Fathers of the Church

Epistle VII: to Gennadius, Patrician

Description

This epistle is from Book IV of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory asks Gennadius to assist Columbus in the correction of faults in ecclesiastical matters in Africa.

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 Gennadius, Patrician and Exarch of Africa.

We are well assured that the mind of your religious Excellency is inflamed with zeal of divine love against those things especially which are done in unseemly wise in the churches. We therefore the more gladly impose on you the correction of faults in ecclesiastical cases as we have confidence in the bent of your pious disposition. Be it known, then, to your Excellence that it has been reported to us by some who have come to us from the African parts that many things are being committed in the council of Numidia contrary to the way of the Fathers and the ordinances of the canons. And, being unable to bear any longer the frequent complaints that have reached us about such things, we committed them to be enquired into to our brother and fellow-bishop Columbus, of whose gravity his very reputation, which is spread abroad, now allows us not to doubt. Wherefore, greeting you with fatherly affection, we exhort your Excellence that in all things pertaining to ecclesiastical discipline you should lend him the support of your assistance, lest, if what is done amiss should not be enquired into anti visited, it should grow with greater license into future excesses through precedent of long continuance. Know moreover, most excellent son, that if you seek victories, and are dealing for the security of the province committed to you, nothing will avail you more for this end than being zealous in restraining as far as possible the lives of priests and the intestine wars of Churches.

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.