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Fathers of the Church

Epistle XX: to the Clergy and People of Ariminum

Description

This epistle is from Book VII of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory informs the people of Ariminum that since their bishop has abdicated his position due to sickness, they need to choose a new bishop and bring him before Marinianus that his worthiness may be determined. See also Gregory's letter to Marinianus, Epistle XIX, Book VII.

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 the Clergy, &c.

Our pastoral charge constrains us to succour with anxious consideration any Churches that are deprived of the government of a priest. Accordingly, inasmuch as your Church has long been deprived of pastoral rule from the malady, as you know, of its own priest, we, moved by your entreaties, have not failed to admonish the said bishop, that, if he should feel himself recovered from that malady, he should resume the ministry of the priesthood undertaken by him. And be, having been again and again warned by us, has now under the pressure of the same malady intimated by a supplication addressed to us in writing that by reason of this malady he can by no means rise to the government of the said Church or to the office undertaken by him. We therefore, compelled by the hopeless condition of this same person, have held it necessary to take thought for the setting in order of your Church. We exhort, then, that all of you, with one consent, without noise or disturbance, choose with the help of the Lord such a priest to preside over you as may not be disapproved by the venerable canons, and also be found worthy of so great a ministry. And let him, when required, come to us to be ordained, with the solemnity of a decree attested by the subscriptions of all and followed up by the written approval of the visitor, to the end that your Church, by the Lord's ordering, may have its own priest.

We desire also that him whom your unanimity may have chosen you take without delay to our brother and fellow- bishop Marinianus at Ravenna, that, having been thoroughly examined and tested by him, he may be supported by his testimony also when he comes to us.

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.