NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS VOLUME XIII PART II GREGORY THE GREAT EPHRAIM SYRUS APHRAHAT – by ArchBishop Uwe AE. Rosenkranz

A SELECT LIBRARY

 

OF THE

 

NICENE AND

POST-NICENE FATHERS

 

OF

 

THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH


 

Second Series

 

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

 

VOLUMES I–VII

UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF

PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,

AND

HENRY WACE, D.D.,

Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.


 

Principal of King’s College, London.

IN CONNECTION WITH A NUMBER OF PATRISTIC SCHOLARS OF EUROPE AND AMERICA.

VOLUME XIII

PART II

GREGORY THE GREAT

EPHRAIM SYRUS

APHRAHAT

NEW YORK:

THE CHRISTIAN LITERATURE COMPANY

1898

Copyright, 1898, by

THE CHRISTIAN LITERATURE COMPANY

Volume XIII

Gregory the Great

Selected Epistles (Books IX.–XIV.)

Book IX

Book X

Book XI

Book XII

Book XIII

Book XIV

Ephraim the Syrian

Preface

Introductory Dissertation

Ephraim Syrus

The Nisibene Hymns

Nineteen Hymns on the Nativity of Christ in the Flesh

Hymn I

Hymn II

Hymn III

Hymn IV

Hymn V

Hymn VI

Hymn VII

Hymn VIII

Hymn IX

Hymn X

Hymn XI

Hymn XII

Hymn XIII

Hymn XIV

Fifteen Hymns for the Feast of the Epiphany

The Pearl—Seven Hymns on the Faith

Three Homilies

On Our Lord

On Admonition and Repentance

On the Sinful Woman

Aphrahat

Select Demonstrations

Letter of an Inquirer

Demonstration I.—Of Faith

Demonstration V.—Of Wars

Demonstration VI.—Of Monks

Demonstration VIII.—Of The Resurrection of The Dead

Demonstration X.—Of Pastors

Demonstration XVII.—Of Christ The Son Of God

Demonstration XXI.—Of Persecution

Demonstration XXII.—Of Death and The Latter Times

 

SELECTED EPISTLES

of

Gregory the Great

bishop of rome

(BOOKS IX.–XIV.)

translated, with notes indices,

by the late

Rev. James Barmby, D.D.

GENERAL LITERATURE

of

GREGORY’S LIFE AND TIMES

Barmby (James), D.D., Gregory the Great; part of “The Fathers for English readers.”    Lond., 1879, 8°.

———re-issue.    Lond., 1892, 8°.

(Qy.), Gregorius I., Pope, in Dictionary of Christian Biography, Vol. II.    Lond., 1880.

Bianchi-Giovini (A.), Pontificato di San Gregorio il Grande.    Milano, 1844, 8°.

Callias Caryon (A.), Apologie pour S. Gregoire evecque de Rome premier du nom, autrement dit, Gregoire le Grand …     a Sedan, 1603, sm. 8°.

Du Moulin (P.), the Elder. La vie et religion de deux bons papes Leon premier et Gregoire premier …     Sedan, 1650, 12°.

Ewald (P.), Die älteste Biographie Gregors I. (p. 17 of Histor. Aufsätze dem Andenken an G. Waitz.)    Hannover, 1886, 8°.

Guettée (F. R.), La Papauté moderne condamnée par le Pape Saint Grégoire le Grand.… Extraits des ouvrages de St. Grégoire …     Paris., 1861, 8°.

Joannes, diaconus: S. Gregorii Migni vita. (Patrol. Lat. ed. Migne, tom. 75, col. 59.)    Paris., 1849, 8°.

Lau (G. J. T.), Gregor I. der Grosse nach seinem Leben und seiner Lehre geschildert.    Leipzig, 1845, 8°.

Leblanc (H. J.), Utrum B. Gregorius Magnus litteras humaniores et ingenuas artes odio persecutus sit disputationem proponebat … H. J. L.    Parisiis, 1852, 8°.

Luzarche (V.) [Editor], Vie du Pape Grégoire le Grande. Légende française [en vers]. Publiée pour la première fois par V. L.    Tours, 1857, 8°.

Maggio (G.), Prolegomeni alla storia di Gægorio il Grande e de’ suoi tempi.    Prato, 1879, 8°.

Maimbourg (L.), Histoire du Pontificat de S. Grégoire le Grand.    Paris, 1686, 4°.

Paulus, diaconus Aquileiensis dictus Winfridus: S. Gregorii Magni vita auctore Paulo diacono monacho Cassinensi (Patrol. Lat. ed. Migne, tom. 75, col. 41.)    Paris., 1849, 8°.

Pfahler (G.), of Ellwangen. Gregor der Grosse und seine Zeit. Bd, I. [No more published.]    Frankfurt am Main, 1852, 8°.

Pingaud (L.), La politique de Saint Grégoire le Grand. Thèse … Paris.    Paris, 1872, 8°.

Pozzo (F. dal), Istoria della vita e del pontificato di S. Gregorio Magno Papa … Con un ragionamento sopra gli studi ecclesiastici.    Rome, 1758, 4°.

Sainte-Marthe (Denys de), Histoire de S. Grégoire le Grand, … Tirée principalement de fes Ouvrages.    a Rouen, 1697, 4°.

Saxton (Rev. A. J.), Saint Gregory the Great (Penny Biographical series).    Lond. [1892], 8°.

Simrock (C.) [Editor], Eine schöne merkwürdige Historie des heiligen Bischofs Gregorius auf dem Stein genannt.    Berlin [1838?], 8°.

Snow (T. B.), abbot of St Mary’s, Liverpool. St. Gregory the Great. His work and his spirit. (Heroes of the Cross.)    Lond., 1892, 8°.

Stute (J. P.), Gregorius Magnus Papa Lutheranus; sive Der Lutherische Pabst. Contra Papistas, imprimis Monachos Parienses Ordinis S. Benedicti, S. Marthe, Bellarminum, … aliosque ex S. Gregorii libris et epistolis vindicatus …    Lipsiae, 1715, 4°.

Welin (L. G.), Resp.: Legend om Pāfven Gregorius den Store. Praes. J. H. Schröder.    Stockholm, 1848, 8°.

Wiggers (G. F.), De Gregorio Magno ejusque placitis anthropologicis commentatio prior [—posterior].    Rostochii, 1838–40, 4°.

Zype (F. vander), Sanctus Gregorius Magnus … ex … Dei familia Benedictina oriundus …    Ipris, 1610, 8°.

REGULA PASTORALIS

IMPORTANT MSS

    1.    Troyes 504. End of the 6th or beginning of the 7th cent. In uncials and majuscules, Formerly in the library of the Collège des Oratoriens de Troyes. (Migne, no. 1.)

    2.    Corvey no. 93. (Codex Corbeiensis, Migne, no. 2.) [The library at Corvey has now been dispersed.]

    3.    Chartres 65 (6.) of the 9th cent. (St. Père.)

    4–6.    St. Gallen 216–217, 219. All of the 9th cent.

    7.    St. Germain 12260. of the 9th cent.

    8.    St. Germain 12261. of the 9th cent.

    9.    Laon 187. of the 9th or 10th cent. (St. Vincent.)

    10.    Oxford, Bodl. Laud misc. 263. of the 9th or 10th cent.; (probably the 10th).

    11.    Codex Belvacensis, written about the middle of the 10th cent. (Migne.)

    12.    Rouen 500 (A. 260.) of the 11th cent. (Cathédrale de Rouen.)

    13.    Chartres 114 (62.) of the 12th cent. (Chapitre.)

    14.    Rouen 501 (A. 368.) of the 12th cent. (St. Ouen de Rouen.)

    15.    Troyes 752. of the 12th cent. (Clairvaux.)

    16.    Oxford, Bodl. Hatton 20. In English minuscule of the 10th cent., containing the Anglo-Saxon version made by King Alfred. It formerly belonged to Worcester [cathedral].

EDITIONS

    1.    … lib’ Regule pastoral’.    [Ulric Zell? Cologne, 1470?] 4°.

    2.    … liber regule pastoral’.    [M. Flach: Strasburg, 1475?] 4°.

    3.    … liber cure pastoralis.    n. pl. 1482, 8°.

    4.    Paftoralis.    Venetiis per Hier. de Paganinis, 1492, 4°.

    5.    Paftorale.    Argentine, 1496, 4°

    6.    Paftorale.    in vrbe Bafílíenfí (Mich. Furter) 1496, 4°.

    7.    Liber cure paftoralis …     Parrhisiis per Vdalricu’ gering & Magiftru’ Berchtoldu’ renbolt focioru’, 1498, 4°.

    8.    in Gregorii Magni opera, beneficio Bertholdi Renbolt.    In edibus J. Parvi: Parrhisiis, 1518, fol.

    9.    Do. ed. Franc. Regnault.    Rothomagi (Paris), 1521, fol.

    10.    Pastoralis diui Gregorii; At fol. cciii. of Opera …     Paris., ex officina Claudii Chevalon, 1523, fol.

    11.    in opera …    1533, fol.

    12.    Do.    Basil., 1550.

    13.    Do. cura Huldrici Coccii.    Basil., ap. Froben. 1564, fol.

    14.    Pastoralia; at col. 869, tom. I. of Opera … ed. Ioannes Gillotius Campanus.    Paris., 1571, fol.

    15.    Pastoralis; at fol. 2, tom. II. of opera,    Antverpiae. 1572, fol.

    16.    [another ed. of no. 14.]    Paris., 1586.

    17.    Liber pastoralis curæ; at p. 143, tom. III. of opera … ed. Petrus Tossinianensis episc. Venusinus.    Romae, ex typis Vaticanis, 1588–93, fol.

    18.    in Opera, Sixti V.… jussu emendata … [by R. Rodulphus, bp. of Venosa.]    Paris., 1605, fol.

    19.    in Opera …    Romæ, 1613, 8°.

    20.    Do.    Duaci, 1615.

    21.    Do. emendata … [by P. Rodulphus].    Antverpiæ, 1615, fol.

    22.    Do.    Paris., 1619.

    23.    … Cura Pastoralis … opera … Matthiæ Abbatis Admentensis … in hanc formam recusa.    Monaci, 1622, 12°

    24.    De cvra pastorali liber verè aureus, accuratè emendatus … è Vet. MSS.… ab eximijs aliquot Acad. Oxoniensis theologis; editus à Ieremia Stephano …    Londini, 1629, 8°.

    25.    Liber pastoralis curæ at p. 169 of ‘Septem tubæ orbis Christiani …, operâ J. M. Horstii …’     Coloniæ Agrippinæ, 1635, 4°.

    26.    in Opera.    Paris., 1640.

    27.    Do. ed. Petr. Gussanvillaeus.    Paris., 1675, fol.

    28.    Regulæ pastoralis liber; at col. 1–102 of tom. II. of opera … studio & labore monachorum ord. Sancti Benedicti è congr. S. Mauri …    Par., 1705, fol.

    29.    … Regulæ pastoralis liber … juxta editionem Parisiensium Monachorum Ord. S. Benedicti per B. Campagnolam … emendatus, variisque lectionibus illustratus.    Veronæ, 1739, 12°.

    30.    in Opera ed. Gallicciolli.    Venetiis, 1768–76, 4°.

    31.    Regulæ pastoralis liber; in tom. 13 of ‘sanctae … catholicae ecclesiae dogmatum et moram ex selectis veterum patrum operibus Veritas demonstrata, &c.’ By A. M. Cigheri.    Florentiæ, 1791, 4°.

    32.    —[another ed.] in vol. I. of Biblio-theca Pastoralis.…     Oeniponte, 1845, 12°.

    33.    —Novam editionem curavit E. W. Westhoff.    Monasterii Westphalorum, 1846, 8°.

    34.    —[another ed.] col. 13, tom. III. of opera in Migne’s Patrologia, tom. 75–9.    Parisiis, 1849, la. 8°.

    35.    —[another ed.]    Romae, 1849, 12°.

    36.    —[another ed.] Ex Benedictinorum recensione. Praemissa est vita S. Gregorii a Paulo Diacono conscripta. [Edited by G. Leonhardi.]    Lipsiae, 1873, 8°.

    37.    —[another ed.] in vol. 20 of ‘Sanctorum Patrum opuscula selecta. Edidit … H. von Hurter.    Oeniponti, 1874–85, 16°.

    38.    S. Gregorii Magni Regulæ Pastoralis Liber. S. Gregory on the Pastoral charge; the Benedictine text, with an English translation by … H. R. Bramley.    Oxford, 1874, 8°.

    38*.    The book of Pastoral rule, and selected epistles, of Gregory the Great, bp. of Rome; transl., with introduction, notes, and indices, by the Rev. J. Barmby, D.D, (Pt. I.) (A select library of Nicene and post-Nicene fathers of the Christian Church. 2nd Ser., vol. XII.)    Oxford & New York, 1895, la. 8°.

    39.    King Alfred’s West-Saxon Version of Gregory’s Pastoral Care. With an English translation. Edited for the Early English Text Society, by H. Sweet.    Lond., 1871, 2, 8°.

    40.    Le Livre de S. Gregoire le Grand … du soin et du devoir des pasteurs.… Nouvelle traduction [by J. le C. C. de S.…, i.e. Jean Le Clerc, Curê de Soisy.]    Paris, 1670, 8°.

    41.    Die Pastoralschriften des hl. Gregor des Grossen und des hl. Ambrosius von Mailand, übersetzt von. C. Haas.    Tübingen, 1862, 8°.

    42.    Il libro della Regola Pastorale di S. Gregorio Magno volgarizzamento inedito del secolo xiv., tratto da un Manoscritto della Biblioteca Ambrosiana da A. Ceruti, …    Milano, 1869, 8°.

[Amongst Rawlinson’s MSS. in the Bodleian [MS. Rawl. D. 377, fol. 86] are 2 specimen leaves of an edition, giving the Latin text, with King Alfred’s translation, designed by E. Thwaites;    Oxford? c. 1700, 4°.]

LITERATURE

Dewitz (A.), Untersuchungen über Alfreds des Grossen west-sächsische Übersetzung der “Cura pastoralis” Gregors und ihr Verhaltnis zum Originale. Inaug.-Diss.… Breslau.    Bunzlau, 1889, 8°.

Fleischhauer (K. W.), Ueber den Gebrauch des Conjunctivs in Alfred’s altenglischer Uebersetzung von Gregor’s Cura Pastoralis. Inaug.-Diss.… Göttingen.    Göttingen, 1885, 8°.

Gieschen (K. L.), Die Charakteristischen Unterschiede der einzelnen Schreiber im Hatton MS. der Cura Pastoralis. Inaug.-Diss.… Greifswald.    Greifswald, 1887, 8°.

Glossarium zum Werke des heil. Gregorius: Liber regulæ pastoralis, aus einer Handschrift des zehnten Jahrhunderts in der Stiftsbibliothek zu St. Florian, aus geschrieben von F. Kurz Aus dem xxxvii. Bde der Jahrbücher der Literatur besonders abgedruckt.    Wien, 1827, 8°.

Wack (Gustav), Über das Verhältnis von König Aelfreds Übersetzung der Cura Pastoralis … zum Originale. Inaug.-Diss.… Greifswald.    Greifswald, 1889, 8°.

REGISTRUM EPISTOLARUM

IMPORTANT MSS

    1.    Cologne 92. of the 8th cent. Held by Ewald to be the best of all the MSS.

    2.    St. Petersburg 6 F. 1. 7. (Formerly at Corvey; then at St. Germain-des-Prés.) 8th cent. The first in the list of MSS. given by Migne.

    3.    Berlin theol. 322. of the 9th cent.

    4.    Dusseldorf B. 79. of the 9th cent.

    5.    Munich 14641. of the 9th cent

    6.    Paris 11674. (St. Germain 282.) of the 9th cent.

    7.    Vienna 934. of the 9th cent.

    8.    The Escurial d. I. 1. (the Codex Emilianus). Written in West-Gothic minuscule, and finished in 992.

    9.    Bamberg 601. of the 10th cent.

    10.    Cologne 94. of the 10th cent.

    11.    Paris 2279. (Formerly in the library of St. Martial de Limoges;) of the 10th cent

    12.    St. Gallen 670. of the 10th cent.

    13.    Trier 171. of the 10th cent.

    14.    Monte Cassino 71. Written in a Lombardic hand of the end of the 11th cent.

    15.    Wolfenbüttel 155. (75.) of the 11th cent.

    16.    Cologne 95. of the 12th cent.

    17.    Vatican 619. of the 12th cent.

EDITIONS

    1.    Liber Ep’larum beati Gregorii Pape …    (Augustae Vindel., G. Zainer, c. 1472) fol.

    2.    Epiftole ex Regiftro: (cum vita Gregorii praefixa).    Venetiis per Laz. Soardum, 1505, fol.

    3.    Do.    Parisiis, 1508, 4°.

    4.    in Gregorii Magni opera, beneficio Bertholdi Renbolt.    In edibus J. Parvi: Parrhisiis, 1518, fol

    5.    Do. ed. Franc. Regnault.    Rothomagi (Paris), 1521, fol.

    6.    … epiftole ex Regiftro fa’cti Gregorii pape; At fol. ccclvi. of Opera …     Paris., ex officina Claudii Chevalon, 1523, fol.

    7.    Do.    1533, fol.

    8.    Registrum Epistolarum.    Lugduni, 1539, 40.

    9.    Do. ed. Guillart.    Paris., 1542, fol.

    10.    in Opera … tom. II.    Basil, 1550.

    11.    in Opera … cura Huldrici Coccii.    Basil., ap. Froben., 1564, fol.

    12.    Epiftolæ ex Regiftro; col. 433–825 of Vol. II. of Opera … ed. Ioannes Gillotius Campanus.    Paris., 1571, fol.

    13.    Registrum Epistolarum.    Venetiis, 1571.

    14.    Epistolae ex Registro; fol. 1681 of Vol. II. of Opera,    Antverpiae, 1572, fol.

    15.    Do.    Venetiis, 1583.

    16.    [another ed. of No. 12].    Paris., 1586.

    17.    Registrum Epistolarum; Vol. IV. of Opera … ed, Petrus Tossinianensis episc. Venusinus.    Romae, ex typis Vaticanis, 1588–93.

    18.    in Opera, Sixti V.… jussu emendata … [by R. Rodulphus, bp. of Venosa].    Paris., 1605, fol.

    19.    in Opera …     Romæ, 1613, 8°.

    20.    Do.    Duaci, 1615.

    21.    Do. emendata … [by P. Rodulphus.]    Antverpiæ, 1615, fol.

    22.    Do.    Paris., 1619.

    23.    Do.    Paris., 1640.

    24.    Epistolæ; col. 1027, Vol. V. Conciliorum, studio Ph. Labbei et G. Cossartii.    Paris., 1671, fol.

    25    in Opera … ed. Petr. Gussanvillaeus, tom. II. pp. 359–1150.    Paris., 1675, fol.

    26.    Do. … studio & labore monachorum ord. Sancti Benedicti è congregatione Sancti Mauri … tom. II., col. 477–1317.    Par., 1705, fol.

    27.    in Opera … ed. Gallicciolli, tom. 7–9.    Venetiis, 1768–76, 4°.

    28.    in Opera … tom. 75–79 of Migne’s Patrologia, tom. III., col. 441.    Parisiis, 1849, la. 8°.

    29.    Gregorii I. papae Registrvm epistolarvm. Tomi I. pars I. Liber i.–iv. Edidit Pavlvs Ewald. Tomi I. pars II. Libri v.–vii. Tomi II. partes I., II. Libri viii.–xiv. Post Pavli Ewaldi obitvm edidit Lvdovicvs M. Hartmann. (Mon. Germ. Hist.—Epistolarum tomi I., II.)    Berl., 1887–95, 4°

    30.    —; Uebersetzt … von M. Feyerabend. 6 vols.    Kempten, 1807–9.

[See also no. 38* in list of editions of “Cura Pastoralis.”]

The text in Migne’s ed. is a reprint of the edition by the monks of St. Maur, of 1705.

By far the best edition of the Epistolae yet attempted is that begun by Ewald, who died after editing pt. I., bks. I.–IV. The work is being continued on the same scale by L. M. Hartmann.

LITERATURE

Antonii Dadini Alteserræ Antecessoris Tolosani, Notæ et observationes in xii. libros epistolarum B. Gregorii papæ.…    Tolosæ, 1669, 4°.

Baumgarten (P. M.), Ueber eine Handschrift der Briefe Gregors I. [B. M., King’s libr. 6, C. x.] (Neues Archiv d. Gesselsch. f. ä. deutsch. Gesch. xv., 1890, p. 60.)

Bembus (Matthæus), Pastor vigilans: sive ars regendi animas ex epistolis D. Gregorii Magni excerpta …     Colon. 1618, 8°.

Ewald (P.), Studien zur Ausgabe des Registers Gregors I. (Neues Archiv, iii., 1878, pp. 433–625.)

Hartmann (L. M.), Ueber zwei Gregorbriefe. (Neues Archiv, xvii., 1892, p. 193.)

———Zur Chronologie der Briefe Gregors I. (———xv., 1890, p. 411.)

———Zur Orthographie Papst Gregors I. (———xv., 1890, p. 529.)

Jaffé (Ph.) [Editor], S. Gregorius I., ed. P. Ewald: pp. 143–219, of vol. I., and p. 738 of vol. II., of Regesta pontificum Romanorum, ed. P. Jaffé.    Lipsiae, 1885, 6, 4°.

James (Thomas), Vindiciæ Gregorianæ, seu restitutus innumeris pæne locis Gregorius ex variis MSS. vt magno labore, ita Singulari fide collatis.    Genevæ, 1625, 4°.

Kellet (F. W.), Pope Gregory the Great and his relations with Gaul. (Cambridge historical essays.)    Lond. 1889, 8°.

Lampe (Fel.), Qui fuerint Gregorii Magni papae temporibus in imperii Byzantini parte occidentali exarchi et qualia eorum iura atque officia. Diss.… Berlin.    Berlin, 1892, 1a. 8°.

Maasen (F.), Ueber eine Sammlung von Schreiben Gregors I. u. Verordnungen der Kaiser u. Könige.    Wien, 1877, 8°.

Mommsen (Th.), Zu den Gregorienbriefen. (Neues Archiv, xvii., 1892, p. 189.)

Pflugk-Harttung (J. v.), Papst Gregor d. Gr. (Münchener allgem. Zeitung, 1888. Beilage no. 209–215.)

Savini (F.), Se il Castrum Aprutiense delle lettere di s. Gregorio Magno fu l’odierna Teramo e se la voce Aprutium servi nel primitivo medio evo a denominare la città di Teramo, ovvero solo il suo territorio. (Archivio storico Italiano Ser. v. tom. X. 1892, p. 3.)

Wisbaum (W.), Die wichtigsten Richtungen und Ziele der Thätigkeit des Papstes Gregors des Grossen. Inaug. Diss.… Bonn.    Koln (1884), 8°.

Wolfsgruber (C.), Die vorpäpstliche Lebensperiode Gregors d. Gr. Nach seinen Briefen Dargestellt. Progr.… Schotten    Wien, 1886, 4°.

———Gregor der Grotze …    Saulgau, 1890, 8°.

Wollschack (Th.), Die Verhältnisse Italiens, insbesondere des Langobardenreichs, nach dem Briefwechseb Gregors I. Progr.… Horn.    Horn, 1888, 4°.

BOOK IX

EPISTLE I

To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari)

Gregory to Januarius, &c.

The preacher of Almighty God, Paul the apostle, says, Rebuke not an elder (1 Tim. 5:1). But this rule of his is to be observed in cases where the fault of an elder does not draw through his example the hearts of the younger into ruin. But, when an elder sets an example to the young for their ruin, he is to be smitten with severe rebuke. For it is written, Ye are all a snare to the young (Isai. 42:22). And again the prophet says, The sinner being an hundred years old is accursed (Isai. 65:20). But so great wickedness has been reported to us of thy old age that, unless we were humanely disposed, we should smite thee with a definitive curse. For it has been told me that on the Lord’s day, before celebrating the solemnities of mass, thou wentest forth to plough up the crop of the bearer of these presents, and after ploughing it up didst celebrate the solemnities of mass. Also, after the solemnities of mass thou didst not fear to root up the landmarks of that possession. What punishment ought to follow such deeds all who hear of them know. We had, however, been in doubt as to so great perversity in thee as this; but our son Cyriacus the abbot, having been questioned by us, declared that when he was at Caralis he knew it to be the case. And, seeing that we still spare thy gray hairs, bethink thee at length, old man, and restrain thyself from such levity of behaviour, and perversity of deeds. The nearer thou art approaching death, the more careful and fearful oughtest thou to become. And indeed a sentence of punishment had been launched against thee; but, since we know thy simplicity accompanying thy old age, we meanwhile hold our peace. Those, however, by whose advice thou hast done these things we decree to be excommunicated for two months; but so that, if within the space of two months anything should happen to them after the manner of humanity they be not deprived of the blessing of the viaticum. But do thou henceforth be cautious to stand aloof from their counsels, lest, if thou be their disciple in evil whose master thou oughtest to have been in good, we no longer spare either thy simplicity or thy old age.

EPISTLE II

To Vitalis, Guardian (Defensorem) of Sardinia.

Gregory to Vitalis, &c.

What we have learnt about our brother the bishop Januarius the bearers of these presents, as well as the copies of our letters, will sufficiently inform you; and so let thy Experience judiciously carry into effect the excommunication which we have decreed to be pronounced on his perverse counsellors, that they may learn by falling not to walk unwarily.

Moreover, we have sent back by Redemptus the guardian (defensorem), the bearer of these presents, the wheat which had been sent to us under the name of a present. Let thy experience see that neither thou nor he who brought it presume to partake of anything out of it as a bounty, but restore the whole of it without abatement to the several persons, or to all of them together, and send me their receipts for the value; for, should I ascertain that anything has been done otherwise than as I direct, I will visit the offence with no slight severity.

EPISTLE III

To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).

Gregory to Januarius, &c.

The most distinguished lady Nereida has complained to us that your Fraternity does not blush to exact from her a hundred solidi for the burial of her daughter, and would bring upon her the additional vexation of expense over and above her groans of sorrow. Now, if the truth is so, it being a very serious thing and far from a priest’s office to require a price for earth that is granted to rottenness, and to wish to make profit out of another’s grief, let your Fraternity refrain from this demand, and be no more troublesome to her, especially as she tells us that Hortulanus, to whom she asserts she bore this daughter, had formerly been munificent to your Church in no small degree. Now as to this abuse, we ourselves, after we had by God’s permission acceded to the dignity of the episcopate, forbade it entirely in our Church, and by no means permitted the evil custom to be taken up anew, remembering that, when Abraham demanded for a price a sepulchre for the burial of his wife’s body from the sons of Emor, that is from Ephron the son of Seor, the latter refused to accept a price, lest he should appear to have made profit out of a corpse (Gen. 23). If then a man that was a pagan shewed such great consideration, how much more ought we, who are called priests, not to do this thing? Wherefore I admonish you that this abuse, which comes of avarice, be not ventured on any more, even in the case of strangers. But, if at any time you allow any one to be buried in your Church, and the parents, relations, or heirs of such person should of their own accord wish to offer something for lights, we do not forbid it to be accepted. But we altogether forbid anything to be asked for or exacted, this being a very irreligious proceeding, lest (which God forbid) the Church should haply be spoken of as venal, or you should seem to take joy in men’s deaths, if you endeavour in any way whatever to seek profit out of their corpses.

With regard to other cases included in the petition of the aforesaid Nereida, we exhort thee, if possible, to settle them by an amicable arrangement, or certainly not to omit sending an instructed person to the court, deputed by us, for which purpose we have sent to your parts Redemptus our guardian (defensorem), the bearer of these presents, that he may compel the parties to appear for trial, and carry out with summary execution what may be adjudged.

EPISTLE IV

To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).

Gregory to Januarius, a Bishop of Sardinia.

We knew before the letter of your Fraternity reached us what our enemies had effected in Sardinia. And, having for some time feared that this would be so, we now groan with you on what we foresaw having come to pass. But, if attention had been paid to what we wrote to our most excellent son Gennadius, as well as to yourself, telling you that this would be so, the enemy would either not have come into your regions, or, when they came, they would have incurred the danger which they have caused. Even now, then, let what has happened sharpen your vigilance for the future. For we, too, by no means omit whatever we are able to do for good, the Lord helping us.

Know, moreover, that the abbot whom, now a considerable time ago, we sent to Agilulph, has by the mercy of God arranged a peace with him, so far as was directed in writing by the most excellent Exarch. And so, till such time as the agreements for the confirmation of this peace shall be drawn up, lest perchance our enemies during the present delay should be inclined to come again into those parts, do you cause watches of the walls to be kept up, and careful attention given in all places. And we trust in the power of our Redeemer that the incursions or plots of our adversaries will not injure you anew.

As to your saying in your letter that many persons lay complaints against you before us, this is true; but among various things nothing has distressed us so much as what our most beloved son, the abbot Cyriacus, has reported to us; namely, that on the Lord’s day before mass you caused a crop of corn to be ploughed up in the field which is in the possession of Donatus, and, as if that were not enough, went, after the sacrifice was finished, in person to the place, and dug up the boundaries. For this reason I exhort thee to consider with anxious attention the office which thou bearest, and to avoid entirely whatever may injure thy reputation or thy soul, and let no one persuade thee to do the like again. For know that thou hast not undertaken the care of earthly things, but the leadership of souls. On this, therefore, thou oughtest to fix thy heart, thy anxiety, thy entire devotion, and to give thy diligent thought to the winning of souls, that when thou shalt render to the Lord at His coming the talents that He has delivered to thee multiplied, thou mayest be counted worthy to receive from Him the fruit of retribution, and to be exalted among His faithful servants in eternal glory. Know, however, that what I now say in the way of reproach or blame comes not from asperity, but from brotherly love, since I desire thee to be found a priest before Almighty God, not in name only, which tends only to punishment, but also in desert, which looks to recompense. For, we being one member in the body of our Redeemer, as I am rent asunder in thy fault, so also am I rejoiced in thy good conduct.

Furthermore, with regard to your desire that we should depute a person from our side (a nostro latere), to whom you may communicate in detail the cases that are to be referred to us, write whatever you will to our most beloved son Peter and to Theodore the counsellor (consiliario), that, when it has been communicated to us through them, whatever reason may commend may be settled, the Lord revealing the way. Moreover, concerning our brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus, cognizance will be taken, when peace with the aforesaid Agilulph shall have been fully confirmed, and whatever the order of reason may dictate will be done.

EPISTLE V

To Marcellus, Pro-consul of Dalmatia.

Gregory to Marcellus, &c.

We have received the letter of your Greatness, in which you speak of having incurred our displeasure, and of your wish to be in favour with us through direct satisfaction. And indeed we have heard such things of your Greatness as ought never to have been committed by a faithful man. For all assert that you are the author of all that great mischief in the case of Maximus, and that the spoiling of that Church, and the perdition of so many souls, and the audacity of that unheard-of presumption, had their beginning through you. And indeed, with regard to your seeking to be in favour with us, it is fitting that with your whole heart and soul, and with tears, as becomes you, you should satisfy our Redeemer for such things as these: for, unless satisfaction is made to Him, what certain good can our forgiveness or favour do thee? But while we observe thee to be still implicated in the ruinous conduct of pretenders, or in the advocacy of those who have gone astray, we see not of what sort your satisfaction is either to God or men. For then your Greatness may know that you openly and evidently satisfy God and men, when you bring back both what is devious to rectitude and what is presumptuous to the rule of humility. If this is done, you may know that you will thus be in favour both with God and men.

EPISTLE VI

To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).

Gregory to Januarius, &c.

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. 58:8); and, Of my own will I will confess to him (Ps. 27:7). 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.

EPISTLE VII

To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).

Gregory to Januarius, &c.

It has been laid down by the plain definition of the law that those who go into a monastery for the purpose of entering on monastic life are no longer at liberty to make wills, but that their property passes into possession of the same monastery. This being known to almost all, we have been greatly surprised by the notification of Gavinia, abbess of the monastery of Saints Gavinus and Luxorius, to the effect that Sirica, abbess of her monastery, after receiving the office of government, had made a will leaving certain legacies. And when we enquired of the Solicitude of your Holiness why you endured that property belonging to the monastery should be detained by others, our common son Epiphanius, your archpresbyter, being present before us, replied that the said abbess had up to the day of her death refused to wear the monastic dress, but had continued in the use of such dresses as are used by the presbyteresses2 of that place. To this the aforesaid Gavinia replied that the practice had come to be almost lawful from custom, alleging that the abbess who had been before the above-written Sirica had used such dresses. When, then, we had begun to feel no small doubt with regard to the character of the dresses, it appeared necessary for us to consider with our legal advisers, as well as with other learned men of this city, what was to be done with regard to law. And they, having considered the matter, answered that, after an abbess had been solemnly ordained by the bishop, and had presided in the government of a monastery for many years until the end of her life, the character of her dress might attach blame to the bishop for having allowed it so to be, but still could not prejudice the monastery, but that her property of manifest right belongs to the same place from the time of her entering it and being constituted abbess. And so since she [i.e. the abbess Gavinia] asserts that a guest-house (xenodochium) retains possession unduly of the property unlawfully devised, we hereby exhort you, both the monastery and the guest-house itself being situate in your city, to make provision with all care and diligence, to the end that, if this possession is derived from no previous contract, but from the bequest of the said Sirica, it be restored to the said monastery without dispute or evasion. But, if by any chance it is said to have accrued from another contract, either let your Fraternity, having ascertained the truth between the parties, determine as legal order may seem to demand, or let them by mutual consent choose arbitrators, who may be able to decide between their allegations. And whatever be appointed by them, let it be so observed under your care that no grudge may remain between the venerable places, which ought by all means to be cherished in mutual peace and concord. Wherefore all other things which are detained under the will of the above-named Sirica, seeing that none of them is permitted by legal sanction, must needs be carefully restored to the possession of the monastery through the priestly care of your Fraternity: for it is plainly laid down by the imperial constitutions that what has been done contrary to the laws should not only be inoperative, but also be held as not having been done at all.

EPISTLE VIII

To the
Bishops of Sardinia.

Gregory to Vincentius, Innocentius, Marinianus, Libertinus, Agatho, and Victor, Bishops of Sardinia.

We have learnt that it is the custom of your island after the paschal festival, for you to go, or to send your representatives to your Metropolitan, and for him, whether you know the time or not, to give you directions by a written announcement concerning the following Easter. And, as report goes, some of you, neglecting to do this according to custom, pervert the hearts of others also to disobedience. It is added also that some of you, when seeking parts beyond sea in cases that arise touching their churches, venture to travel without the knowledge of their aforesaid metropolitan, or letters from him, such as canonical order prescribes. We therefore exhort your Fraternity that, conforming to the custom of your churches, as well with respect to the announcement of Easter, as also if need should compel any of you to travel anywhere for business of your own, you should ask leave of your said metropolitan according to the rule imposed upon you; except that, if (as we hope will not be the case) you should happen to have a case against your said Metropolitan, then those who are in haste on this account to seek the judgment of the Apostolic See have licence to do so, as you know is allowed in the canons by the institution even of the ancient Fathers.

EPISTLE IX

To Callinicus, Exarch of Italy.

Gregory to Callinicus, &c.

