Fathers of the Church

Epistle XXIII: to John, Bishop of Syracuse

Description

This epistle is from Book IX of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Gregory tells John of several complaints made against him and another bishop.

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 John, &c.

Our son the glorious exconsul Leontius has made a serious complaint to us of our brother and fellow-bishop Leo; and his complaint has altogether disturbed us, since a bishop ought not to have acted so precipitately and lightly. This case we have committed, to be thoroughly enquired into, to our Guardian (defensoris) Romanus when he comes to you. Further, the messenger who was sent by him (i.e. by Leontius) complains of your Fraternity, that in the defence of the illustrious physician Archelaus the interests of our brother and fellow-bishop, the Metropolitan Domitian, suffer damage. And indeed your Fraternity ought justly to protect your sons, or it may be in this case the interests of holy Church, and to give no occasion for evil-speaking to adversaries. I doubt not, however, even while thus speaking, that you do take heed to this: yet we have enjoined on the same Romanus, when he comes to you, to arrange with you what is right with regard to this case also.

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.