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Fathers of the Church

Epistle XLVI: to Rusticiana, Patrician

Description

This epistle is from Book IV of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. The following is a brief letter concerning Rusticiana's recent trip to the Holy Land.

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 Rusticiana, &c.

On receiving your Excellency's letters I was glad to hear that you had reached Mount Sinai. But believe me, I too should have liked to go with you, but by no means to return with you. And yet I find it very difficult to believe that you have been at the holy places and seen many Fathers. For I believe that, if you had seen them, you would by no means have been able to return so speedily to the city of Constantinople. But now that the love of such a city has in no wise departed from your heart, I suspect that your Excellency did not from the heart devote yourself to the holy things which you saw with the bodily eye. But may Almighty God illuminate your mind by the grace of His loving kindness and give unto you to be wise, and to consider how fugitive are all temporal things, since, while we are thus speaking, both time runs on and the Judge approaches, and lo the moment is even now near when against our will we must give up the world which of our own accord we will not. I beg that the lord Apio and the lady Eusebia, and their daughters, be greeted in my behalf. As to that lady my nurse, whom you commend to me by letter, I have the greatest regard for her, and desire that she should be in no way incommoded. But we are pressed by such great straits that we cannot excuse even ourselves from exactions (angariis) and burdens at this present time.

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.