forty solidi for shoe-money for her boys, and four hundred modii of wheat; to the lady Palatina, the widow of Urbicus, twenty solidi and three hundred modii of wheat; to the lady Viviana, widow of Felix, twenty solidi and three hundred modii of wheat. And let all these eighty solidi be charged together in thy accounts. But bring hither with speed the sum of thy receipts, and be here, with the Lord's help, by Easter Day.
Epistle XLI. To Peter, Subdeacon.
Gregory to Peter, &c.
The venerable Paulinus bishop of the city of Taurum (Taurianum in Brutia), has told us that his monks have been scattered by reason of barbaric invasions, and that they are now wandering through the whole of Sicily, and that, being without a ruler, they neither have a care of their souls, nor pay attention to the discipline of their profession. On this account we enjoin thee to search out with all care and diligence, and collect together, these same monks, and to place them with the said bishop, their ruler, in the monastery of Saint Theodorus situate in the city of Messana, that both such as are there now, whom we find to be in need of a ruler, and those of his congregation whom you may have found and brought back, may be able, under his leadership, to serve the Almighty Lord together. Know also that we have signified this matter to the venerable Felix, bishop of the same city, lest anything ordained in the diocese committed to him should be disturbed without his knowledge.Epistle XLII.
John, our brother and fellow-bishop, in a schedule sent to us by his cleric Justus, has among many other things intimated to us as follows: that some monks of the diocese of Surrentumhyperlink transmigrate from monastery to monastery as they please, and depart from the rule of their own abbot out of desire for a worldly life; nay even (what is known to be unlawful) that they aim severally at having property of their own. Wherefore we command thy Experience by this present order, that no monk be henceforth allowed to migrate from monastery to monastery, and that thou permit not any one of them to have anything of his own. But, if any one whatever should so presume, let him be sent back with adequate constraint to the monastery in which he lived at first, to be under the rule of his own abbot from which he had escaped; lest, if we allow so great an iniquity to take its course uncorrected, the souls of those that are lost be required from the souls of their superiors. Further, if any of the clergy should chance to become monks, let it not be lawful for them to return anew to the same church in which they had formerly served, or to any other; unless one should be a monk of such a life that the bishop under whom he had formerly served should think him worthy of the priesthood, so that he may be chosen by him, and by him ordained to such place as he may think fit. And since we have learnt that some among the monks have plunged into such great wickedness as publicly to take to themselves wives, do thou seek them out with all vigilance, and, when found, send them back with due constraint to the monasteries of which they had been monks. But neglect not to deal also with the clergy who profess monasticism, as we have said above. For so thou wilt be pleasing in the eyes of God, and be found partaker of a full reward.
Epistle XLIII. To Leander Bishop of Hispalis (Seville)hyperlink
Gregory to Leander, &c.
I should have wished to reply to your letters with full application of mind, were I not so worn by the labour of my pastoral charge as to be more inclined to weep than to say anything. And this your Reverence will take care to understand and allow for in the very text of my letters, when I speak negligently to one whom I exceedingly love. For, indeed, I am in this place tossed by such billows of this world that I am in no wise able to steer into port the old and gotten ship of which, in the hidden dispensation of God, I have assumed the guidance. Now in front the billows rush in, now at the side heaps of foamy sea swell up, now from behind the storm follows on. And, disquieted in the midst of all this, I am compelled sometimes to steer in the very face of the opposing waters; sometimes, turning the ship aside, to avoid the threats of the billows slantwise. I groan, because I feel that through my negligence the bilgewater of vices increases, and, as the storm meets the vessel violently, the rotten planks already sound of shipwreck. With tears I remember how I have lost the placid shore of my rest, and with sighs I behold the land which still, with the winds of affairs blowing against me, I cannot reach. If, then, thou lovest me, dearest brother, stretch out to me in the midst of these billows the hand of thy prayer; that from helping me in my labours thou mayest, in very return for the benefit, be the stronger in thine own.
