Fathers of the Church

Epistle XVIII: to Romanus, Guardian

Description

This epistle is from Book IX of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory bestows on Romanus a patrimony of the Church. A patrimony was property bestowed so that the recipient could maintain his own living and tithe to the Church.

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 Romanus, &c.

Our care for the purpose before us prompts us to commit the looking after ecclesiastical interests to active persons. And so, since we have found thee, Romanus, to have been a trusty and diligent guardian, we have thought fit to commit to thy government from this present second indiction the patrimony of the holy Roman Church, which by the mercy of God we serve, lying in the parts about Syracuse, Catana, Agrigentum, and Mile (partibus Milensibus). Hence it is needful that thou go thither immediately, that, in consideration of the divine judgment, and in memory also of our admonition, thou mayest study to acquit thyself so efficiently and faithfully that thou mayest be found to incur no risk for negligence or fraud, which God forbid should be the case. But act thus all the more in order that thou mayest be commended to divine grace for thy faithfulness and industry. Moreover, we have sent orders according to custom to the familia of the same patrimony, that there may be nothing to hinder thy carrying out what has been enjoined thee.

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.