In the midst of what you have announced to me of your victories over the Sclaves, know that I have been refreshed with great joy that the bearers of these presents, hastening to be joined to the unity of holy Church from the island of Capritana, have been sent by your Excellency to the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles. For hereby you will the more prevail over your enemies, if you recall under the yoke of the true Lord those whom you know to be the enemies of God; and you will prosecute your causes among men with all the more effect as with sincere and devout mind you maintain the causes of God.

Now as to your having desired that a copy should be shewn me of the order that has been sent to you for the defence of the schismatic, your to me most sweet Excellency ought to have considered carefully how that, although that order has been elicited, you are still not therein enjoined to repel those who come to the unity of the Church, but only, at this unsettled time, not to compel those who are unwilling to come. Whence it is necessary for you with all speed to inform our most pious Emperors of these things, to the end that they may be aware how that in their times, through the succour of Almighty God and your exertions, schismatics are hastening to return of their own accord. What I have decided as to the ordering of things in the island of Caritana, your Excellency will learn through our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus4. But I would have you know that this has caused me no slight distress; that your Majordomo, who took charge of the petition of the bishop who was wishing to return, declared that he had lost it, and that afterwards he was got hold of by the adversaries of the Church: which proceeding, in my opinion, was due not to his neglect but to his venality. Wherefore I wonder that your Excellency has not in any way visited his fault in him. And yet I soon blamed myself for wondering at this, for where the lord Justinus gives advice, there heretics cannot be arraigned.

Moreover you tell us that you wish to keep the anniversary of Peter, Prince of the apostles, in the city of Rome. And we pray Almighty God to protect you with His mercy, and grant you a fulfilment of your desires. But I beg that the aforesaid most eloquent man may come with you, or that, if he does not come, he may retire from attendance on you. Or certainly, if your Excellency should be unable to come owing to business that may arise, let him either communicate with the unity of holy Church, or I beg that he may not be a sharer of your counsels. For I hear of him as a good man, were he not in most mischievous error. As to the cause of Maximus, inasmuch as we can no longer stand against the importunity of your Sweetness, you will learn from Castorius, the notary, what we have determined.

EPISTLE X

To Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

Gregory to Marinianus, &c.

The bearers of these presents, the most distinguished men, Vicedominus and Defensor, came to us asserting that a certain bishop, by name John, coming from Pannonia, had been constituted in the castle which is called Novæ, to which castle their island, which is called Capritana, had been appended as a diocese6. They add that, the bishop having been violently withdrawn and expelled from this same castle, another had been ordained there: concerning whom, however, they allege that it has been resolved that he ought not to have lived in the aforesaid castle, but in his own island. They say further that, while he abode with them there, he was unwilling to remain in schismatical error, and together with all his people presented a petition to our most excellent son Callinicus the Exarch, desiring to be united, with all those that were with him, to the Catholic Church, as we have already said. But they say that, being persuaded by the schismatics, he afterwards recanted, and that now all the population of the aforesaid island are deprived of the protection of a Bishop, since, while desiring to be united to holy Church, they cannot now receive him who has turned to the error of the schismatics; and they desire to have another ordained for them. But we, inasmuch as it is necessary to investigate all things strictly and thoroughly, have taken the precaution of ordering as follows; namely that thy Fraternity should send to the said Bishop, and admonish him to return to the unity of the Catholic Church and to his own people. If, after admonition, he should scorn to return, the flock of God ought not to be deluded in the error of its pastor; and therefore let thy Holiness in that case ordain a Bishop there, and let him have the said island for his diocese, till such time as the Histrian Bishops shall return to the Catholic Faith; so that each Church may have the rights of its own diocese preserved to it, and that a population destitute of a pastor may not be without the protection and oversight of government. In all these things, however, it becomes thy Fraternity to take vigilant heed that this same people which comes back to the Church be very studiously admonished, to the end that it may be firmly fixed in its return, lest through wavering thoughts it fall back into the pit of error. But take care to request the most excellent Exarch, in his despatches, to notify these same things to the most pious ears of the Emperors, since, although the order which has been conveyed to him appears to have been elicited from them, yet he is not forbidden in that order to allow such as wish it to return to the Church, but only, at the present time, to compel the unwilling. Let, then, our aforesaid son take into his charge the management of this affair, to the end that he may so frame his reports, that whatever he may ordain may not be dubious. We have, however, ourselves also written to our common son Anatolius, bidding him notify these things fully to the most pious princes.

I have received repeated and pressing letters from my most excellent son, the lord Exarch Callinicus, in behalf of Maximus. Overcome by his importunity, I see nothing further to be done but to commit the cause of Maximus to thy Fraternity. If, therefore, this same Maximus should come to thy Fraternity, let Honoratus, archdeacon of his Church, appear also; that thy Holiness may ascertain if he was rightly ordained, if he fell into no simoniacal heresy, if there was nothing against him in respect of bodily transgressions, if he did not know himself to be excommunicated when he presumed to celebrate mass; and whatever may seem right to thee in the fear of God do thou determine, that we, under God, may give our assent to thy ordering. But, if our aforesaid son should hold thy Fraternity in suspicion, let our most reverend brother Constantius, bishop of Milan, come also to Ravenna, and sit with thee; and do you decide together on the said cause: and whatever may seem good to both of you, hold it for certain that it will seem good to me. For, as we ought not to be obstinate towards the humble, so we ought to shew ourselves strict towards the proud. Let, then, your Fraternity, as you have learnt in the pages of holy Scripture. decide in this business whatever you may consider just.

EPISTLE XI

To Brunichild, Queen.

Gregory to Brunichild, Queen of the Franks.

With what firmness the mind of your Excellency is settled in the fear of Almighty God you shew in a praiseworthy manner, among the other good things that you do, by your love also of His priests; and great joy for your Christianity is caused us, since you study to advance with honours those whom you love and venerate as being truly Christ’s servants. For it becomes you, most excellent daughter, it becomes you to be such as to be able to subject yourself to a lord above you. For in submitting the neck of your mind to the fear of the Almighty Lord you confirm your dominion also over subject nations, and by subjecting yourself to the service of the Creator you bind your subjects the more devotedly to yourself. Wherefore, having received your letters, we signify to you that your Excellency’s earnest desire has greatly pleased us, and we have been desirous of sending the pallium to our brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius, inasmuch as the disposition of our most serene lord the Emperor is also favourable, and, so far as we have been informed by our deacon, who was the representative of our Church at his Court, he is altogether desirous that this thing should be granted2, and many good reports have reached us of our aforesaid brother both on your testimony and that of others; and especially we learnt what his life is from John the Regionarius on his return to us. And hearing what he did in the case of our brother Augustine, we bless our Redeemer, because we feel that he fulfils in his deeds the meaning of his name of priest.

But there have been many hindrances which have meanwhile prevented us from doing this thing. First indeed, that he who had come to receive this pallium is implicated in the error of the schismatics; further, that you wished it to be understood that it was sent, not on your petition, but froth ourselves. But there was this besides; that neither had he who desires to use it requested it to be granted him by a special petition addressed to us: and it was by no means right for us to concede so great a matter without his request; especially as an ancient custom has obtained, that the dignity of the pallium shall not be given except when the merits of a case demand it, and to one who urgently requests it. Still, lest we should seem perchance to wish, under pretext of any excuse, to put off the desire of your Excellency, we have provided for the pallium being sent to our most beloved son Candidus the presbyter, charging him, with befitting precaution, to deliver it in our stead. Hence it is requisite that our above-written brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius must hope for it, when he has of his own motion drawn up a petition with some of his bishops; and this he must give to the aforesaid presbyter, to the end that he may be in a position to obtain properly the use of the same pallium with the favour of God.

In order, then, that the charge you bear may be of fruit to you before the eyes of our Creator, let the solicitude of your Christianity be diligently on the watch, and suffer no one who is under your dominion to attain to holy orders by the giving of money, or the patronage of any persons whatever, or by right of relationship; but let such a one be elected to the episcopate, or to the office of any other sacred order, as his life and manners have shewn to be worthy; lest if, as we do not expect, the dignity of the priesthood should be venal, simoniacal heresy, which was the first to come up in the Church, and has been condemned by the sentence of the Fathers, should arise in your parts, and (which God forbid) should weaken the powers of your kingdom. For it is a serious matter, and a wickedness beyond what can be told, to sell the Holy Spirit, who redeemed all things.

But let this also be your care, that, since, as you know, the excellent preacher entirely forbids a novice to accede to the ruling position of priesthood, you suffer no one to be consecrated bishop from being a layman. For what sort of master will he be who has not been a disciple? Or what kind of leadership can he supply to the Lord’s flock who has not been previously subjected to a shepherd’s discipline? If, then, any one’s life should be such as to shew him worthy of being promoted to this order, he ought first to serve in the ministry of the Church, to the end that by the experience of long practice he may see what to imitate, and learn what to teach; lest perchance the newness of his charge bear not the burden of government, and occasion of ruin arise from the immaturity of his promotion.

Moreover, how your Excellency conducted yourself towards our brother and fellow-bishop Augustine, and how great charity, through the inspiration of God, you bestowed upon him, we have learnt from the relation of divers of the faithful; for which we return thanks, and implore the mercy of Divine Power to keep you here under its protection, and cause you to reign, as among men, so also after a course of many years in life eternal.

Furthermore, those whom the error of the schismatics severs from the unity of the Church, strive ye, for your own reward, to recall to the unity of concord. For on no other ground are they enveloped so far in the blindness of their ignorance but that they may escape ecclesiastical discipline, and have licence to live perversely as they please, since they understand neither what they defend nor what they follow. But as for us, we venerate and follow in all respects the synod of Chalcedon, from which they take to themselves the clouds of a pestiferous excuse; and, if any one should presume to diminish or add anything with regard to the faith thereof, we anathematize him. But they are so impregnated with the taint of error that, giving credence to their own ignorance, they reject the universal Church, and all the four patriarchs, not with reason, but with malicious intent; so that he who was sent to us by your Excellency, when he was asked by us why he stood separated from the universal Church, acknowledged that he did not know. But neither what he said nor what else he gave ear to had he the power of knowing. As to this also we no less exhort you, that you should restrain the rest of your subjects under the control of discipline from sacrificing to idols, being worshippers of trees, or exhibiting sacrilegious sacrifices of the heads of animals; seeing that it has come to our ears that many of the Christians both resort to the churches and also (horrible to relate!) do not give up their worshipping of demons. But, since these things are altogether displeasing to our God, and He does not own divided minds, provide ye for their being salubriously restrained from these unlawful practices; lest (God forbid it!) the sacrament of holy baptism serve not for their rescue, but for their punishment. If therefore you know of any that are violent, if of any that are adulterers, if of any that are thieves, or bent on other wicked deeds, make haste to appease God by their correction, that He may not bring upon you the scourge due to unfaithful races, which, so far as we see, is already lifted up for the punishment of many nations; lest, if—as we do not believe will be the case—the wrath of Divine vengeance should be kindled by the doings of the wicked, the plague of war should destroy the sinners whom the precepts of God recall not to the way of rectitude. We must, then, needs make haste, with all earnestness and continual prayer, to betake ourselves to the mercy of our Redeemer, wherein there is a place of safety and great security for all. For whoso steadfastly abides there, him danger crushes not, nor fear alarms.

We have sent the volume, as you desired us by letter, to our aforesaid most beloved son Candidus the presbyter, to be offered to you, being in haste to be sharers in your good purpose. May Almighty God keep you under His protection, and by His outstretched arm defend your kingdom from unbelieving nations, and bring you after long courses of years to eternal joys. Given in the month of October, the first indiction.

EPISTLE XII

To John, Bishop of Syracuse.

Gregory to John, &c.

One coming from Sicily has told me that some friends of his, whether Greeks or Latins I know not, as though moved by zeal for the holy Roman Church, murmur about my arrangements [i.e. of divine service], saying, How can he be arranging so as to keep the Constantinopolitan Church in check, when in all respects he follows her usage? And, when I said to him, What usages of hers do we follow? he replied; you have caused Alleluia to be said at mass out of the season of Pentecost; you have made appointment for the sub-deacons to proceed disrobed3, and for Kyrie Eleison to be said, and for the Lord’s Prayer to be said immediately after the canon. To him I replied, that in none of these things have we followed another Church.

For, as to our custom here of saying the Alleluia, it is said to be derived from the Church of Jerusalem by the tradition of the blessed Jerome in the time of pope Damasus of blessed memory; and accordingly in this matter we have rather curtailed the former usage which had been handed down to us here from the Greeks.

Further, as to my having caused the sub-deacons to proceed disrobed, this was the ancient usage of the Church. But it pleased one of our pontiffs, I know not which, to order them to proceed in linen tunics. for have your Churches in any respect received their tradition from the Greeks? Whence, then, have they at the present day the custom of the subdeacons proceeding in linen tunics, except that they have received it from their mother, the Roman Church?

Further, we neither have said nor now say the Kyrie Eleison, as it is said by the Greeks: for among the Greeks all say it together; but with us it is said by the clerks, and responded to by the people; and as often as it is said, Christe Eleison is said also, which is not said at all among the Greeks. Further, in daily masses we suppress some things that are usually said, and say only Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, so as to devote ourselves a little longer to these words of deprecation. But the Lord’s prayer (orationem Dominicam) we say immediately after the prayer (mox post precem) for this reason, that it was the custom of the apostles to consecrate the host of oblation to (ad) that same prayer only. And it seemed to me very unsuitable that we should say over the oblation a prayer which a scholastic had composed, and should not say the very prayer which our Redeemer composed over His body and blood2. But also the Lord’s Prayer among the Greeks is said by all the people, but with us by the priest atone. Wherein, then, have we followed the usages of the Greeks, in that we have either amended our own old ones or appointed new and profitable ones, in which, however, we are not shewn to be imitating others? Wherefore, let your Charity, when an occasion presents itself, proceed to the Church of Catana; or in the Church of Syracuse teach those who you believe or understand may possibly be murmuring with respect to this matter, holding a conference there, as though for a different purpose, and so desist not from instructing them. For as to what they say about the Church of Constantinople, who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See, as both the most pious lord the emperor and our brother the bishop of that city continually acknowledge? Yet, if this or any other Church has anything that is good, I am prepared in what is good to imitate even my inferiors, while prohibiting them from things unlawful. For he is foolish who thinks himself first in such a way as to scorn to learn whatever good things he may see

EPISTLE XVII

To Demetrian
and
Valerian.

Gregory to Demetrian and Valerian, clerks of Firmum (Fermo).

Both the ordinances of the sacred canons and legal authority permit that ecclesiastical property may be lawfully expended for the redemption of captives. And so, since we are informed by you that, nearly eighteen years ago, the most reverend Fabius, late bishop of the Church of Firmum, paid to the enemy eleven pounds of the silver of that Church for your redemption, and that of your father Passivus, now our brother and fellow-bishop, but then a clerk, and also that of your mother, and that you have some fear on this account, lest what was given should at any time be sought to be recovered from you;—we have thought fit by the authority of this precept to remove your suspicion, ordaining that you and your heirs shall henceforth sustain no annoyance for recovery of the debt, and that no process shall be instituted against you by any one; since the rule of equity requires that what has been paid with a pious intent should not be attended with burden or distress to those who have been redeemed.

EPISTLE XVIII

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, &c.

Our care for the purpose before us prompts us to commit the looking after ecclesiastical interests to active persons. And so, since we have found thee, Romanus, to have been a trusty and diligent guardian, we have thought fit to commit to thy government from this present second indiction the patrimony of the holy Roman Church, which by the mercy of God we serve, lying in the parts about Syracuse, Catana, Agrigentum, and Mile (partibus Milensibus). Hence it is needful that thou go thither immediately, that, in consideration of the divine judgment, and in memory also of our admonition, thou mayest study to acquit thyself so efficiently and faithfully that thou mayest be found to incur no risk for negligence or fraud, which God forbid should be the case. But act thus all the more in order that thou mayest be commended to divine grace for thy faithfulness and industry. Moreover, we have sent orders according to custom to the familia of the same patrimony, that there may be nothing to hinder thy carrying out what has been enjoined thee.

EPISTLE XIX

To the
Husbandmen (Colonos) of the
Syracusan
Patrimony.

Gregory to the Coloni, &c.

I would have you know that we have arranged for you to be put under the care of our guardian (defensoris). And accordingly we order you to obey him without any reluctance in what he may see fit to do, and enjoin on you to be done, for the advantage of the Church. We have given him such power as to enable him to inflict strict punishment on those who may attempt to be disobedient or contumacious. And we have likewise charged him that he delay not with instant attention to recover to ecclesiastical jurisdiction any slaves who are in hiding outside their limits, or any one by whom boundaries have been invaded. For know that he has been warned on his peril, that he presume not ever under any kind of excuse to do any wrong or robbery in regard to what belongs to others.

EPISTLE XXIII

To John, Bishop of Syracuse.

Gregory to John, &c.

Our son the glorious exconsul Leontius has made a serious complaint to us of our brother and fellow-bishop Leo; and his complaint has altogether disturbed us, since a bishop ought not to have acted so precipitately and lightly. This case we have committed, to be thoroughly enquired into, to our Guardian (defensoris) Romanus when he comes to you. Further, the messenger who was sent by him (i.e. by Leontius) complains of your Fraternity, that in the defence of the illustrious physician Archelaus the interests of our brother and fellow-bishop, the Metropolitan Domitian, suffer damage. And indeed your Fraternity ought justly to protect your sons, or it may be in this case the interests of holy Church, and to give no occasion for evil-speaking to adversaries. I doubt not, however, even while thus speaking, that you do take heed to this: yet we have enjoined on the same Romanus, when he comes to you, to arrange with you what is right with regard to this case also

EPISTLE XXIV

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, &c.

Our son Theodosius, abbot of the Monastery founded by the late Patrician Liberius in Campania, is known to have intimated to us that the late illustrious lady Rustica. about one and twenty years ago, in the will that she made, appointed in the first place Felix, her husband, to be her heir, and delegated to him the foundation of a Monastery in Sicily; but on this condition,—that if he should not within the space of one year pay all the legacies bequeathed to her freedmen, or establish the aforesaid Monastery as she desired, then the holy Roman Church should have undisputed claim to the portion which she was understood to have in the farm of Cumas, and that it should lend aid for paying the above legacies, and for the construction of the said monastery. Hence, seeing that, as is said, the bequeathed property has not so far been made over in full to this same monastery, and some part of the possession is up to this time detained by her heirs, let thy Experience thoroughly enquire into and examine the case. And in the first place indeed, if under the conditions of the will any heirship comes in wherein our Church may have a plea, we desire thee to investigate and clearly ascertain it, and act for the advantage of the poor, as the order of the business may require; and then to be instantly solicitous for the due establishment of that cell, and the recovery of the bequeathed property, to the end that the pious desire of the testatrix may be fulfilled in both respects, and the unjust detainers of the property may learn from just loss the guilt of their undue retention. With all vivacity, then, we desire thee both to enquire into this case and, with the help of the Lord, to bring it to an issue, that the pious devotion of the ordainer may at length take effect. But we desire thee also, as far as justice allows, to succour this monastery in all ways, that lay persons who ought to have rendered the succour of their assistance may not, as is asserted, have power of doing hurt in the name of the founder.

EPISTLE XXVI

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, &c.

Although the law with reason allows not things that come into possession of the Church to be alienated, yet sometimes the strictness of the rule should be moderated, where regard to mercy invites to it, especially when there is so great a quantity that the giver is not burdened, and the poverty of the receiver is considerably relieved. And so, inasmuch as Stephania, the bearer of these presents, having come hither with her little son Calixenus (whom she asserts that she bare to her late husband Peter, saying also that she has laboured trader extreme poverty), demanded of us with supplication and tears that we should cause to be restored to the same Calixenus the possession of a house in the city of Catana, which Ammonia, her late mother-in-law, the grandmother of Calixenus, had offered by title of gift to our Church; asserting that the said Ammonia had not power to alienate it, and that it belonged altogether to the aforesaid Calixenus, her son; which assertion our most beloved son Cyprian, the deacon, who was acquainted with the case, contradicted, saying that the complaint of the aforesaid woman had not justice to go on, and that she could not reasonably claim or seek to recover that house in the name of her son; but, lest we should seem to leave the tears of the above named woman without effect, and to follow the way of rigour rather than embrace the plea of pity, we command thee by this precept to restore the said house to the above-named Calixenus, together with Ammonia’s deed of gift with respect to this same house, which is known to be there in Sicily;—since, as we have said, it is better in doubtful cases not to execute strictness, but rather to be inclined to the side of benignity, especially when by the cession of a small matter the Church is not burdened, and succour is mercifully given to a poor orphan.

Given in the month of November, Indiction 2.

EPISTLE XXVII

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, &c.

It has come to our ears that certain men, having altogether too little discernment, desire us to become implicated in their risks, and wish to be so defended by ecclesiastical persons, that the ecclesiastical persons themselves may be bound by their guilt. Wherefore I admonish thee by his present injunction, and through thee our brother and fellow-bishop, the lord John, or others whom it may concern, that with regard to ecclesiastical patronage of people (whether you should have received letters from me, or none should have been addressed to you), you should bestow it with such moderation that, if any have been implicated in public peculations, they may not appear to be unjustly defended by us, lest we should in any way transfer to ourselves, by venturing on indiscreet defence, the ill repute of evil doers: but so far as becomes the Church, by admonishing and applying the word of intercession, succour whom you can; so that you may both give them aid, and not stain the repute of holy Church.

EPISTLE XXXIII

To Andrew.

Gregory to Andrew.

On hearing that your Glory had been severely afflicted with grief and sickness, I condoled with you exceedingly. But learning presently that the malady had entirely left you, I soon turned my sorrow into joy, and returned great thanks to Almighty God for that He smote that He might heal, afflicted that He might lead to true joys. For hence it is written, Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Heb. 12:6). Hence the Truth in person says, My Father is the husbandman, and every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he will take away; but every branch that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit (Joh. 15:1, 2). For the unfuitful branch is taken away, because a sinner is utterly rooted up. But the fruitful branch is said to be purged, because it is cut down by discipline that it may be brought to more abundant grace. For so the grain of the ears of corn, beaten with the threshing instrument, is stript of its awn and chaff. So the olives, pressed in the oil-press, flow forth into the fatness of oil. So the bunches of grades, pounded with the heels, liquify into wine. Rejoice, therefore, good man, for that in this thy scourge and this thy advancement thou seest that thou art loved by the Eternal Judge.

Furthermore, I beg that my daughter Gloriosa, your wife, be greeted in my name. Now may Almighty God keep you under heavenly protection, and comfort you both now with abundance of gifts and hereafter with the retribution of reward.

EPISTLE XXXVI

To Fortunatus, Bishop of Neapolis (Naples).

Gregory to Fortunatus, &c.

Having learnt what zeal inflames your Fraternity in behalf of Christian slaves whom Jews buy from the territories of Gaul, we apprize you that your solicitude has so pleased us that it is also our own deliberate judgment that they should be inhibited from traffic of this kind. But we find from Basilius, the Hebrew, who has come here with other Jews, that such purchase is enjoined on them by divers judges of the republic, and that Christians along with pagans come to be thus procured. Hence it has been necessary for the business to be adjusted with such cautious arrangement that neither they who give such orders should be thwarted, nor those who say they obey them against their will should bear any expense unjustly. Accordingly, let your Fraternity with watchful care provide for this being observed and kept to; that, when they [i.e. the Jewish dealers] return from the aforesaid province, Christian slaves who may happen to be brought by them be either handed over to those who gave the order, or at all events sold to Christian purchasers within forty days. And after the completion of this number of days let none of them in any way whatever remain in the hands of the Jews. But, should any of these slaves perchance fall into such sickness that they cannot be sold within the appointed days, care is to be taken that, when they are restored to their former health, they be by all means disposed of as aforesaid. For it is not fit that any should incur loss for a transaction that is free from blame. But since, as often as anything new is ordained, it is usual so to lay down the rule for the future as not to condemn the past in large costs, if any slaves have remained in their hands from the purchase of the previous year, or have been recently taken away from them by you, let them have liberty to dispose of them while they are with you. So may there be no possibility of their incurring loss for what they did in ignorance before the prohibition, such as it is right they should sustain after being forbidden.

Further, it has been reported to us that the above-named Basilius wishes to concede to his sons, who by the mercy of God are Christians, certain slaves, under the title of a gift, with the view that, under cover of the opportunity thus afforded, they may serve him as their master all but in name; and that, if after this any should perchance have believed that they might fly to the Church for refuge in order to become Christians, they may not be reclaimed to freedom, but to the dominion of those to whom they had before been given. In this matter it befits your Fraternity to keep becoming watch. And, if he should wish to give any slaves to his sons, that all occasion of fraud may be removed, let them by all means become Christians, and let them not remain in his house; but, when circumstances may require that he should have their services, let them be commanded to render him what, even in any case, from his sons, and for God’s sake, it is fitting should be supplied to him.

EPISTLE XLI

To Julianus, Scribo.

Gregory to Julianus, &c.

If in secular offices order and the discipline handed down by our ancestors is observed, who may bear to see ecclesiastical order confounded, to disregard such things when heard of, and postpone their amendment by improperly condoning them? And indeed you do well to love charity and to persuade to concord. But, since we are compelled by consideration of our position, and for God’s sake, by no means to leave uninvestigated the things that have come to our knowledge, we shall take care, when Maximus comes, to require a strict account from him of the things that have been said about him. And we trust in the guardianship of our Creator, that we shall not be turned aside by either the favour or the fault of any man from maintenance of the canons and the straight path of equity, but willingly observe what is agreeable to reason. For if (which God forbid) we neglect ecclesiastical solicitude and vigour, indolence destroys discipline, and certainly harm will be done to the souls of the faithful, while they see such examples set them by their pastors. But with regard to your saying in your letter that the good will of the palace and the love of the people are not alienated from him, this circumstance does not recall us from our zeal for justice, nor shall it cause our determination to enquire into the truth to fail through sin of ours. Every one, then, should strive, magnificent son, to conciliate to himself the love of God. For without divine favour what can I say that human love will do for us hereafter, when even among ourselves it harms us the more?

EPISTLE XLII

To Agilulph, King of The
Lombards.

Gregory to Agilulph, &c.

We return thanks to your Excellency, that, hearkening to our petition, you have concluded such a peace as may be of advantage to both parties, as we had confidence in you that you would. On this account we greatly commend your prudence and goodness, since in choosing peace you have shewn that you love God, who is its author. For, if unhappily peace had not been made, what else could have ensued but, with sin and danger on both sides, the shedding of the blood of miserable peasants, whose labour profits both? But, that we may feel the advantage to us of this peace, as it has been made by you, we beg you, greeting you with paternal charity, that as often as opportunity offers itself, you would enjoin by letters on your dukes in divers places, and especially those who are constituted in these parts, that they keep this peace inviolate, as has been promised, and not seek for themselves any occasions whence either any contention or any ill-feeling may arise, to the end that we may be able to give thanks still more for your good will. We received the bearers of these presents, as being in very truth your own people, with the affection that was becoming, since it was right both to receive and dismiss with charity men who are wise, and who announced that by the favour of God peace had been concluded.

EPISTLE XLIII

To Theodelinda, Queen of the
Lombards.

Gregory to Theodelinda, &c.

How your Excellency has laboured earnestly and kindly, as is your wont, for the conclusion of peace we have learnt from the report of our son, the abbot Probus. Nor indeed was it otherwise to be expected of your Christianity than that you would in all ways shew your assiduity and goodness in the cause of peace. Wherefore we give thanks to Almighty God, who so rules your heart with His loving-kindness that, as He has given you a right faith, so He also grants you to work always what is pleasing in His sight. For you may be assured, most excellent daughter, that for the saving of so much bloodshed on both sides you have acquired no small reward. On this account, returning thanks for your goodwill, we implore the mercy of our God to repay you with good in body and soul here and in the world to come.

Moreover, greeting you with fatherly affection, we exhort you so to deal with your most excellent consort that he may not reject the alliance of the Christian republic. For, as I believe you know yourself, it is in many ways profitable that he should be inclined to betake himself to its friendship. Do you then, after your manner, always strive for what tends to goodwill and conciliation between the parties, and labour wherever an occasion of reaping a reward presents itself, that you may commend your good deeds the more before the eyes of Almighty God.

EPISTLE XLIX

To Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch.

Gregory to Anastasius, &c.

I received the letters of thy Fraternity, rightly holding fast the profession of the faith; and I returned great thanks to Almighty God, who, when the shepherds of His flock are changed, still, even after such change, guards the faith which He once delivered to the holy Fathers. Now the excellent preacher says, Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 3:2). Whosoever, then, with love of God and his neighbour, holds firmly the faith that is in Christ, he has laid for himself the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God and man, as a foundation. It is to be hoped therefore that, where Christ is the foundation, the edifice also of good works may follow. The Truth also in person says, He that entereth not by the door into the sheep-fold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber; but he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep (Joh. 10:1). And a little after He adds, I am the door. He, then, enters into the sheep-fold through the door who enters through Christ. And he enters through Christ who thinks and preaches what is true concerning the same Creator and Redeemer of the human race, and holds fast what he preaches; who takes upon him the topmost place of rule for the office of carrying a burden, not for the desire of the glory of transitory dignity. He also watches wisely over the sheep-fold of which he has taken charge, lest either perverse men tear the sheep of God by speaking froward things, or malignant spirits ravage them by persuading to vicious delights.

Of a truth we remember how the blessed Jacob, who had served long for his wives, said, This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not been barren. The rams of thy flock have I not eaten, nor shewn unto thee that which had been seized by a beast. I made good every loss; whatever had been lost by theft, from me didst thou require it. By day and night I was consumed by drought and frost; sleep fled from mine eyes (Gen. 31:38). If, then, he who feeds the sheep of Laban labours and watches thus, on what labour, on what watches, should he be intent who feeds the sheep of God? But in all this let Him instruct us who for our sake became a man, who vouchsafed to become what he had made. May He pour both into my weakness and into thy charity the spirit of His own love, and in all carefulness and watchfulness of circumspection open the eye of our heart.

But for men of a right faith being advanced to sacred orders thanks are to be paid without cease to the same Almighty God, and prayer ever made for the life of our most pious and most Christian lord the Emperor, and for his most tranquil spouse, and their most gentle offspring, in whose times the mouths of heretics are silent; since, though their hearts seethe with the madness of perverse thought, yet in the time of the Catholic Emperor they presume not to speak out the bad things which they think.

Furthermore, in speaking of your maintenance of the holy councils, your Fraternity declares that you maintain the first holy Ephesine synod. But, seeing that from the account given in an heretical document which has been sent me from the royal city, I have found that, according to it, certain Catholic positions had been censured along with heretical ones, because some suppose that to have been the first Ephesine synod which was got together at some time or other by the heretics in the same city, it is altogether necessary that your Charity should apply to the Churches of Alexandria and Antioch for the acts of this synod, and find how the matter really stands. Or, if you please, we will send you hence what we have here, preserved from of old in our archives. For that synod which was held under pretence of being the first Ephesine asserts that certain positions submitted to it were approved, which are the declared tenets of Cœlestius and Pelagius. And, Cœlestius and Pelagius having been condemned in that synod, how could those positions be approved, the authors of which were condemned?

Further, since it has come to our ears that in the Churches of the East no one attains to a sacred order except by giving of bribes, if your Fraternity finds it to be so, offer your first oblation to Almighty God by restraining in the Churches subject to you the error of simoniacal heresy. For, to pass over other considerations, what manner of men can they be in sacred orders who are raised to them not by merit, but by bribes? May Almighty God guard thy Love with heavenly grace, and grant to you to carry with you to eternal joys multiplied fruit and overflowing measure from those who are committed to your charge.

EPISTLE LV

To Fantinus, Guardian (Defensorem), of Panormus (Palermo).

Gregory to Fantinus, &c.

A little time ago we wrote to Victor, our brother and fellow-bishop, that—inasmuch as certain of the Jews have complained in a petition presented to us that synagogues with their guest-chambers, situated in the city of Panormus, had by him been unreasonably taken possession of—he should keep aloof from their congregation until it could be ascertained whether this thing had been justly done, lest perchance injury should appear to have been alleged by them of their own mere will. And indeed, having regard to his priestly office, we could not easily believe that our aforesaid brother had done anything unsuitably. But, since we find from the report of Salarius, our notary, who was afterwards there, that there had been no reasonable cause for taking possession of those synagogues, and that they had been unadvisedly and rashly consecrated, we therefore enjoin thy Experience, since what has been once consecrated cannot any more be restored to the Jews, that it be thy care to see that our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop pay the price at which our sons, the glorious Venantius the Patrician, and Urbicus the Abbot, may value the synagogues themselves with the guest-chambers that are under them or annexed to their walls, and the gardens thereto adjoining; that so what he has caused to be taken possession of may belong to the Church, and they may in no wise be oppressed, or suffer any injustice. Moreover, let books or ornaments that have been abstracted be in like manner sought for. And, if any have been manifestly taken away, we desire them also to be restored without any ambiguity. For, as there ought to be no licence for them, as we have ourselves already written, to do anything in their synagogues beyond what is decreed by law, so neither damage nor any cost ought to be brought upon them contrary to justice and equity

EPISTLE LVIII

To Martin Scholasticus.

Gregory to Martin, &c.

Seeing that questions arising in civil affairs need, as is known to thy Greatness, very full enquiry, let thy wisdom consider with what care and vigilance the causes of bishops should be investigated. But, in the letter which thou hast sent us by the bearer of these presents on the questions with respect to which thou wert sent to us by our brother and fellow-bishop Crementius, thou hast given only a superficial account of them, and hast been entirely silent about their root. But, had their origin and intrinsic character been manifest to us, we should have known what should be decided about them, and would then settle the mind of our aforesaid brother by a plain and suitable reply. This, however, is altogether displeasing to us, that thou givest us to understand that some of the bishops have gone to the court without letters from their primate, and that they hold unlawful assemblies. But since, as we have before said, the origin and nature of the questions are entirely unknown to us, we cannot pronounce anything definitely, lest, as would be very reprehensible, we should seem to pass sentence about things imperfectly known. Hence it was very needful that, for our complete information, thy Greatness should have proceeded hither to reply to our questions during the time of thy lingering in Sicily. Nevertheless, now that thou hast seen our brother and fellow-bishop John, we believe that in him thou hast seen us also. And so, since he has been at pains himself also to write to us about the same questions, we have written in reply to him what seemed to us right. And, since he is a priest of ripe and cautious judgment, if you are willing to treat with him on the questions which he has been commissioned to entertain, we are sure that you will find in him what is both advantageous and reasonable.

EPISTLE LIX

To John, Bishop of Syracuse.

Gregory to John, &c.