I cannot, however, at all fully express in words my joy on having learnt that our common son, the most glorious King Rechared, has been converted with most entire devotion to the Catholic faithhyperlink . In describing his character to me in thy letters thou bast made me love him, though I know him not. But, since you know the wiles of the ancient foe, how against conquerors he prepares all the fiercer war, let your Holiness keep watch the more warily over him, that he may accomplish what he has well begun, nor lift himself up for good works accomplished; that he may keep the faith which he has come to know by the merits also of his life, and shew by his works that he is a citizen of the eternal kingdom, to the end that after a course of many years he may pass from kingdom to kingdom.
But with respect to trine immersion in baptism, no truer answer can be given than what you have yourself felt to be right; namely that, where there is one faith, a diversity of usage does no harm to holy Church. Now we, in immersing thrice, signify the sacraments of the three days' sepulture; so that, when the infant is a third time lifted out of the water, the resurrection after a space of three days may be expressed. Or, if any one should perhaps think that this is done out of veneration for the supreme Trinity, neither so is there any objection to immersing the person to be baptized in the water once, since, there being one substance in three subsistences, it cannot be in any way reprehensible to immerse the infant in baptism either thrice or once, seeing that by three immersions the Trinity of persons, and in one the singleness of the Divinity may be denoted. But, inasmuch as up to this time it has been the custom of heretics to immerse infants in baptism thrice, I am of opinion that this oughtnot to be done among you; lest, while they number the immersions, they should divide the Divinity, and while they continue to do as they have been used to do, they should boast of having got the better of our custom Moreover, I send to your to me most sweet Fraternity the volumes of which I have appended a notice below. What I had spoken in exposition of the blessed Job, which you express in your letter your wish to have sent to you, being weak both in sense and language as I had delivered it in homilies, I have tried as I could to change into the form of a treatise, which is in course of being written out by scribes. And, were I not crippled by the haste of the bearer of these presents, I should have wished to transmit to you the whole without diminution; especially as I have written this same work for your Reverence, that I may be seen to have sweated in my labours for him whom I love above all others. Besides, if you find time allowed you from ecclesiastical engagements, you already know how it is with me: even though absent in the body, I behold thee always present with me; for I carry the image of thy countenance stamped within the bowels of my heart. Given in the month of May.
Epistle XLIV. To Peter, Subdeacon of Sicily.
Gregory to Peter, &c.
With regard to our having so long delayed sending off thy messenger, we have been so occupied with the engagements of the Paschal festival that we have been unable to let him go sooner. But, with regard to the questions on which thou hast desired instruction, thou wilt learn below how, after fully considering them all, we have determined them.
We have ascertained that the peasantshyperlink of the Church are exceedingly aggrieved in respect of the prices of corn, in that the sum appointed them to pay is not kept in due proportion in times of plenty. And it is our will that in all times, whether the crops of corn be more or less abundant, the measure of proportion be according to the market pricehyperlink . It is our will also that corn which is lost by shipwreck be fully accounted for; but on condition that there be no neglect on thy part in transmitting it; lest, the proper time for transmitting it being allowed to pass by, loss should ensue from your faulthyperlink . Moreover, we have seen it to be exceedingly wrong and unjust that anything should be received from the peasants of the Church in the way of sextariaticshyperlink , or that they should be compelled to give a larger modius than is used in the granaries of the Church. Wherefore we enjoin by this present warning that corn may never be received from the peasants of the Church in modii of more than eighteen sextarii; unless perchance there be anything that the sailors are accustomed to receive over and above, the consumption of which on board ship they themselves attest.
We have also ascertained that on some estateshyperlink of the Church a most unjust exaction is practised, in that three and a half [modii] in seventy are demanded by the farmershyperlink ;-a thing shameful to be spoken of. And yet even this is not enough; but something besides is said to be exacted according to a custom of many years. This practice we altogether detest, and desire it to be utterly extirpated from the patrimony. But, whether in this or in other minute imposts, let thy Experience consider what is paid too much per pound, and what is in any way unfairly received from the peasants; and reduce all to a fixed payment, and, so far as the powers of the peasants go, let them make a payment in gross amounting to seventy-twohyperlink : and let neither grainshyperlink beyond the pound, nor an excessive pound, nor any further imposts beyond the pound, be exacted; but, through thy valuation, according as there is ability to pay, let the payment be made up to a certain sum, that so there may be in no wise any shameful exaction. But, lest after my death these veryimposts, which we have disallowed as extras but allowed in augmentation of the regular payments, should again in any way be put on additionally, and so the sum of the payment should be found to be increased and the peasants be compelled to pay additional charges over and above what is due, we desire thee to draw up charters of security, to be signed by thee, declaring that each person is to pay such an amount, to the exclusion of grains (siliquoe), imposts, or granary dues. Moreover, whatever out of these several items used to accrue to the rector [sc. patrimonii], we will that by virtue of this present order it shall accrue to thee out of the total sum paid.
