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Fathers of the Church

Epistle XXXVI: to Severus, Scholasticus

Description

This epistle is from Book V of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory informs Severus that Agilulph, King of the Lombards, is willing to make peace with the Exarch. Gregory asks Severus to inform the Exarch of these things and influence him to make peace.

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 Severus, Scholasticus to the Exarch .

Those who assist judges and are bound to them by sincere attachment ought to advise them and suggest to them what may both save their souls and not derogate from their reputation. This being so, since we know with what sincere loyalty you love the most excellent Exarch, we have been careful to inform your Greatness of the things that have been done, that, being aware of them, you may move him to assent to them reasonably.

Know then that Agilulph, King of the Lombards, is not unwilling to conclude a general peace, if only the lord Patricius will consent to an arbitration. For he complains that many acts of violence were committed in his regions during the time of peace. And since, if reasonable grounds for arbitration should be found, he desires to have satisfaction made to himself, he also himself promises to make satisfaction in all ways, if it should appear that any wrong was committed on his side during the peace. Since then it is no doubt reasonable to agree to what he asks, there ought to be an arbitration, that, if any wrongs have been done on either side, they may be adjusted; so that it may be possible, with the protection of God, to establish a general peace; for how necessary for us all this is you well know. Act therefore wisely as you have been wont to do, that the most excellent Exarch may consent to this without delay, lest peace should appear to be refused by him, as should not be. For, should he be unwilling to consent, he indeed [Agilulph] again promises to conclude a special peace with us; but we know that divers islands and other places would undoubtedly in that case be ruined. However, let him [the Exarch] consider these things, and hasten to make peace, to the end that at any rate during this cessation of hostilities we may have some degree of quiet, and the forces of the republic may with the help of God be the better repaired for resistance.

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.