Fathers of the Church

Epistle VII: to Theoderic, King of the Franks

Description

This epistle is from Book XIII of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. In it Gregory commends Theoderic for his wisdom in attempting to make lasting peace between himself and the Republic (Rome).

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 Theoderic, &c.

We have received with joy your written address to us indicating your health and safety, and we thereby perceive that you so transcend your age in prudence as to make it evident that it is for the happiness of the nation of the Franks that the government of royal dominion has been committed by the favour of heavenly grace to your Excellency. And this in you among other things is enough to call for praise and admiration, that in such things as you know that our daughter your most excellent grandmother desires for the love of Almighty God, in these you make haste most earnestly to lend your aid, so that thereby you may reign both happily here, and in a future life with the angels. Seeing, then, that this comes, by the gift of God, from great discreetness of judgment, we have so speedily and gladly fulfilled what your Excellency desires as to show by the celerity of our execution how much your good deeds have pleased us.

Furthermore, greeting you with paternal sweetness, we inform you that all the matters which you enjoined on the illustrious men your servants Burgoaldus and Varmaricarius, our sons, to be transacted with us have been disclosed to us in a private interview. And we praised you greatly, that you both attend wisely, as becomes you, to the present, and also make haste so to provide for security in the future by means of a lasting peace between you and the Republic that, being made one, you may extend the stability of your kingdom salutarily to all time. With regard to this we will announce to you in time to come what it may please God to order. For, as to us, whatever is proved to be advantageous and conducive to peace, we desire and strive that it should be brought to pass. The one thing is that, as our will is with regard to what is expedient, so should be the will of God, without whom we can do nothing. May the Holy Trinity make you to advance always in His fear, and so dispose your heart in moderation well- pleasing to Him as both to grant to your subjects now joy from you, and to you from Himself joy without end hereafter.

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.