I have received your Fraternity’s letter, wherein you inform me that the most eloquent Martin has come from the African province and communicated something to you privately. And indeed your Fraternity, as often as you find occasion, ceases not to shew your love towards the blessed apostle Peter. Wherefore we give thanks to Almighty God, that where you are, there we are not found absent. Nevertheless, your Holiness is not yet fully cognizant of the case in hand. For the Byzacene primate had been accused on some charge, and the most pious Emperor wished him to be judged by us according to canonical ordinance. But then, on the receipt of ten pounds of gold, Theodorus the magister militum opposed this being done. Yet the most pious Emperor admonished us to commission some one, and do whatever was canonical. But, seeing the contrarieties of men, we have been unwilling to decide this case. Now, moreover, this same primate says something about his own intention. And it is exceedingly doubtful whether he says such things to us sincerely, or in fact because he is being attacked by his fellow-bishops: for, as to his saying that he is subject to the Apostolic See, if any fault is found in bishops, I know not what bishop is not subject to it. But when no fault requires it to be otherwise, all according to the principle of humility are equal. Nevertheless, do you speak with the aforesaid most eloquent Martin as seems good to your Fraternity. For it is for you to consider what should be done; and we have replied to you briefly on the case, because we ought not to believe indiscriminately men that are even unknown to us. If, however, you, who see him before you in person, are of opinion that anything more definite should be said to him, we commit this to your Charity, being sure of your love in the grace of Almighty God. And what you do regard without doubt as having been done by us.

EPISTLE LX

To Romanus
and
other
Guardians (defensores) of the
Ecclesiastical
Patrimony.

Gregory to Romanus the guardian, Fantinus the guardian, Sabinus the sub-deacon, Sergius
the guardian, Boniface the guardian (a paribus), and the six patroni.

Since, even as cautious foresight knows how to block the way against faults, and to avoid what is hurtful, so neglect opens the way to excesses, and is wont to incur what ought to be guarded against, we ought to bestow very careful attention, and see alike to the reputation and to the safeguard of our brethren and priests. Now it has come to our ears that certain of the bishops, under pretext, as it were, of help, associate themselves in one house with women. And so, lest hereby just occasion of detraction should be given to scoffers, or the ancient enemy of the human race should take advantage of an easy matter of deceit, we enjoin thee by the tenor of this mandate that thou study to shew thyself strenuous and solicitous. And, if any of the bishops included within the limits of the patrimony committed to thee are living with women, do thou entirely put a stop to this, and for the future by no means suffer any women to reside with them, except such as the censorship of the sacred canons allows, that is a mother, an aunt, a sister, and others of this sort, concerning whom there can be no ill suspicion. Yet they do better, if they refrain from living together even with such as these. For we read that the blessed Augustine refused to live even with his sister, saying, Those who are with my sister are not my sisters.

The caution, then, of a learned man ought to be a great instruction to us. For it is a mark of uncautious presumption for one that is less firm not to fear what a strong man is afraid of. For he wisely overcomes what is unlawful who has learnt not to use even what is allowed him: and indeed we bind none in this matter against their will, but, as physicians are accustomed to do, we prescribe carefulness for health’s sake, even though it be for the time distressful. And therefore we impose no necessary obligation; but, if any should choose to imitate a learned and holy man, we leave it to their own will. Let, then, thy Experience act with zeal and solicitude for the observance of what we have ordered to be prohibited. For, if hereafter it should chance to be found otherwise, know that thou wilt incur no slight risk with us. Furthermore, let it be thy care to exhort these same bishops, our brethren, that they admonish those who are subject to them, to wit those who are constituted in sacred orders, to observe in all ways after their example what they themselves observe; this only being added, that these, as canonical authority has decreed, are not to leave wives whom they ought to govern chastely. Given in the month of March, Indiction 2.

EPISTLE LXI

Here begins the epistle of Rechared, King of the Goths, addressed to the blessed Gregory, Bishop of Rome.

Rechared to the holy lord and most blessed pope, the bishop Gregory.

At the time when the Lord in His compassion caused us to be dissociated from the impious Arian heresy, and the holy Catholic Church gathered us into her bosom ameliorated in the path of faith, it was then the desire of our mind to seek with delight and with the whole bent of our mind so very reverend a man; thee who art powerful above all other bishops, that he might commend in all ways a thing so worthy and acceptable to God for us men. But, whereas we are engaged in many cares of government, being occupied by divers occasions, three years passed without the desire of our mind being satisfied. And after this we chose, for the purpose of sending them to thee, some abbots of monasteries, who should proceed to thy presence, and offer gifts sent by us to Saint Peter, and bring us word more distinctly of thy holy reverence’s health. But, as they hastened on their way, and were almost in sight of the shores of Italy, it befell them that they struck on certain rocks near Marseilles, and were scarcely able to deliver their own souls. And now we have entreated a presbyter whom thy Glory had sent as far as the city of Malaca (civitatem Malicitanam) to come into our sight. But he, detained by bodily infirmity, has in no wise been able to reach the soil of our kingdom. But, as we know most certainly that he was sent by thy Holiness, we have sent a golden cup ornamented on the outside with gems for thy Holiness (as I trust thou wilt vouchsafe to do) to offer as worthy of the apostle who shines the first in dignity. For I also beg thy Highness, when an opportunity is found, to seek us out by thy sacred golden letters. For how much I truly love thee I believe is not hidden, the Lord inspiring thee, from the fecundity of thine own breast. It is sometimes the case that those whom tracts of land or sea divide the grace of Christ glues together as if visibly. For to those who do not see thee at all in person fame discloses thy goodness.

Further, I commend with all veneration to thy Holiness in Christ, Leander, the priest of the church of Hispalis, since through him thy benevolence has been made clearly manifest to us; and when we talk of thy life with this same bishop, we reckon ourselves as your inferiors in regard to your good deeds. I am delighted to hear of thy health, most reverend and most holy man; and I beg of thy Christian prudence that thou wouldest commend frequently in thy prayers to our common Lord us and our people, who are ruled after God under our government, and have been acquired by Christ in your times; that hereby true charity to God-ward may establish in well-being those whom the breadth of the world separates.

EPISTLE LXII

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, &c.

It has come to our ears that the tonsuratores in Sicily, with wicked presumption, take to themselves the name of defensores, and that they not only are of no utility for the interests of the Church, but also take occasion hence to commit many irregularities. Consequently we enjoin thy Experience by this present authority to enquire diligently into this. And, if thou findest any, besides those who have letters to empower them in such business, usurping henceforth this title, put a stop to this thing by strict correction. If, however, thou shouldest discover any who have proved themselves active and faithful in ecclesiastical affairs, thou must send us a full and particular report of them, that we may judge whether they are worthy of a letter3.

Furthermore, we desire thee to make a thorough examination of the accounts of Fortunatus; and, when he has satisfied all the debts that appear against him, allow him no longer to have to do with the patrimony, or with any action of our Church, seeing that, as we have heard, he has conducted himself in such a manner that he ought not henceforth to have any communication with our people.

Furthermore, it has been reported to us that one Martianus, who has assumed to himself the name of a defensor, has declined to pay obedience to our brother and fellow-bishop John, to whom we had committed the charge of our patrimony. Inquire therefore; and, if it is true, let him be sent into exile, that his disobedience to him from whose Church he has seized for himself a false title of honour, and who is promoting the interests of the same, may not go unpunished. But, if there are also any others disobedient to the orders of our said brother, thou wilt by all means visit them with strict punishment.

EPISTLE LXV

To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).

Gregory to Januarius, Bishop of Sardinia.

It has come to our ears that some of your clerics, inflated with a spirit of elation (which is a serious thing to be said), neglect obedience to the commands of your Fraternity, and occupying themselves rather in the services and labours of others, desert the business of their own Church in which they are needed. For this reason we greatly wonder why you do not keep up the rule of discipline, and restrain them, when wandering dissolutely at large, with a rein of strict control to the requirements of the office they have undertaken. It is said also that some of these contumacious clerks, in order to obtain support against you, resort to the patronage of our guardian (defensoris) Vitalis. Wherefore we have sent a letter to him, telling him not to dare henceforth to support any one of your clerks against you unreasonably; but, if any case of fault should arise which is not a serious one but merits pardon, to approach you rather as an intercessor than as a supporter of the culprit. Be on your guard, then, that no such report shall hereafter reach us of your subjects despising you.

We have learnt also that a certain widow left her substance to the monastery of St. Julian, and that this substance has been plundered by one of your clerks who used to direct the actions of the deceased woman while she lived, and that he now evades making restitution. We therefore exhort thee that, if what is said should prove to be true, you cause him to be constrained by strict proceedings, to the end that he may make haste to restore without diminution the property left to the monastery, and be compelled to give up, even with the loss of his reputation, that which, preserving the purity of his honour, he ought not to have dared to take. But what a cause for shame it is that we should appear as admonishing your Fraternity to restrain your clerk under the vigour of discipline, this I believe that you yourself feel in your own heart.

Also against worshippers of idols, and soothsayers, and diviners, we very earnestly exhort your Fraternity to be on the watch with pastoral vigilance, and publicly among the people hold forth against the men who do such things, and recall them by persuasive hortation from the contagion of so great sacrilege, and such temptation of divine judgment, and peril in the present life. If, however, thou shouldest find them unwilling to amend and correct themselves from such doings, we desire thee to lay hold of them with fervent zeal, and, in case of their being slaves, to chastise them with blows and torments, whereby they may be brought to amendment. But, if they are freemen, they should be directed to penitence by suitable and strict confinement; so that they who scorn to listen to salutary words reclaiming them from peril of death may at any rate be brought back by bodily torments to the desired sanity of mind. We have also been informed that, you having committed the care of your patrimony to certain laymen, they, after having been detected in depredations on your peasants and flight in consequence, both refuse to restore the property which, as not being subject to your control, they indecently retain as though it were in their own power, and also scorn to render you an account of their doings. If this be so, it is fitting that the matter be strictly investigated by you, and the case between them and the peasants of your Church be thoroughly examined. And whatever fraud may be discovered in them let them be compelled to make restitution for with the penalty appointed by the laws. But for the future your Fraternity must take care that ecclesiastical property be not committed to secular men not living under your rule, but to approved clerics holding office under you; in whom if any wrong doing should be found, you may be able to correct what has been unlawfully done, as in the case of persons under you, whom the obligation of their condition convenes before you rather than excuses.

EPISTLE LXVII

To Constantius, Bishop of Milan.

Gregory to Constantius, &c.

Maximus, the prevaricator of the Church of Salona, after he had failed to obtain anything through the greater powers of the world, has betaken himself to the lesser ones; and by a superfluity of prayers and by attestation to his good works he strives to prevail with us. This being so, I have thought it would be inhuman in me, if he who says that he fears me much were quite unable to find me in some degree more indulgent. And I have therefore decided that our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus should take cognizance of his cause in the city of Ravenna. If, however, by any chance his person is suspected, we desire that your Fraternity also, if it is not too laborious for you, should take the trouble of repairing to the same city, and sit together with our aforesaid brother in the same trial. Whatever, then, may seem good to each of your Holinesses, know that it will seem good to me; and your judgment I accept as my own; and what things you both think should be remitted, be assured that I remit; taking, however, careful heed that we may not appear to be either sinfully remiss or austere to the injury of Holy Church. We have enjoined the execution of this matter on the Chartulary Castorius, that he may fully report to us all that has been done.

EPISTLE LXVIII

To Eusebius of Thessalonica.

Gregory to Eusebius of Thessalonica, Urbicus of Dyrrachium, Andrew of Nicopolis, John of Corinth, John of Prima Justiniana, John of Crete, John of Larissa and Scodra, and many other bishops.

We are constrained by the care of government which we have undertaken to extend vigilantly the solicitude of our office, and to instruct the minds of our brethren by addresses of admonition, that no wrongful presumption. may avail to deceive the ignorant, nor any dissimulation to excuse those who know. Be it known then to your Fraternity that John, formerly bishop of the city of Constantinople, against God, against the peace of the Church, to the contempt and injury of all priests, exceeded the bounds of modesty and of his own measure, and unlawfully usurped in synod the proud and pestiferous title of œcumenical, that is to say, universal. When our predecessor Pelagius of blessed memory became aware of this, he annulled by a fully valid censure all the proceedings of that same synod, except what had therein been done in the cause of Gregory, bishop of Antioch, of venerable memory; taking him to task with most severe rebuke, and warning him to abstain from that new and temerarious name of superstition; even so as to forbid his deacon to go in procession with him, unless he should amend so great a wickedness. And we, adhering in all respects to the zeal of his rectitude, observe his ordinances, under the protection of God, irrefragably, since it is fitting that he should walk without stumbling along the straight way of his predecessor, whom the tribunal of the eternal Judge awaits for rendering an account of the same place of government. In which matter, lest we should seem to omit anything that pertains to the peace of the Church, we once and again addressed the same most holy John by letter, bidding him relinquish that name of pride, and incline the elation of his heart to the humility which our Master and Lord has taught us. And having found that he paid no regard, we have not desisted, in our desire of concord, from addressing the like admonitions to our most blessed brother and fellow-priest Cyriacus, his successor. But since it is the case, as we see, now that the end of this world is near at hand, that the enemy of the human race has already appeared in his harbingers, so as to have as his precursors, through this title of pride, the very priests who ought to have opposed him by living well and humbly, I exhort and entreat that not one of you ever accept this name, that not one consent to it, that not one write it, that not one admit it wherever it may have been written, or add his subscription to it; but, as becomes ministers of Almighty God, that each keep himself from this kind of poisoned infection, and give no place to the cunning lier-in-wait, since this thing is being done to the injury and rendering asunder of the whole Church, and, as we have said, to the contemning of all of you. For if one, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops.

Furthermore, it has come to our knowledge that your Fraternity has been convened to Constantinople. And although our most pious Emperor allows nothing unlawful to be done there, yet, lest perverse men, taking occasion of your assembly, should seek opportunity of cajoling you in favouring this name of superstition, or should think of holding a synod about some other matter, with the view of introducing it therein by cunning contrivances,—though without the authority and consent of the Apostolic See nothing that might be passed would have any force, nevertheless, before Almighty God I conjure and warn you, that the assent of none of you be obtained by any blandishments, any bribes, any threats whatever; but, having regard to the eternal judgment, acquit ye yourselves salubriously and unanimously in opposition to wrongful aims; and, supported by pastoral constancy and apostolical authority, keep out the robber and the wolf that would rush in, and give no way to him that rages for the tearing of the Church asunder; nor allow, through any cajolery, a synod to be held on this subject, which indeed would not be a legitimate one, nor to be called a synod. We also at the same time admonish you, that if haply nothing should be done with mention of this preposterous name, but a synod be by any chance assembled on another matter, ye be in all respects cautious, circumspect, watchful, and careful, lest anything should therein be decreed against any place or person prejudicially, or unlawfully, or in opposition to the canons. But, if any question arises to be treated with advantage, let the question in hand take such a form that it may not upset any ancient ordinances. Wherefore we once more admonish you before God and His Saints, that you observe all these things with the utmost attention, and with the entire bent of your minds. For if any one, as we do not believe will be the case, should disregard in any part this present writing, let him know that he is segregated from the peace of the blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. Let, then, your Fraternity so act that when the Shepherd of shepherds comes in judgment, you may not be found guilty with respect to the place of government which you have received.

EPISTLE LXXVIII

To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.

Gregory to Eulogius, &c.

I have received at the hands of the bearer of these presents the letter of your most sweet Holiness, speaking to me about your cause being terminated speedily. But, as soon as he had come, he learnt how the possession which he sought from our Church was held, and soon satisfied himself about it. The business he had with others he settled without contention.

But concerning the matter which ought by all means to have been written about to me, your Holiness has written nothing, considering me also to be tardy therein. And indeed, for fear of its breaking out into the scandal of division, I have been unwilling to be the author of such division. For I have chosen that whatever may follow should ensue through others. But in time to come, God granting it, you will have proof that in a cause wherein I desire to please God I am not afraid of men. Concerning this I took care to write to you before now, even when you went to Constantinople.

As to the timber, I had prepared pieces of a larger size, as your Blessedness had requested in your letter; but so small a ship has been sent here that it could not carry them, unless they had been cut. But I was unwilling to have them cut, and have reserved for your judgment what should be done about them. If you do not require them, we will adapt them for other uses here. Moreover, I beg of your Holiness to pray for me earnestly, since I am incessantly pressed down by pains of gout, and swords of barbarians, and distressing cares. But, if you bestow on me the help of your prayer, I believe that you will strongly aid me against all adversities.

EPISTLE LXXIX

To Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

Gregory to Marinianus, &c.

What is to be done in the case of Maximus you have learnt from the letters which we have before sent to you. But, since we have ascertained from the report of our Chartulary Castorius, the bearer of these presents, what is the wish, or rather the request, of your Fraternity in this matter, therefore if the said Maximus, in the presence of you and our aforesaid Chartulary, shall purge himself on oath from simoniacal heresy, and with respect to other charges shall, before the body of Saint Apollinaris, as we have written, reply only, when interrogated, that he is guiltless, we commit his cause to the judgment of your Fraternity, with regard to his having presumed to celebrate the solemnities of mass while excommunicated, as to what penance such fault shall be purged by. And so, whatever according to God seems good to you, do you settle without fear, and entertain no doubt with regard to us. For whatsoever may be ordained by you concerning this cause we both thankfully accept and willingly allow. Yet we exhort you that you should be careful, and so temper what you provide for being done as both to deal kindly with him, if so it shall seem fit, and by a suitable arrangement to observe, as you ought, the genius of ecclesiastical vigour. We have instructed the above-named bearer, while present with us, how he is to act with you; and, having learnt all thoroughly from him, do you so acquit yourselves in all respects that in your anxious care we may feel that our presence has been with you.

EPISTLE LXXX

To Castorius, Notary.

Gregory to Castorius, &c.

The more thou seest thyself to be trusted by us, and charged with the conduct of cases when need arises, the more oughtest thou to shew thyself energetic and solicitous. Accordingly, if Maximus of Salona, having taken oath, shall affirm that he is not guilty of simoniacal heresy, and, as to other matters, when merely questioned before the body of Saint Apollinaris, shall reply that he is innocent, and shall have done penance, as we have directed, for his disobedience, we desire that, to console him, thy Experience should give him the letter which we have written to him, wherein we have signified that we have restored to him both our favour and communion. For, as it befits us to be severe to those who persist in contumacy, so to those who are again humbled and penitent we ought not to deny a place of pardon.

Furthermore, as to our brother Sabinianus, bishop of Jadera, and Honoratus5, archdeacon of Salona, or others who have had recourse to the Apostolical See, Maximus must be very earnestly dealt with, so that he may receive them with becoming charity, and in no way retain in his heart any grudge against them, but live with them with pure goodwill and sincere affection.

EPISTLE LXXXI

To Maximus, Bishop of Salona.

Gregory to Maximus, &c.

Although to what was faulty in thy ordination at the first thou hast added serious evil through the fault of disobedience, yet we, tempering with becoming moderation the authority of the Apostolic See, have never been incensed against thee to the extent that the case demanded. But our displeasure which thou hadst excited against thyself continued the longer in that a sense of the responsibility entrusted to us tormented us exceedingly, lest we might seem to be passing over without attention certain unlawful doings of thine that we had heard of. And, if thou considerest well, thou wilt see that thou thyself, by deferring to satisfy us, didst confirm these reports, and thereby didst exasperate us the more against thee. But now that, following wholesome counsel, thou hast submitted thyself humbly to the yoke of obedience, and that thy love, in doing penance, has purged itself, as we directed, by fitting satisfaction, understand thou that the favour of brotherly charity is restored to thee, and give thanks that thou art received into our fellowship: for, as it becomes us to be strict with those who persevere in a fault, so does it to be kind in pardoning those who return to a better mind. Now, therefore, that thy Fraternity knows that he has recovered the communion of the Apostolic See, let him send some one to us, according to custom, to receive and convey to him the pallium. For, whilst we do not suffer unlawful things to be perpetrated, we no less refuse not what is customary. Further, though the discharge of the duties of our position might have called upon us to concede this, yet we are greatly constrained thereto by the request of our most sweet and excellent son, the lord Exarch Callinicus, that we would treat thee with moderation. His most dear wish we cannot resist, nor can we cause him sorrow.

EPISTLE LXXXII

To Anatolius, Constantinopolitan
Deacon.

Gregory to Anatolius, &c.

To good and devoted sons it is worth our labour so to respond as to double, because we are paying a debt, what it would befit us of our own mere motion to bestow upon them. Seeing, then, that the bearer of these presents, our son the magnificent Marcellinus, has demeaned himself as he has in the cause of our brother and fellow-bishop Maximus and in that of the Istrians, and is anxious to employ himself for the advantage of our Church, therefore, that he may be able more and more to shew his sincere affection not only in words but also in deeds, we hereby exhort thy Love to co-operate with him when he comes to the royal city with entire zeal and earnestness, and to be at pains so to assist him with all the succour in thy power, that, supported by the aid of Almighty God and thine, he may have the less difficulty to contend with there. Thou wilt also study so to attend to him as to one who is in very truth our own, and so to bestow on him the efficiency of thy charity, that he may both recognise a return made to him for the past, and also be able to entertain a great hope of retribution in the future for his devotion which he promises to exhibit in the service of the Church. But inasmuch as, so far as we have learnt, the most serene lord the Emperor had commanded our aforesaid magnificent son to hasten to wait upon him immediately, it is fitting for thee to seek an opportunity of intimating that it was no faulty disobedience, but the cause of our brother and fellow-bishop Maximus, that has detained him: which cause, though late, has nevertheless through his exertions been brought to a conclusion. But this we desire thy Love to attend to carefully; not to allow thyself to be mixed up in any cause whatever where there is oppression of the poor; lest haply, under pressure to some extent from persons in power, thou shouldest be driven to do what could not be of advantage to thy soul. Dealing, then, with all matters in the fear of God, consider especially the eternal reward.

EPISTLE XCI

To Fortunatus, Bishop of Neapolis (Naples).

Gregory to Fortunatus, &c.

Inasmuch as the Father of God’s servants whom I had sent to the city of Naples has, by the ordering of God as it hath pleased Him, departed this life, it has seemed good to me to send the bearer of these presents, the monk Barbatianus, for the government of the same monks. For the present we decide that he shall be Prior, so that, if his life should approve itself to thy Fraternity, thou mayest after a little time ordain him as their Father. For he has some good qualities that commend him. But he has this great fault, that he is exceedingly wise in his own conceit. And it is evidently known how many branches of sin may spring from this root. Let thy Holiness, therefore, keep careful watch over him; and if you shall find him become wary in government and humble in his own mind, then, with the permission of God, advance him to the dignity of Abbot. But, if he makes little progress in humility, defer his ordination, and report to me.

EPISTLE XCIII

To Gulfaris, Magister Militum.

Gregory to Gulfaris, &c.

The bearers of these presents, who come to us from the Istrian parts, have reported such good things of your Glory as to inflame us ardently to return you thanks. For we learn that, among the cares of the government of those parts which has been committed to you, you are especially anxious to win souls, and that you so take pains to recall the hearts of wanderers to the unity of the Church that, as far as your desire goes, you would have no one there separated from the Apostolic Church; and that so great love of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, inflames you that you long with all your heart to restore the sheepfold of him to whom the keys were delivered by the Lord the Creator of all. Have, glorious son, from such and so great a work, a confident anticipation of divine retribution, wherein not only our admonition but also the words of the apostle confirm thee, since he who shall have caused a sinner to be converted from the error of his way shall save his soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins (James 5.). For, however great be temporal affluence, or at any rate prosperity, it has its end,—the limit of death. But this pursuit of winning souls, which you have taken up, retains the certainty of its hope fixed; to wit, the retribution of eternal life. Wherefore, greeting you with fatherly affection, we exhort your Glory that you the more earnestly give effect to the zeal for the unity of our holy faith which the Author of unity Himself has given you; and that, recalling whomsoever you can from the error of their schism into the bosom of Mother Church, you cherish them with continual admonition. And accomplish this also,—so to protect with the succour of your defence those whom the Lord through you may grant to be restored to His fold that there may be no quarter to which those who are still in error may be able to resort for the accusation of such as return to sound counsels. For, while you uphold the cause of God on earth, He Himself will prosperously direct your actions here with the aid of His protection, and there will remain for you, in the eternal life which you long for, retribution for your so great well-doing.

EPISTLE XCIV

To Romanus
the
Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, &c.

The bearers of these presents, who came hither from the parts of Istria to find their bishop who is now living in the parts of Sicily, have asked us to speed them in their way, and we have arranged for their journey hence. Let, then, thy Experience receive them, and arrange for their reaching their said bishop as soon as possible; lest, as they allege may be the case, others of the schismatics in those parts should be beforehand to persuade them. For, so far as they indicate, the bishop himself has a desire to come to us in behalf of the unity of the faith. Assistance therefore should be given them, that, with the help of the Lord, they may accomplish the good things they desire. But let thy Experience, in person if he is near at hand, or otherwise by letter, exhort this same bishop to lose no time in hastening, with the Lord’s good favour, to the threshold of the Apostles, being assured that he will be received by us with all affection. We also desire thee to pay him the cost of his journey to enable him to come to us. But, if he finds coming here burdensome, and arranges to live in Sicily, and consents, with his security given, to remain in the unity of the Church among the perverters of Scripture, this also do not thou delay to inform us of, that we may arrange, with the help of the Lord, how provision may be made for his expenses there. But lend also thy concurrence and succour for the bearers of these letters to come to their said bishop, so that after leaving us they may experience no less attention.

EPISTLE XCVIII

To Theodore, Curator of Ravenna.

Gregory to Theodore, &c.

Although from the report of our responsalis we have long heard many things of you to rejoice our heart, yet now our son the abbot Probus, who has returned to us, has reported still further such things of the charity of your Glory as it is becoming should be told of a really good and most Christian son. And, since he has told us of such kind feeling on your part, and such earnestness in arranging the peace as has not appeared even in our own citizens who have previously been in your parts, we beg the mercy of heavenly protection to recompense you for this in body and in soul both here and in the world to come, seeing that you have not ceased to act advantageously for the weal of many.

We inform you therefore that Ariulf has sworn to the observance of the peace, not as his King swore3, but under the condition that no excess should in any way be committed against himself, and that no one should march against the army of Aroges. This begin altogether unfair and crafty, we take it as if he had not sworn,—since to some extent he will easily find for himself an occasion of exceeding, and will deceive us the more if we are not on our guard against him.

But Warnilfrid, according to whose advice this same Ariulf acts in all respects, has scorned to swear at all. And so it has come to pass that from the peace which we so much desired, we in these parts can have hardly any remedy, since we must still, and for the future, be on our guard against the same enemies that we have been on our guard against so far.

Furthermore, be it known to your Glory that the King’s men who have been sent hither press us to subscribe to the compact. But remembering the insults which, to the injury through us of the blessed Peter, Agilulph is said to have addressed to the most illustrious Basilius, though Agilulph himself has entirely denied this, we have still thought it prudent to abstain from subscription, lest we, who are petitioners and mediators between him and our most excellent son the lord Exarch, should find ourselves deceived in any respect, in case of anything being perchance secretly with drawn (i.e. from the compact), and he should find an occasion of not assenting to our petition. And so we beg, as we have requested also of our aforesaid most excellent son, that your Glory, with the charity whereby you are united to us, would take measures to the end that, before these men return from Arogis, the king may send them letters posthaste, to be, however, handed on to us, ordering them not to call on us to subscribe. But, if it serves the purpose, we will cause our glorious brother, or one of the bishops, or at any rate an archdeacon, to subscribe.

With regard to Augustus we thank you, and are giving attention to his settling his cause with his adversary in accordance with equity; having been unwilling that the trouble of putting in an appearance with you should be imposed upon him, yet so as not to deny justice to his adversary.

With regard to other matters since it has not been so far in our power to thank you adequately, we will for the future send to you our responsalis, through whom, by the mercy of God, we may be the more bound together in the charity wherein we are knit to each other. Moreover, the sorrow of your Glory affects us exceedingly; but since a wise man knows all that can be said in the way of comfort, we omit comforting you with words; but we attend you with our prayers, beseeching Almighty God to guard the life and health of yourself and all yours under the protection of His loving-kindness, and to console your heart while in a state of affliction.

EPISTLE CV

To Serenus
Bishop of Massilia, (Marseilles).

Gregory to Serenus, &c.

That we have been so long in sending a letter to your Fraternity attribute not to sluggishness, but to press of business. We now commend to you in all respects the bearer of these presents, our most beloved son Cyriacus, the Father of our Monastery, that no delay may detain him in the city of Massilia, but that he may proceed under God’s protection to our brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius with the succour of your Holiness.

Furthermore we notify to you that it has come to our ears that your Fraternity, seeing certain adorers of images, broke and threw down these same images in Churches. And we commend you indeed for your zeal against anything made with hands being an object of adoration; but we signify to you that you ought not to have broken these images. For pictorial representation is made use of in Churches for this reason; that such as are ignorant of letters may at least read by looking at the walls what they cannot read in books. Your Fraternity therefore should have both preserved the images and prohibited the people from adoration of them, to the end that both those who are ignorant of letters might have wherewith to gather a knowledge of the history, and that the people might by no means sin by adoration of a pictorial representation.

EPISTLE CVI

To Syagrius, Aetherius, Virgilius, and Desiderius, Bishops.

Gregory to Syagrius of Augustodunum (Autun), Etherius of Lugdunum (Lyons), Virgilius of Aretale (Arles), and Desiderius of Vienna (Vienne), bishops of Gaul. A paribus.

Our Head, which is Christ, has to this end willed us to be His members, that through the bond of charity and faith He might make us one body in Himself. And to Him it befits us so to adhere in heart, that, since without Him we can be nothing, through Him we may be able to be what we are called. Let nothing divide us from the citadel of our Head, lest, if we refuse to be His members, we be left apart from Him, and wither like branches cast off from the vine. Wherefore, that we may be counted worthy to be the dwelling-place of our Redeemer, let us abide in His love with entire earnestness of mind. For He Himself says, He that loveth me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (Joh. 14:23). But, since we cannot keep close to the author of all good, unless we cut away from us covetousness, which is the root of all evil, we therefore by these present writings (which associate us together mutually as in the alternate discourse of a wished for visitation) approach your Fraternity in accordance with apostolic institutes, that, leaning on the rules of the Fathers and the Lord’s commands, we may banish from the temple of faith avarice, which is the service of idols, so as to suffer nothing hurtful, and nothing disorderly, to be in the house of the Lord.

I apprize you to wit, that we have long heard it currently reported how that in the regions of Gaul sacred orders are conferred through simoniacal heresy. And we are affected with sorrowful disgust, if money has any place in ecclesiastical offices, and that which is sacred is made secular. Whosoever, then, sets himself to buy this thing by the giving of a price, having regard not to the office but to the title, covets not to be a priest, but only to be called one. What forsooth? What comes of this but that there is no trial of a man’s conduct, no carefulness about his moral character, no enquiry into his life, but that he only is counted worthy who has the means to give a price? Hence it ensues, if the matter be weighed in a true balance, that, while one wickedly makes haste to snatch a place of utility with a view to vain glory, he is all the more unworthy from the very fact of his seeking dignity. Moreover, as one who refuses when invited and flies when sought should be brought up to the sacred altar, so one that sues of his own accord and pushes himself forward importunately should without doubt be repelled. For whoever thus strives to climb to higher places, what does he but decrease in increasing, and in rising outwardly sink low inwardly? Wherefore, dearest brethren, in ordaining priests let sincerity prevail, let there be simple consent without venality, let a pure election be preferred, so that advancement to the highest place of the priesthood may be believed to be due, not to the suffrage of sellers, but to the judgment of God. For that it is a grievous crime to wish to procure or to sell the gift of God for a price evangelical authority is witness (Matth. 21).

For, when our Lord and Redeemer went into the temple, He overthrew the seats of them that sold doves. What else is it to sell doves but to receive a price for the laying on of hands, and to put to sale the Holy Spirit whom Almighty God gives to men? And that the priesthood of such as do so falls before the eyes of God is plainly signified by the overthrowing of the seats. And yet the perverseness of this iniquity still puts forth its strength. For it drives those to sell whom it deceives into buying. And, while attention is not paid to what is enjoined by the divine voice, Freely ye have received, freely give (Matth. 10:8), it is brought to pass that it increases, and becomes doubled in one and the same contagion of sin, to wit of the buyer and of the seller. And, it being well known that this heresy crept into the Church with a pestiferous root before all others, and was condemned in its very origin by apostolic detestation, why is it not guarded against? Why is it not considered that blessing is turned into a curse to him who is promoted to the end that he may become a heretic?

For the most part, then, the adversary of souls, when unable to insinuate into them what is wrong on the face of it, endeavours to supplant them by throwing over it as it were a show of piety, and persuades them, perhaps, that money ought to be received from those who have it, so that there may be wherewith to give to those who have it not, if only he may even so infuse mortal poisons concealed under the appearance of almsgiving. For neither would the hunter deceive the wild beast, nor the fowler the bird, nor the fisherman catch the fish, if the former were to set their snares in open view, or if the latter had not his hook hidden by the bait. By all means, then, the cunning of the enemy is to be feared and guarded against, lest those whom he cannot subvert by open temptation he should succeed in slaying more cruelly by a hidden weapon. For indeed it is not to be accounted almsgiving if that be dispensed to the poor which is got by unlawful dealings, since he who with this intention receives amiss as though with the view of dispensing well is the worse for it rather than the better. The alms that please the eyes of our Redeemer are not those that are gathered together in unlawful ways and from iniquity, but such as are bestowed out of what has been granted to us and well acquired. Hence this also is certain, that, though monasteries or hospitals or aught else be built with the money given for sacred orders, it profits not for reward; since, when one that is perverse and a buyer of dignity is transferred to a holy place, and constitutes others after the likeness of himself for a consideration given, he destroys more by his evil administration than he who has received money from him for ordination can build up. That we should not, then, try to get anything with sin under pretence of almsgiving we are plainly warned by Holy Scripture, which says, The sacrifices of the impious are abominable, which are offered of wickedness (Prov. 21:27). For whatever in God’s sacrifice is offered of wickedness appeases not, but provokes, the anger of Almighty God. Hence again it is written, Honour the Lord from thy just labours (Prov. 3:9). Whoso, then, takes evilly that he may, as he supposes, give well, it is evident without doubt that he honours not the Lord. Hence also it is said through Solomon, Whoso offers a sacrifice of the substance of the poor is as though he slew a son in his father’s sight (Ecclus. 34:24). Now let us consider how great is a father’s grief if his son be killed in his sight: and hence we easily understand how much God is grieved when a sacrifice is given Him out of pillage. Exceedingly to be shunned then, most beloved brethren, is the perpetration of the sins of simoniacal heresy under pretence of almsgiving. For it is one thing to do alms on account of sins, but another to commit sins on account of alms.

This also, which has reached our ears, we include as worthy of no dissimilar detestation; that some persons, inflated with desire of dignity, are tonsured on the death of bishops, and from being laymen are suddenly made priests, and shamelessly snatch at the leadership of religious life, not having as yet even learnt to be soldiers. What good do we suppose these will do their subjects, who, before touching the threshold of discipleship, fear not to occupy the place of mastership? In such a case it is needful that, even though any one were of unquestioned merit, he should be exercised in ecclesiastical offices by passing through distinct orders. He should see what he is to imitate, he should be formed into the shape he is to retain, so that afterwards he may not err, when chosen for shewing the way of life to the erring. He should, then, be polished long by religious meditation, that he may be well-pleasing, and so shine as a candle placed on a candlestick that the adverse force of winds driving against the kindled flame of erudition may not extinguish it, but increase it. For, since it is written, That one should first be proved, and so minister (1 Tim. 3:10), much more ought he first to be proved who is taken as an intercessor for the people, lest bad priests should become the cause of the people’s ruin. There can therefore be no excuse, no defence against this, since it is clearly known to all how solicitous about diligent attention to this matter is the holy and excellent teacher, who forbids that a novice should accede to sacred orders (1 Tim. 3). But, as then one was called a novice who had been newly planted in the conversation of the holy faith, so one is now to be held to be a novice who, having been suddenly planted in the habit of religion, creeps on to canvass for sacred dignities. Orders, then, should be risen to in an orderly way: for he courts a fall who seeks to rise to the topmost heights of a place by steep ascents, disregarding the steps that lead to it. And, seeing that the same apostle teaches his disciple, among other directions with regard to sacred orders, that hands are to be laid hastily on no man (1 Tim. 5), what can be more hasty or what more headlong than to begin at the top, and that a man should commence by being a bishop before he has been a minister? Whosoever, then, desires to obtain priesthood, not for the pomp of elation but for doing good, let him first measure his own strength with the burden he is to undergo, that, if unequal to it, he may abstain, and also approach it with fear, even if he thinks himself sufficient for it.

