Action Alert!

Fathers of the Church

Epistle XLII: to Agilulph, King of the Lombards

Description

This epistle is from Book IX of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory thanks Agilulph for making peace and asks him to write to his dukes that they may also keep the peace.

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 Agilulph, &c.

We return thanks to your Excellency, that, hearkening to our petition, you have concluded such a peace as may be of advantage to both parties, as we had confidence in you that you would. On this account we greatly commend your prudence and goodness, since in choosing peace you have shewn that you love God, who is its author. For, if unhappily peace had not been made, what else could have ensued but, with sin and danger on both sides, the shedding of the blood of miserable peasants, whose labour profits both? But, that we may feel the advantage to us of this peace, as it has been made by you, we beg you, greeting you with paternal charity, that as often as opportunity offers itself, you would enjoin by letters on your dukes in divers places, and especially those who are constituted in these parts, that they keep this peace inviolate, as has been promised, and not seek for themselves any occasions whence either any contention or any ill-feeling may arise, to the end that we may be able to give thanks still more for your good will. We received the bearers of these presents, as being in very truth your own people, with the affection that was becoming, since it was right both to receive and dismiss with charity men who are wise, and who announced that by the favour of God peace had been concluded.

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.