Fathers of the Church
Epistle LII: to Pelagius and Serenus, Bishops
This epistle is from Book VI of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great
. In it Gregory informs the addressees that he has sent the missionary Augustine (later called St. Augustine of Canterbury) through France on his way to England, and asks these French bishops to aid him in any way needed.
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 596 | translated by James Barmby, D.d
Gregory to Pelagius of Turni and Serenus of Masilia (Marseilles) Bishops of Gaul. A paribus.
Although with priests who have the charity that is well pleasing to God religious men need no commendation, yet, since an apt time for writing has offered itself, we have thought well to send a letter to your Fraternity, mentioning that we have sent into your parts, with the help of the Lord, for the benefit of souls, the servant of God Augustine, of whose earnestness we are assured, with other servants of God. Him your Holiness must needs assist with priestly earnestness, and hasten to afford him your succour. We have also enjoined him, that so you may be the more ready to support him, to make you fully acquainted with the matter he has in hand, knowing that, when it is known to you, you will lend yourselves with entire devotion for God's sake to succour him as the case requires.
Moreover, we commend in all ways to your charity our common son the presbyter Candidus, whom we have sent for the government of the patrimony of our Church. Given on the tenth day of the Kalends of August, Indiction 14.
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/XII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.
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