Further, it will not be beside the mark, if, in addition to the argument from rational beings we draw one from our use of irrational things. For timber suitable for buildings is cut from forests, and yet the weight of the building is not imposed on them while they are yet green, or till a delay of many days has dried their greenness, and rendered them fit for necessary use. And, if by any chance this precaution is neglected, they are soon broken by the mass imposed upon them, and the material provided for support begets ruin.

For hence also medical men, whose care is for the body, do not offer certain remedies to him that needs them while recently concocted, but leave them to be macerated for some time. For, should any one give them immaturely, there is no doubt that the means of health become a cause of danger. Let them learn, therefore, let priests in their office learn, those namely to whom the cure of souls is entrusted, to observe what men of various arts under the teaching of reason attend to, and restrain themselves from ambition, if not of fear, yet at any rate of very shame.

But, lest perchance any one should still wish to defend himself on the pretext of an evil custom, let the discretion of your Fraternity restrain them with the rein of reason, and not allow them to lapse into unlawful doings, since whatever is deserving of punishment ought not to be adduced as an example for imitation, but for correction.

Nor, further, can we suffer you to pass over neglectfully this other matter, which alike requires correction. For of what profit is it to have guarded all besides if through one place pernicious access be afforded to the enemy? Therefore let women be prohibited from living with those who are constituted in any sacred order. With regard to them, lest the old enemy of the human race should exult, it must be laid down by the consent of all that they may have no other women with them but those whom the sacred canons include And, though this interdiction is perhaps bitter for the time to some, there is no doubt that it will afterwards grow sweet from its very benefit to their souls, if the enemy be overcome in that whereby he might have overcome them.

In this part of our solicitude also we must not leave unnoticed what has been ordained by the provision of the Fathers, for the sake of advantage, concerning the holding of councils throughout dioceses. Wherefore, lest there should be any dissension among brethren, or any fomentation of discord between superiors and subordinates, it is necessary that priests should assemble together, so that there may be discussion about cases that arise, and salutary conference about ecclesiastical observances; to the end that, while things past are corrected and things future regulated, the Almighty Lord may be praised on all sides in one accord by brethren. Know ye whose presence will be with you, seeing that it is written, Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matth. 18:20). If, then, He will vouchsafe to be present where there are two or three, how much more will He not be wanting where many priests have come together? And indeed it is not unknown what is appointed by the rules of the Fathers as to the holding of a council twice in the year. But, lest haply any necessity should not allow this rule to be carried out, we decree that still one shall meet, without any excuse allowed, once; so that nothing wrong, nothing unlawful, may be ventured on while a council is being expected. For commonly, though not from love of justice, yet from fear of enquiry, people abstain from that which it is known may displease the judgment of all. Let us, most beloved brethren, keep this observance to be left to our posterity; and let us meditate on all that is written in the sacred writings for our instruction, and incite all we can to follow it. For it is certain that, if with all our heart we attend to these salutary precepts, we escape all taint of vices, since, while we lean on these whereby we are built up, we shut out, no doubt, all place for deception.

Therefore for the purposes mentioned above, we desire your Fraternity, God willing, to assemble a synod, and in it, through the mediation of our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Aregius, and our most beloved son Cyriacus, let all things that are, as we have before said, opposed to the sacred canons, be strictly condemned under the ban of anathema; that is, that any one should presume to give any consideration for acquiring ecclesiastical orders, or receive any for conferring them; or that any one should all at once from a lay condition dare to enter on a place of rule; or that any other women should live with priests but such as are allowed, as aforesaid, by the sacred canons. Concerning all these things let our most reverend brother the bishop Syagrius, with the whole synod, when our most beloved brother Cyriacus returns to us, take care to send us word of what has been done; in order that, knowing accurately what has been decreed, and with what safeguards and in what manner, we may render thanks without ceasing to Almighty God for your life and manners.

EPISTLE CVII

To Aregius, Bishop of Vapincum.

Gregory to Aregius, Bishop in Gaul.

The affliction of your Fraternity, which we have learnt that you have had for the loss of your people, has given us such cause of grief that, since charity makes us two one, we feel our heart to be especially in your tribulations. But in the midst of this we have been much consoled by your having brought your mind to discern how it becomes you to bear sorrow patiently, and, in the hope of another life, not to have long continued grief for death. Still, lest some tribulation should still maintain itself in your soul, I exhort you to rest from sorrow, to cease to be sad. For it is unseemly to addict oneself to wearisomeness of affliction for those of whom it is to be believed that they have attained to true life by dying. Those have perhaps just excuse for long continued grief who know not of another life, and have no trust that there is a passing from this world to a better. We, however, who know this, who believe it and teach it, ought not to be too much distressed for them that depart, lest what in others has a show of affection, be to us rather a matter of blame. For it is, as it were, a kind of distrust to be tormented by sadness in opposition to what everyone preaches, as the Apostle says, But we would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope (1 Thess. 4:12).

Having, therefore, this reason before us, dearest brother, we should try, as we have said, not to afflict ourselves about the dead, but bestow affection on the living, to whom pity may be of advantage and love bear fruit. Let us henceforth hasten, by reproving, exhorting, persuading, soothing, comforting, to profit all we can. Let our tongue be an encouragement to the good, a goad to the bad; let it beat down the puffed up, appease the angry, stir up the slow, kindle the idle by exhortation, persuade the shrinkers back, soothe the rough, comfort the despairing; that, as we are called leaders, we may shew the way of salvation to them that are advancing forward. Let us be vigilant in keeping guard, let us defend all approaches against the snares of the enemy. And, if ever error should have drawn aside a sheep of the flocks committed to us through devious ways, let us strive with all our endeavours to recall it to the Lord’s sheepfolds, so that from the name of shepherd which we bear we may reap not punishment, but a reward. Seeing, then, that in all this there is need of the help of divine grace, let us implore the clemency of Almighty God with continual prayers, to the end that for doing these things He may give us the will and grant us the power, and, with the fruit of good work, direct us in that way in which He has declared Himself to be the Shepherd of shepherds; that so, through Him, without whom we cannot rise to the doing of anything, we may be able to accomplish all.

Furthermore, our common son, Peter the deacon, has given us to understand that your Fraternity at the time when you were here requested that we would grant to yourself and your archdeacon license to use dalmatics. But, because compelled by the sickness of your people, you departed in such haste that the very grief that weighed upon you did not suffer you to press the matter any longer, as was fit and as the nature of your request required; and because we had many engagements, and consideration of ecclesiastical propriety did not allow us to concede a new thing inconsiderately and suddenly; for these reasons the carrying into effect of the thing demanded has been long postponed. Now, however, recalling to mind your Charity’s good deservings, by the tenor of this our authority we grant you your request, and have granted to thee or to thy archdeacon to be decorated by the use of dalmatics; and we have sent the same dalmatics by the hands of our most beloved son, the abbot Cyriacus.

Furthermore, at the synod which we have decreed should be assembled through our brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius against simoniacal heresy, we desire thee to be present; and we have ordered the pallium which we have sent for our said brother to be accordingly given him, on condition of his promising to remove from holy Church, by a definition of the synod, the unlawful things which we have prohibited. Concerning which synod we desire thy Fraternity to report to us fully by letter all its proceedings, that thou thyself, whose holiness we are well acquainted with, mayest inform us about everything.

EPISTLE CVIII

To Syagrius, Bishop.

Gregory to Syagrius, Bishop of Augustodunum (Autun).

Mistress of all good things is charity, which savours of nothing extraneous, nothing rough, nothing confused; which so exercises and strengthens hearts that nothing is heavy, nothing difficult, but all that is done becomes sweet. Since, then, it is its peculiar quality to foster things that are concordant, to preserve things that are united, to join together things that are dissociated, to set right things that are wrong, and to consolidate all other virtues by the bulwark of its own perfection, whosoever grafts himself into its roots neither falls away from greenness, nor becomes empty of fruits, because effective work loses not the moisture of fecundity. And so I am much delighted with thee, and rejoice with thee in the Lord, most beloved brother, for that I find thee, by the testimony of many, so endowed with this same charity that thou both thyself becomingly exhibitest what befits a priest, and laudably shewest an example for imitation to others.

Inasmuch, then, as in the work of preaching (which after long thought I have taken care to supply to the nation of the Angli through Augustine, then provost (prœpositum) of my monastery, and now our brother and fellow-bishop), I have found thee to be, as was right, so solicitous, devoted, and in all ways helpful, as to lay me under a great debt to thee in this matter, therefore moved by the consideration of so great an obligation, I cannot bear to put aside thy Fraternity’s petition, lest I should appear towards thee unprofitable. Consequently, according to the tenor of thy request, we have provided under God for thy being dignified by the use of the pallium, to be worn within thy church, in the celebration of mass only. Nevertheless we have decided that it should be given thee only on condition of thy first promising to amend by the definition of a synod the things that we have ordered to be corrected; for we certainly deem it fit that, with the gravity of mind in which by the mercy of God we have learnt that thou excel-lest, a more distinguished adornment of outward apparel should accrue to thee; especially as we think that thou hast asked for it, not with a view to the pomp of needless elation, but with regard to the character and dignity of thy Church. And, lest in this vestment we should seem to be bestowing as it were a bare bounty, we have taken thought at the same time for the granting of this also;—that, while the Metropolitan has in all respects his place and dignity preserved to him, the Church of Augustodunum should be next after the Church of Lugdunum (Lyons), and should claim to itself this place and rank by the indulgence of our authority. But as to the other bishops, we decree that they shall take their places according to the date of their ordination, whether for sitting in council, or for subscribing, or in any other matter, and shall claim to themselves the prerogative of their several ranks: for it seems to us consonant to reason that with the use of the pallium we should together with it, as we have said, bestow some privileges.

But, since with augmentation of dignity the sense of responsibility ought also to increase, that the adornments of action may agree with the decoration of vestments, your Fraternity should exercise yourself the more earnestly in all your pursuits. Be vigilant with regard to the doings of those who are under you; let your example be their instruction, and your life their teacher. By the exhortation of your tongue let them learn what to fear, and be taught what to love; that, when thou givest up the talents entrusted to thee with multiplied gain, in the day of retribution thou mayest be counted worthy to hear, Well done, good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matth. 25:23).

EPISTLE CIX

To Brunichild, Queen of the
Franks.

Gregory to Brunichild, &c.

Now that your Excellency’s royal solicitude is in all matters of government praiseworthy, you ought, for the increase of your glory, to show yourself more watchful, and careful not to allow those whom you rule with counsel outwardly to perish inwardly among themselves. So may you, through the fruit of your pious solicitude, after occupying this topmost height of a temporal kingdom, attain under God to kingdoms and joys that are eternal. And this we trust you will be able after the following manner to succeed in; if, among other good deeds, you pay attention to the ordination of priests; whose office, as we have learnt, has come in your parts to be such an object of ambition that priests are ordained all at once from being laymen. This is a very serious matter. For what can they effect, what good can they do the people, who covet being made bishops, not for doing good, but for distinction? These, then, who have not yet learnt what they have to teach—what do they effect, but that the unlawful advancement of a few becomes the ruin of many, and that the observance of ecclesiastical government is brought into confusion, seeing the no regular order is observed? For whoso comes to the control thereof inconsiderately and hurriedly, with what admonition can he edify those who are put under him, his example having taught them, not reason, but error? It is a shame in truth, it is a shame, for one to command others what he knows not how to observe himself.

Nor do we pass over that other thing which in like manner requires amendment, but detest it as utterly execrable and a most serious matter; that in your parts sacred orders are conferred through simoniacal heresy, which was the first to arise against the Church, and was condemned with a rigorous malediction. Hence, therefore, it is brought about that the dignity of the priesthood comes into contempt, and holy honour under condemnation. And so reverence perishes, discipline is destroyed, since he who ought to have corrected faults committed them; and by nefarious ambition the honourable priesthood is brought under censure and disparagement. For who will any more venerate what is sold, or not think worthless what is bought? Hence I am greatly distressed, and condole with that land; since, while they scorn to have as a divine gift, but compass by bribes, the Holy Spirit which Almighty God deigns to bestow on men through the imposition of hands, I do not think that the priesthood can long subsist there. For where the gifts of heavenly grace are sold, the life is not sought for God’s service, but rather money is venerated in opposition to God. Seeing then that so great a wickedness is not only a danger to them, but also in no small degree injurious to your kingdom, greeting your Excellency with fatherly affection we beseech you to make God propitious to you by the correction of this enormity. And, that there may be henceforth no opportunity of committing it, let a synod be held by your order, at which, in the presence of our most beloved son, the abbot Cyriacus, it shall be interdicted strictly under pain of anathema that any one should dare to pass suddenly from a lay condition to the degree of the Episcopate, or any one whatever dare to give or receive anything for ecclesiastical orders; that so our Lord and Redeemer may so deal with the things that are yours as He shall see you to be solicitous with pious devotion in the things that are His. But we have taken special care to delegate the charge and management of this synod, which we have decided should be held, to our brother and fellow-bishop Syagrius, whom we know to be peculiarly your own; and we beg you to deign both to lend a willing ear to his supplication, and to support him by your aid; to the end that what may redound to your reward, namely a pious and God-pleasing ordination of priests, the contagion of this evil being removed, may take effect within all the limits of your jurisdiction.

To this our brother, in that he has shewn himself exceedingly devoted with regard to the mission which has been sent, under God, to the nation of the Angli, we have sent a pallium to be used in the solemnities of mass, so that, having given aid in things spiritual, he may find himself advanced by the favour of the Prince of the apostles in the spiritual order itself.

Furthermore, we have altogether wondered why in your kingdom you allow Jews to possess Christian slaves. For what are all Christians but members of Christ? And we all know that you sincerely honour the Head of these members. But let your Excellency consider how inconsistent it is to honour the Head and to allow the members to be trampled on by his enemies. And so we beg that your Excellency’s ordinance may remove the mischief of this iniquity from your kingdom; so that you may prove yourself the more to be a worthy worshipper of Almighty God, in that you set his faithful ones free from His enemies.

EPISTLE CX

To Theoderic
and
Theodebert, Kings of the
Franks.

Gregory to Theoderic, &c.

Since the renown of your kingdom has been resplendent of old among all others by the grace of the Christian religion, great pains should be taken that, wherein you stand out more glorious than other nations, you should therein please more perfectly the Almighty Lord who gives health and wealth to kings, and have the faith which you observe in all ways helpful to you. We had wished indeed, most excellent sons, to address to you a discourse of friendly greeting only, so as to shew our fatherly affection in offices of charity. But, seeing that an unlawful proceeding distresses us exceedingly, it befits us so to exhibit one thing as by no means to pass over in silence the other which needs amendment. If you give diligent attention, you will find that we speak entirely for the security of your well-being.

Now it is said that simoniacal heresy (which was the first to creep in by the devil’s planting against the Church of God, and was at its very rise smitten and condemned by the weapon of apostolical vengeance) prevails within the limits of your kingdom, though faith together with good life ought to be chosen in priests.

If good life is wanting, faith has no merit, as the blessed James attests, who says, Faith without works is dead (Jam. 2:18). But what can be the works of a priest who is convicted of obtaining the dignity of so great a sacrament by a bribe? Thus it is brought about that even the very persons who are desiring sacred orders take no pains to amend their lives or order their conduct, but busy themselves in amassing wealth wherewith to buy sacred dignity. Hence also it comes to pass that the innocent and poor recoil from sacred orders, being debarred and looked down upon. And while the innocence of the poor man displeases, there is no doubt that the bribe in the other case commends delinquencies; for, where gold pleases, so does vice. Hence, therefore, not only is a deadly wound inflicted on the souls of the ordainer and of the ordained, but also the Kingdom of your Excellence is weighed down by the fault of your bishops, by whose intercessions it ought rather to have been aided. For, if he is thought worthy of the priesthood who is supported, not by the merits of his doings, but by the abundance of his bribes, it remains that neither gravity nor industry can put in any claim for ecclesiastical dignities, but that the profane love of gold obtains all. And, while vices are remunerated with dignity, he is promoted to the place of the avenger who perhaps ought to have vengeance executed on himself; and hence priests are shewn not to profit others, but rather themselves to perish. For, when the shepherd is wounded, who may apply medicine for healing the sheep? Or how shall he protect the people with the shield of prayer who exposes himself to be stricken by hostile darts? Or what kind of fruit shall he produce out of himself, whose root is infected by sore disease? Greater calamity, then, is to be apprehended in those places where such intercessors are promoted to places of rule, being such as to provoke the more the anger of God against themselves which they ought, through themselves, to have appeased in behalf of the people.

Moreover, we have heard that the farms of the Churches do not pay tribute; and we are consequently lost in great surprise, if unlawful payments be sought from those to whom even lawful ones are remitted.

Nor does our solicitude allow us to pass over this evil also; that some, lured by the instigation of vain glory, snatch all at once, from a lay condition of life, at the dignity of priesthood, and (what it shames one to say, though it is too serious a matter to pass over in silence) those who require to be ruled neither blush nor fear to appear as rulers, and those that require to be taught as teachers. Persons assume shamelessly the leadership of souls to whom the whole way to be taken by the leader is unknown, and who know not whither even they themselves are walking. How bad and how venturesome this is, is shewn even by secular order and discipline. For, seeing that a leader of an army is not chosen unless he has been tried in labour and carefulness, let those who desire with immature haste to mount to the height of episcopacy consider, at any rate by the aid of this comparison, of what sort leaders of souls should be; and let them abstain from attempting suddenly untried labours, lest a blind ambition for dignity both be to their own penalty and also sow seeds of pestiferous error to others, they themselves not having learnt what they have to teach. Accordingly, greeting you with fatherly affection, we beg, most excellent sons, that you would be at pains to banish this so detestable an evil from the limits of your kingdom, and that no excuse, no suggestion against your soul, find place with you; since he who neglects to amend what he is able to correct, undoubtedly has the guilt of the doer. Wherefore, that you may be able to offer a great gift to Almighty God, order a synod to be assembled, in which (as we have enjoined our brethren and fellow-bishops), in the presence of our most beloved son the abbot Cyriacus, it may be ordained under the obligation of anathema that no one may ever give and no one ever receive anything for an ecclesiastical order, nor any one of the laity pass all at once to the priesthood; that so our Redeemer, whose priests you suffer not to be ruined among themselves by the enemy, may recompense you for this service both here and in the life to come.

Furthermore, we are altogether astonished that in your kingdom you allow Jews to possess Christian slaves. For what are all Christians but members of Christ? The Head of these members we all know that you honour faithfully: but let your Excellency consider how inconsistent it is to honour the Head and to allow His members to be trodden on by His enemies. And so, we beg that an ordinance of your Excellency may remove the evil of this wrong-doing from your kingdom, that you may thus shew yourselves the more to be worthy worshippers of Almighty God, in that you set free His faithful servants from His enemies.

EPISTLE CXI

To Virgilius, Bishop of Arelate (Arles).

Gregory to Virgilius, &c.

Inasmuch as the desire of a pious purpose and the bent of a laudable devotion ought always to be aided by the earnest endeavours of priests, anxious care should be taken that neither remissness, neglect nor presumption disturb whatever has been ordained for the quiet of monks and of religious conversation. But, as it was right that what reason required should be profitably prescribed, so what has been prescribed ought not to be violated. Now Childebert of glorious memory, King of the Franks, inflamed by love of the Catholic religion, in founding for his own reward a monastery for men within the walls of the city of Arelate, as we find set down in writing, granted certain things there for the sustentation of its inmates. And, lest his purpose should ever be frustrated, and what had been arranged for the quiet of the monks be disturbed, he prayed in his letters that whatever rights he conceded to the said monastery might be confirmed by apostolical authority; adding this also to his petition, that certain privileges might at the same time be accorded to the same monastery, as well in the management of its affairs as in the ordination of its abbot. This he did as knowing such reverence to be paid by the faithful to the Apostolic See that what had been settled by its decree no molestation of unlawful usurpation would thereafter shake. Hence, since the royal purpose as well as the thing desired, urgently demanded effect to be given to it, letters were sent by our predecessor Vigilius, bishop of the Roman See, to your predecessor Aurelius, wherein all things that a desire to embrace that purpose demanded were willingly confirmed by the support of apostolical authority, inasmuch as a thing of this kind, when requested, could not be allowed to encounter difficulty. But, that your Fraternity may know what was decreed at that time, we have seen to the written orders of our aforesaid predecessor being added to this letter. These having been perused, we exhort thee to keep them all inviolate with priestly earnestness, as becomes thee, and to allow nothing undue or unlawful to be imposed on that monastery, or the said orders to be infringed by any usurpation. For, though what has once been sanctioned by the authority of the Apostolic See has no lack of validity, yet we do, over and above, once more corroborate by our authority in all respects all things that were ordained by our predecessor for quiet in this matter. Let your Fraternity, then, so acquit yourself in observing them as both to shut out all occasion of disturbance, and also to persuade others to carry these things out, while you shew yourself careful and devoted, as becomes you, in observing the most pious will of the departed one.

EPISTLE CXIV

To Virgilius and
Syagrius, Bishops.

Gregory to Virgilius, Bishop of Arelate (Arles), and Syagrius, Bishop of Augustodunum (Autun).

The nature of the office committed to me, dearest brethren, drives me to break out into a cry of grief, and to sharpen your love with the anxiety of charity, for that it is said that you in your parts have been too negligent and remiss, where the rectitude of justice and zeal for chastity ought to have inflamed your earnestness. Now it has come to our ears that a certain Syagria had entered on a religious life, having even changed her dress, and was afterwards united by force to a husband (a thing iniquitous to be told), and that you have been moved by no sorrow to interfere in her defence. If this is so, I groan for it the more heavily for fear lest with the Almighty Lord (which God forbid) you should have the office of hirelings, and not the merit of shepherds, as having left without a struggle a sheep in the mouth of the wolf to be torn. For what will ye say, or what account will ye give of yourselves to the future judge; you whom the lewdness of ravishment has not moved, whom regard to the religious habit has in no wise excited to stand up in defence, whom priestly consideration has not roused to protect the purity of virgin modesty? Even now, then, let your neglect return to your memory; let remembrance of this fault stir you, and consideration of your office impel you to exhortation of the aforesaid woman. And, lest haply in course of time constraint should have passed into willing consent, let your tongue be her cure, and through your exhortations let her give herself diligently to prayer; let not the lamentations of penitence depart from her memory; let her exhibit a penitent heart to our Redeemer; and let her make amends with weeping for the loss of chastity, which in her body it was not allowed her to preserve.

Wherefore, inasmuch as the aforesaid woman desires, as it is said, even now to devote her property to pious uses, we exhort you that she experience the favour and enjoy the support of your Fraternity in this thing, and that it be lawful for her, a competent portion being reserved for her children, to decide as she will about her substance. For without doubt you do good yourselves, if you render aid to those who wish to do good. Consider, therefore, most beloved brethren, from how great love these things which we speak proceed, and take them all in the same spirit of charity that inspires them. For, we being one body in Christ, I burn with you in this which I feel to be to your hurt. And with what earnestness, and what affection I send you this epistle, may the Author of truth disclose to your hearts. And so let not this brotherly admonition distress you, since even a bitter cup is taken gladly, when offered with a view to health. Finally, dearest bethren, let us with united prayers implore the mercy of our God, that He would favourably order our life in His fear, to the end that we may both serve Him here as priests should do, and be able to stand in His sight hereafter secure and without fear.

EPISTLE CXV

To Syagrius, Bishop of Augustodunum (Autun).

Gregory to Syagrius, &c.

If in secular affairs every man should have his right and his proper rank preserved to him, how much more in ecclesiastical arrangements ought no confusion to be let in; lest discord should find place there, whence the blessings of peace should proceed. And this will in this way be secured, if nothing is yielded to power, but all to equity.

Now it has been reported to us that our most beloved brother Ursicinus, bishop of the city of Taurini, after the captivity and plunder which he endured, has suffered serious prejudice in his parishes2, which are said to be situated within the boundaries of the Franks, even to the extent of another person being constituted bishop there in contravention of ecclesiastical ordinances, no crime of his demanding it. And, lest this prejudicial proceeding should perchance seem to be a light matter, there has been also some hardship added in the taking from him of the property of his Church which he might have held. Now, if these things are really so, seeing that it is a very cruel thing and opposed to the sacred canons, that the ambition of any should remove from his own altar an innocent priest who does not deserve to be superseded on account of crime, let all regard his cause as their own, and strive against the imposition on others of what they would be unwilling to endure themselves. For if the entrance for an evil thing is not closed before it has been long open, it grows wider by use; and what is evidently forbidden by reason will be allowed by custom. But, beyond all others, let the solicitude of your Fraternity, in consideration of our commendation and your own sense of what you owe to God, devote itself earnestly to his defence, and not allow him to be any longer removed against reason from his parishes. But, as well in your own person as by making supplication to the most excellent kings, whom we believe to cause you no sadness in any respect, do you bring it about that this thing which has been done amiss may be corrected, and that what has been taken away by force may under the patronage of truth be restored; for, seeing that it is written, A brother helping a brother shall be exalted (Prov. 18:19), your Charity may know that it will receive by so much the more from Almighty God as His precepts shall have been gladly and constantly executed in helping a brother.

EPISTLE CXVI

To Theoderic
and
Theodebert, Kings of the
Franks.

Gregory to Theoderic, &c.

It is the chief good in kings to cultivate justice, and to preserve to every man his rights, and not to suffer subjects to have done to hem what there is power to do, but what is equitable. Our trust that you both love and altogether aim at this invites us to indicate to your Excellency things that call for amendment, that so we may be able by our letters both to succour the oppressed and to acquire reward for you.

Now they say that our brother and fellow-bishop Ursicinus, bishop of the city of Taurini (Turin), suffers very serious prejudice in his parishes that are within the limits of your kingdom, in such sort that, contrary to ecclesiastical observance, contrary to priestly gravity, and contrary to the definitions of the sacred canons, no crime of his requiring it, another has not feared to be ordained bishop there. And, it being thought not enough unless unlawfulness were added to unlawfulness, even the property of his church, as is said, has been taken away. If the truth is so, it being exceedingly intolerable that one should be oppressed by force whom guilt has not harmed, we beg of you, addressing you in the first place with a greeting of paternal charity, that what out of reverence for the Church and regard to equity your Excellency might of your own accord bestow, you would study to grant all the more kindly on our intercession, and would cause justice to be observed towards him in all respects according to the trust we have in the goodness of your equity; and that, having ascertained the truth, you would order what has been unlawfully done to be corrected, and the property that has been wrongfully taken from him to be equitably restored to him. Nor should the fact of his church being detained for the present by his enemies be at all to his disadvantage: but this ought to move more and more the disposition of your Christianity to succour him, that, being consoled by the gifts of your bounty, he may not feel the loss arising from the captivity which he has endured. For the good, then, of your soul let this our exhortation find place with you, that to your own reward you may lift up again his dejection with the outstretched hand of justice, to the end that from your observance of equity towards priests you may ever flourish through their prayers before the eyes of God.

EPISTLE CXVII

To Brunichild, Queen of the
Franks.

Gregory to Brunichild, &c.

Whereas for the government of a kingdom valour stands in need of justice, and power of equity, nor for this purpose can one suffice without the other, with what great love your care for these things is resplendent is shewn plainly enough by the fact of your governing crowds of nations so laudably. Who then, considering this, can distrust the goodness of your Excellency, or be doubtful of obtaining his request, when he thinks it right to ask for what he knows you would willingly bestow upon your subjects? The bearer, then, of these presents, Hilarius, a servant of your Excellency, supposing that our intervention with your power will aid him, has requested to be supported by letters of commendation from us; holding it as certain that he will more abundantly obtain such favours as you grant to others if our intercession should speak for him. Accordingly, paying you our address of greeting with the affection of paternal charity, we beg that, as he states that he is labouring under adversities from the iniquity of certain persons, the protection of your Excellence may defend him; and, lest he should possibly be oppressed against reason, that by your command you would order him to be kept safe; that so, while no one’s opposition shall have place unjustly and of mere will, both we may return thanks for having obtained what rather for your own reward we request, and that the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, whom you will venerate in us with Christian devotion by granting what we ask, may recompense your Excellency.

EPISTLE CXX

To Claudius in Spain.

Gregory to Claudius, &c.

The renown of good deeds being fragrant after the manner of ointment, the odour of your glory has extended from the Western parts as far as here. Besprinkled by the sweetness of which breath of air, I declare that I greatly loved one whom I knew not, and within the bosom of my heart seized thee with the hand of love; nor did I love without already knowing him to be one whose good qualities I had learnt. For of him who is known to me by great intenseness of feeling, but remains unknown by bodily vision, I undoubtedly can say truly that I know his person, though I know not his home. Now herein is a great assertion of your good repute, that your Glory is said to cleave sedulously to the excellent king of the Goths; since, while good men always displease bad ones, it is certain that you are good, who have pleased one that is good. For this reason, addressing you with the greeting that is due to you, I hope that you are being exercised in these things which you have begun, so that that true sentence of Solomon may be fulfilled in you—The path of the just is as a shining light, and groweth unto the perfect day (Prov 4:18). For, now that the light of truth shines upon us, and the sweetness of the heavenly kingdom discloses itself to our minds, it is indeed already day, but not yet perfect day. But it will then be perfect day, when there shall be no longer anything of the night of sin in our souls. But do you grow unto the perfect day, that, until such time as the heavenly country shall appear, there may be spreading increase of good works here; to the end that in the retribution hereafter the fruit of reward may be by so much the greater as earnestness in labour has been increasing now. Wherefore we commend to your Glory our most beloved son Cyriacus, the Father of our monastery, that, after he has accomplished what has been enjoined him, there be no hindrance to delay his return. May Almighty God guard you by the protection of His heavenly arm, and grant unto you to be glorious both now among men and after long courses of years among the angels.

EPISTLE CXXI

To Leander, Bishop of Hispalis
(Seville).

Gregory to Leander, Bishop of Spain.

I have the epistle of thy Holiness, written with the pen of charity alone. For what the tongue transferred to the paper had got its tincture from the heart. Good and wise men were present when it was read, and at once their bowels were stirred with emotion. Everyone began to seize thee in his heart with the hand of love, for that in that epistle the sweetness of thy disposition was not to be heard, but seen. All severally were inflamed, and all admired, and the very fire of the hearers shewed what had been the ardour of the speaker. For, unless torches burn themselves, they will not kindle others. We saw, then, with how great charity thy mind was aflame, seeing that it so kindled others also. Your life indeed, which I always remember with great reverence, they did not know; but the loftiness of your heart was manifest to them from the lowliness of your language. As to my life, this your epistle speaks of it as worthy of imitation by all: but may that which is not as it is said to be become so because it is said to be so, lest one should lie who is not wont to lie. In reply to this, however, I speak shortly the words of a certain good woman, Call me not Noemi, that is, fair; but call me Mara, for I am full of bitterness (Ruth 1:20). For indeed, good man, I am not to-day the man you knew. For I confess that in advancing outwardly I have fallen much inwardly, and I fear that I am of the number of those of whom it is written, Thou didst cast them down while they were lifted up (Ps. 72:18). For he is cast down when he is lifted up who advances in honours, and falls in manners. For I, following the ways of my Head, had determined to be the scorn of men and the outcast of the people, and to run in the lot of him of whom again it is said by the Psalmist, The ascents in his heart he hath disposed in the valley of tears (Ps. 83:7); that is, that I should ascend inwardly all the more truly as I lay outwardly the more humbly in the valley of tears. But now burdensome honour much depresses me, innumerable cares din me, and, when my mind collects itself for God, they cleave it with their assaults as if with a kind of swords. My heart has no rest. It lies prostrate in the lowest place, depressed by the weight of its cogitation. Either very rarely or not at all does the wing of contemplation raise it aloft. My sluggish soul is torpid, and, with temporal cares barking round it, already almost reduced to stupor, is forced now to deal with earthly things, and now even to dispense things that are carnal; nay sometimes, by force of disgust, is compelled to dispose of some things with accompanying guilt. Why should I say more? Overcome by its own weight, it sweats blood. For, unless sin were reckoned under the name of blood, the Psalmist would not say, Deliver me from bloodguiltiness (Ps. 50:16). But, when we add sin to sins, we fulfil this also which is said by another prophet, Blood hath touched blood (Hos. 4:2.) For blood is said to touch blood when sin is joined to sin, so as to multiply the load of iniquity. But in the midst of all this I implore thee by Almighty God to hold me who am fallen into the billows of perturbation with the hand of thy prayer. For I sailed as it were with a prosperous breeze when I led a tranquil life in a monastery: but a storm, rising suddenly with gusty surges, caught me in its commotion, and I lost the prosperity of my voyage; for in loss of rest I suffered shipwreck. Lo, now I am tossed in the waves, and I seek for the plank of thy intercession, that, not being counted worthy to reach port rich with my ship entire, I may at least after losses be brought to shore by the aid of a plank.

Your Holiness writes of being afflicted with the pains of gout, by continual suffering from which I too am grievously worn down. But comfort will be readily at hand, if amid the scourges under which we suffer we recall to mind whatever faults we have committed; and then we shall see that they are not scourges, but gifts, if by pain of the flesh we purge the sins which we did for delight of the flesh.

Furthermore we have sent you, with the blessing of the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, a pallium, to be used only in celebration of Mass. In sending it to you I ought to admonish you much as to how you ought to live: but I suppress speech, since in your manner of life you anticipate my words. May Almighty God keep you under His protection, and bring you to the rewards of the heavenly country with multiplied fruits of souls. As to me, with what amount of business and with what weakness I am weighed down this short letter hears witness, in which I say little to one whom I greatly love.

EPISTLE CXXII

To Rechared, King of the
Visigoths.

Gregory to Rechared, &c.

I cannot express in words, most excellent son, how much I am delighted with thy work and thy life. For on hearing of the power of a new miracle in our days, to wit that the whole nation of the Goths has through thy Excellency been brought over from the error of Arian heresy to the firmness of a right faith, one is disposed to exclaim with the prophet, This is the change wrought by the right hand of the Most High (Ps. 76:11). For whose breast, even though stony, would not, on hearing of so great a work, soften in praises of Almighty God and love of thy Excellency? As for me, I declare that it delights me often to tell these things that have been done through you to my sons who resort to me, and often together with them to admire. These things also for the most part stir me up against myself, in that I languish sluggish and unprofitable in listless ease, while kings are labouring in the gathering together of souls for the gains of the heavenly country. What then shall I say to the coming Judge in that tremendous assize, if I shall then come thither empty, where thy Excellency shall bring after thee flocks of faithful ones, whom thou hast now drawn to the grace of a true faith by assiduous and continual preaching? But this, good man, by the gift of God, affords me great comfort, that the holy work which I have not in myself I love in thee. And, when I rejoice with great exultation for thy doings, the results of thy labour become mine through charity. With regard, therefore, to the conversion of the Goths, both for your work and for our exultation, we may well exclaim with the angels, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill (Luk. 2:14). For we, as I think, owe the more thanks to Almighty God for that, although we have done nothing with you, we are nevertheless partakers in your work by rejoicing with you. Further, how gladly the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, has accepted the gifts of your Excellency your very life witnesses evidently to all. For it is written, The vows of the righteous are his delight (Prov. 15:8). For indeed in the judgment of Almighty God it is not what is given, but by whom it is given, that is regarded.