Before all things we desire thee carefully to attend to this; that no unjust weights be used in exacting payments. If thou shouldest find any, break them and cause true ones to be made. For my son the servant of God, Diaconus, has already found such as displeased him; but he had not liberty to change them. We will, then that, saving excepted cibaria of small valuehyperlink , nothing else beyond the just weights be exacted from the husbandmenhyperlink of the Church.
Further, we have ascertained that the first charge of burdatiohyperlink exceedingly cripples our peasants, in that before they can sell the produce of their labour they are compelled to pay taxes; and, not having of their own to pay with, they borrow from public pawnbrokershyperlink , and pay a heavy consideration for the accommodation; whence it results that they are crippled by heavy expenses. Wherefore we enjoin by this present admonition that thy Experience advance to them from the public fund all that they might have borrowed from strangers, and that it be repaid by the peasants of the Church by degrees as they may have wherewith to pay, lest, while for a time in narrow circumstances, they should sell at too cheap a rate what might afterwards have sufficed for the payment of the due, and even so not have enough.
It has come to our knowledge also that immoderate feeshyperlink are received on the marriages of peasants: concerning which we order that no marriage fees shall exceed the sum of one solidus. If any are poor, they should give even less; but if any are rich, let them by no means exceed the aforesaid sum of a solidus. And we desire no part of these marriage fees to be credited to our account, but that they should go to the benefit of the farmer (conductorem).
We have also ascertained that when some farmers die their relatives are not allowed to succeed them, but that their goods are withdrawn to the uses of the Church: with regard to which thing we decree that the relatives of the deceased who live on the property of the Church shall succeed them as their heirs, and that nothing shall be withdrawn from the substance of the deceased. But, if any one should leave young children, let discreet persons be chosen to take charge of their parents' goods, till they come to such an age as to be able to manage their own property.
We have ascertained also that, if any one of a family has committed a fault, he is required to make amends, not in his own person, but in his substance: concerning which practice we order that, whosoever has committed a fault, he shall be punished in his own person as he deserveshyperlink . Moreover, let no present (commodum) be received from him, unless perchance it be some trifle which may go to the profit of the officer who may have been sent to him. We have ascertained also that, as often as a farmer has taken away anything unjustly from his husbandman, it is indeed required from the farmer, but not restored to him from whom it was taken: concerning which thing we order that whatever may have been taken away by violence from any one of a family be restored to him from whom it was taken away, and not accrue to our profit, lest we ourselves should seem to be abettors of violence. Furthermore, we will that, if thy Experience should at any time despatch those who are under thy command in causes that arise beyond the limits of the patrimony, they may indeed receive small gratuities from those to whom they are sent; yet so that they themselves may have the advantage of them: for we would not have the treasury of the Church defiled by base gains. We also command thy Experience to see to this: that farmers never be appointed on the estates of the Church for a consideration (commodum); lest, a consideration being looked for, the farmers should be frequently changed; of which changing what else is the result but that the Church farms are never cultivated? But lest also the leases [i.e. by the Church to the farmers] be adjusted according to the sum of the payments due. We desire thee to receive no more from the estates of the Church on account of the store-houses and stores beyond what is customary; but let thine own stores which we have ordered to be procured be procured from strangers.
It has come to our ears that three pounds of gold have been unjustly taken away from Peter the farmer of Subpatriana; concerning which matter examine closely Fantinus the guardian (defensoremhyperlink ); and, if they have manifestly been unjustly and improperly taken, restore them without any delay. We have also ascertained that the peasants have paid a second time the burdationhyperlink which Theodosius had exacted from them but had failed to pay over, so that they have been taxed twice. This was done because his substance was not sufficient for meeting his debt to the Church. But, since we are informed through our son, the servant of God Diaconus, that this deficiency can be made good out of his effects, we will that fifty-seven solidi be repaid to the peasants without any abatement, lest they should be found to have been taxed twice over. Moreover, if it is the case that forty solidi of his effects remain over and above what will indemnify the peasants (which sum thou art said also to have in thy hands), we will that they be given to his daughter, to enable her to recover her effects which she had pawned. We desire also her father's goblet (batiolam) to be restored to her.
