Fathers of the Church

Epistle II: to Constantius, Bishop

Description

This epistle is from Book IV of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory writes to the newly elected Constantius regarding three bishops who have separated themselves from the Fraternity and accused Constantius of assenting to the condemnation of the Three Chapters. (The Three Chapters were a phase in the Monophysite controversy, and consisted of three propositions anathematizing various Monophysite writings.)

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 Constantius, Bishop of Mediolanum.

My most beloved son, the deacon Boniface, has conveyed to me certain private information through thy Fraternity's letter; namely that three bishops, having sought out rather than found an occasion, have separated themselves from the pious communion of your Fraternity, saying that you have assented to the condemnation of the Three Chapters, and have given a security. And, indeed, whether there has been any mention made of the Three Chapters in any word or writing whatever thy Fraternity remembers well; although thy Fraternity's predecessor, Laurentius, did send forth a most strict security to the Apostolic See, to which most noble men in legitimate number subscribed; among whom I also, at that time holding the praetorship of the city, likewise subscribed; since after such a schism had taken place about nothing, it was right that the Apostolic See should take heed, with the view of guarding in all respects the unity of the Universal Church in the minds of priests. But as to its being said that our daughter, Queen Theodelinda, after hearing this news, has withdrawn herself from thy communion, it is for all reasons evident that, though she has been seduced to some little extent by the words of bad men, yet, on the arrival of Hippolytus the notary, and John the abbot, she will seek in all ways the communion of your Fraternity. To her also I have addressed a letter, which I beg your Fraternity to transmit to her without delay. Further, with regard to the bishops who appear to have separated themselves, I have written another letter, which when you have caused to be shewn to them, I doubt not that they will repent of the superstition of their pride before thy Fraternity

Furthermore, you have accurately and briefly informed me of what has been done, whether by King Ago or by the Kings of the Franks. I beg your Fraternity to make known to me in all ways what you have so far ascertained. But, if you should see that Ago, King of the Lombards, is doing nothing with the Patrician, promise him on our part that I am prepared to give attention to his case, if he should be willing to arrange anything with the republic advantageously.

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.