For hence it is that it is written, The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his gifts, but unto Cain and to his gifts he had not respect (Gen. 4:4, 5). To wit, being about to say that the Lord had respect to the gifts, he was careful to premise that He had respect unto Abel. Thus it is plainly shewn that the offerer was not acceptable by reason of the gifts, but the gifts were so by reason of the offerer. You shew, therefore, how acceptable your offering is, seeing that, being about to give gold, you have first given gifts of souls by the conversion of the nation subject to you.

With regard to your telling us that the abbots who were sent to us to bring your offering to the blessed Apostle Peter had been wearied by the violence of the sea and returned to Spain without accomplishing their voyage, your gifts were not kept back, for they reached us afterwards; but the constancy of those who had been sent has been tried, as to whether they knew how with holy desire to overcome dangers in their way, and, though fatigued in body, by no means to be wearied in mind. For adversity which comes in the way of good purposes is a trial of virtue, not a judgment of reprobation. For who can be ignorant how prosperous an event it was that the blessed Apostle Paul came to Italy to preach, and yet in coming suffered shipwreck? But the ship of the heart stood unharmed among the billows of the sea.

Furthermore, I must tell you that I have been led to praise God the more for your work by what I have learnt from the report of my most beloved son Probinus the presbyter; namely that, your Excellency having issued a certain ordinance against the perfidy of the Jews, those to whom it related attempted to bend the rectitude of your mind by offering a sum of money; which your Excellency scorned, and, seeking to satisfy the judgment of Almighty God, preferred innocence to gold. With regard to this what was done by King David recurs to my mind, who, when the longed for water from the cistern of Bethlehem, which was wedged in by the enemy, had been brought him by obedient soldiers, said, God forbid that I should drink the blood of righteous men (1 Chron. 11:19). And, because he poured it out and would not drink it, it is written, He offered it a libation to the Lord. If, then, water was scorned by the armed king, and turned into a sacrifice to God, we may estimate what manner of sacrifice to Almighty God has been offered by the king who for His love has scorned to receive, not water, but gold. Wherefore, most excellent son, I will confidently say that thou hast offered as a libation to the Lord the gold which thou wouldest not have in opposition to Him. These are great things, and redound to the praise of Almighty God.

But in the midst of all these things we must guard with vigilant attention against the snares of the ancient foe, who, the greater gifts he sees among men, with the more subtle snares seeks to take them away. For robbers too do not look out for empty travellers to seize them on their road, but such as carry vessels of gold and silver. For indeed the present life is a road. And every one must needs be the more on his guard against ambushed spirits in proportion as the gifts are greater which he carries. It is the duty, then, of your Excellency, with regard to this so great gift which you have received in the conversion of the nation subject to you, to keep with all your might, first humility of heart, and secondly cleanness of body. For where it is written, Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:11; 18:14), it is assuredly evident that he truly loves what is lofty who does not cut off his soul from the root of humility. For often the malignant spirit, in order to destroy the good that previously he had not power to oppose, comes into the mind of the worker after accomplishment of his work, and agitates it with silent thoughts of self-praise, so that the deluded mind admires itself for the great things that it has done. And, being exalted in its own sight through hidden tumour, it is deprived of the grace of Him Who bestowed the gift. For hence it is that it is said through the voice of the prophet to the soul that waxes proud, Having trust in thy beauty thou playedst the harlot because of thy renown (Ezek. 16:15). For indeed a soul’s having trust in its beauty is its presuming within itself on its righteous doings. And it plays the harlot because of its renown, when in what it has done aright it desires not the praise of its Maker to be spread abroad, but seeks the glory of its own reputation. Hence again it is written through the prophet, In that thou art more beautiful, go down (Ezek. 32:19). For the soul goes down because of being more beautiful when, owing to the comeliness of virtue whereby it ought to have been exalted before God, it falls from His grace through elation. What then is to be done in this case but that, when the malignant spirit employs the good things that we have done to exalt the mind, we should ever recall to memory our evil deeds, to the end that we may acknowledge that what we have done sinfully is our own, but that it is of the gift of Almighty God alone when we avoid sins. Cleanness also of body is to be guarded in our strivings after well-doing, since, according to the voice of the apostolic preacher, The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (1 Cor. 3:17). And again he says, Far this is the will of God, even your sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3). As to which sanctification, what he means by it he shews by straightway adding, That ye should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lusts of concupiscence.

The very government also of your kingdom in relation to your subjects ought to be tempered with moderation, lest power steal upon your mind. For a kingdom is ruled well when the glory of reigning does not dominate the disposition. Care also is to be taken that wrath creep not in, lest whatever is lawful to be done be done too hastily. For wrath, even when it prosecutes the faults of delinquents, ought not to go before the mind as a mistress, but attend as a handmaid behind the back of reason, that it may come to the front when bidden. For, if once it begins to have possession of the mind, it accounts as just what it does cruelly. For hence it is written, The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (Jam. 1:20). Hence again it is said, Let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to wrath (Ib. 19). However I doubt not that under the guidance of God you observe all these things. Still, now that an opportunity of admonition has arisen, I join myself furtively to your good deeds, so that what you do though not admonished you may not do alone, having an admonisher to boot. Now may Almighty God protect you in all your doings by the stretching out of His heavenly arm, and grant you prosperity in the present life, and alter a course of many years eternal joys.

We have sent you a small key from the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter to convey his blessing, containing iron from his chains, that what had bound his neck for martyrdom may loose yours from all sins. We have given also to the bearer of these presents, to be offered to you, a cross in which there is some of the wood of the Lord’s cross, and hairs of the blessed John the Baptist, from which you may ever have the succour of our Saviour through the intercession of His forerunner.

Moreover we have sent to our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Leander a pallium from the See of the blessed Apostle Peter, which we owe both to ancient custom, and to your character, and to his goodness and gravity.

A long time ago, when a certain Neapolitan youth came hither, your to me most sweet Excellency had thought fit to charge me to write to the most pious Emperor to the end that he might search in the record office for the treaties that had formerly been concluded with the prince Justinian of pious memory as to the claims of your kingdom, so as to gather from them what he should observe with regard to you. But there were two things seriously in the way of my doing this. One was that the record-office in the time of the aforesaid prince Justinian of pious memory had been so burnt by a fire which had crept in suddenly that hardly any paper of his times remained. The other was that, as no one need be told, thou oughtest to look in thy own archives for the documents that are against thee, and produce these instead of my doing so. Wherefore I exhort your Excellency to arrange matters suitably to your character, and carefully to carry out whatever makes for peace, that the times of your reign may be memorable with great L praise through many courses of years. Furthermore, we have sent you another key from the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter, which, being laid up with due honour, may multiply with blessing whatever it may find you enjoying.

EPISTLE CXXIII

To Venantius
and
Italica.

Gregory to the lord Venantius, Patrician, and Italica his wife.

I have taken care, with due affection, to enquire of certain persons who have come from Sicily about your Excellency’s health. But they have given me a sad report of the frequency of your ailments. Now, when I say this, neither do I find anything to tell you about myself, except that, for my sins, lo it is now eleven months since it has been a very rare case with me if I have been able now and then to rise from my bed. For I am afflicted by so great sufferings from gout, and so great from troubles, that my life is to me most grievous pain. For every day I faint under my sufferings, and sigh in expectation of the relief of death. Indeed among the clergy and people of this city there has been such an invasion of feverous sicknesses that hardly any freeman, hardly any slave, remains fit for any office or ministry. Moreover, from the neighbouring cities we have news daily of havocs and of mortality. Then, how Africa is being wasted by mortality and sickness I believe that you know more accurately than we do, insomuch as you are nearer to it. But of the East those who come from thence report still more grievous desolations. In the midst of all these things, therefore, since you perceive that there is a general smiting as the end of the world draws near, you ought not to be too much afflicted for your own troubles. But, as becomes wise nobles, bring ye back your whole heart to the care of your souls, and fear the strict judgment all the more as it is so much nearer at hand. Devote yourselves to piety, of which it is written that It hath promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come (1 Tim. 4:8). But Almighty God is powerful both to preserve the life of your Excellency for a long time here, and to bring you after many courses of years to eternal joys. I beg my most sweet daughters, the lady Barbara and the lady Antonina, to be greeted in my name; whom I pray that heavenly grace may protect, and grant them to be prospered in all things.

EPISTLE CXXV

To Maximus, Bishop of Salona.

Gregory to Maximus, &c.

Having received the letters of our brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus, and Castorius, our chartularius, having also returned, we learn that your Fraternity have made most full satisfaction with regard to the matters about which there had been uncertainty; and we return great thanks to Almighty God that froth our inmost heart all rancour of sinister suspicion has been eradicated. On this account I have been desirous of dismissing with the utmost speed our common son, your deacon Stephen. But the frequent pains of my sicknesses have compelled me to retain him with me for a few days. As soon, however, as I have begun to be even slightly better, I have provided for sending him forthwith back to you with joy.

Accordingly we send to you, according to custom, the pallium for the sacred solemnities of mass; the meaning of which we desire you in all respects to vindicate. For the dignity of this vestment is humility and justice. Let, then, your Fraternity make haste with all your heart to shew yourself humble in prosperity, and in adversity, if ever it should ensue; upright in justice; friendly to the good, and opposed to the froward; never discountenancing any one who speaks for the truth; instant in works of mercy according to thy means, and yet beyond thy means desiring to be instant; sympathizing with the weak; rejoicing with men of good will; regarding the woes of others as thine own; exulting for the joys of others as if for thine own; in correcting vices severe, in cherishing virtues, soothing the minds of hearers; in anger, retaining judgment without anger, but in calmness not relinquishing the censorship of your severity. This, dearest brother, is the meaning of the pallium which you will receive, which if you act up to, you will have inwardly what you are seen to have received outwardly.

Furthermore I commend in all respects to your Fraternity our brother and fellow-bishop Sabinianus; and if there be any matters of dispute between you, let them meanwhile be laid aside. Let charity remain fixed between you, that so, in case of contention ever arising about external things, they may be examined without charity deserting the heart. We commend also our common son Honoratus: concerning whom if it is the case, as we have learnt through Castorius our chartularius, that through him three previous archdeacons have been compelled to observe the ecclesiastical custom by retiring at the expiration of five years, we desire indeed that he may experience the charity of thy Holiness. For a judgment ought not to be solicited in a case which he himself has judged. If, however, it is not so, then, all swelling of heart being repressed, and all grudge set aside, he ought to be received, and by no means removed from the place which he now occupies. Messianus also, the cleric who had taken refuge with us, we have confidently committed to the charge of our common son Stephen the deacon, being assured that in the case of one whom we ourselves send to your Fraternity, you will not show any grudge, but lend the countenance of your authority. May Almighty God keep you in His protection, and grant us so to act that after the billows of this temporal state we may be able to attain with joy to things eternal.

EPISTLE CXXVII

From S. Columbanus to Pope
Gregory.

To the holy lord, and father in Christ, the
Roman [pope], most fair ornament of the Church, a certain most august flower, as it were, of the whole of withering Europe, distinguished speculator, as enjoying a divine contemplation of purity (?). I, Bargoma2, poor dove in Christ, send greeting.

Grace to thee and peace from God the Father [and] our [Lord] Jesus Christ. I am pleased to think, O holy pope, that it will seem to thee nothing extravagant to he interrogated about Easter, according to that canticle, Ask thy father, and he will skew thee; thine elders and they will tell thee (Deut. 32:7). For, though on me, who am indeed a trifler (micrologo) may be branded that excellent expression of a certain wise man, who is reported to have said, on seeing a certain woman, contupictam, I do not admire the art, but I admire the brow, in that I who am vile write to thee that art illustrious; yet, relying on my confidence in thy evangelical humility, I presume to write to thee, and impose on thee the matter of my grief. For writing is not in vain, when necessity compels one to write, though it be to one’s betters.

What, then, dost thou say concerning Easter on the 21st or 22nd day of the moon, which (with thy peace be it said) is proved by many calculators not to be Easter, but in truth a time of darkness? For it is not unknown, as I believe, to thy Efficiency, how Anatolius (a man of wonderful learning, as says Saint Hieronymus, extracts from whose writings Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, inserted in his Ecclesiastical History, and Saint Hieronymus praised this same work about Easter in his catalogue) disputes with strong disapprobation about this age of the moon. For against the Gallican Rimarii5, who erred, as he says, about Easter, he introduced an awful sentence, saying, Certainly, if the rising of the moon be delayed till the end of two watches, which indicates midnight, light does not overcome darkness, but darkness light; which thing is certainly not allowable in the Easter Festival, namely, that any part of the darkness should dominate over the light, since the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection is light, and there is no communion of light with darkness. And, if the moon has not shone forth tell the third watch, there is no doubt that the moon has risen on its 21st or 22nd day, in which it is not possible for a true Paschal offering to be made. For those who lay down that it is possible for a true Easter to be celebrated at this age of the moon, not only are unable to affirm this by authority of divine Scripture, but also incur the guilt of sacrilege and contumacy and peril of their souls, while affirming that the true Light, which dominates over all darkness, can be offered while there is any domination of darkness. Also in the book of holy dogma we read, Easter, that is, the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection, cannot be celebrated before the beginning of the vernal equinox is past, to wit, that it may not come before the vernal equinox: which rule assuredly Victorius has gone beyond in his cycle, and hereby has already introduced error into Gaul, or to speak less boldly, has confirmed one of old standing. For indeed how can either of these things stand with reason; either that the Lord’s Resurrection should be celebrated before His Passion (the thought of which is absurd), or that the seven days sanctioned by the Lord’s command in the Law, during which only it is enjoined that the Lord’s Passover could lawfully be eaten (which are to be numbered from the 14th day of the moon to the 20th), should against law and right be exceeded? For a moon in its 21st or 22nd day is out of the dominion of light, as having risen at that time after midnight; and, when darkness overcomes light, it is said to be impious to keep the solemnity of light. Why then dost thou, who art so wise, the brilliant lights indeed of whose sacred genius are diffused, as in ancient times, through the world,—why dost thou keep a dark Easter? I wonder, I confess, that this error of Gaul, ac si Schynteneum2, has not long ago been swept away by thee; unless I should perchance suppose, what I can hardly believe, that, as it is evident that thou hast not corrected it, it has thy approval.

In another way, however, may thy Expertness be more honourably excused, if, fearing to subject thyself to the mark of Hermagoric novelty, thou art content with the authority of thy predecessors, and especially of pope Leo.

Do not, I pray thee, in such a question trust to humility only or to gravity, which are often deceived. Better by far is a living dog in this problem than a dead lion (Eccles. 9:4). For a living saint may correct what had not been corrected by another who came before him. For know thou that by our masters and the Irish ancients, who were philosophers and most wise computists in constructing calculations, Victorius was not received, but held rather worthy of ridicule or of excuse than as carrying authority. Wherefore to me, as a timid stranger rather than as a sciolist, afford the support of thy judgment, and disdain not to send us speedily the suffrage of thy Placability for assuaging this tempest which surrounds us; since, after so many authors whom I have read, I am not satisfied with that one sentence of those bishops who say only, We ought not to keep the Passover with the Jews. For this is what the bishop Victor formerly said; but none of the Easterns accepted his figment. But this the benumbing (numb?) backbone of Dagon; this the dotage of error drinks in. Of what worth, I ask, is this sentence, so frivolous and so rude and resting, as it does, on no testimonies of sacred Scripture; We ought not to keep the Passover with the Jews? What has it to do with the question? Are the reprobate Jews to be supposed to keep the Passover now, seeing that they are without a temple, outside Jerusalem, and Christ, who was formerly prefigured, having been crucified by them? Or, can it be rightly supposed that the 14th day of the moon for the Passover was of their own appointment, and is it not rather to be acknowledged to be of God’s, who alone knew clearly with what mysterious meaning the 14th day of the moon was chosen for the passage [out of Egypt]. Perhaps to wise men and the like of thee this may be in some degree clearer than to others. As to those who make this objection, although without authority, let them upbraid God for that He did not then beforehand guard against the contumacy of the Jews by enjoining on them in the Law nine days of unleavened bread, if He would not have us keep the Passover with them, so that the beginning of our solemnity should not exceed the end of theirs. For, if Easter is to be celebrated on the 21st or 22nd day, from the 14th to the 22nd nine days will be reckoned, that is, seven ordered by God, and two added by men. But, if it is allowed for men to add anything of their own accord to divine decree, I ask whether this may not seem opposed to that sentence of Deuteronomy, Lo (he saith), the word which I give unto thee, thou shall not add unto it nor take from it (Deut. 4:2).

But in writing all this more forwardly than humbly, I know that I have involved myself in an Euripus of presumption attended with great difficulty, being perchance unskilled to steer out of it. Nor does it befit our place or rank that anything should be suggested in the way of discussion to thy great authority, and that my Western letters should ridiculously solicit thee, who sittest legitimately on the seat of the apostle and key-bearer Peter, on the subject of Easter. But thou oughtest to consider not so much worthless me in this matter as many masters, both departed and now living, who confirm what I have pointed out, and suppose thyself to be holding a colloquy with them: for know that I open my thick-lipped mouth dutifully, though it may be incoherently and extravagantly. It is for thee, therefore, either to excuse or to condemn Victorius, knowing that, if thou approvest him, it will be a question of faith between thee and the aforesaid Hieronymus, seeing that he approved Anatolius, who is opposed to Victorius; so that whoso follows the one cannot receive the other. Let, then, thy Vigilance take thought that, in approving the faith of one of the two authors aforesaid who are mutually opposed to each other, there be no dissonance, when thou pronouncest thy opinion, between thee and Hieronymus, lest we should be on all sides in a strait, as to whether we should agree with thee or with him. Spare the weak in this matter, lest thou exhibit the scandal of diversity. For I frankly acknowledge to thee that any one who goes against the authority of Saint Hieronymus will be one to be repudiated as a heretic among the churches of the West: for they accommodate their faith in all respects unhesitatingly to him with regard to the Divine Scriptures. But let this suffice with respect to Easter.

But I ask what thy judgment is about those bishops whom thou hast written of as simoniacal, and whom the writer Giltas calls pests. Should communion be had with them? For there are known to be many such in this province, whereby the matter is made more serious. Or as to others, who having been polluted in their diaconate, are afterwards elected to the rank of bishops? For there are some whom we know to have conscientious scruples on these grounds; and in conferring with our littleness about them, they wished to know for certain whether they may minister without peril after such transgressions; that is, either after having bought their rank for money, or after adultery in their diaconate. I mean, however, concealed adultery with their dependents2, which with our teachers is accounted as no less criminal.

As to a third head of enquiry, say in reply, I pray thee, if it is not troublesome, what should be done in the case of those monks who for a closer sight of God, or inflamed by a longing for a more perfect life, going against their vows, leave the places of their first con version, and, against the will of their abbots, the fervour of monks compelling them, either go free or fly to deserts. The author Vennianus enquired about these of Giltas, who replied to him most elegantly: yet still to one who is anxious to learn there is ever an increase of greater fear. These things, and much more which epistolary brevity does not admit of, might well have been enquired about more humbly and more clearly in a personal interview, but that weakness of body and the care of my fellow-pilgrims keeps me bound at home, though desirous of going to thee, so as to draw from that spiritual vein of a living well and from the living water of knowledge flowing from heaven and springing up unto eternal life. And, if my body were to Follow my mind, Rome would once more be in danger of being itself despised; seeing that—even as we read in the narration of the learned Hieronymus how certain persons once came to Rome from the utmost boundaries of the Heuline coast; and then (wonderful to be told) sought something else outside of Rome—so I too, saving reverence for the ashes of the saints should seek out longingly, not Rome but thee: for, though I confess myself not to be wise, but athirst, I should do this same thing if I had time and opportunity.

I have read thy book containing the Pastoral Rule, short in style, lengthy in teaching, full of mysteries; and acknowledge it to be a work sweeter than honey to one that is in need. Wherefore bestow, I pray thee, on me who am athirst for what is thine, the works on Ezekiel, which, as I have heard, thou hast elaborated with wonderful genius. I have read the six books of Hieronymus on that prophet; but he has not expounded the middle part. But, if thou wilt do me the favour, send for me to the city some of thy remaining writings; to wit, the concluding expositions of one book, and (? namely) the Song of Songs from that place where it is said, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense, to the end, treated with short comments, either of others, or thine own: and I beg that thou wouldest expound the whole obscurity of Zachariah, and make manifest its hidden meaning, that Western blindness may give thee thanks for this. I make unreasonable demands, and ask to have great things told me: who can fail to see this? But it is true also that thou hast great things, and knowest well that from a little less, and from much more should be put out to use. Let charity induce thee to write in reply; let not the roughness of my letter hinder thee from expounding, seeing that it is my mode of expression that has been in fault, and I have it in my heart to pay thee due honour. It was for me to provoke, to interrogate, to request: it is for thee not to refuse what thou hast received freely, to put thy talent out to use, to give to him that asks the bread of doctrine, as Christ enjoins. Peace be to thee and thine; pardon my forwardness, blessed pope, in that I have written so boldly; and I pray thee in thy holy prayers to our common Lord to pray for me, a most vile sinner. I think it quite superfluous to commend to thee my people, whom the Saviour judges fit to be received, as walking in His name; and if, as I have heard from thy holy Candidus, thou shouldest be disposed to say in reply that things confirmed by ancient usage cannot be changed, error is manifestly ancient; but truth which reproves it is ever more ancient still.

BOOK X

EPISTLE X

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, our guardian in Sicily.

It has been reported to us that our most reverend brother the bishop Basilius is occupied in legal suits as though he were one of the last of the people, and unprofitably attends the courts. Now, since this thing both renders the man himself vile and does away with the reverence due to priests, let thy Experience, immediately on receiving this order, so compel him by strict execution of it to return to his duty that, through thy insistency, a delay five days be not under any excuse allowed him; lest, if thou shouldest in any way permit him to make such delay, thou with him shouldest come to be gravely culpable before us. Given in the month of December, Indiction 3.

EPISTLE XV

To Clementina, Patrician.

Gregory to Clementina, &c.

It has reached us by the report of a certain Abbot that your Glory has been told by certain evil-speakers that we have a pique against you. If this is so, whosoever have made up this story have been double towards you under a shew of sincerity, so as to shew themselves off as faithful, and wickedly cause you to doubt us. But I, glorious daughter, knowing thy good qualities of old, and especially the chastity which has been thy companion from youth, have ever regarded thee with great respect and affection. But, lest even now your Glory should suspect that my heart is changed, I declare that there is not in me a scruple of ill-feeling or anger towards you; but be assured that I evince paternal affection for you. One thing, however, that has been told me I ought not to pass over in silence, lest there should begin to be a diminution of charity, if what needs to be said for amendment were suppressed.

For indeed it has been reported to me that, when any one has offended you, you retain soreness unremittingly. Now, if this is true, since the more I love you the more grieved I am, I beg that you would nobly rid yourself of this fault, and not suffer the seed of the enemy to grow to the detriment of your crop of well-doing. Let the words of the Lord’s Prayer be brought back to your memory, and let not blame prevail with you over pardon. Let the goodness of your Glory get the better of transgressions, and by salubriously pardoning make the offender devoted to you more than persistent asperity can make him undevoted. Let there be left to him what may make him ashamed, and not kept up what may grieve him. For usually discreet remission has more effect for correction than strictness in executing vengeance; so much so that sometimes the one makes a man more faithful and subdued, while the other makes him obstinate and spiteful. And indeed we do not say this to you in order that you should abate your zeal for righteousness, but lest you should be in the least things such as you ought to be in the greatest. For, if ever the quality of a transgression requires severity, it should be so dealt with that both vengeance may correct the fault and grace not be denied afterwards to those that have been corrected. Seeing, then, that we warn you under the dictates of paternal affection for your soul’s good, receive our words with the charity wherewith they are spoken, and take them to yourself for the advantage of your Glory, so that your good qualities may become clearer before men and very pure before Almighty God. But count on us, dearest daughter, confidently in all things, as indeed you may; and, since we always desire to hear of your prosperity, refresh us often by your letters.

EPISTLE XVIII

To Clementina, Patrician.

Gregory to Clementina, &c.

Know, glorious daughter, that the presbyter Amandus has been elected to the episcopate by the people of Surrentum. And, we having written for him to be sent hither, you ought not to be saddened for his absence, seeing that one who is with you in heart should not even be believed to be departing from you. And, since he who once pleased you is acceptable to those who want a bishop, bless Almighty God for this, and with Christian devotion rejoice the more; and gladly do your best to further his coming to us for the advantage of others speedily, since it is the part of sincere charity to exalt when one who is loved is called that he may grow.

EPISTLE XIX

To Anthemius, Subdeacon.

Gregory to Anthemius, Subdeacon of Campania.

After he who had been elected to the episcopate of the city of Surrentum had appeared to us to be unfit, they elected Amandus, presbyter of the oratory of Saint Severinus, which is in the Lucullan camp. Wherefore we enjoin on thy Experience, laying aside excuses, to take care to send the said presbyter to us with all speed, to the end that, if there is nothing to hinder him from coming, the desires of the petitioners may with the help of Christ be fulfilled. As to his life and deeds, seeing that they can be better known where he has long lived, let it be thy care, together with our brother and fellow-bishop, Fortunatus, to make diligent enquiry. And if there is nothing in the way of his promotion to the sacred order, he should be sent to us without any delay. But, lest our glorious daughter Clementina should take this amiss, let thy Experience go to her, and do this thing with her consent. If, however, she should be disposed to resist, let thy Experience still send him hither without delay, since we ought so to pacify the minds of our children as still not to obstruct benefit to souls.

EPISTLE XXIII

To Adrian, Notary of Sicily.

Gregory to Adrian, &c.

A thing to us altogether detestable infamous has come to our ears, and we wonder why, if it is true, thou hast not taken notice of it. For Martianus, a monk of the monastery of Saint Vitus, situate on Mount Aetna, has come to us, and presented a petition, complaining among other things that the monks of this monastery live so perversely and wickedly as to dare to have women living with them, which is a thing atrocious to be spoken of. And, seeing that we have written on this matter to our brother and fellow-bishop Leo, in order that, having enquired into the truth, he may, if he should find it to be so, be at pains to correct it with the strictest severity, it is necessary for thy Experience also to shew thyself in all respects solicitous for investigation of the truth, and punishment of so great a wickedness; so that nothing may be found to be done remissly or negligently. Further, for the interests in other respects of the same monastery, lend thy assistance so far as equity may require, to the end that if, as is said, there has been any invasion of it, it may be redressed according to justice, and that for the future nothing prejudicial may in any way arise there contrary to the fear of God and the order of law.

EPISTLE XXIV

To Fortunatus, Bishop of Neapolis (Naples).

Gregory to Fortunatus, &c.

When your Fraternity pays too little attention to the monasteries that are under you, you both lay yourself open to reproof, and make us sorry for your laxity. Now it has come to our ears that one Mauricius, who lately became a monk in the monastery of Barbacianus us, has fled from the same monastery, taking other monks with him. In this case the hastiness of the aforesaid Barbacianus inculpates him exceedingly in our sight, in that he rashly tonsured a secular person without even previous probation. Did we not write to you that you should prove him first, and then, if he were fit, should make him abbot? Even now, then, look well after him whom you chose. For you are delinquent in his delinquency, if he has begun so to demean himself as to shew himself unfit to have the government of brethren.

Further, let your Fraternity more strictly interdict all monasteries from venturing by any means to tonsure those whom they may have received for monastic profession before they have completed two years in monastic life. But in this space of time let their life and manners be carefully proved, lest any one of them should either not be content with what he had desired or not keep firm to what he had chosen. For, it being a serious matter that untried men should be associated under obedience to any master, how much more serious is it that any who have not been proved should be attached to the service of God?

Further, if a soldier should wish to become a monk, let no one for any cause whatever presume to receive him without our consent, or before it has been reported to us. If this rule is not diligently observed, know that all the guilt of those that are under thee redounds on thyself, seeing that thou provest thyself by the very facts of the case to be too little anxious about them.

EPISTLE XXXI

To Libertinus, Ex-prætor.

Gregory to Libertinus, &c.

What straits you are in with regard to the things of this world is not unknown to us. But, since to those who are placed in the utmost tribulation the only comfort is the mercy of the Creator, rest your hope on Him, and turn to Him with your whole heart, Who both justly allows whom He will to be afflicted and will mercifully deliver one who trusts in Him. To Him, then, give thanks, and patiently endure what has been brought upon you. For it is the part of a right mind not only to bless God in prosperity, but also in adversities to join in praising Him. In these things therefore that you are suffering let no murmur against God creep into your heart, since for what purpose our Creator thus works is unknown. For perchance, magnificent son, thou didst offend Him in something when in a state of prosperity, from which He would purge thee by kindly bitterness. And so neither let temporal affliction break thee down nor losses of thy goods distract thee, since if, returning thanks in adversity, thou make God propitious to thee by thy patience, both the things that were lost are multiplied, and in addition to this, eternal joys held out to thee. I beg thee, however, not to take it amiss that we have written through Romanus the guardian to order twenty suits of clothing to be supplied from us to your servants, seeing that things, however small, which are offered from the goods of the blessed Apostle Peter are always to be taken for a great blessing, since he will have power both to bestow on you greater things, and to hold out to you eternal benefits with Almighty God. The month of June, Indiction 3.

EPISTLE XXXV

To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.

Gregory to Eulogius, &c.

In the past year I received the letters of your most sweet Holiness; but on account of the extreme severity of my sickness have been unable to reply to them until now. For lo, it is now almost full two years that I have been confined to my bed, afflicted with such pains of gout that I have hardly been able to rise on feast-days for as much as three hours space to solemnize mass. And I am soon compelled by severe pain to lie down, that I may be able to bear my torment with intervening groans. This pain of mine is sometimes moderate, and sometimes excessive: but neither so moderate as to depart, nor so excessive as to kill me. Hence it comes to pass that, being daily in death, I am daily debarred from death. Nor it is surprising that, grievous sinner as I am, I am long kept confined in the prison of such corruption. Whence I am compelled to exclaim, Bring my soul out of prison, that I may confess thy name (Ps. 141:8). But, since I am not yet worthy to obtain this by my prayers, I beg that the prayer of your Holiness may afford me the aid of its intercession, and deliver me from the weight of sin and corruption into that liberty, which you know well, of the glory of the children of God.

Your to me most sweet and ever to be honoured Blessedness has informed me in your letter that our common son Anatolius, deacon of the city of Constantinople, had written to you to say that certain monks from the parts about Jerusalem had come to me to make some enquiry concerning the error of the Agnoitæ, and you say that he begged your Holiness to write to me to express your opinion with respect to this enquiry. But neither have monks come to me from the parts about Jerusalem to make any enquiry, nor do I think that the said our common son can have told you in his letters what was not the case; but I suspect that the interpreter has mistaken the meaning of his letters. For the same deacon, now more than two years ago, wrote to me that monks had come from the aforesaid parts to the city of Constantinople making such enquiries, and he desired to ask me what I thought. To him, long before I received your letters, I made the very same reply against that same heresy as I found afterwards in the epistle of your Holiness: and I returned great thanks to Almighty God that concerning all questions the Fathers of the Romans and of the Greeks, whose followers we are, have spoken with one spirit. For in many parts I found this your epistle to be as though I had been reading the writings of the Latin Fathers against the aforesaid heresy. And consider how much I must love and praise the excellence of my most holy brother, in whose mouth I recognised the venerable Fathers, whom I love so much. Praise therefore be to Him, to Him be glory in the highest, of whose gift the voice of Mark still cries aloud in the See of Peter; from the effusion of whose spirit, when the priest enters into the Holy of Holies for searching into mysteries, spiritual bells resound in holy Church, as in the tabernacle, from the words of preaching. Right, then, and highly to be praised is your preaching. But we implore the Almighty Lord to keep you long even in this life, that from the organ of God, which you are, the voice of truth may in this world sound more widely. And for me, I pray you, intercede, that the way of this pilgrimage, which has become too rough for me may with speed be finished, to the end that I, who cannot by my own merits, may by yours be able to attain to the promises of the eternal country, and to rejoice with the citizens of heaven.

EPISTLE XXXVI

To Maximus, Bishop of Salona.

Gregory to Maximus, &c.

When our common son the presbyter Veteranus came to the Roman city, he found me so weak from the pains of gout as to be quite unable to answer thy Fraternity’s letters myself. And indeed with regard to the nation of the Sclaves, from which you are in great danger, I am exceedingly afflicted and disturbed. I am afflicted as suffering already in your suffering: I am disturbed, because they have already begun to enter Italy by way of Istria. Further, of Julian the scribo4, what shall I say, seeing that I see everywhere how our sins find us out. so as to cause us to be disturbed by the nations from without and by judges from within? But be not at all saddened by such things, since those who shall live after us will see worse times; so much so, that they will regard us as having had happy days in comparison with their own. But, so far as thy Fraternity has power, thou oughtest to oppose thyself in behalf of the poor, in behalf of the oppressed. And, even if thou shouldest be unable to do any good, the very devotion of thy heart, which Almighty God has given, is enough for Him. For it is written, Rescue them that are drawn unto death, and forbear not to deliver them that are ready to be slain (Prov. 24:11). But if thou shouldest say, My powers are insufficient, He who sees into the heart understands. In all that thou doest, then, desire to have Him Who sees into the heart well-pleased with thee. But whatever there is whereby He may be pleased omit not thou to do. For human terrors and favours are like smoke, which is snatched by a light breeze and vanishes away. Know this most assuredly, that no one can please God and bad men. Let, therefore, thy Fraternity esteem thyself to have pleased Almighty God in such degree as thou knowest thyself to have displeased froward men. Yet let thy defence of the poor itself be moderate and grave, lest, if anything be done too rigidly, men should think you actuated by the pride of youth. But our defence of the poor must needs be found of such sort that both the humble may feel protection and oppressors may not easily find what out of a malevolent disposition they may blame. Attend, then, to what is said to Ezekiel, Son of man, unbelievers and destroyers are with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions (Ezek. 2:6). And the blessed Job says, I have been a brother of dragons, and a companion of owls (Job 30:29). And Paul says to his disciples, In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world (Philip. 2:15). We ought, then, to walk all the more cautiously as we know that we are living among the enemies of God. Further, with regard to the Photinianists, let thy Fraternity pay the utmost attention; and, as thou hast begun, study how to recall them to the bosom of holy Church. But, if any should wish to come to me, and to receive an explanation, let them first make oath that they will not permit their followers to persist in their error even after an explanation has been received. And then let thy Holiness promise them that they will suffer no wrong from me, but that I will give them an explanation. If they should acknowledge the truth, let them accept it; if they should not acknowledge it, I will dismiss them unharmed. But, if any of them should wish to come to us against you, let thy Fraternity by no means detain them; for, when they come, they shall either accept an explanation, or assuredly they will not see that land any more.