The glorious magister militum Campanianus had left twelve solidi a year out of the Varronian estate to his notary John; and this we order thee to pay every year without any hesitation to the granddaughter of Euplus the farmer, although she may have received all the chattels of the said Euplus, except perhaps his cash; and we desire thee also to give her out of his cash five-and-twenty solidi. A silver saucerhyperlink is said to have been pawned for one solidus, and a cup for six solidi. After interrogating Dominicus the secretary, or others who may know, redeem the pledge, and restore the aforesaid little vessels.
We thank thy Solicitude for that, after I had enjoined thee, in the business of my brother, to send him back Ills money, thou hast so consigned the matter to oblivion as if something had been said to thee by the last of thy slaves But now let even thy Negligence-I cannot say thy Experience-study to get this done; andwhatever of his thou mayest find to be in the hands of Antoninus send back to him with all speed.
In the matter of Salpingus the Jew a letter has been found which we have caused to be forwarded to thee, in order that, after reading it and becoming fully acquainted with his case and that of a certain widow who is said to be implicated in the same business, thou mayest make answer as may appear to thee just concerning the fifty-one solidi which are known to be returnable, so that the creditors may in no way be defrauded unjustly of the debts due to them.
A moiety of his legacy has been given to Antoninus; a moiety will be redeemed: which moiety we desire to be made up to him out of the common substance; and not to him only, but also to the guardians (defensoribus) and strangers (pergrinis) to whom he [the testator has left anything under the title of a legacy. To the family (familioe) also we desire the legacy to be paid; which, however, is our concern. Having, then, made up the account for our part, that is for three-quarters, make the paymenthyperlink .
We desire thee to give something out of the money of the Church of Canusium to the clergy of the same Church, to the end that they who now suffer from want may have some sustenance; and that, if it should please God that a bishop should be ordained, he may have a maintenance.
As to lapsedhyperlink priests, or any others of the clergy, we desire thee in dealing with their property to keep free from any contamination. But seek out the poorest regular monasteries which know how to live according to God, and consign the lapsed to penance in these monasteries; and let the property of the lapsed go to the benefit of the place in which they are consigned to penance, to the end that those who have the care of their correction may have aid themselves from their means. But, if they have relations, let their property be given to their legitimate relations; yet so that an allowance for those to whom they have been consigned for penance be sufficiently provided. But, if any of an ecclesiastical community, whether priests, levites, or monks, or clerics, or any others, shall have lapsed, we will that they be consigned to penance, but that the Church shall retain its claim to their property. Yet let them receive for their own use enough to maintain them during their penance, lest, if left destitute, they should be burdensome to the places whereto they have been consigned. If any have relations on the ecclesiastical domain, let their property be delivered to them, that it may be preserved in their hands subject to the Church's claim.
Three years ago the subdeacons of all the churches in Sicily, in accordance with the custom of the Roman Church, were forbidden all conjugal intercourse with their wives. But it appears to me hard and improper that one who has not been accustomed to such continency, and has not previously promised chastity, should be compelled to separate himself from his wife, and thereby (which God forbid) fall into what is worse. Hence it seems good to me that from the present day all bishops should be told not to presume to make any one a subdeacon who does not promise to live chastely; that so what was not of set purpose desired in the past may not be forcibly required, but that cautious provision may be made for the future. But those who since the prohibition of three years ago have lived continently with their wives are to be praised and rewarded, and exhorted to continue in their good way. But, as for those who since the prohibition have been unwilling to abstain from intercourse with their wives, we desire them not to be advanced to a sacred order; since no one ought to approach the ministry of the altar but one who has been of approved chastity before undertaking the ministry.
