Fathers of the Church

Epistle XXVIII: to Sebastian, Bishop of Rhisinum [In Dalmatia]

Description

This epistle is from Book I of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great.

Provenance

St. Gregory (b. 540 in Rome) was elected pope at the age of 50, serving from 590 to 604. In 14 years he accomplished much for the Church. England owes her conversion to him. At a period when the invasion of the barbarian Lombards created a new situation in Europe, he played a great part in winning them for Christ. At the same time, he watched equally over the holiness of the clergy and the maintenance of Church discipline, the temporal interests of his people of Rome and the spiritual interests of all Christendom. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade the taking of money for many services, and emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and victims of plague and famine. Gregory also reformed the liturgy, and it still contains several of his most beautiful prayers. The name "Gregorian chant" recalls this great Pope's work in the development of the Church's music. His commentaries on Holy Scripture exercised a considerable influence on Christian thought in the Middle Ages. Following his death in 604, his numerous epistles, including the following letter, were compiled into the Papal Register of Letters.

by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d

Gregory to Sebastian, &c.

Although I deserved to receive no letters from your Blessedness, yet I also do not forget my own forgetfulness; I blame my negligence, I stir up my sluggishness with goads of love, that one who will not pay what he owes of his own accord, may learn even under blows to render it. Furthermore, I inform you that I have prepared a full representation, with urgent prayers to our most pious lords, to the effect that they ought to have sent the most blessed lord patriarch Anastasius, with the use of the pallium granted him, to the threshold of the blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, to celebrate with me the solemnities of Mass; to the end that, though he were not allowed to return to his See, he might at least live with me, retaining his dignity. But of the reason that has arisen for keeping back what I had thus written the bearer of these presents will inform you. Nevertheless, ascertain the mind of the said lord Anastasius, and inform me in your letters of whatever he may wish to be done in this business.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/XII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.