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Fathers of the Church

Epistle V: to Marcellus, Pro-Consul of Dalmatia

Description

This epistle is from Book IX of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. In it Gregory tells Marcellus that he will find his repentance for his involvement of Maximus's sin convincing only when he stops consorting with the evildoers. For more information on Maximus, see Epistles XLVII and XX, Book IV.

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 Marcellus, &c.

We have received the letter of your Greatness, in which you speak of having incurred our displeasure, and of your wish to be in favour with us through direct satisfaction. And indeed we have heard such things of your Greatness as ought never to have been committed by a faithful man. For all assert that you are the author of all that great mischief in the case of Maximus, and that the spoiling of that Church, and the perdition of so many souls, and the audacity of that unheard-of presumption, had their beginning through you. And indeed, with regard to your seeking to be in favour with us, it is fitting that with your whole heart and soul, and with tears, as becomes you, you should satisfy our Redeemer for such things as these: for, unless satisfaction is made to Him, what certain good can our forgiveness or favour do thee? But while we observe thee to be still implicated in the ruinous conduct of pretenders, or in the advocacy of those who have gone astray, we see not of what sort your satisfaction is either to God or men. For then your Greatness may know that you openly and evidently satisfy God and men, when you bring back both what is devious to rectitude and what is presumptuous to the rule of humility. If this is done, you may know that you will thus be in favour both with God and men.

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/XIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.