For Liberatus the tradesman, who has commended himself to the Church, dwelling on the Cincian estate, we desire thee to make an annual provision; which provision do thou estimate thyself as to what it ought to be, that it may be reported to me and charged in thy accounts. With regard to the present indiction I have already got information from our son the servant of God Diaconus. One John, a monk, has died and left Fantinus the guardian (defensorem) his heir to the extent of one half. Hand over to the latter what has been left him, but charge him not to presume to do the like again. But appoint what he should receive for his work, so that it be not fruitless to him; and let him remember that one who lives on the pay of the Church shouldnot pant after private gains. But, if anything should accrue to the Church, without sin and without the lust of concupiscence, through those who transact the business of the Church, it is right that these should not be without fruit of their labour. Still let it be reserved for our judgment how theyshould be remuneratedhyperlink .
As to the money of Rusticianus, look thoroughly into the case, and carry out what appears to thee to be just. Admonish the magnificent Alexanderhyperlink to conclude the cause between himself and holy Church; which if he peradventure shall neglect to do, do thou, in the fear of God and with honour preserved, bring this same cause to an issue as thou art able We desire thee also to expend something in this business; and, if it can be done, let him be spared the cost of what has to be given to others, provided he terminates the cause which he has withUS.
Restore without any delay the donation of the handmaiden of Godhyperlink who has lapsed and been sent into a monastery, to the end that (as I have said above) the same place that bears the toil of attending to her may have provision for her from what she has. But recover also whatever of hers is in the hands of others, and hand it over to the aforesaid monastery
Send to us the payments of Xenodochius of Via Nova to the amount thou hast told us of, since thou hast them by thee. But give something, according to thy discretion, to the agent whom thou hast deputed in the same patrimony.
Concerning the handmaiden of God who was with Theodosius, by name Extranea, it seems to me that thou shouldest give her an allowance, if thou thinkest it advantageous, or at any rate return to her the donation which she made. The house of the monastery which Antoninus had taken from the monastery, giving thirty solidi for it, restore thou without the least delay, the money being repaid. After thoroughly investigating the truth restore the onyx phialshyperlink , which I send back to thee by the bearer of these presents.
If Saturninus is at liberty and not employed with thee, send him to us. Felix, a farmer under the lady Campana, whom she had left free and ordered to be exempt from examination, said that seventy-two solidi had been taken from him by Maximus the sub-deacon, for paying which he asserted that he sold or pledged all the property that he had in Sicily. But the lawyers said that he could not be exempt from examination concerning acts of fraud. However, when he was returning to us from Campania, he perished in a storm. We desire thee to seek out his wife and children, to redeem whatever he had pledged, repay the price of what he had sold, and moreover provide them with some maintenance; seeing that Maximus had sent the man into Sicily and there taken from him what he alleged. Ascertain, therefore, what has been taken from him, and restore it without any delay to his wife and children. React all these things over carefully, and put aside all that familiar negligence of thine. My writings which I have sent to the peasants cause thou to be read over throughout all the estates, that they may know in what points to defend themselves, under our authority, against acts of wrong; and let either the originals or copies be given them. See that thou observe everything without abatement: for, with regard to what I have written to thee for the observance of justice, I am absolved; and, if thou art negligent, thou art guilty. Consider the terrible Judge who is coming: and let thy conscience now anticipate His advent with fear and trembling, lest it should then fear [not?] without cause, when heaven and earth shall tremble before Him. Thou hast heard what I wish to be done: see that thou do it.
33 Al. Orta, in Tuscia.
34 This alleged consequence of the bishop's absence from his See does not imply that he alone could administer baptism, but only that his authorization was required for its administration. See Bingham, Bk. II. ch. iii. Sect. 3, 4, and references there given: e.g. Ignat. Ep. ad Smyrn. n. viii., "It is not lawful either to baptize or celebrate the Eucharist without the bishop; but that which he allows is well-pleasing to God:" Hieron. Dialog. c. Lucifer, p. 139, "Thence it comes that, without the order of the bishop neither presbyter nor deacon has the right of baptizing;" Can. Apost. c. xxxviii., "Let the presbyters, and deacons execute no office without the knowledge of the bishop; for it is to him that the Lord's people are committed, and he must give an account of their souls." It was usual in episcopal cities to have only one baptistery, connected with the bishop's church; and these all would be baptized, if not by the bishop himself (who was accounted the chief minister of baptism). yet under his direction and superintendence. Cf. Bingham, Bk. VIII., ch. vii., Sect. 6: Bk. XI., ch. vii.. Sect. 12, 13.
