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Fathers of the Church

Epistle LVIII: to Diverse Bishops of Gaul

Description

This epistle is from Book XI of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory informs the bishops in Gaul that he is sending some monks to England, by way of France, to assist Augustine (of Canterbury) in his conversion of the Angli. He asks the bishops to show them every courtesy and help them on their way.

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 Mennas of Telona (Toulon), Serenus of Massilia (Marseilles), Lupus of Cabillonum (Chalons-sur-Saone), Aigulfus of Mettae (Metz), Simplicius of Parisii (Paris), Melantius of Rotonius (Rouen), and Licinius , bishops of the Franks. A paribus.

Though the care of the office you have undertaken reminds your Fraternity how you ought to assist with all your endeavours religious men, and especially those who labour in behalf of souls, yet it is not beside the purpose that an address by letter from us should stimulate your assiduity, since, as a fire becomes larger from a blast of air, so the purposes of a good disposition are advanced by commendation. Inasmuch, then, as through the co-operating, grace of our Redeemer so great a multitude of the nation of the Angli is being converted to the grace of Christian faith that our most reverend common brother and fellow-bishop Augustine asserts that those who are with him cannot suffice for carrying out this work in divers places, we have made provision by sending to him a few monks with our most beloved common sons Laurentius the presbyter and Mellitus the abbot. And so let your Fraternity shew them the charity that becomes you, and so make haste to aid them wherever there may be need, that through your assistance they may have no cause for delay in your parts, and that both they themselves may rejoice with you in being relieved by your consolation, and you, by affording them your succour, may be found partakers in the cause in furtherance of which they have been sent.

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.