EPISTLE XXXVII

To Innocent, Præfect of Africa.

Gregory to Innocent, &c.

The lucid eloquence of your Eminence, seasoned with the honey of the heart, has so infused its savour into our inmost soul, and ravished us with love of it, that both what you write sounds sweet, and what you do has a pleasant savour; nor this without good cause, since one who is accomplished in good studies is great in the eye of judgment, and not of partiality. Further, as we understand that you have taken upon you the belts of the prefecture, sadness is mingled with our joy. For on the one hand we are rejoiced for the promotion of our most sweet son, but are saddened on the other, because we feel in fact from our own sorrow how heavy a burden it is in times of confusion to be advanced to high positions. Wherefore all pains ought to be taken that troublesome circumstances may become an occasion of reward. For, as you know, corn springs from land that is full of thistles, and the rose is produced from thorns. While, then, you have a time given you meet for sowing, delay not to sow the seed of good works, that in the day of harvest you may carry home the greater armfuls of joy, and from good service in a transitory dignity may come to eternal glory. Knowing, then, of the pains you have taken in the preparation of swift-sailing vessels2, we relieve your anxiety by wished for news, informing you that, by the mercy of God, we have come to terms about peace with the king of the Lombards until the month of March in the coming fourth Indiction. Whether it will hold or not we know not, since the said king is reported to have died since, though the fact so far is held to be uncertain.

We have done what you wrote to ask us to do about Anamundarus, and would that the result might answer to our wish; for, as far as we are concerned, we do not deny the succour of our intercession to the afflicted.

As to your wishing the book on the exposition of holy Job to be sent to you, we altogether rejoice at your earnest desire; since we see that your Eminence earnestly desires what may both prevent you from going entirely outside yourself, and bring your heart back to itself after being distracted by secular cares. But, if you desire to be satiated with delicious food, read the works of the blessed Augustine, your countryman, and seek not our chaff in comparison with his fine wheat.

Furthermore, we have learnt from the testimony of Hilarius our Chartularius what patronage and what kindness your Glory has bestowed in the interests of the poor of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, who loves you. On this account, returning you abundant thanks, we implore the mercy of Almighty God, that He would defend you with the protection of His grace, and permit neither bad men to prevail against you without, nor malignant spirits within; but that He would of His mercy so order your doings in His fear that, as He has made you glorious among men, He may also make you so after the course of a long life in the number of His saints.

EPISTLE XXXIX

To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.

Gregory to Eulogius, &c.

As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country (Prov. 25:25). But what can be good news to me, so far as concerns the behoof of holy Church, but to hear of the health and safety of your to me most sweet Holiness, who, from your perception of the light of truth, both illuminate the same Church with the word of preaching, and mould it to a better way by the example of your manners? As often, too, as I recall in my heart your oneness of mind with me, and feel that I remain fixed in your heart, I give thanks to Almighty God that charity cannot be divided by distance of place. For, though in body we are far disjoined, yet in soul we are indivisible.

Our common son Anatolius the deacon has notified to me in his letters that in the royal city nothing ecclesiastical has at any time been disturbed from earthly causes. But I believe that he had before announced to me how your Blessedness had spoken in the cause of the Church. And I rejoice to think that, where you chanced to be present, I do not consider that there was any want of me. For I know that you, as a minister of the truth, a follower of Peter, and a preacher of Holy Church, would speak what ought to have been heard through the mouth of a teacher from the Apostle Peter’s See.

Moreover, before these days, when Abramius of Alexandria came to me. I had written in reply to your Holiness both what I thought of your writings which you issued against the Agnoite heretics, and why I had been so late in replying. But the said Abramius, compelled by difficulties of navigation, is reported to have delayed long in the city of Naples; and so I write again in the same sense in which I had formerly written, since in your teaching against the heretics that are called Agnoitæ there was much for us to admire; but to displease us there was nothing. And in the same sense I had already written at length to our son Anatolius the deacon. Moreover, your doctrine so agreed in all respects with the Latin Fathers that I find, not to my surprise, that in diverse languages the Spirit has not been diverse.

For, as to what you have said about the fig-tree, Augustine speaks aptly in the same sense; for, when the evangelist subjoined, For the time of figs was not yet (Mark 11:13), it is plainly shown that the figs which the Lord had sought were fruit in the synagogue, which had the leaves of the Law, but not the fruit of works. For the Creator of all things could not be ignorant that the fig-tree had no fruit; which was a thing that all might know, since it was not the time of figs. But concerning what is written, That the day and hour neither the Son nor the angels know (Mark 13:32), your Holiness has quite rightly perceived that this is most certainly to be referred, not to the said Son with respect to His being the Head, but with respect to His body, which we are. With regard to which matter, the same blessed Augustine in many places adopts this sense (Quæst. lib. lxxxiii. q. 60; lib. I de Trinit., c. 12; in psalm 6., init.; in ps. xxxiv. serm. 2). He mentions also another thing that may be understood of the same Son, namely that Almighty God sometimes speaks in a human manner, even as He says to Abraham, Now I know that thou fearest God (Genes. 22:12). It was not that God then came to know that He was feared, but that He then made Abraham know that he feared God. For, as we speak of a glad day, not meaning that the day itself is glad, but that it makes us glad, so also the Almighty Son says that He does not know the day which He causes not to be known; not that He Himself does not know it, but that He does not allow it to be known. Whence also the Father alone is said to know it, because the Son Who is consubstantial with Him has His knowledge of what the angels are ignorant of from His divine nature, whereby He is above the angels. Whence also it may be more nicely understood thus; that the Only-begotten, being incarnate and made for us a perfect man, knew indeed in the nature of His humanity the day and hour of the judgment, but still it was not from the nature of His humanity that He knew it. What then He knew in it He knew not from it, because God, made man, knew the day and hour of the judgment through the power of His Deity: as also at the marriage, when the Virgin Mother said that wine was wanting, He replied, Woman, what have to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come (Joh. 2:4). For it was not that the Lord of the angels was subject to the hour, having, among all things which He had created, made hours and times; but, because the Virgin Mother, when wine was wanting, wished a miracle to be done by Him, it was at once answered her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? As if to say plainly, That I can do a miracle comes to me of my Father, not of my Mother. For He who of the nature of His Father did miracles had it of His mother that He could die. Whence also, when He was on the cross, in dying He acknowledged His mother, whom He commended to the disciple, saying, Behold thy mother (Joh. 19:27). He says, then, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet came.—That is, “In the miracle, which I have not of thy nature, I do not acknowledge thee. When the hour of death shall come, I shall acknowledge thee as my mother, since I have it of thee that I can die.” And thus the knowledge, which He had not of the nature of humanity whereby He was with the angels a creature, this He denied that He had with the angels, who are creatures. The day, then, and the hour of the judgment He knows as God and man, but for this reason, that God is man. It is moreover a thing quite manifest, that whoso is not a Nestorian cannot in any wise be an Agnoite. For with what meaning can one that confesses that the very Wisdom of God was incarnate say that there is anything that the Wisdom of God is ignorant of? It is written, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him (Joh. 1:1). If all things, then without doubt the day and hour of the judgment. Who then can be so senseless as to presume to say that the Word of the Father made what He is ignorant of? It is written also, Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands (Job 22:3). If all things, certainly both the day and the hour of the judgment. Who, then, is so foolish as to say that the Son received into His hands what He knows not?

But, with respect to the passage in which He says to the women about Lazurus, Where have ye laid him (Joh. 11:34), I felt exactly as you felt that, if they say that the Lord did not know where Lazarus had been buried, and for that reason enquired, they will undoubtedly be compelled to acknowledge that the Lord did not know in what places Adam and Eve had hidden themselves after their sin, when He said in Paradise, Adam, where art thou (Gen. 3:9)? or when He chides Cain, saying, Where is Abel thy brother (Gen. 4:9)? But, if He did not know, why did He forthwith add, Thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground? However, on this passage Severianus Gabalensis speaks differently, saying that the Lord spoke thus to the women as it were in the way of rebuke, in that He enquired where they had laid the dead Lazarus; as if with plain reference to the sin of Eve He had said, I placed the man in Paradise, whom you have placed in the sepulchre.

But to these things our said common son Anatolius the deacon has replied by putting another question:—What if it should be objected to me that, even as He who is immortal vouchsafed to die that He might deliver us from death, and He who is eternal before all time willed to become subject to time, so the Wisdom of God vouchsafed to take upon Himself our ignorance that He might deliver us from ignorance? But I have not yet given him any reply to this, having been confined until now by grievous sickness. Now, however, through your players I have already begun to recover; and, if I should so recover as to be able to dictate, with the help of the Lord I will reply to him. To you it is not for me to say anything on this subject, lest I should seem to teach you what you know, seeing that even medicines lose their power of healing, if applied to sound and strong members.

Furthermore, we apprize you that in this place we suffer from serious difficulty for want of good interpreters. For there are none who can express the sense, while all ever try to translate the words exactly: and so they confuse the whole sense of what has been said. Whence it comes to pass that we are by no means able without severe labour to understand what has been translated.

I have received the blessing of Saint Mark the Evangelist and of your Blessedness. And I have been desirous of sending you some timber; but the ship which came was too small to carry it. And yet even that which the Alexandrians saw when they came is of small size. For I had prepared some that is much larger for you, which has not yet been conveyed to the Roman city: for I waited for it to be conveyed when the Alexandrian ship should arrive; and it has remained in the place where it was felled.

May Almighty God long guard your life for the edification of Holy Church, and inspire you to pray earnestly for me; that, being pressed down by my own sins, I may be lifted up before Almighty God by your prayers.

EPISTLE XLII

To Eusebius, Archbishop of Thessalonica.

Gregory to Eusebius, &c.

If, most dear brother, we consider attentively how great is the excellence of peace, we shall recognize with what earnestness it should be cultivated by us. For indeed our Lord and Redeemer vouchsafed to leave and give it as a great boon to His disciples, that He might thereby make those who were united to Him in firmness of faith His associates in loving participation with Himself. For it is written, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God (Matth. 5:9). Whosoever, then, desires to be the father’s heir, let him, by keeping peace, not refuse to be his child. For he who gives place to discord surely makes himself to be without lot in so great a gift. Seeing then that by the mercy of God the purity of thy faith has been declared to us, as was meet, with catholic rectitude, we are taken up with great surprise that thou shouldest suffer those whom thou knowest to believe well and to think aright to be needlessly scandalised by the fault of certain persons, so that the reputation of thy Fraternity is clouded by the guilt of others. For how can one avoid suspicion of error who extends sufferance to them that are in error? Or what estimate of himself can he expect, if he provides not for purging by open satisfaction what fervour of faith requires to be purged?

For indeed it is said that Luke thy presbyter and Peter refuse to receive the Chalcedonian synod, and that on this account the hearts of thy orthodox children are perturbed with no slight offence. And, since their zeal is not only to be praised but also to be altogether cherished, we exhort that the care of thy Fraternity hesitate not to investigate the matter with all activity and solicitude. And, if those persons should be found innocent of that pravity, remove offence from the minds of thy children by giving them satisfaction, and among all heresies anathematise especially Severus and Nestorius, so that purification may engender charity among those with whom a sinister suspicion concerning those heretics has, out of love of the faith, produced dissension; and that one feeling of concord may salubriously knit together those whom a pure and single confession of catholic truth unites. Nor let the doubters be thought unworthy of satisfaction, since we are instructed by the Divine voice, Despise not one of these who are the least (Matth. 28:18). Whoso, then, desires not that he who instructs us should be despised, let him not reject the words of the instructor; since he also of whom our Redeemer testified that he was a vessel of election unto Himself admonishes us to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephes. 4). Hence whosoever refuses not to be held by this bond of salvation, let him study the things that make for peace, and afford no place for the foe; so that, having been enabled to advance by the fierce dissension of brethren, he may be more stoutly trampled on, when unity is established.

If however, as we do not expect, they should be found to be wounded by the dart of this error, the cure of ecclesiastical exhortation must be applied to them, so that they may either remain among the Lord’s sheep if healed, or be cut off from the unity of the ecclesiastical body; to the end that from a slight loss there may be a great gain, and that the removal of a part may make the whole body free. For it is the care also of a provident shepherd not to delay casting out from consort with his sound sheep a sickly one that admits not of cure, lest it should contaminate others with the taint of its sickness, knowing that he cannot preserve the soundness of the rest but by the ejection of this one. Accordingly I once more warn you in brotherly charity to investigate this matter with the utmost vigilance, and to observe what we have written with the utmost care, lest by consort with others you should make the right faith which you hold doubtful. For he who does not correct things that should be cut off commits them. Wherefore you must take thought with great solicitude and with great provision in all ways, that the persons of those men be not an offence to others, or common opinion injurious to you; that so a shepherd’s gains may accrue to your Fraternity from the sheep committed to you all the more as both sincere love and approved care shall have made you solicitous for their custody.

EPISTLE LXII

To the
Neapolitans.

Gregory to the clergy and noble citizens of Naples.

It is not a new thing, nor is it reprehensible, that in the election of a bishop the votes of the people should be divided between two parties: but it is a serious matter when in cases of this kind the election goes not by judgment, but by favour only. For before your letter reached us we had learnt from the report of certain persons that the deacon John, who has been elected by the other party, has a little daughter. Hence, if they had had a mind to attend to reason, neither would others have elected him nor would he have consented. For what presumption must his be who dares to approach the episcopate while convicted by the evidence of the little girl, of not having had long control over his own body! Moreover, Peter the deacon, who you say has been elected by you, is, according to what is said, quite without astuteness. And you know that at the present time the person to be constituted in the highest place of government, should be one who knows how to be careful, not only for the salvation of souls, but also with regard to the external advantage and safeguard of his subjects. But know ye further that it has come to our ears concerning him, that he has given money on usury; which thing you ought to enquire into thoroughly, and, if it is so, elect another, and without delay hold yourselves aloof from a person of this kind. For we will on no account lay hands on lovers of usury. If, however, after accurate enquiry made, this should prove to be false (since his person is unknown to us, and we know not whether what has been reported to us of his simplicity be true), he must needs come to us with your decree in his favour, that, having made careful enquiry into his life and manners, we may at the same time become acquainted with his intelligence; and thus, in case of his satisfying this enquiry, we may in him, with the Lord’s help, fulfil your desires. Further, let it be your care to look out also for another person who may be suitable, so that, if this one should by any chance appear unfit for appointment to this order, there may be some one else to whom you may transfer your choice. For it will be a serious disgrace to your clergy, in case of this man by any chance not being approved, if they should say that they have no one else fit to be elected.

EPISTLE LXIII

To Dominicus, Bishop of Carthage.

Gregory to Dominicus, &c.

We have already learnt what great pestilence has invaded the African parts; and, inasmuch as neither is Italy free from such affliction, doubled are the groans of our sorrows. But amid these evils and other innumerable calamities our heart, dearest brother, would fail from desperate distress, had not the Lord’s voice fortified our weakness beforehand. For long ago to the faithful the trumpet of the Gospel lesson sounded, warning them that at the approach of the end of the world wars and many other things, which, as you know, are now feared, would come to pass (Matth. 24; Luke 21). We ought not, then, to be too much afflicted in suffering things that we knew of beforehand, as though they had been unknown. Frequently also, in our consideration of another’s death, the kind of death may be an alleviation. For what manglings, what cruelties have we seen, where death was the only remedy, and life was a torment! Did not David, when a choice of deaths was offered him, refuse famine or the sword, and choose that his people should fall under the hand of God? Gather ye from this how great favour is granted to such as perish under Divine smiting, since they die by the call that was offered to the holy prophet for a boon. Wherefore let us return thanks to our Creator in all adversities, and, trusting in His mercy, bear all things patiently, since we suffer much less than we deserve. Since, however, we are so scourged temporally that we may not be left without the consolation of life eternal, it is needful (since we are not ignorant, through the announcements of these signs, that the Judge Who is to come is at hand) that we should so much the more, by zeal for good works and the wailing of penitence, make secure our accounts which we shall have to submit to His scrutiny; so that such great smitings may be to us, by the favour of His grace, not the beginning of damnation, but a purgation for our good.

Since, however, the nature of our infirmity is such that we cannot but grieve for those who pass away, let the teaching of your Fraternity be a consolation to the afflicted. Instil into them that the good things which are promised will remain with them; so that, strengthened by a most sure hope, they may learn not to grieve for the loss of temporal things in comparison with the gift to come. Let your tongue, as indeed we believe it does, restrain them more and more from the perpetration of evil deeds; let it announce the rewards of the good, the punishments of the bad, so that those who have little love for good things may at least be greatly afraid of bad things, and keep themselves from the things which must be punished. For to commit things worthy of scourges when placed in the midst of scourges is to be peculiarly proud against the smiter, and provokes the incensed one to fiercer anger. And it is a prime kind of madness for any one to be unwilling to desist justly from his own evil, and to wish God to cease unjustly from His vengeance. But, since in all this there is need of Divine help, let us, beloved brother, with united prayers implore the clemency of Almighty God, that He would both grant unto us thus to acquit ourselves worthily, and mercifully stir the hearts of the people to perform such things; to the end that, while we order our actions wholesomely in His fear, we may be counted worthy both to be delivered from impending evils, and, by the leading of His grace, without which we can do nothing, to come to supernal joys.

The month of August, Indiction 3.

BOOK XI

EPISTLE I

To John, Abbot.

Gregory to John, Abbot of Mount Sina.

The Epistle of thy Humility testifies to the holiness of thy life; whence we give great thanks to Almighty God, for that we know that there are still some to pray for our sins. For we, under the colour of ecclesiastical government, are tossed in the billows of this world, which frequently overwhelm us. But by the protecting hand of heavenly grace we are raised up again from the deep. Do you, then, who lead a tranquil life in the so great serenity of your rest, and stand as it were safe on the shore, extend the hand of your prayer to us who are on our voyage, or rather who are suffering shipwreck, and with all the supplications in your power help us as we strive to reach the land of the living, so that not only for your own life, but also for our rescue, you may have reward for ever. May the Holy Trinity protect thy Love with the right hand of Its protection, and grant unto thee in Its sight, by praying, by admonishing, by shewing example of good work, to feed the flock committed to thee, that so thou mayest be able to reach the pastures of eternal life with the flock itself which thou feedest. For it is written, My sheep shall come and shall find pastures (John 10:27). And these pastures in truth we find, when, freed from the winter of this life, we are satisfied with the greenness of eternal life, as of a new Spring.

We have learnt from the report of our son Simplicius that there is a want of beds and bedding in the Gerontocomium, which has been constructed by one Isaurus there. Wherefore we have sent 15 cloaks, 30 rachanæ3, and 15 beds. We have also given money for the purchase of mattresses and for their transport, which we beg thy Love not to disdain, but to supply them to the place for which they have been sent. Given on the day of the Kalends of September, Indiction 4.

EPISTLE XII

To Conon, Abbot of Lirinus (Lerins).

Gregory to Conon, Abbot of the Monastery of Lirinus.

The carefulness of persons in authority is the safeguard of subjects, since one who watches over what is entrusted to him avoids the snares of the enemy. But how skilful thou art in ruling the brethren, and how earnestly watchful in keeping guard over them, we have learnt from the report of our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Mennas. And as our hearing of the unwary remissness of thy predecessor often saddened us, so the carefulness of thy foresight gladdens us, since there is no doubt that the safeguard of thy earnestness is of profit for reward to thee, and for example to do good to others.

But, since the more our adversary knows himself to be guarded against on all sides, the more he seeks to break in by hidden ways, and strives with cunning art to overthrow his opponent, let the watchfulness of thy Love ever kindle itself to more ardent care; and so, with God’s help, fortify all beforehand, that the ravening wolf, running about hither and thither, may have no place for entering among the Lord’s sheep. Be it then thine earnest endeavour, the grace of our Redeemer aiding thee, to prohibit and in all ways guard those who are committed to thee from gluttony, from pride from avarice, from idle speaking, and from all uncleanness; that by so much the greater reward may accrue to thee from the government committed to thee as thy subjects, through thy vigilance, shall be conquerors against the iniquities of the adversary.

Wherefore let the good feel thee sweet, the bad a corrector. And even in correction know thou that this order should be observed, that thou shouldest love persons and visit faults; lest, if thou shouldest perchance be disposed to act otherwise, correction should pass into cruelty, and thou shouldest destroy those whom thou desirest to amend. For thou oughtest so to cut away a sore as not to run the risk of ulcerating what is sound; lest, if thou press in the steel more than the case requires, thou injure him whom thou art in haste to benefit. For let thy very sweetness be wary, not remiss; and let thy correction be loving, not severe. But let the one be so seasoned by the other that both the good may have, in loving, something to beware of, and the bad, in fearing, something to love.

Attend carefully to these things, most beloved son; earnestly observe them; that, when through such management thou shalt have given back safe to God those whom thou hast received from Him, thou mayest be counted worthy in the day of eternal retribution to hear Him say, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter into the joy of thy Lord (Luke 19:17). Further, we desire that our son Columbus the presbyter, who is commended to thy Charity by his own merits, may advance in thy love from our commendation also.

EPISTLE XIII

To Serenus, Bishop of Massilia (Marseilles).

Gregory to Serenus, &c.

The beginning of thy letter so showed thee to have in thee the good will that befits a priest as to cause us increased joy in thy Fraternity. But its conclusion was so at variance with its commencement that such an epistle might be attributed, not to one, but to different, minds. Nay, from thy very doubts about the epistle which we sent to thee it appears how inconsiderate thou art. For, hadst thou paid diligent attention to the admonition which in brotherly love we gave thee, not only wouldest thou not have doubted, but have perceived what in priestly seriousness it was thy duty to do. For Cyriacus, formerly abbot, who was the bearer of our letter, was not a man of such training and erudition as to dare, as thou supposest, to make up another, nor for thee to entertain this suspicion of falseness against his character. But, while putting aside consideration of our wholesome admonitions, thou hast come to be culpable, not only in thy deeds, but in thy questionings also. For indeed it had been reported to us that, inflamed with inconsiderate zeal, thou hadst broken images of saints, as though under the plea that they ought not to be adored3. And indeed in that thou forbadest them to be adored, we altogether praise thee; but we blame thee for having broken them. Say, brother, what priest has ever been heard of as doing what thou hast done? If nothing else, should not even this thought have restrained thee, so as not to despise other brethren, supposing thyself only to be holy and wise? For to adore a picture is one thing, but to learn through the story of a picture what is to be adored is another. For what writing presents to readers, this a picture presents to the unlearned who behold, since in it even the ignorant see what they ought to follow; in it the illiterate read. Hence, and chiefly to the nations, a picture is instead of reading. And this ought to have been attended to especially by thee who livest among the nations, lest, while inflamed inconsiderately by a right zeal, thou shouldest breed offence to savage minds. And, seeing that antiquity has not without reason admitted the histories of saints to be painted in venerable places, if thou hadst seasoned zeal with discretion, thou mightest undoubtedly have obtained what thou wert aiming at, and not scattered the collected flock, but rather gathered together a scattered one; that so the deserved renown of a shepherd might have distinguished thee, instead of the blame of being a scatterer lying upon thee. But from having acted inconsiderately on the impulse of thy feelings thou art said to have so offended thy children that the greatest part of them have suspended themselves from thy communion. When, then, wilt thou bring wandering sheep to the Lord’s fold, not being able to retain those thou hast? Henceforth we exhort thee that thou study even now to be careful, and restrain thyself from this presumption, and make haste, with fatherly sweetness, with all endeavour, with all earnestness, to recall to thyself the minds of those whom thou findest to be disjoined from thee.

For the dispersed children of the Church must be called together, and it must he shewn then by testimonies of sacred Scripture that it is not lawful for anything made with hands to be adored, since it is written, Thou shalt adore the Lord thy God, and him only shalt serve (Luke 4:8). And then, with regard to the pictorial representations which bad been made for the edification of an unlearned people in order that, though ignorant of letters, they might by turning their eyes to the story itself learn what had been done, it must be added that, because thou hadst seen these come to be adored, thou hadst been so moved as to order them to be broken. And it must be said to them, If for this instruction for which images were anciently made you wish to have them in the church, I permit them by all means both to be made and to be had. And explain to them that it was not the sight itself of the story which the picture was hanging to attest that displeased thee, but the adoration which had been improperly paid to the pictures. And with such words appease thou their minds; recall them to agreement with thee And if any one should wish to make images, by no means prohibit him, but by all means forbid the adoration of images. But let thy Fraternity carefully admonish them that from the sight of the event portrayed they should catch the ardour of compunction, and bow themselves down in adoration of the One Almighty Holy Trinity.

Now we say all this in our love of Holy Church, and of thy Fraternity. Be not then shaken, in consequence of my rebuke, in the zeal of uprightness, but rather be helped in the earnestness of thy pious administration.

Furthermore, it has come to our ears that thy Love gladly receives had men into its society; so much so as to have as a familiar friend a certain presbyter who, after having fallen, is said to live still in the pollution of his iniquity. This indeed we do not entirely believe, since he that receives such a one does not correct wickedness, but rather appears to give licence to others to perpetrate the like things. But, lest haply by any subornation or dissimulation he should prevail on thee to receive him and keep him still in favour, it becomes thee not only to drive him further from thee, but also in all ways to cut away his excesses with priestly zeal. But as to others who are reported to be bad, study to restrain them from their badness by fatherly exhortation, and to recall them to the way of rectitude. But, if (which God forbid) you seem not to profit them at all by salutary admonition, these also thou wilt take care to cast off far from thee, lest, from their being received, their evil doings should seem not at all to displease thee, and lest not only they themselves should remain unamended, but others also should be corrupted in consequence of thy reception of them. And consider how execrable it is before men, and how perilous before the eyes of God, if vices should seem to be nurtured through him whose duty it is to punish crimes. Attend therefore to these things diligently, most beloved brother; and study so to act as both wholesomely to correct the bad and to avoid breeding offence in the minds of thy children by associating with evil men.

EPISTLE XXV

To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).

Gregory to Januarius, &c.

Know ye that your Fraternity’s solicitude has pleased us, in that you have evinced, as was right, pastoral vigilance for the guardianship of souls. For indeed it has been reported to us that you have forbidden a monastery to be founded in the house of the late Epiphanius, a reader of your Church, in accordance with his will, for this reason; lest, seeing that this house was adjacent to a monastery of handmaidens of God, deception of souls should thence ensue. And we praised you greatly for guarding, as became you, by suitable foresight against the snares of the ancient foe. But, since we have been informed that the religious lady Pompeiana is desirous of taking away the handmaidens of God from this same monastery, and restoring them to their own monasteries whence they had been taken, and establishing there a congregation of monks, it is necessary that if this be accomplished, the disposition of the deceased should in all respects be adhered to. But, if this should not be done, that the will of the testator may not seem to be entirely frustrated, we will that—inasmuch as the monastery of the late abbot Urban, situated outside the city of Caralis, is said to be left so destitute that not even one monk remains there—we will, I say, that John, whom the said Epiphanius appointed to be abbot in the monastery which, as has been said, he had determined should be founded in his house, be ordained abbot (i.e. of the late Urban’s monastery), provided only that there be no impediment against him.

And let the relics which were to have been deposited in the house of the aforesaid Epiphanius be deposited there, and let whatever the same Epiphanius had contributed for the intended monastery in his own house be in all ways applied to the other; that so, even though for safeguard, as above written, his will is not carried out with regard to the place, the benefit intended may nevertheless be preserved inviolate. And indeed let your Fraternity, together with the guardian (defensore) Vitalis, arrange all this, and endeavour to order it so advantageously that you may have your reward, as for your praiseworthy prohibition, so also for your good settlement of the case. Lastly, though it may be superfluous to commend this monastery to your Fraternity, yet we abundantly exhort you that, as becomes you, with due regard to justice, you hold it as commended to you.

EPISTLE XXVIII

To Augustine, Bishop of the
Angli.

Gregory to Augustine, &c.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will (Luke 2:14); because a grain of wheat, falling into the earth, has died, that it might not reign in heaven alone; even He by whose death we live, by whose weakness we are made strong, by whose suffering we are rescued from suffering, through whose love we seek in Britain for brethren whom we knew not, by whose gift we find those whom without knowing them we sought. But who can describe what great joy sprung up here in the hearts of all the faithful, for that the nation of the Angli through the operation of the grace of Almighty God and the labour of thy Fraternity has cast away the darkness of error, and been suffused with the light of holy faith; that with most sound mind it now tramples on the idols which it formerly crouched before in insane fear; that it falls down with pure heart before Almighty God; that it is restrained by the rules of holy preaching from the lapses of wrong doing; that it bows down in heart to divine precepts, that in understanding it may be exalted; that it humbles itself even to the earth in prayer, lest in mind and soul it should lie upon the earth. Whose is this work but His who says, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work (John 5:17)? who, to shew that He converts the world, not by men’s wisdom, but by His own power, chose unlettered men as His preachers whom He sent into the world? And He does the same even now, having deigned to work mighty works in the nation of the Angli through weak men. But in this heavenly gift, dearest brother, there is ground, along with great joy, for most serious fear. For I know that Almighty God has displayed great miracles through thy Love in the nation which He has willed to be chosen. Wherefore thou must needs rejoice with fear for this same heavenly gift, and tremble in rejoicing:—rejoice, that is, because the souls of the Angli are drawn by outward miracles to inward grace; but tremble, lest among the signs that are done the infirm mind lift itself up to presumption about itself, and from being exalted in honour outwardly, fall inwardly through vain glory. For we ought to remember how, when the disciples returned with joy from preaching, and said to their heavenly Master, Lord, in thy name even the devils are subject unto us (Luke 10:17), they straightway heard, In this rejoice not; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven (Ib. v. 20). For they had set their minds on private and temporal gladness, when they rejoiced in the miracles. But they are recalled from private to common, from temporal to eternal gladness, when it is said to them, In this rejoice ye, because your names are written in heaven. For not all the elect work miracles; and yet the names of all of them are kept enrolled in heaven. For to the disciples of the Truth there should not be joy, save for that good which they have in common with all, and in which they have no end to their gladness.

It remains, therefore, dearest brother, that in the midst of the things which through the operation of God thou doest outwardly, thou shouldest ever nicely judge thyself within, and nicely understand both what thou art thyself and how great is the grace in the midst of that same nation for the conversion of which thou hast received even the gift of doing signs. And if at any time thou shouldest remember having offended against our Creator, whether in tongue or in deed, ever recall these things to thy memory, that memory of guilt may keep down the rising glory of the heart. And whatsoever thou mayest receive, or hast received, in the way of doing signs, regard these powers as not granted to thyself, but to those for whose salvation they have been conferred upon thee.

Further, there occurs to my mind, while I think on these things, what took place with one servant of God, even one eminently chosen. Certainly Moses, when he led God’s people out of Egypt, as thy Fraternity knows, wrought wonderful miracles. Fasting forty days and nights in Mount Sina, he received the tables of the law; among lightnings and thunders, while all the people trembled, he was attached to the service of Almighty God, being alone with Him even in familiar colloquy (Exod. 30, 31); he opened a way through the Red Sea; he had a pillar of a cloud to lead him on his journey; to the people when an hungered he gave manna from heaven; flesh to those who longed for it he supplied in the wilderness by a miracle, even unto overmuch satiety (Exod. 13, 14. 16.). But, when in a time of drought they had come to the rock, he was distrustful, and doubted being able to draw water from the same, which still at the Lord’s command he opened without fail in copious streams. But how many and great miracles after these he did during eight and thirty years in the desert who can count or search out (Exod. 17; Num. 20)? As often as a doubtful matter had troubled his mind, he resorted to the tabernacle, and enquired of the Lord in secret, and was forthwith taught concerning it, God speaking to him (Exod. 33. seq.). When the Lord was wrath with the people, he appeased Him by the intervention of his prayer; those who rose in pride and dissented in discord he engulphed in the jaws of the gaping earth; he bore down his enemies with victories, and shewed signs to his own people. But, when the land of promise had at length been reached, he was called into the mountain, and heard of the fault which he had committed eight and thirty years before, as I have said, in that he had doubted about drawing water from the rock. And for this reason he was told that he might not enter the land of promise (Num. 27). Herein it is for us to consider how formidable is the judgment of Almighty God, who did so many signs through that servant of His whose fault He still bare in remembrance for so long a time.

Wherefore, dearest brother, if we find that even he whom we know to have been especially chosen by Almighty God died for a fault after so many signs, with what fear ought we to tremble, who do not yet know whether we are chosen?

But what should I say of the miracles of the reprobate, when thy Fraternity well knows what the Truth says in the Gospel; Many shall come in that day saying to me, Lord in thy name we have prophesied, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works. But I will say unto them, I know not who ye are: depart from me all ye workers of iniquity (Matth. 7:22; Luke 13:27)? The mind, then, should be much kept down in the midst of signs and miracles, lest haply one seek therein one’s own glory, and exult in private joy for one’s own exaltation. For through signs gains of souls should be sought, and His glory by whose power these very signs are done. But there is one sign that the Lord has given us for which we may exceedingly rejoice, and acknowledge the glory of election in ourselves, seeing that He says, In this shall it be known that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35). Which sign the prophet demanded, when he said, Make with me, Lord, a sign for good, that they which hate me may see it, and be confounded (Ps. 85:17).

These things I say, because I desire to abase the mind of my hearer in humility. But let thy very humility have its confidence. For I, a sinner, maintain a most certain hope that through the grace of our Almighty Creator and Redeemer, our God and Lord Jesus Christ, thy sins are already remitted, and thou art chosen for this purpose, that those of others may be remitted through thee. Nor will you have sorrow for any guilt in the future, while you strive to cause joy in heaven for the conversion of many. Truly the same our Maker and Redeemer, speaking of the repentance of men, says, Verily I say unto you there will be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Luke 15:7). And if for one penitent there is great joy in heaven, of what kind may we believe the joy to be for so large a people, converted from its error, which, coming to faith, has condemned by penitence the evil things it did. In this joy, then, of heaven and the angels let us repeat the very words of the angels with which we began: let us say therefore, let us all say, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.

EPISTLE XXIX

To Bertha, Queen of the
Angli.

Gregory to Bertha, &c.