35 The relations of Gregory to this Venantius are interesting; other letters throwing light on them being III. 60; VI. 43, 44; IX. 123; XI. 30, 35, 36, 78. Venantius was a patrician, resident in Sicily, who, having become a monk, had discovered that he had mistaken his vocation and returned to secular life. In the letter before us he is kindly, but very earnestly, written to, in the hope of inducing him to retrace a step which, from Gregory's point of view, was so dangerous to his friend's soul. But the remonstrance was in vain. Venantius appears, from an allusion in the letter to have been associated with a literary set of friends who took a view of the purpose of life not in accordance with the monastic theory: and other motives may have disposed him to listen to their advice, since we find him afterwards married to a lady called Italica. She appears to have been, like Venantius of patrician rank, and resident in Sicily and to have possessed property there; for see III. 60, an epistle addressed to "Italica Patricia," remonstrating with her for her alleged harsh treatment of certain poor people, who were under the protection of the Church. It appears from this letter that Gregory had known her previously, and it is observable that he makes allusion to her personal charms (pulchritudo in superficie corporis). There being no allusion in this letter to any hushand, it cannot be concluded that she was, at the time when it was written, married to Venantius: but we may reasonably suppose her to have been the same Italica who was subsequently addressed as his wife, for see IX. 123, "Domno Venantio patricio et Italicoe jugalibus." The marriage may possibly have taken place soon after Gregory's first letter to Venantius, which, if the date assigned be correct, was written in the 9th Indiction (a.d. 590-l). It cannot well have been much later, since in the 4th Indiction i.e.a.d.600-1 (still supposing the assigned dates correct) there were two girls, the issue of the marriage, who were also written to by Gregory after their father's death, and seem then to have been already old enough to be betrothed. See XI. 35, 36, 78. At some time subsequent to his marriage we find a letter of serious admonition addressed to Venantius (VI. 43), who had quarrelled with his bishop on some matters of business, and acted violently. But, notwithstanding all such causes for displeasure, Gregory continued on terms of cordial friendship with the married couple, and took a warm interest in their children. Having heard of Venantius being dangerously ill, he wrote a letter of sympathy, addressed to him and his wife jointly, and at the end sent greetings to his "most sweet daughters, the lady Barbara and the lady Antonina." (IX. 123). Subsequently, when Venantius was suffering from gout, he addressed him earnestly, but kindly; and, when he was on his death-bed, and the inheritance of the daughter was in jeopardy owing to certain claims made by certain persons on their father's estate, he wrote a short kind letter to the little ladies, bidding them keep up their spirits so as to comfort their father assuring them that he himself would protect them after their father's death, and speaking of the debt of gratitude he owed for the goodness to himself of both their parents. The mother not being written to, or alluded to as alive, may be supposed to have died previously. At the same time he wrote to John, bishop of Syracuse (the same bishop with whom Venantius had been once for a time at variance), urging him to do what he could to induce Venantius, even in his last moments, to resume the monastic habit for the safety of his soul and no less urgently charging him to take up the cause of the orphan girls. Lastly (XI. 87), the girls are once more addressed by Gregory in a kind letter, from which it seems, that, young as they must have been, marriage was already in contemplation for them, and in which he expresses his hope of seeing them at Rome. The correspondence thus summarised is peculiarly interesting, as shewing both Gregory's strong sense of the sin and danger to the soul of returning to the world from the monastic life, and also the continuance of his friendship and affection to one who had thus sinned, and the interest he could still take in his domestic happiness and the welfare of his family.
36 Seneca, Epist. 3: "Tu omnia cum amico delibera, sed de ipso prius. Post amicitiam credendum est; ante amicitiam judicandum."
37 As to the rectores patrimonii, see Proleg. p. vii.
38 Titulum imponere seems to have meant originally setting up a scroll or tablet on a property to assert a title to it; it might be in some cases with a view to sale, letting, or to confiscation.
39 I.e. the Proetor of Sicily.
40 Natalem, i.e. birthday; denoting usually, in the case of a dignitary, the day of his inauguration; and, in the case of a deceased saint, the day of his death.
