Fathers of the Church
Epistle VI: to Januarius, Bishop of Caralis
by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d
Gregory to Januarius,
The Jews who have come hither from your city have complained to us that Peter, who has been brought by the will of God from their superstition to the worship of Christian faith, having taken with him certain disorderly persons, on the day after his baptism, that is on the Lord's day of the very Paschal festival, with grave scandal and without your consent, had taken possession of their synagogue in Caralis, and placed there the image of the mother of our God and Lord, the venerable cross, and the white vestment (birrum) with which he had been clothed when he rose from the font. Concerning which thing also the letters of our sons, the glorious Magister militum Eupaterius, and the magnificent governor, pious in the Lord, concur in attesting the same. And they add also that this had been foreseen by you, and that the aforesaid Peter had been prohibited from venturing on it. On learning this we altogether commended you, since, as became a truly good priest, you wished nothing to be done whence just blame might arise. But, since by not having at all mixed yourself up in these wrong doings you shew that what was done displeases you, we, considering the bent of your will in this matter, and still more your judgment, hereby exhort you that, having removed thence with fitting reverence the image and the cross, you should restore what has been violently taken away; seeing that, as legal enactment does not suffer Jews to erect new synagogues, so also it allows them to keep their old ones without disturbance. Lest, then, the above-named Peter, or others who have afforded him assistance or connivance in the wrongfulness of this disorderly proceeding, should reply that they had done it in zeal for the faith, in order that a necessity of being converted might thereby be imposed on the Jews, they should be admonished, and ought to know, that moderation should rather be used towards them; that so the will not to resist may be elicited from them, and not that they should be brought in against their will: for it is written, I will sacrifice to thee willingly (Ps. lviii. 8); and, Of my own will I will confess to him (Ps. xxvii. 7). Let, then, your Holiness, taking with you your sons who with you disapprove of these things, try to induce good feeling among the inhabitants of your city, since at this time especially, when there is alarm from the enemy, you ought not to have a divided people. But, being anxious with regard to ourselves no less than with regard to you, we think it right to give you to understand that when the present truce is over, the king Agilulph will not make peace with us. Whence it is necessary for your Fraternity to see to fortifying your city or other places more securely, and to give earnest attention to providing stores of provisions therein, that, when the enemy, with God incensed against him, shall come thither, he may find no harm that he can do, but may retire discomfited. But we also take thought for you as far as we can, and press upon those whose concern it is that they should prepare themselves for resistance, since, as you regard our tribulations as yours, so we in like manner count your afflictions as our own.
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.