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Fathers of the Church

Epistle XCIV: to Romanus the Guardian

Description

This epistle is from Book IX of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory asks Romanus to ensure that the bearers of this letter reach their bishop quickly, as their bishop wishes to come to Gregory and depart from the schismatics.

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.

The bearers of these presents, who came hither from the parts of Istria to find their bishop who is now living in the parts of Sicily, have asked us to speed them in their way, and we have arranged for their journey hence. Let, then, thy Experience receive them, and arrange for their reaching their said bishop as soon as possible; lest, as they allege may be the case, others of the schismatics in those parts should be beforehand to persuade them. For, so far as they indicate, the bishop himself has a desire to come to us in behalf of the unity of the faith. Assistance therefore should be given them, that, with the help of the Lord, they may accomplish the good things they desire. But let thy Experience, in person if he is near at hand or otherwise by letter, exhort this same bishop to lose no time in hastening, with the Lord's good favour, to the threshold of the Apostles, being assured that he will be received by us with all affection. We also desire thee to pay him the cost of his journey to enable him to come to us. But, if he finds coming here burdensome, and arranges to live in Sicily, and consents, with his security given, to remain in the unity of the Church among the perverters of Scripture, this also do not thou delay to inform us of, that we may arrange, with the help of the Lord, how provision may be made for his expenses there. But lend also thy concurrence and succour for the bearers of these letters to come to their said bishop, so that after leaving us they may experience no less attention.

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.