41 Natalem, i.e. birthday; denoting usually, in the case of a dignitary, the day of his inauguration; and, in the case of a deceased saint, the day of his death.
42 He was the subdeacon who had charge of the patrimony in Campania, as appears from other letters to him (see Index of Epistles).
43 Rector patrimonii and defensor in Campania. See above Ep. 39.
44 In Campania, hodie Sorrento.
45 Gregory made the acquantance of Leander, bishop of the Metropolitan See of Hispalis (Seville) in Spain, during his residence at Constantinople. It was at the instigation of Leander together with the request of the monks who had followed him from his Roman Monastery to Constantinople, that he had begun when there, to expound the book of Job. The earlier part of his "Moralium libri, sive Exposido in librum B. Job." had been delivered in oral discourses at Constantinople, but afterwards revised, arranged, and completed in thirty-five books. The whole when finished, was addressed to Leander. All this appears from the "Epistola Missoria" prefixed to the completed treatise. Gregory evidently had a peculiar affection for Leander. Other epistles addressed to him are V. 49, and IX. 121. He is spoken of also in the Dialogues of Gregory. Lib. III. cap. 31, being there referred to as "dudum mihi in amicitiis familiariter junctus."
46 Reccared, the Visigoth King in Spain, had declared himself a Catholica.d.587 and formally renounced Arianism and adopted the Catholic Creed at the Council of Toledo,a.d.589. The date of the letter before us, if rightly placed, isa.d.591.
47 Rusticos ecclesioe;i.e. the native cultivater of the land, called elsewhere coloni, and by Cicero (In Verrem),aratores. See Proleg.
48 It appears from Cicero that, when the Romans annexed Sicily, they found the greater part of the land subject by ancient custom to a tithe of the corn and other produce, and that such tithe continued to be enacted by the Roman government, which derived thence its main revenue from the island: further, that the custom had grown up of allowing a pecuniary composition for the tithe, and that this custom, intended originally for the accommodation of the tithe payers, had been abused to their detriment by over valuation in years when corn was cheap. One of the charges against Verres was that this had been done under him as Proetor. When wheat was selling in Sicily for two or at the most three sesterces per modius, the peasants had been made to compound for their tithes at the rate of three denarii, i.e. twelve secterces. (Cic. in Verr. Divin. 10; Act II. Lib. iii. 6, 18). The Roman Church having succeeded the Roman Government in the lordship of the "Patrimony of St. Peter" it appears that the Church officials had not been guiltless of similar unfair exactions. Hence the direction here in this Epistle that the valuations of the tithe insuccessive years should follow the market price.
49 This refers to the corn which was sent annually in large quantities to Rome, and on which the Romans were in a great measure dependent for their supply. Those in Sicily who furnished it were, it seems, responsible for its delivery, taking the risk of loss by sea. But it rested with the Church officials to provide for its being shipped; and, if any loss on the voyage ensued from their delay, the parties otherwise responsible were to be indemnified.
50 Ex sextariaticis. This appears to have been a technical term, denoting unjust exaction of the following kind. The peasants (rustici) on an estate had to supply, let us say so many modii of corn to be shipped for Rome. But the modius varied in capacity. It is said originally to have contained sixteen sextarii, a sextarius being between a pint and a quart. But it appears below that one of eighteen sextarii was in use in the time of Gregory, and by him allowed. This limit, however, seems to have been sometimes exceeded, and herein consisted the abuse complained of. In a subsequent epistle (XIII. 34) a modius ofeven twenty-five sextarii is spoken of as having been in one case used:-"We understand that the modius by which the husband-men (coloni) were compelled to give their corn was one of twenty-five sextarii."
51 Massis. These massoe might include several farms (fundi, or poedia), and were let or leased to farmers (conductores), who made their profit out of them. Cf. xiv. 14, "Massam quoe Aquas Salvias nuncupatur cum omnibus fundis suis;" also v. 31, "Conductoribus massarum per Galliam."
52 Conductores. See last note.
53 Pensantem ad septuagena bina. It would seem that, in addition to the abuse of using modii of too large capacity, there was the additional one of exacting more modii than were legally due, three and a half being added to every seventy; i. e. one toevery twenty. Cf. Cicero in Verrem, "Ab Siculis aratoribus, proeter decumam, ternoe quinquagesimoe (i.e. three for every fifty) exigebantur." If the reading septuagina bina be correct, it would seem that Gregory allowed two to be added to every seventy perhaps on the ground of long-established custom. The readings, however, vary; and what was meant is uncertain.