They who desire, after earthly dominion, to obtain the glory of a heavenly kingdom ought to labour earnestly to bring in gain to their Creator, that they may be able to rise by the steps of their operation to the things they long for; as we are glad to know you do. For indeed our most beloved son Laurentius the presbyter, and Peter the monk, have brought us word on their return to us how your Glory has exhibited itself towards our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Augustine, and how great succour and what charity you have bestowed upon him. And we bless Almighty God, who has been mercifully pleased to reserve the conversion of the nation of the Angli for your reward. For, as through Helena of illustrious memory, the mother of the most pious Emperor Constantine, He kindled the hearts of the Romans into Christian faith, so we trust that He works in the nation of the Angli through the zeal of your Glory. And indeed you ought before now, as being truly a Christian, to have inclined the heart of our glorious son, your husband, by the good influence of your prudence, to follow, for the weal of his kingdom and of his own soul, the faith which you profess, to the end that for him, and for the conversion of the whole nation through him, fit retribution might accrue to you in the joys of heaven. For seeing, as we have said, that your Glory is both fortified by a right faith and instructed in letters, this should have been to you neither slow of accomplishment nor difficult. And since, by the will of God, now is a suitable time, so proceed, with the co-operation of divine grace, as to be able to make reparation with increase for what has been neglected. Wherefore strengthen by continual hortation the mind of your glorious husband in love of the Christian faith; let your solicitude infuse into him increase of love for God, and so kindle his heart even for the fullest conversion of the nation subject to him that both he may offer, out of the zeal of your devotion, a great sacrifice to the Almighty Lord, and that the things related of you may both grow and be in all ways proved to be true: for your good deeds are known not only among the Romans, who have prayed earnestly for your life, but also through divers places, and have come even to the ears of the most serene prince at Constantinople. Hence, as great joy has been caused us by the consolations of your Christianity, so also may there be joy in heaven for your perfected work. So acquit yourselves devotedly and with all your might in aid of our above-named most reverend brother and fellow-bishop, and of the servants of God whom we have sent to you, in the conversion of your nation that you may both reign happily here with our glorious son your husband, and after long courses of years may also attain the joys of the future life, which know no end. Now we pray Almighty God that He would both kindle the heart of your Glory with the fire of His grace to perform what we have spoken of, and grant you the fruit of an eternal reward for work well-pleasing to Him.

EPISTLE XXX

To Venantius, Ex-Monk, Patrician of Syracuse.

Gregory to Venantius, &c.

In addressing to you the greeting which is due I was intending to speak of what I suffer. But I think I need not relate to you what you know. For I am tormented by pains of gout, which, afflicting not dissimilarly both me and you, while they increase upon us exceedingly, have caused our life to decrease. In the midst of them what else should we do but recall our faults to mind, and give thanks to Almighty God? For we who have sinned in many things from the pampering of the flesh are purged by the affliction of the flesh. We are to know also that present pain, if it converts the mind of the afflicted one, is the end of preceding guilt; but, if it does not convert to the fear of the Lord, is the beginning of pain to follow. We must therefore take care, and in entire conversion of heart watch to the utmost of our power with tears, lest we pass from torment to torments. We are also to consider by how great a dispensation of loving-kindness our Maker deals with us, in that He continually smites us, who are worthy of death, and still slays us not. For He threatens what He will do, and yet does it not, that pains sent in advance may alarm us, and, when we are converted to the fear of the strict Judge, may shield us from His animadversion when life is over. For who may tell, who may count, how many, sunk in their lechery, running headlong also in blasphemies and pride, continuing in robberies and iniquities even to the day of their death, have so lived in this world as never to suffer even a headache, but by a sudden stroke have been delivered to the fires of hell? We, then, have a token that we are not forsaken, in that we are continually scourged, according to the testimony of Scripture, which says, Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth (Heb. 12:6). Wherefore under the very stripes of God let us recall to mind both His gifts and the losses of our guilt. Let us consider what good things He has showered upon our ill-doing, and what ill things we have committed under His goodness. Let us fulfil what the Lord says through the prophet, Put me in remembrance, that we may plead together (Isai. 43:26). Let us plead now in our though with God, that we be not hereafter strictly judged by God. For what says Paul? If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:31). Whosoever, then, would make haste to escape the strictness of the sentence of the judgment to come, let him, through the bitterness of penitence, cut off for himself all the sweetness of the present life. Moreover, whatever gifts of this kind there are, whose gifts are they but our Maker’s? But that should not be accounted a gift of God fully to us which separates us through delight in itself from the love of God; lest we should prefer the things given to the Giver, and while receiving good things, though ourselves evil, we should be disjoined from His fear by that whereby we ought to have grown in His fear. Now may the Creator of all things, that is Almighty God, pour into your heart by the inspiration of His Spirit what we speak to you of by letter, and cleanse you from all defilements of sin, and grant you the joy of His comfort here, and hereafter eternal rewards with Himself. I beg that my most sweet daughters, the lady Barbara and the lady Antonina, be greeted in my name.

EPISTLE XXXII

To Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

Gregory to Marinianus, &c.

When the bearer of these presents, Candidus the abbot, came hither to ask for relics (which have also been granted), as much as I rejoiced in thy Fraternity’s nursing aid, thy Fraternity’s care for me being therein apparent, so much was I distressed that I could not enjoy his presence as I wished to do, seeing that he found me sick, and, when he departed, left me still in a state of weakness. For it is now a long time since I have been able to rise from bed. For at one time the pain of gout torments me, at another a fire, I know not of what kind, spreads itself with pain through my whole body; and it is generally the case that at one and the same time burning pain racks me, and body and mind fail me. Further, what other great distresses of sickness beside what I have mentioned I am affected by, I am unable to recount. This however I may briefly say, that the infection of a noxious humour so drinks me up that it is pain to me to live, and I anxiously look for death, which alone I can hope for to relieve my groans. Accordingly, most holy brother, implore for me the compassion of divine loving-kindness, that it would mercifully mitigate towards me the scourges of its smiting, and grant me patience to endure, lest (which God forbid) my heart break out into impatience from excessive weariness, and the guilt which might have been well cured through stripes be increased by murmuring. Given in the month of February, Indiction 4.

EPISTLE XXXIII

To Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

Gregory to Marinianus, &c.

On the arrival here of a certain man of Ravenna, I was smitten by most grievous sorrow for that he told me of thy Fraternity being sick from vomiting of blood. On this account we have caused enquiry to be made carefully and severally of those here whom we know to be well-read physicians, and have sent in writing to your Holiness their several opinions and prescriptions. All, however, prescribe before all else quiet and silence, which I greatly doubt whether thy Fraternity can have in thine own Church. And accordingly it seems good to me that, when the Church there has been provided for—whether with such as may accomplish the solemnities of mass, or with such as may take charge of the episcopate, and may be able to shew hospitality and hold receptions, or such as may superintend the guardianship of monasteries—thy Fraternity should come to me before the summer season, that I may, as far as I can, take special charge of thy sickness, and keep thee from being disturbed, since the physicians say that the summer season is exceedingly dangerous for this kind of sickness. And I greatly fear lest, if thou shouldest have any cares together with the unfavourableness of the season, there might be further risk to thee from this disorder. I too myself am very weak, and it is in all respects advantageous that thou shouldest, with the favour of God, return to thy Church in health; or certainly, if thou art to be called, that thou shouldest be called in the hands of thy friends; and that I, who see myself to be very near death, if Almighty God should be pleased to call me before thee, should pass away in thy hands. But if the circumstances of the present time stand in the way of thy coming, Ago may be treated with, some small present being given him, that he may himself send one of his people with thee as far as Rome. If, then, thou feelest thyself held heavily by this sickness, and arrangest to come, thou must come with few attendants, since, while thou stayest with me in the episcopal residence (episcopium), thou wilt have daily attendance from this Church.

Furthermore, I neither exhort nor admonish thee, but straitly charge thee, that thou by no means presume to fast, since the physicians say that the practice is very prejudicial to this disorder; except that, if by chance a great solemnity demands it, I concede it five times in the year. Thou must also refrain from vigils; and let the prayers which in the city of Ravenna are wont to be said over the wax taper, and the expositions of the Gospel which are given by priests about the time of the Paschal solemnity, be delivered by another. And by no means impose on thyself, beloved, any labour beyond thy powers. I have said this, that, if thou shouldest feel thyself better, and shouldest put off thy coming, thou mayest know what to observe by my command.

EPISTLE XXXV

To Barbara
and
Antonina.

Gregory to Barbara, &c.

Having received your Glory’s letters, which spoke with tears for words, we, most beloved daughters, are affected by no less sorrow than yourselves for your father’s sickness. For we cannot account that sadness as extraneous which is made our own by the law of charity. But, since in no state of despair ought there to be distrust in the mercy of our Redeemer, raise your spirits for the comforting of your father, place your hope in the hand of Almighty God, and by His protection we trust that He will guard you from all adversity, and cheer your tribulation, and grant you to be favourably disposed of according to your father’s desires. But should He pay the debt of our human lot, even then let not any despair crush you, nor the words of any persons cause you alarm. For after God, Who is the governor and protector of orphans, we will be so solicitous in behalf of your most sweet Glory, and will so make haste, with the Lord’s help, to provide as we can for your advantage, that no rough handling of unjust men may perturb you, and that we may repay in all ways the debt we have contracted from the goodness of your parents. And so may heavenly grace nurture you with its favour and defend you by its protection from all evils, that your safety may become our joy.

EPISTLE XXXVI

To John, Bishop of Syracuse.

Gregory to John, &c.

I have received your Fraternity’s letters telling me of the sickness of my most sweet son the lord Venantius, and relating how all things are going on about him. But when I heard at one and the same time that he was desperately and grievously sick, and that unfair men were laying claim to the property of the orphans, the sorrow in my heart could scarce contain itself. But in this there was comfort, in that tears relieved my groans. Your Holiness therefore ought not to neglect, what should be your first care, to take thought for his soul, by exhorting him, beseeching him, putting before him God’s terrible judgment, and promising His ineffable mercy, so as to induce him to return even at his last moments to his former state of life, lest the guilt of so great a fault should stand against him in the eternal judgment. And then it is your duty to take thought how his daughters, the ladies Barbara and Antonina, may be disposed of, so that no opportunity be afforded to bad men. For after he had conjured me to take anxious care for them, adding that I should see to the disposal of them, he went on in his letter to mention a thing which, when I consider the matter, I have no doubt might stand in the way. For he says that I should repeatedly petition the most pious lord Emperor, that he should himself cause provision to be made for the disposal of them. You observe how different this is from his former wish. And I fear lest an apt opportunity might hence be given to men in Sicily who are seeking an opportunity for interfering in his affairs. For, when this is known, what will those men do who have already, as report goes, been attempting to put a seal on his effects5? Would not reason seem to be on their side, and to afford them as it were a just ground for this proceeding? If they should say, the girls have been commended to the lord Emperor; we cannot neglect the matter; it is at our peril if we do; we make the property safe till such time as the lord Emperor may order them to be taken to Constantinople;—tell me, I pray thee, what I could do in such a case, wherein the father’s commendation seems to support a man that has authority. For he conjures me to see to their being so disposed of that they may either be in the Roman city or not be taken away from Sicily; and he so acts as to leave no way of either bringing them hither or retaining them there. But, do you, as far as you can, oppose these bad men. Defend their substance for the sake of Almighty God as if it were your own: and, if it is still possible, see to all opportunity for wrong being removed with regard to the will of the aforesaid lord Venantius. But, if it is thought fit that they should be commended to the palace, he ought not to impose such a burden on me as to wish to charge my soul with the care of the disposal of them; as to which be it enough that God Almighty knows how I am taking thought. Hence I have taken care to write at once to my most beloved son the deacon Anatolius, bidding him endeavour to speak with the glorious patrician lady Rusticiana, and telling him in what manner he should enquire and inform me about the persons whose names have been transmitted to me; that so he may inform us of all things speedily, and what is to be done, may under the ordering of God be arranged.

Furthermore, in the letters that have been sent to us we find that your Fraternity has been grieved at our not having wished you to come hither, as though it had been on account of some displeasure; whereas we acted with a sole view to utility, knowing that on account of persons in your locality your presence there was exceedingly necessary. But, lest you should hence suppose that we have any feeling or displeasure towards you (which God forbid), if you have the will to come to us, present yourself at a suitable time at the threshold of the apostles. For, so far as we are concerned, we so love your Charity that we desire to see you often.

EPISTLE XXXVII

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, Guardian of Sicily.

It has come to our knowledge that, if any one has a suit against any clerics, thou causest these clerics to be brought before thee for judgment, setting at nought their bishops. If this be so, seeing that it is evidently very unsuitable, we order thee by this our authority that thou presume not to do it any more. But, if any one should have a suit against any cleric, let him go to his bishop, that either he may take cognizance himself, or at any rate that judges may be deputed by him; or, if it should be a case for arbitration, let the executive authority deputed by him compel the parties to choose a judge. But, if any cleric or lay person should have a suit against a bishop, then thou oughtest to interpose, so that either thou thyself mayest take cognizance of the matter between them or that on thy admonition they may choose for themselves judges. For, if each single bishop has not his own jurisdiction reserved to him, what else is done but that ecclesiastical order is confounded through us by whom it ought to be guarded?

Further, it has been reported to us that, certain clerics having been sent into penance for fault requiring it by our most reverend brother bishop John, thou hast on thy own authority, without his knowledge removed them from it. Now, if this is true, know that thou hast done a thing altogether unseemly, and calling for no light reproof. Wherefore restore these clerics without delay to their bishop. And beware of committing this fault in future: for, shouldest thou be inattentive, know that thou wilt incur our anger in no slight degree.

EPISTLE XXXVIII

To Vitus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Virus, &c.

If thou art held bound by no condition or liability to bodily service, and hast not been a cleric of any other city, and if there is no canonical objection to thee, it is our will and pleasure, with a view to the advantage of the Church, that thou receive the office of Guardian of the Church, in order that thou mayest execute incorruptly and diligently whatever may be enjoined thee by us for the benefit of the poor; using this privilege which after deliberation we have conferred on thee, so as to do thy diligence faithfully in accomplishing all that may be enjoined thee by us, as having to render an account of thy doings before the judgment of our God. This epistle we have dictated for writing to Paterius, secundicerio notario of our Church, and have subscribed it.

EPISTLE XL

To Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

Gregory to Marinianus, &c.

Great infirmity constrains us, dearest brother, from which if we were free, we should seem justly blamable. But since, while we are in this fragile body, we cannot subsist but by subservience to its weaknesses, we ought not to blush for what necessity imposes on us. And so, since physicians all say that to those who suffer from eruption of blood fasts are injurious, we exhort thy Fraternity by this present address that, recalling to mind what thou hast been accustomed to endure from sickness, thou by no means impose on thyself the labour of fasting. If, however, by the mercy of God, thou knowest thyself to be so far improved in health as to have sufficient strength, we permit thee to fast once or twice in the week. But of this it befits thee before all things to take care, that thou in no wise subject thyself to any feeling of irritation, lest the sickness, which is believed to be now lighter and as it were suspended, should be experienced afterwards more heavily through exasperation.

EPISTLE XLIV

To Rusticiana, Patrician.

Gregory to Rusticiana, &c.

I have received the letters of your Excellency, which altogether relieved me, while I was in a state of most grievous sickness, with regard to your health, your devotion, and your sweetness. One thing however I took amiss, namely that in the same epistles to me what might have been said once was said repeatedly; “Your handmaiden,” and “your handmaiden.” For, I having been made the servant of all through the burdens of episcopacy, with what reason does she call herself my handmaid whose own I was before I undertook the episcopate? And so I beseech you by Almighty God, that I may never find this word in what you write to me. Further, the gifts which out of a most pure and sincere heart you sent to the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, have been received and hung up there in the presence of all the clergy. But my son, the magnificent lord Symmachus, finding me ill from pains of gout and almost despaired of, deferred giving me your letters, and gave them long after the veils had been received: and I found afterwards in your Excellence’s letters that they were to have been borne to the Church of the blessed Peter with a litany. And so this was not done, because, as I have already said, we received the veils before the letters. Nevertheless the aforesaid Symmachus did with your whole household what you wished us to do with the clergy. But, even if the voices of men were wanting, your offering itself has its own voice before Almighty God. In His loving-kindness I trust that the intercession of him whose body you have covered on earth may protect you in heaven from all sins, and in his provision rule your house, and in his watchfulness guard it.

With regard to the affliction of gout which you signify to us has come upon you, I am both distressed and rejoiced exceedingly: rejoiced, because the noxious humour, attacking the lower parts of your body, has entirely left the higher ones; but distressed, because I fear you suffer excessive pain in so very slender a body. For where there is a deficiency of flesh, what strength can there be to resist pain? For as to myself, you know what I used to be: but now bitterness of soul and continual exasperation, and besides this the affliction of gout so affects me that my body is dried up even as if in burial. Hence it comes to pass that I can rarely now rise from bed. If, then, the pain of gout has reduced the mass of my body to such dryness, what must I think of your body, which was too dry before the pains came on?

As to the alms which you have bestowed on the monastery of the blessed Apostle Andrew, there is no need for me to say anything, since it is written, Hide thine alms in the bosom of a poor man, and it shall pray for thee (Ecclus. 29:15). If then the good deed itself has its voice in the secret ears of God, whether we cry aloud or keep silence, this very thing which you have well done cries aloud. Moreover I declare that there are so great miracles, there is so great care and custody of the monks in this same monastery of the said apostle that it is as if he himself were specially the abbot of the monastery. For, to speak of a few things out of many which I have learnt from the narration of the abbot and the prior of the monastery, two brethren were one day sent out thence to buy something for the use of the monastery, one a junior who seemed to be distinguished for prudence, the other a senior, sent to be the guardian of the junior. Both went forth, and from the money they received as the price of what they were to purchase, he who had been sent as the guardian of the junior purloined something without the knowledge of the other. Having both of them presently returned to the monastery, and come to the threshold of the oratory, he who had committed the theft fell down seized by a demon, and began to be vexed. And, when the demon had let him go, he was asked by the monks who came round him whether perchance he had purloined anything from what he had received: he denied, and was a second time vexed. Eight times he denied, and eight times was vexed. But after his eighth denial he confessed how much money he had purloined. And repenting he acknowledged, prostrate on the earth, that he had sinned, and, when he had undergone penance, the demon came to him no more.

At another time also, on the anniversary of the same apostle, while the brethren were resting during the mid-day hours, suddenly a certain brother, having become blind with his eyes open, began to tremble, to utter loud cries, testifying by these cries that he could not bear what he was suffering. The brethren ran together to him, saw him blind with his eyes open, trembling, and crying out, abstracted from the scene around him, and having no sense of anything that could be done externally. They lifted him in their hands, and cast him before the altar of Saint Andrew the Apostle, prostrating themselves also in prayer for him. And he at once, coming to himself again, declared what he had suffered; namely that a certain old man appeared to him, and set a black dog at him to tear him, saying, Why wouldest thou flee from this monastery? And, when I could by no means have escaped (said he) from the bites of the dog, certain monks came, and besought that old man for me, who straightway bade the dog depart, and then I came to myself. And he often afterwards confessed, saying, On the day on which I suffered these things I had had a design of flying from this same monastery.

Another monk also secretly desired to depart from the same monastery. And, having considered the matter in his mind, he would have entered the oratory; but he was immediately delivered to a demon and most sorely vexed. But he used to be left by the demon, and if he remained outside the oratory, he would suffer no harm; but, if he attempted to enter it, he was at once delivered to the evil spirit and vexed. And, when this took place frequently, he confessed his fault, namely that he was thinking of going away from the monastery. Then the brethren, assembled in his behalf, bound themselves to continue in prayer for him for three days, and he was so cured that the evil spirit never came to him afterwards. He used to say also that he had seen the same blessed apostle while he was being vexed, and had been reproached by him for wishing to depart from the monastery.

Two other brethren also fled from the same monastery, and gave some intimations previously to the brethren in conversation that they were going down by the Appian way, to make for Jerusalem; but, when they had gone out, they turned aside from the road. And, that there might be no possibility of their being found by any that might follow them, finding some retired crypts near the Flaminian gate, they hid themselves therein. But when they had been looked for in the evening, and not found in the monastery, certain brethren followed them on horseback, going out by the gate of Metronus, to follow them along the Latin or Appian way. But suddenly they conceived the design of looking further for them on the Salarian way: and so, in proceeding outside the city, they turned their course into the Salarian way. But, failing to find them, they decided to return through the Flaminian gate. And, as they were returning, presently when their horses came in front of the crypts in which the men were hidden, they stood still, and, though beaten and urged, refused to move. The monks considered that such a thing could not be without some mystery. They observed the crypts, and saw file entrance to them to be blocked by a piled heap of stones, but, as their horses would not go in any direction, they dismounted. They displaced the stones which were placed at the mouth of the crypts, entered, and found the men in a state of consternation within these dark subterranean hiding-places. They were taken back to the monastery, and were so improved by this miracle that it was of great advantage to them to have fled for a short time from the monastery.

I have told you these things that it may be known to your Excellency whose oratory it is on which you have bestowed your alms. Now may Almighty God keep you under His heavenly protection both in soul and in body and all your house, and grant you to live long for our consolation. I beg that my most beloved son the Lord Strategius with his glorious parents your children may be greeted in my name.

EPISTLE XLV

To Theoctista, Patrician.

Gregory to Theoctista, &c.

We ought to give great thanks to Almighty God, that our most pious and most benignant Emperors have near them kinsfolk of their race, whose life and conversation is such as to give us all great joy. Hence too we should continually pray for these our lords, that their life, with that of all who belong to them, may by the protection of heavenly grace be preserved through long and tranquil times.

I have to inform you, however, that I have learnt from the report of certain persons how that, owing to the levity of the people, a tumult of detraction has arisen against you. And I hear that your Excellency has consequently been distressed with no slight vexation. If this is so, I wonder much why the words of men on earth should agitate you, who have fixed your heart on heaven. For the blessed Job, when his friends who had come to console him had broken out into rebuke, said, For behold my witness is in heaven, and he that knows me is on high (Job 16:20). For one who has the witness of his life in heaven ought not to be afraid of the judgments of men on earth. Paul also, a leader of good men, says, Our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience (2 Cor. 1:12). And he says again, Let every man prove his own work, and so shall he have glory in himself, and not in another (Gal. 6:4). For, if we are rejoiced by praises and broken down by detractions, we have set our glory not in ourselves, but in the mouth of others. And indeed the foolish virgins took no oil in their vessels, but the wise ones took oil in their vessels with their lamps (Matth 25.). Now our lamps are good works; of which it is written, Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matth. 5:16). And we then take oil in our vessels with our lamps, when we seek not the splendour of glory for our good deeds from the adulation of our neighbours, but preserve it in the testimony of our conscience. And in regard to all that is said of us outwardly we ought to recur to the secrets of our soul. Although all should revile us, yet he is free whom conscience accuses not, while, even though all should praise, one cannot be free, if conscience accuses him. Whence the Truth says concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? (Matth. 11:7). And this in truth is said in the way of negation, not of assertion, since it is added, But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses (Ibid. 8). For although, according to the truth of the Gospel, John was clothed in rough raiment, yet the signification is that they wear soft clothing who are delighted by adulations and praises And it is denied that John was a reed shaken with the wind, inasmuch as no breath from any human mouth bent the fortitude of his mind. For we, if we are lifted up by praises, or cast down by revilings, are a reed shaken with the wind. But far be this, far be it from the heart of your Excellency. I know that you read studiously the teacher of the Gentiles, who says, I, if I yet pleased men, should not be the servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).

If, however, any even slight sadness has arisen in your mind from this cause, I believe that Almighty God has kindly allowed this to be the case. For not even to His elect in this life has He promised the joys of delight, but the bitternesses of tribulation; so that, after the manner of medicine, they may be restored through a bitter cup to the sweetness of eternal salvation. For what says He? The world shall rejoice and ye shall lament (Joh. 16:20). With what hope? With what promise? A little afterwards it is added, I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you (Ibid. 22). Hence again He says to His disciples, In your patience shall ye poseess your souls (Luke 21:19).

Consider, I pray you, where patience would be, if there were nothing to be endured. I suspect that there is no Abel without having a Cain for his brother. For if the good were without the bad, they could not be perfectly good, since they would not be purged: and the very society of the bad is the purgation of the good. There were three sons of Noe in the ark, one of whom was a derider of his father, who, though in himself he was blessed, still received a sentence of condemnation in his son. Abraham had two sons before he took Cethura to wife; and yet his carnal son persecuted the son of promise (Genes. 9). This the great teacher expounds, saying, As he who is after the flesh persecuted him that is after the Spirit, even so it is now (Gal. 4:29). Isaac had two sons; but one, who was spiritual, fled before the threats of his carnal brother. Jacob had twelve sons, but one, who lived uprightly, was sold by ten into Egypt. In the case of the prophet David, because there was in him what should have been purged, it was brought to pass that he suffered under a son’s persecution. The blessed Job says of the society of the reprobate, I have been a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls (Job 30:29). To Ezekiel the Lord says, Son of man, unbelievers and destroyers are with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions (Ezek. 2:6). Among the twelve apostles there was one reprobate, that there might be one by whose persecution the eleven might be tried. The Prince of the apostles speaks thus to his disciples, He delivered just Lot,
oppressed by the injury and conversation of the wicked. For in seeing and hearing he was just, dwelling among those who from day to day vexed the soul of the just one with their unrighteous deeds (2 Pet. 2:7, 8). Paul also the apostle writes to his disciples, saying, In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as luminaries in the world, holding fast the word of life (Philip. 2:15).

Seeing then that we know from the witness of Scripture that in this life the good cannot be without the bad, your Excellency ought by no means to be disturbed by the voices of fools, especially as there is then sure confidence in Almighty God, when for well-doing any adversity is given us in this world in order that a full reward may be reserved for us in the eternal retribution. Whence also in the holy Gospel the Truth says, Blessed shall ye be when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name’s sake (Matth. 5:11). And for our consolation He deigned to adduce as an example His own reproaches, saying, If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household (Ibid. 10:25).

But there are many who perhaps praise the life of the good more than they ought; and, lest any elation should creep in from praise, Almighty God allows bad men to break out into slander and objurgation, in order that, if any sin springs up in the heart from the mouth of them that praise, it may be choked by the mouth of them that revile. Hence it is, then, that the teacher of the Gentiles testifies that he continues in his preaching through evil report and good report (2 Cor. 6:8); saying also, As deceivers and yet true. If then there were such as laid an evil report on Paul, and called him a deceiver, what Christian now should account it a hard thing in behalf of Christ to hear injurious words? Moreover we know of how great virtue was the precursor of our Redeemer, who in Holy Writ is called not only more than a prophet, but even an angel: and yet, as the history of his death testifies, after his death his body was burnt by his persecutors. But why say we these things of holy men? Let us speak of the Holy of holies Himself, that is of God Who was made man for us, Who before His death heard the injurious charge that He had a devil, and after His death was called a deceiver by His persecutors, when one said, We know that that deceiver said, After three days I will rise again (Matth. 27:63). How much, then, must we sinners needs bear from the tongues and hands of wicked men, we who are to be judged at the coming of the eternal Judge, if He Who will even come as Judge endured so much both before and after His death?

These things, most sweet and excellent daughter, I have briefly said, lest, as often as thou hearest of foolish men speaking in derogation of thee, thou shouldest be touched by even the least sadness of heart. But, seeing that this very murmuring of foolish men cannot be allayed by quiet reason, I hold it to be sin if the doing of what can be done is neglected. For, when we appease insane minds, and bring them back to a healthy state, we ought by no means to cause them offence. For there are some offences that are to be altogether despised; but there are some which, when they can be avoided without guilt, are not to be despised, lest there be guilt in keeping them alive. We learn this from the preaching of the sacred Gospel; since, when the Truth said, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man (Matth. 15:11), and the disciples replied saying, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying? (Ibid. 12), straightway He replied, Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Let them alone; they be blind, and leaders of the blind (Ibid. 13). And yet, when tribute was demanded, He first gave a reason why tribute should not be paid, and forthwith subjoined, Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a stater. That take, and give unto them for me and for thee (Matth. 17:26). Why is it that of some who were offended it is said, Let them alone; they are blind, and leaders of the blind; and that to others, lest they should be offended, tribute is paid by the Lord, even though not due? Why is it that He allowed one offence to remain, but forbade another to be caused to others? Why, but that He might teach us on the one hand to despise offences which implicate us in sin, but on the other to mitigate in all ways those which we can appease without sin?

Wherefore your Excellency, God protecting you, may, with great quietness, turn aside the offences of bad men. For the chief of them you should of your own accord call to you privately and give them reasons, and anathematize certain wrong points which they suppose to be held by you. And if too, as it is said may be the case, they suspect such anathema to be insincere, you should confirm it even by an oath, averring that you do not hold, and never have held, those points. Nor let it seem beneath you to satisfy them in such a way; nor let there be in your mind any feeling of disdain against them on account of your imperial race. For we are all brethren, created by the power of one Emperor, and redeemed by His blood. And so we ought not in anything to despise our brethren, however poor and abject.

For certainly Peter had received power in the heavenly kingdom, so that whatever he should bind or loose on earth should be bound or loosed in heaven; he walked on the sea, he healed the sick with his shadow, he slew sinners with his word, he raised the dead by his prayer. And because by the admonition of the Spirit he had gone in to Cornelius the Gentile, a question was raised against him by the believers as to why he had gone in among Gentiles and eaten with them, and why he had received them in baptism. And yet this first of the apostles, filled with such gifts of grace, supported by such power of miracles, replied to the complaint of the believers, not by power but by reason, and explained the case to them in order; how he saw a certain vessel, as it had been a sheet, in which were four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, let down from heaven, and heard a voice saying, Arise, Peter, kill and eat (Acts 11:5 seq.); how three men came to him calling him to Cornelius; how the Holy Spirit bade him go with them; how the same Holy Spirit who had been wont to come on those baptized in Judea after baptism, came on the Gentiles before baptism. For if, when he was blamed by the believers, he had paid regard to the authority which he had received in Holy Church, he might have replied that the sheep should not dare to find fault with the shepherd to whom they had been committed. But, had he said anything of his own power in answer to the complaint of the believers, he would not have been truly a teacher of gentleness. He pacified them, therefore, by giving a reason humbly, and even produced witnesses to defend him from blame, saying, Moreover these six brethren accompanied me (Acts 11:12). If, then, the pastor of the Church, the Prince of the Apostles, who singularly did signs and miracles, disdained not, in defending himself from blame, humbly to give a reason, how much more ought we sinners, when we are blamed for anything, to pacify those who blame us by giving a reason humbly!

For to me, as you know, when I was resident at the footsteps of my lords in the royal city, many used to come of those who were accused with respect to the aforesaid points. But I declare, my conscience bearing me witness, that I never found in them any error, any pravity, or anything of what was said against them. Whence also I took care, despising report, to receive them familiarly, and rather to defend them from their accusers For it used to be said against them that under pretext of religion they dissolved marriages; and that they said that baptism did not entirely take away sins; and that, if any one did penance for three years for his iniquities, he might afterwards live perversely; and that, if they said under compulsion that they anathematized anything for which they were blamed, they were by no means holden by the bond of anathema. Now if there are any who undoubtedly hold and maintain such views, there is no doubt that they are not Christians. And such both I, and all catholic bishops, and the universal Church, anathematize, because they think what is contrary to the truth, and speak what is contrary. For, if they say that marriages should be dissolved for the sake of religion, be it known that, though human law has conceded this, yet divine law has forbidden it. For the Truth in person says, What God hath joined together let not man put asunder (Matth. 19:6). He says also, It is not lawful for a man to put away his wife saving for the cause of fornication (Ibid. 9). Who then may contradict this heavenly legislator? We know how it is written, Two shall be one flesh (Matth. 19:5; 1 Cor. 6:16; Gen. 2:24). If, then, a man and wife are one flesh, and a man puts away his wife for the sake of religion, or a woman her husband while he remains in this world, even though perchance he turns aside to unlawful deeds, what is this conversion, in which one and the same flesh on the one part passes to continence and on the other part remains in pollution? If, however, it should suit both to lead a continent life, who may dare to accuse them, since it is certain that Almighty God, who has granted what is less, has not forbidden what is greater? And indeed we know of many holy persons who have both previously led continent lives with their consorts, and have afterwards passed over to the rules of holy Church. For in two ways holy men are accustomed to abstain even from lawful things. Sometimes that they may increase their merits before Almighty God; but sometimes that they may wipe away the sins of their former life. For when the three children who were brought under obedience to the Babylonian King, asked for pulse for food, being unwilling to make use of the king’s meat, it was not because it would have been sin in them to eat what God had created. They were unwilling, then, to take what it was lawful for them to take, that their virtue might increase through continence. But David, who had taken to himself another man’s wife, and had been sorely scourged for his fault, desired long afterwards to drink water from the cistern of Bethlehem; which when his bravest soldiers had brought to him, he refused to drink it, and poured it out as a libation to the Lord. For it was lawful for him to drink it, had he been so minded; but, because he remembered having done what was unlawful, he laudably abstained even from what was lawful. And he, who to his guilt previously feared not that the blood of dying soldiers should be shed, afterwards considered that, were he to drink the water, he would have shed the blood of living soldiers, saying, Shall I drink the blood of these men who have put their lives in jeopardy (1 Chron. 11:19)? Accordingly, when good husbands and wives desire either to increase merit or to do away with the faults of previous life, it is lawful for them to bind themselves to continence and to aspire to a better life. But, if the wife does not follow after the continence which the husband aspires to, or the husband refuses that which the wife aspires to, it is not lawful for wedlock to be cut asunder, seeing that it is written, The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband; and the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife (1 Cor. 7:4).

But, if there are any who say that sins are only superficially put away in baptism, what can be more against the faith than such preaching, whereby they would fain undo the very sacrament of faith, wherein principally the soul is bound to the mystery of heavenly cleanness, that, being completely absolved from all sins, it may cleave to Him alone of Whom the Prophet says, But it is good for me to cleave to God (Ps. 72:28)? For certainly the passage of the Red Sea was a figure of holy baptism, in which the enemies behind died, but others were found in front in the wilderness. And so to all who are bathed in holy baptism all their past sins are remitted, since their sins die behind them even as did the Egyptian enemies. But in the wilderness we find other enemies, since, while we live in this life, before reaching the country of promise, many temptations harass us, and hasten to bar our way as we are wending to the land of the living. Whosoever says, then, that sins are not entirely put away in baptism, let him say that the Egyptians did not really die in the Red Sea. But, if he acknowledges that the Egyptians really died, he must needs acknowledge that sins die entirely in baptism, since surely the truth avails more in our absolution than the shadow of the truth. In the Gospel the Lord says, He that is washed needeth not to wash, but is clean every whit (Joh. 13:10). If, therefore, sins are not entirely put away in baptism, how is he that is washed clean every whit? For he cannot be said to be clean every whit, if he has any sin remaining. But no one can resist the voice of the Truth, He that is washed is clean every whit. Nothing, then, of the contagion of sin remains to him whom He Himself who redeemed him declares to be clean every whit.

But, if there are any who say that penance is to be done for sin during any three years, and that after the three years one may live in pleasures, these know neither the preaching of the true faith nor the precepts of sacred Scripture. Against these the excellent preacher says, He that soweth in his flesh shall of the flesh also reap corruption (Galat. 6:8). Against these he says again, They that are in the flesh cannot please God (Ram. 8:8); where he subjoins to his disciples, But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.

Now they are in the flesh who live in carnal pleasures. Against them it is said, Neither shall corruption possess incorruption (1 Cor. 15:50). But, if they say that a short season of penitence may suffice against sin, so that one may be allowed to return again to sin, rightly does the sentence of the first pastor hit them, when he says, It is happened unto them according to the true proverb; The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2 Pet. 2:22). For great is the efficacy of penitence against sin; but only if one persevere in this penitence. For it is written, He that shall persevere unto the end, the same shall be saved (Matth. 10:22: 24:13). Hence again it is written, He that is baptized from a dead body, and toucheth it again, what availeth his washing? (Ecclus. 34:30). Now a dead body is every perverse work, which draws a man to death, because he lives not in the life of righteousness. He, then, is baptized from a dead body, and again touches it, who deplores the bad works which he remembers having done, but after his tears entangles himself in the same again. Washing, therefore, from such dead body avails not any soul that does again what it has bemoaned, and rises not through the lamentations of penitence to the rectitude of righteousness. For to do penance truly is not only to bemoan what has been committed, but also to decline from what has been bemoaned.

