Fathers of the Church

Epistle XV: to Januarius, Bishop

Description

This epistle is from Book IV of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory tells Januarius to assist Theodosia in carrying out her late husband's wishes of founding a monastery.

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 Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).

Theodosia, a religious lady, being desirous of carrying out the intention of her late husband Stephen by the building of a monastery, has begged us to transmit our letters to your Fraternity, whereby, through our commendation, she may the more readily be counted worthy of your aid. She asserts that her husband had given directions for the monastery to be constructed on the farm called Piscenas, which has come into the possession of the guest-house (Xenodachii) of the late bishop Thomas. Now, though the possessor of the property would allow her to found it on land that is not her own, yet seeing that the lord with reason objects, we have thought it right to agree to her petition; which is that she should, with the Lord's help, construct a monastery for handmaidens of God in a house belonging to herself, which she asserts that she has at Caralis. But, since she says that the aforesaid house is burdened by guests and visitors, we exhort thy Fraternity to take pains to assist her in all ways, and lend the aid of thy protection to her devotion, so that thy assistance and assiduity may make thee partaker of the reward of her departed husband's earnestness and her own. As to the relics which she requests may be placed there, we desire that they be deposited with due reverence by thy Fraternity.

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.