Fathers of the Church

Epistle XXVII: to Anthemius, Subdeacon

Description

This epistle is from Book XIII of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. As always, Gregory shows himself to be very concerned with the reform and discipline of the bishops. Here he gives Anthemius the authority of his mandate to gather some bishops together to admonish them for the reprehensible neglect of their office.

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 603 | translated by James Barmby, D.d

Gregory to Anthemius, Subdeacon of Campania.

As often as we hear things of our brethren and fellow-bishops that shew them to be to blame and cause us sadness, necessity compels us in no slight degree to take thought for their amendment. Seeing, then, that it has been reported to us that the bishops of Campania are so negligent that, unmindful of the dignity and character of their office, neither towards their Churches nor towards their sons do they shew the care of paternal vigilance, nor concern themselves about monasteries, nor bestow their protection on the oppressed and the poor, we therefore enjoin thee and hereby give thee authority to call them together, and strictly admonish them in virtue of our mandate, that they be not any longer idle, but so evince their priestly zeal and solicitude, and be so vigilant in what it becomes them justly and according unto God to do, that no murmur concerning them may exasperate us any more. If, however, thou shouldest find any one of them to be negligent after this being done, send him to us without allowing any excuse, that by regular exercise of discipline they may be made to feel how serious a matter it is to refuse to be corrected in things that are reprehensible and exceedingly to be condemned.

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.