Fathers of the Church

Epistle LXIII: to Brunichild, Queen of the Franks

Description

This epistle is from Book XI of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory exhorts Brunichild to continue to "do God's work" by ordering a synod that will condemn by solemn definition the simonaical heresy.

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 Brunichild, &c.

What good gifts have been conferred on you from above, and with what piety heavenly grace has filled you, this, among all the other proofs of your merits, intimates evidently to all that you both govern the savage hearts of barbarians with the skill of prudent counsel, and (what is still more to your praise), adorn your royal power with wisdom. And since, as you are above many nations in both these respects, so also you excel them in the purity of your faith, we have great confidence in your amending what is unlawful. For the contents of the letters you have already sent us are witness how your Excellency has embraced our exhortation, and with what devotion you long to fulfil the same. But, since He Who is the giver of good dispositions is wont to be their helper also, we trust that He may direct your causes in His loving-kindness all the more favourably as He sees you to be assiduous in His cause. Do you God's work, and God will do yours. Wherefore order a synod to be assembled, and, among other things, as we have before written, studiously prohibit by the definition of a council the sin of simoniacal heresy in your kingdom. Offer a sacrifice to God by conquering the enemy that is within, that by His help you may conquer the enemies that are without; and that, according to the zeal you evince against His foes, such you may feel Him to be in aiding you. Believe me, moreover, that, as we have learnt from the experience of many, whatever is gathered together with sin is spent with loss. If, then, you wish to lose nothing unjustly, endeavour to the utmost to have nothing got by injustice. For in earthly matters loss has always its origin in sin. You, therefore, if you wish to stand above adverse nations, if you would speedily, with God's leave, be victorious over them, receive with trembling the commandments of the same Almighty God, that He Himself may fight for you against your adversaries, Who has promised in Holy Writ, saying, The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace (Exod xiv. 14).

[In Collect. Pauli Diac.: Data die decima Kalend., Indict. 4. In) Remigiano: Data die x Kalendas Julii, Indict. 4.]

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.