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Fathers of the Church

Epistle XIX: to the Husbandsmen of the Syracusan Patrimony

Description

This epistle is from Book IX of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Gregory exhorts the addressees to obey their new guardian, Romanus, to whom Gregory has given the Syracusan patrimony. See Epistle XVIII, Book IX for his letter to Romanus.

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 Coloni, &c.

I would have you know that we have arranged for you to be put under the care of our guardian (defensoris). And accordingly we order you to obey him without any reluctance in what he may see fit to do, and enjoin on you to be done, for the advantage of the Church. We have given him such power as to enable him to inflict strict punishment on those who may attempt to be disobedient or contumacious. And we have likewise charged him that he delay not with instant attention to recover to ecclesiastical jurisdiction any slaves who are in hiding outside their limits, or any one by whom boundaries have been invaded. For know that he has been warned on his peril, that he presume not ever under any kind of excuse to do any wrong or robbery in regard to what belongs to others.

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.