54 Siliquoe. In Roman weights the uncia contained 144 siliquoe, and the as or libra 12 uncioe. The reference seems to be to cases in which the grain or other produce was rendered by weight. The just pound was not to be exceeded.
55 Proeter excepta et vilia cibaria. Cibaria bears the general sense of victuals or provender; and specifically, "Cibarium, teste, Plin. I. 18, c. 9, ubi de siligine agit, dicitur farina quoe post pollinem seu Florum excussum restat, postquam nihil aliud remanet nisi furfures: the second sort of flour. Eadem dicitur secundarium. Ex ea qui conficitur vocatur panis cibarius, quia solet esse communis vulgi cibus." Facciol: ti. The adjective cibarius is applied to provisions generally wine, oil, bread, &c., of a common and inferior kind, and consumed by the common people. The reference in the text may be to refuse and inferior grain or other breadstuff, of which an excessive weight might be exacted to make up for its inferior quality.
56 Colonis, meaning the same as rustici. See note 1.
57 Burdationis. This appears to have been a kind of land tax, payable in the first instance, before the peasants had been able to convert their produce into money. "Burdatio est pensio quoe a rusticis proestatur proedii nomine, quod Burdam vocant, nostri Borde."Alteserra.
58 Auctionariis. "Mercator qui res suas auget; et proprie dicitur ille qui hic vel illic res parvas et veteres et tritas eruit. ut postea carius vendat." Du Cange.
59 Commoda. The word commodum denotes properly a bounty (as to soldiers over and above their pay), a gratuity, a voluntary offering, though used also for a stipend, or payment generally. The peasants (rusticii) might not marry without permission. Cf. xii. 25, "ut eum districte debeas commonere ne filios suos quolibet ingenio vel excusatione foris alicubi in conjugio, sociare proesumat, sed in ea massa cui lege et conditione ligati sunt socientur." For such permission they were, it seems, accustomed to pay a fee, in theory perhaps voluntary, but virtually exacted as a due.
60 Because a fine would have to be paid out of the common substance of the family, and so all would be punished for the offence of one.
61 On the office of defensores, see Proleg.
62 See note 2.
63 Suppositorium. The word itself might denote anything put under another, or supporting another. Here its being associated with a cup (calix), and both being called small vessels (vascula), suggests the translation in the text.
64 The meaning of these directions is obscure owing to our ignorance of the circumstances.
65 The word lapsi was the regular one for denoting clergy or others, who had fallen into sin rendering them liable to excommunication.
66 It was against monastic rule for monks or nuns to retain property of their own aiter profession, or the power of disposing of it by will. It became the common property of the monastery Cf. Justinian, Novell. V. c. 38. See also what was said above about the goods of lapsed members of religious communities. In a subsequent Epistle (IX, 7), Gregory annulls a will that had been made by an abbess Sirica. The case of one Probus, an abbot (Appendix, Ep. IX.), who was allowed to make a will is no real exception to the rule. For Gregory gave him special permission to do so on his own petition, on the equitable ground that at the time of his hasty ordination as abbot, not having been a monk previously, he had neglected to make provision for his son by will, as he had intended to do, and as he had then a right to do. In tbe case before us Gregory acts with lenient consideration. Though condemning the bequest of the monk John to the guardian Fantinus, he allows the latter to take it on the ground that he deserved, but had not so far received, a proper remuneration for his services.
67 Magnificum virum. Who this Alexander was is not known. His designation implies a position of rank. An Alexander appears afterwards as Proetor of Sicily (VI. 8): but the Proetor of this year was Justinus (see above, Ep. II.), who was apparently sncceeded by Libertinus (III. 38).
68 Ancilloe Dei. So were called, not professed nuns only, but also others who devoted themselves to virginity and religious lives Gregory's own aunts, Tarsilla and Aemiliana, who lived as dedicated virgins in their own home. were instances. See Proleg. p. xiv.
69 Amulas. "Amula minor ama vas vinarium, in quo sacra oblatio continetur." Du Cange.