But, if there are any who say that, if any one shall have anathematised anything under compulsion of necessity, he is not held by the bond of the anathema, these are themselves witnesses that they are no Christians. For they think by vain attempts to loose the binding of holy Church, and hereby neither do they account as real the absolution of holy Church which she offers to the faithful, if they think that her binding is of no avail. Against such as these dispute should be no longer held, since they ought to be altogether scorned and anathematised; and whence they think to elude the truth, thence let them in reality be bound in their sins.

If, then, there are any who under the Christian name dare either to preach, or to hold silently in their own minds, the points of error which we have spoken of above, these undoubtedly we both have anathematised and do anathematise. Yet, as I have said before, in those who used to come to me in the royal city I observed no error at all as to any one of the aforesaid points, nor do I think there was any. For, if there had been, I should have observed it. However, since there are many of the faithful who are inflamed with unwise zeal, and often, while they attack certain persons as though they were heretics, themselves make heresies, consideration should be had for their infirmity, and, as I have said before, they should be appeased with reason and gentleness. For indeed they are like unto those of whom it is written, I bear them record, that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2). Wherefore your Excellency, who live incessantly in reading, in tears, and in alms, should, as I have requested, appease their unwisdom by gentle exhortations and replies, that not only in yourself, but also in them, you may find the glory of eternal retribution. All this my exceeding love has induced me to say to you, since I think that your joy is my gain, and your sadness my loss. May Almighty God guard you with heavenly grace, and, keeping safe the Piety of our lord and the Tranquillity of our most pious lady, prolong your life for the education of the little lords.

EPISTLE XLVI

To Isacius, Bishop of Jerusalem.

Gregory to Isacius, &c.

In keeping with the truth of history, what means the fact that at the time of the flood the human race outside the ark dies, but within the ark is preserved unto life, but what we see plainly now, namely that all the unfaithful perish under the wave of their sin, while the unity of holy Church, like the compactness of the ark, keeps her faithful ones in faith and in charity? And this ark in truth is compacted of incorruptible timber, since it is built of strong souls, and such as persevere in good. And, when any single person is converted from a secular life, timber is, as it were, still cut down from the mountains. But when, according to the order of holy Church, one is assigned to have custody of others, it is as though the ark were built of timber sawn and put together for preserving the life of men. And in truth that ark, when the flood was over, rested on a mountain, because when the corruption of this life is over, when the billows of evil works have passed away, holy Church will rest in the heavenly country, as on a high mountain. To the building, therefore, of this ark we rejoice to find, after reading your Fraternity’s epistle, that in the compactness of a right faith you lend your aid; and we render great thanks to Almighty God, who, though the pastors of His flock are changed, keeps the faith which He once delivered to the holy Fathers, even after them unchangeable. Now the excellent preacher says, Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11). Whosoever, then, with love of God and his neighbour, holds firmly the faith which is in Christ, he has laid the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and man, as a foundation for himself from the Father. It is to be hoped, then, that, where Christ is the foundation, the building also of good works may follow. The Truth itself also in person says, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep (Joh. 10:1). And a little afterwards He adds, I am the door. He, then, enters into the sheepfold by the door who enters by Christ. And he enters by Christ who thinks and preaches what is true concerning the same Creator and Redeemer of the human race, keeps what he preaches, and undertakes the topmost place of government with a view to a burdensome office, not in desire of the glory of transitory dignity. He watches also wisely over the charge of the sheepfold which he has taken in hand, lest either perverse men speaking forwardly tear the sheep of God, or malignant spirits waste them by persuading them to vicious delights.

But in all these things may He instruct us Who for our sake was made man. May He Who vouchsafed to become what He made Himself infuse the spirit of His love both into my infirmity and thy charity, and open the eye of our heart in all carefulness and watchful circumspection.

But that men of a right faith are advanced to sacred orders, thanks should be given without cease to the same Almighty God, and prayer should ever be made for the life of our most pious and Christian lord the Emperor, and for his most tranquil spouse, and his most gentle offspring, in whose times the mouths of heretics are silent, since, though their hearts seethe in the madness of perverse opinion, yet in the time of the orthodox Emperor they presume not to speak out the wrong opinions which they hold; so that we plainly see fulfilled what is written, Gathering the waters of the sea together as in a bottle (Ps. 32:7). For the water of the sea is gathered together as in a bottle, because whatever wrong opinions the bitter science of heretics entertains at the present day it keeps within the breast, and presumes not to express them openly. But thy Fraternity, spiritually taught, has set forth in all respects the right faith, and has thoroughly declared the things that should be sought after. Your faith, therefore, is ours. We hold what you say, and say what you hold.

But, inasmuch as it has come to our ears that in the Churches of the East no one attains to sacred orders but by giving of bribes, if your Fraternity finds that this is the case, you should offer as your first oblation to Almighty God the restraining of the error of simoniacal heresy in the Churches subject to you. For, not to speak of other things, what sort of men can they be when in sacred orders who are advanced to them not by merit but by bribes? Now we know with what animadversion the Prince of the apostles attacked this heresy, having pronounced the first sentence of condemnation against Simon, when he said, Thy money be with thee unto perdition, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money (Acts 8:20). Our Lord God Himself also, the Creator and Redeemer of the human race, having made a scourge of small cords, overthrew and cast out of the temple the seats of them that sold doves (Matth. 21). For to sell doves in the temple, what else is it but to give for a price in holy Church that imposition of hands whereby the Holy Spirit is given? But the seats of them that sold doves were overthrown, because the priesthood of such is not accounted as priesthood.

Moreover, I have been informed that in the Church which is called Neas, strifes often arise with your Church in the city of Jerusalem. Wherefore your Holiness ought carefully to consider all things, and to correct some things gently, but bear others that cannot be corrected with equanimity. For we see plainly what is said by holy Church through the voice of the Psalmist, Sinners have built upon my back (Ps. 128:3). For on the back burdens are borne. Sinners, then, build upon our back, when we bear with sufferance those whom we cannot correct. For the steersman of a ship, when he considers that the wind is against him, surmounts some billows by steering right over them, but some which he foresees cannot be surmounted he prudently avoids by turning his course aside. So, therefore, let your Holiness mitigate some evils by repressing them, and others by bearing them, so as in all respects to conserve the peace of them that dwell together in the holy Church of Jerusalem. For it is written, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see God (Hebr. 12:14). For in quarrels the very light of the soul, the light of good intent, is blocked. Whence the Psalmist says, Mine eye is troubled because of anger (Ps. 6:8) And what remains in us of well-doing, if we lose peace from the heart, without which we cannot see the Lord? Do you therefore so act as to gather the gain of your reward even from those who through strife might have caused it to perish. May Almighty God guard your Love with heavenly grace, and grant you to carry with you from those who are committed to you manifold fruit and measure running over to eternal joys.

EPISTLE XLVII

To Anatolius, Deacon at Constantinople.

Gregory to Anatolius, &c.

Thy Love has written to me that our most pious lord orders a successor to be appointed to my most reverend brother John, bishop of Prima Justiniana, on account of the ailment of the head from which he suffers, lest perchance that city, while without the jurisdiction of a bishop, should be ruined by its enemies, which God forbid. And yet the canons nowhere enjoin that a bishop should be superseded on account of sickness. And it is altogether unjust that, if bodily ailments come on, the sick person should be deprived of his dignity. Accordingly this thing can by no means be done through us, lest sin should come upon my soul from his deposition. But it is to be suggested that, if he who bears rule is sick, an administrator may be found, to undertake all his charge, and maintain and fill his place, without his being deposed, in the government of the Church and custody of the city; so that neither may Almighty God be offended nor the city be found to be neglected. If, however, the same most reverend John should haply on account of his ailments request to be relieved from the dignity of the episcopate, it should be conceded on his presenting a petition in writing. But otherwise we are altogether unable, with due regard to the fear of Almighty God, to do this thing. But, if he should be unwilling thus to make petition, what pleases the most pious Emperor, whatever he commands to be done, is in his power. As he determines, so let him provide. Only let him not cause us to be mixed up in the deposition of one so situated. Still, what he does, if it is canonical, we will follow. But, if it is not canonical, we will bear it, so far as we can without sin of our own.

EPISTLE L

To Adrian, Notary.

Gregory to Adrian, Notary of Panormus.

Agathosa, the bearer of these presents, complains that her husband has, against her will, been converted in the monastery of the abbot Urbicus. And, since this undoubtedly touches the credit and reputation of the said abbot, we enjoin thy Experience to investigate the matter by diligent enquiry, so as to see whether it may not be the case that the man’s conversion was with her consent, or that she herself had promised to change her state. And should it be found to be so, see to his remaining in the monastery, and compel her to change her state, as she had promised. If however neither of these things is the case, and you do not find that the aforesaid woman has committed any crime of fornication on account of which it is lawful for a man to leave his wife, then, lest his conversion should possibly be an occasion of perdition to the wife left behind in the world, we desire thee, without any excuse allowed, to restore her husband to her, even though he should be already tonsured. For, although mundane law declares that marriage may be dissolved for the sake of conversion against the will of either party, yet divine law does not permit this to be done. For, save for the cause of fornication, a man is on no account allowed to put away his wife, seeing that after the husband and wife have been made one body by the copulation of wedlock, it cannot be in part converted, and in part remain in the world3.

EPISTLE LIV

To Desiderius, Bishop of Gaul.

Gregory to Desiderius, &c.

Many good things having been reported to us with regard to your pursuits, such joy arose in our heart that we could not bear to refuse what your Fraternity had requested to have granted to you. But it afterwards came to our ears, what we cannot mention without shame, that thy Fraternity is in the habit of expounding grammar to certain persons. This thing we took so much amiss, and so strongly disapproved it, that we changed what had been said before into groaning and sadness, since the praises of Christ cannot find room in one mouth with the praises of Jupiter. And consider thyself what a grave and heinous offence it is for bishops to sing what is not becoming even for a religious layman. And, though our most beloved son Candidus the presbyter, having been, when he came to us, strictly examined on this matter, denied it, and endeavoured to excuse you, yet still the thought has not departed from our mind, that in proportion as it is execrable for such a thing to be related of a priest, it ought to be ascertained by strict and veracious evidence whether or not it be so. Whence, if hereafter what has been reported to us should prove evidently to be false, and it should be clear that you do not apply yourself to trifles and secular literature, we shall give thanks to our God, who has not permitted your heart to be stained with the blasphemous praises of the abominable; and we will treat without misgiving or hesitation concerning the granting of what you request.

We commend to you in all respects the monks whom together with our most beloved son Laurentius the presbyter and Mellitus the abbot we have sent to our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Augustine, that, through the succour of your Fraternity, no delay may stop their onward progress.

EPISTLE LV

To Virgilius, Bishop of Arelate (Arles).

Gregory to Virgilius, &c.

Since by the testimony of Holy Writ avarice is called the service of idols, with what earnestness it ought to be banished from the temple of God is acknowledged; and yet (we say it with groaning) by some priests this is not regarded. For fierce cupidity holds the heart captive, and persuades one that what it commands is lawful, and so proceeds as to slay with the same sword both the giver and the receiver. What safe place, then, can hereafter be of avail against avarice, if the Church of God is opened to it by bad priests? How can he keep the sheepfolds inviolate who invites the wolf to enter? Alas for shame! He pollutes his hands by an unlawful bribe, and thinks to lift up others by his benediction, while himself prostrate under his own iniquity, and captive notwithstanding to his own ambition. Since then this evil of rapacity has never entered the citadel of your mind, and you say that you have your hands unpolluted in the matter of ordinations, give thanks to Almighty God, and acknowledge yourselves to be His debtors in that under His protection you have remained unharmed by the contagion of this disease. But this good in you will profit you less than it might have done if you have not carefully forbidden this thing in others also. As in thyself this evil had displeased thee, thou oughtest to have been zealous against it in thy brother also. For, seeing that the divine precepts admonish us to love our neighbours as ourselves, it is no small fault to disregard them, and not to fear for others what for ourselves we shrink from. Even now, therefore, most beloved brother, give thy mind to repairing what thou hast lost in others through thy negligence in correction, and restrain whomsoever thou canst from this wickedness, and insist on a synod being assembled for rooting out this same heresy, to the end that, with reward to thy Love, what shall have been condemned, God granting it, by the ordinance of all may be better guarded against by all.

Furthermore, it has come to our ears that our brother and fellow-bishop, Serenus of Massilia (Marseilles), receives bad men into his intimate society, so as to have, in fine, as his familiar friend a certain presbyter, who, after lapse, is said to wallow still in his iniquities. This you ought to enquire into closely. And, if it should prove to be so, let it be your care so to correct this matter in our stead that both he who has received such a one may learn not to encourage him by familiarity, but rather to constrain him by punishment, and he who has been received may learn to wash away his sins with tears, and not to pile up iniquity by unclean living.

Let your Fraternity hold as commended to you in all respects the monks whom we have sent to our brother and fellow-bishop Augustine, and take pains so to succour them for proceeding on their way, and so to concur with them, that through your assistance they may be able, under the protection of God, to arrive speedily at their destination.

EPISTLE LVI

To Aetherius, Bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons.)

Gregory to Aetherius, Bishop of Gaul.

The language of your epistles, full of venerable gravity, has so engaged our heart’s affection that it would please us to be ever mingling mutual discourse, to the end that, if we cannot enjoy your bodily presence, absence may make no difference with us while this intercourse goes on between us. For how great love of ecclesiastical order shines forth in you, and how great is your regard for discipline, and how great your earnestness in the observance of wholesome ordinances, you shew in that you receive our exhortation submissively and altogether willingly, and declare that you will inviolably observe it. Since then you bear a heart prompt for the amendment of others, and condemn with a free voice, as becomes you, an evil of old standing, and seeing that our other brethren and fellow-bishops also are similarly disposed, it is your duty to rise unanimously against the Lord’s enemies, and cast avarice out of the house of God by a synodical definition. In the giving of ecclesiastical orders let not fierce hunger for gold find any satisfaction; let not flatteries filch any advantage; let not favour confer anything: let a man’s life have the reward of honour, his modesty promote his advancement; that, while this kind of observance obtains, both he that seeks to rise by bribes may be judged unworthy, and he to whom his conduct bears good testimony may be worthily honoured. Let this be your care, most beloved brother, let this anxiety ever keep guard over your thoughts, so that you may prove by action that the zeal which you shew in your letters is the witness of your heart. Wherefore continually and instantly press for the assembling of a synod; and so earnestly acquit yourself as to act up to the dignity of your title in the administration of your office.

With regard to what you request to have granted to your Church on the ground of ancient custom, we have caused search to be made in our archives, and nothing has been found. Wherefore send to us the letters which you say you have, that from them we may gather what ought to be granted you.

As to the acts or writings of the blessed Irenæus, we have now long been searching for them, but have not succeeded so far in finding any of them.

Furthermore, let your Fraternity take care to hold as in all respects commended to you the monks whom we despatched to our brother and fellow-bishop Augustine, and for the sake of God display your charity towards them; and so earnestly concur with them in priestly zeal, and so hasten to help them with your succour for proceeding on their journey, that, while there shall be no cause of delay in your parts to detain them, both they may go on their way more speedily, and you may find a reward for what you have done in their behalf. Given this 10th day of July, Indiction 4.

EPISTLE LVII

To Aregius, Bishop of Vapincum.

Gregory to Aregius, Bishop of Gaul.

There being in brotherly love one heart and one soul, as the mind rejoices in the prosperity of another, so is it afflicted in his adversity, since in both it is bound to be partaker by the law of charity. And so the greater sorrow had come upon us for your sadness, lest perchance the affliction of a prolonged grief might batter your heart with continual pain, and burden your life with groans. But, having received the letters of your Charity, we have been consoled with the joy we hoped for, and we give thanks to Almighty God, for that we now know that your equanimity is unimpaired, and that your mind has been restored to comfort. Nor indeed was it otherwise to be expected of you than that you would undoubtedly overcome with priestly patience whatever adversity there might be.

Further, we well recollect how the zeal of your Fraternity flamed up of old in uprooting simoniacal heresy. Wherefore we exhort that you give your earnest attention to this, and that, among other things that we wrote of, it be condemned by the strict definition of a council; that so, the bent of our desire being fulfilled by the help of your solicitude, you may both offer to Almighty God a most acceptable oblation in the correction of vices, and also shew, for the edification of others, how the care of the pastoral office shines forth in you. Moreover our experience of your life, which we have known to be much superior to that of many, moves us to presume on great assistance from you in this matter. And so complete ye your kindness as under God you have begun, that the good which with a right aim has been begun in you may, by the help of God the Creator of all, be brought to completion.

Furthermore, let your Fraternity bestow your accustomed charity on the monks whom we have sent to our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Augustine; and so endeavour to succour them for proceeding on their way, as well personally as through others as you can, that, while through your provision they have no difficulties or delays in your parts, both we may feel that our confidence in you was not in vain, and Almighty God may give you the recompense of His grace for the conversion of the souls on whose behalf they have been sent.

EPISTLE LVIII

To Divers Bishops of Gaul.

Gregory to Mennas of Telona (Toulon), Serenus of Massilia (Marseilles), Lupus of Cabillonum (Châlons-sur-Saône), Aigulfus of Mettæ (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.

EPISTLE LIX

To Theoderic, King of the Franks.

Gregory to Theoderic, &c.

The letter of your Excellency, which is the index of your heart, has so shewn, in its flow of lucid language, what great prudence is conspicuous in you, along with royal power, that there can be no doubt of the truth of whatever fame has reported in your praise. And inasmuch as you signify, by what you say in praise of it, that our exhortation has so pleased your royal mind that you wish whatever you know to pertain to the worship of our God, to the veneration of Churches, or to the honour of priests, to be both carefully established and in all ways guarded, we appeal to you with a renewed exhortation, with a view to your greater reward, that you would order a synod to be assembled, and, as we have before written, cause corporal vices in priests and the pravity of simoniacal heresy to be condemned by the definition of all the bishops, and to be cut off within the limits of your kingdom, and allow not any longer money to have more effect than the precepts of the Lord. For, since all avarice is the service of idols, whosoever does not watchfully guard against it, and especially in the bestowal of ecclesiastical honours, is subjected to the perdition of infidelity, even though he may seem to hold the faith which he disregards. As, then, against external enemies, so also against adversaries of souls among yourselves, take ye earnest heed, that on account of this your faithful opposition to God’s enemies you may both reign prosperously here under His protection, and also come hereafter by the leading of His grace to eternal joys.

Furthermore, what benefits your Excellence bestowed on our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Augustine on his progress to the nation of the Angli we have been told by certain monks who have returned to us from him. Wherefore, returning abundant thanks, we beg that you will deign to afford your support in full measure to these monks also who have been sent to him, and to aid them on their onward journey, so that the more amply you shew your kindness to them, the greater return you may expect from Almighty God, whom they serve.

EPISTLE LX

To Theodebert, King of the
Franks.

Gregory to Theodebert, &c.

One who receives with willing mind and embraces in the bosom of his heart words of fatherly admonition declares himself without doubt to be one who would be an amender of faults. On which account the absolute promise of your Excellence assures us sufficiently. For we hold in place of a pledge the words of one who is good for payment. Therefore let your Excellency vouchsafe, adhering to the commands of our God, to give zealous attention to the assembling of a synod, that every corporal vice in priests, and simoniacal heresy, which was the first to arise in Churches from iniquitous ambition, may under threat of the censure of your power be removed by the definition of a council, and be cut off by the roots; lest, if gold is loved in your parts more than God, He who now remains tranquil while His precepts are despised be felt hereafter to be wrathful in vengeance. And indeed, because we say all this for your own behoof, we therefore cease not to press you again and again, that we may be able, even by importunity, to do good to our most excellent and most sweet sons. For it will be in all respects of advantage to your kingdom, if what is done in those parts against God be corrected by the emendation of your Excellency.

Furthermore, what good service your Excellency did to our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Augustine on his progress to the nation of the Angli we have learnt from the report of certain monks who returned to us from him. Rendering you the greatest thanks for this, we beg you to bestow your benefits abundantly on the monks, the bearers of these presents, whom we have sent to our said brother, to the end that, while under your patronage, they find no difficulties in your parts, but accomplish easily with the help of Christ the journey they have undertaken, you may reap your richer fruit of reward before the eyes of our God.

EPISTLE LXI

To Clotaire, King of the
Franks.

Gregory to Clotaire. &c.

Among so many cares and anxieties which you sustain for the government of the peoples under your sway, it is to your exceeding praise and great reward that you are helpers of those who labour in the cause of God. And, since you have shewn yourselves by the good things you have already done to be such that we may presume still better things of you, we are moved most gladly to request of you what will be to your own reward. Now certain monks, who had proceeded with our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Augustine to the nation of the Angli, have returned and told us with what great charity your Excellence refreshed this our brother when he was present with you, and with what supports you aided him on his departure. But, since the works of those who do not recede from the good they have begun are acceptable to our God, we beg of you, greeting you with fatherly affection, to hold as peculiarly commended to you the monks, bearers of these presents, whom we have sent to our aforesaid brother, together with our most beloved sons, the presbyter Laurentius and the abbot Mellitus. And whatever kindness you before shewed to him bestow ye on them also to the richer increase of your praise, to the end that, when through your provision they shall have accomplished without delay the journey they have begun, Almighty God may be the recompenser of your good deeds, and both your guardian in prosperity and your helper in adversity.

Furthermore, it has come to our ears that in your parts sacred orders are conferred with payment of money. And we are exceedingly distressed if the gifts of God are not attained by merit, but pounced upon by bribes. And, because this simoniacal heresy, which was the first to arise in the Church, was condemned by the authority of the apostles, we beg of you for your own reward to cause a synod to be assembled; to the end that, having been put down and eradicated by the definition of all the priests, it may in future find no power in your parts to endanger souls, nor be allowed henceforth to arise under any pretext whatever, that so our Almighty God may exalt you against your adversaries in proportion as He sees that you have zeal in fulfilling His commands, and as you take thought for the salvation of souls which had been in danger of perishing by the sword of this atrocity.

EPISTLE LXII

To Brunichild, Queen of the
Franks.

Gregory to Brunichild, &c.

We render thanks to Almighty God, Who, among all the other gifts of His loving-kindness that He has bestowed upon your Excellency, has so filled you with a love of the Christian religion that whatever you know to pertain to the gain of souls, whatever to the propagation of the faith, you cease not to carry into effect with devout mind and pious zeal. As to the great favour and assistance wherewith your Excellence aided our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Augustine on his progress to the nation of the Angli, fame had already not been silent; and after wards certain monks returning to us from him, gave us a particular account thereof.

And indeed, let others to whom your benefactions are less known wonder at these evidences of your Christianity; for to us who know them by experience they are not a subject of wonder, but of rejoicing, because through what you bestow upon others you delight yourself. Now of what sort and how great are the miracles which our Redeemer has wrought in the conversion of the above-written nation is already known to your Excellency. On which account you ought to have great joy, since the succours afforded by you claim to themselves the larger share herein, it having been through your aid, after God, that the word of preaching became widely known in those parts For one who aids the good work of another makes it his own. But, that the fruit of your reward may be richer more and more, we beg of you kindly to afford the support of your patronage to the monks, the bearers of these presents, whom we have sent with our most beloved sons, the presbyter Laurentius and the abbot Mellitus, to our aforesaid most reverend brother and fellow-bishop, because of his telling us that those who are with him are not sufficient; and to vouchsafe to stand by them in all things, to the end that, when by the good auspices of your Excellency they shall have had the better success, and shall have found no delays or difficulties in your parts, you may call down the mercy of our God towards you and your most sweet nephews in proportion as you have demeaned yourselves compassionately for the love of Him in causes of this kind.

(In Collect. Pauli Diac.) Given the tenth day of the Kalends of July, Indiction 4.]

EPISTLE LXIII

To Brunichild, Queen of the
Franks.

Gregory to Brunichild, &c.

What good gifts have been conferred on you from above, and with what piety heavenly grace has filled you, this, among all the other proofs of your merits, intimates evidently to all, that you both govern the savage hearts of barbarians with the skill of prudent counsel, and (what is still more to your praise), adorn your royal power with wisdom. And since, as you are above many nations in both these respects, so also you excel them in the purity of your faith, we have great confidence in your amending what is unlawful. For the contents of the letters you have already sent us are witness how your Excellency has embraced our exhortation, and with what devotion you long to fulfil the same. But, since He Who is the giver of good dispositions is wont to be their helper also, we trust that He may direct your causes in His loving-kindness all the more favourably as He sees you to be assiduous in His cause. Do you God’s work, and God will do yours. Wherefore order a synod to be assembled, and, among other things, as we have before written, studiously prohibit by the definition of a council the sin of simoniacal heresy in your kingdom. Offer a sacrifice to God by conquering the enemy that is within, that by His help you may conquer the enemies that are without; and that, according to the zeal you evince against His foes, such you may feel Him to be in aiding you. Believe me, moreover, that, as we have learnt from the experience of many, whatever is gathered together with sin is spent with loss. If, then, you wish to lose nothing unjustly, endeavour to the utmost to have nothing got by injustice. For in earthly matters loss has always its origin in sin. You, therefore, if you wish to stand above adverse nations, if you would speedily, with God’s leave, be victorious over them, receive with trembling the commandments of the same Almighty God, that He Himself may fight for you against your adversaries, Who has promised in Holy Writ, saying, The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace (Exod 14:14).

[In Collect. Pauli Diac.: Data die decima Kalend., Indict. 4. In Remigiano: Data die x Kalendas Julii, Indict. 4.]

EPISTLE LXIV

To Augustine, Bishop of the
Angli.

Here begins the epistle of the blessed Gregory, pope of the city of Rome, in exposition of various matters, which he sent into transmarine Saxony to Augustine, whom he had himself sent in his own stead to preach.

Preface.—Through my most beloved son Laurentius, the presbyter, and Peter the monk, I received thy Fraternity’s letter, in which thou hast been at pains to question me on many points. But, inasmuch as my aforesaid sons found me afflicted with the pains of gout, and on their urging me to dismiss them speedily were allowed to go, leaving me under the same painful affliction; I have not been able to reply, as I ought to have done, at greater length on every single point.

 

Augustine’s first question.

 

I ask, most blessed father, concerning bishops, how they should live with their clergy: And concerning the offerings of the faithful which are received at the altars, both into what portions they should be divided, and how the bishop ought to deal with them in the Church.

Answer of Saint Gregory, pope of the city of Rome.

 

Holy Scripture, which no doubt thou knowest well, bears witness, and especially the epistles of the blessed Paul to Timothy, in which he studied to instruct him how he ought to behave himself in the house of God. Now it is the custom of the Apostolic See to deliver an injunction to bishops when ordained, that of all emoluments that come in four divisions should be made: to wit, one for the bishop and his household on account of hospitality and entertainment; another for the clergy; a third for the poor; and a fourth for the reparation of Churches. But, inasmuch as thy Fraternity, having been trained in the rules of a monastery, ought not to live apart from thy clergy in the Church of the Angli, which by the guidance of God has lately been brought to the faith, it will be right to institute that manner of life which in the beginning of the infant Church was that of our Fathers, among whom none said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common (Acts 4.).

Augustine’s second question.

 

I wish to be taught whether clerics who cannot contain may marry; and, if they marry, whether they should return to the world.

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

If, however, there are any clerics, not in sacred orders, who cannot contain themselves, they ought to take to themselves wives, and receive their stipends separately, since we know that it is written of those same Fathers whom we have before mentioned, that distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. Wherefore thought should be taken and provision made for their stipends, and they should be kept under ecclesiastical rule, that they may lead good lives, and give attention to the singing of psalms, and by the help of God preserve their heart and tongue and body from all that is unlawful. But as to those who live in community, what is there more for us to say with regard to assigning portions, or shewing hospitality, or executing mercy, seeing that what remains over and above their needs is to be expended for pious and religious uses, as the Lord and Master of us all says, Of what is over give alms, and behold all things are clean unto you (Luke 11:41)?

Augustine’s third question.

 

Since there is but one faith, why are the uses of Churches so different, one use of Mass being observed in the Roman Church, and another in the Churches of Gaul?

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

Thy Fraternity knows the use of the Roman Church, in which thou hast been nurtured. But I approve of thy selecting carefully anything thou hast found that may be more pleasing to Almighty God, whether in the Roman Church or that of Gaul, or in any Church whatever, and introducing in the Church of the Angli, which is as yet new in the faith, by a special institution, what thou hast been able to collect from many Churches. For we ought not to love things for places, but places for things. Wherefore choose from each several Church such things as are pious, religious, and right, and, collecting them as it were into a bundle, plant them in the minds of the Angli for their use.

Augustine’s fourth question.

 

Pray tell me what any one ought to suffer who may have abstracted anything from a church by theft?

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

In this case thy Fraternity can consider, with regard to the person of the thief, how he may be best corrected. For there are some who commit theft though they have resources, and there are others who transgress in this matter out of want. Hence it is needful that some should be corrected by fines, but some by stripes, and some more severely, but some more lightly. And, when any one is somewhat severely dealt with, he should be dealt with in charity, and not in anger; since to the man himself who is corrected the punishment is assigned lest he should be given up to the fires of hell. For we ought so to maintain discipline towards believers as good fathers are wont to do towards their sons, whom they both smite with blows for their faults, and yet seek to have as their heirs the very persons on whom they inflict pain, and keep what they possess for the very same whom they seem to assail in anger. This charity, then, should be retained in the mind, so that nothing at all be done beyond the rule of reason.

Thou askest also how they ought to restore what they have abstracted by theft from churches. But far be it from us that the Church should receive back with increase what it seems to lose of its earthly things, and seek gain out of losses. [al., for de damnis, de vanis. So Bede.]

 

Augustine’s fifth question.

 

I beg to know whether two brothers may marry two sisters, who are far removed from them in descent.

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

This by all means may be done. For nothing at all is found in Holy Writ which seems to be opposed to it.

Augustine’s sixth question.

 

As far as what generation believers ought to be joined in marriage with their kin, and whether it is lawful to be joined in marriage with stepmothers and brothers’ wives?

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

A certain earthly law in the Roman republic allows the son and daughter, whether of a brother and sister, or of two brothers, or of two sisters, to marry together. But we have learnt by experience that progeny cannot ensue from such marriages. And the sacred law forbids to uncover the nakedness of kindred. Whence it follows that only the third or fourth generations of believers may be lawfully joined together. For the second, which we have spoken of, ought by all means to abstain from each other. But to have intercourse with a stepmother is a grave offence, seeing that is also written in the law, thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father (Lev. 18:7). Not indeed that a son can uncover his father’s nakedness; but, since it is written in the law, They too shall be one flesh (Gen. 2:24), he who has presumed to uncover the nakedness of his stepmother, who has been one flesh with his father, has in truth uncovered his father’s nakedness. It is also forbidden to have intercourse with a brother’s wife, who, through her former conjunction, has become the flesh of the brother. For which thing also John the Baptist was beheaded, and crowned with holy martyrdom. He was not bidden to deny Christ; and yet for confessing Christ he was slain; because the same our Lord Jesus Christ had said, I am the truth (John 14:6); and because John was slain for the truth, he shed his blood for Christ.

 

Augustine’s seventh question.

 

I request to have it declared whether to such as are thus foully joined together separation should be enjoined, and the oblation of sacred communion denied them?

 

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

But, since there are many in the nation of the Angli who while they were yet in unbelief are said to have been associated in such unholy marriages, they should be admonished, when they come to the faith, to abstain from each other, and be made to understand that this is a grievous sin. Let them fear God’s tremendous judgment, lest for carnal delight they incur the pains of eternal torment. Yet they should not on this account be deprived of the communion of the Lord’s body and blood, lest we should seem to punish them for what they had bound themselves in through ignorance before the laver of baptism. For at this time holy Church corrects some things with fervour, tolerates some things with gentleness, connives at and bears some things with consideration, so as often to repress what she opposes by bearing and conniving. But all who come to the faith are to be warned not to dare to perpetrate any such thing: and if any should perpetrate it, they must be deprived of the communion of the Lord’s body and blood, since, as in those who have done it in ignorance the fault should be to a certain extent tolerated, so it should be severely visited in those who are not afraid to sin in spite of knowledge.

 

Augustine’s eighth question.

 

I ask whether, if length of way intervenes, and bishops are not able to assemble easily, a bishop should be ordained without the presence of other bishops.

 

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

Indeed in the Church of the Angli, wherein thou art so far the only bishop, thou canst not ordain a bishop otherwise than without bishops. For, when bishops shall come from Gaul, they will attend thee as witnesses for the ordination of a bishop. But we desire thy Fraternity so to ordain bishops in England that the bishops themselves be not separated from one another by long distances, to the end that there be no necessary cause why they should not come together in the case of the ordination of any bishop. For the presence of some other pastors also is exceedingly advantageous; and hence they ought to he able to come together as easily as possible. When therefore, God granting it, bishops shall have been ordained in places not far from each other, an ordination of bishops should in no case take place without three or four bishops being assembled. For in spiritual things themselves, that they may be ordered wisely and maturely, we may draw an example even from carnal things. For assuredly, when marriages are celebrated in the world, some married persons are called together, that those who have gone before in the way of marriage may be associated also in the ensuing joy. Why then, in this spiritual ordination too, wherein man is joined to God through a sacred mystery, should not such come together as may both rejoice in the advancement of him who is ordained bishop and pour forth prayers to the Almighty Lord for His protection?

 

Augustine’s ninth question.

 

I ask also how we should deal with the bishops of Gaul and of the Britons.

 

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

Over the bishops of Gaul we give thee no authority, since from the ancient times of my predecessors the bishop of Arelate (Arles) has received the pallium, and we ought by no means to deprive him of the authority that he has acquired. If therefore it should happen that thy Fraternity should pass into the provinces of Gaul, thou shouldest act with the same bishop of Arelate in such a way that vices in bishops, if any, may be corrected. And, if he should by chance be lukewarm in the vigour of discipline, he must be stirred up by the zeal of thy Fraternity. To him we have also written letters, bidding him aid thee with his whole soul, whenever thy Holiness may be present in Gaul, that you may together repress in the manners of bishops all that is contrary to the command of our Creator. But thou thyself wilt not have power to judge the bishops of Gaul by authority of thine own; but by persuading, alluring, and also exhibiting thine own good works for their imitation, and so moulding the dispositions of the vicious to concern for holiness; seeing that it is written in the law, One passing through the standing corn of another must not put in a sickle, but rub the ears with his hand and eat (Deut. 32:25). Thou canst not, then, put in the sickle of judgment into the crop that is seen to be committed to another; but by kindly good offices thou canst strip the corn of the Lord from the chaff of its defects, and by admonishing and persuading, convert it, as it were by chewing, into the body of the Church. But whatever is to be done authoritatively, let it be done with the aforesaid bishop of Arelate, lest there should be any disregard of what the ancient institution of the Fathers has provided. But of all British bishops we commit the charge to thy Fraternity, that the unlearned may be taught, the weak strengthened by persuasion, the perverse corrected by authority.

 

Augustine’s request.

 

I request that the relics of Saint Sixtus the martyr may be sent to us.

 

The grant of Gregory.

 

We have done what thou hast requested, to the end that the people who formerly said that they venerated in a certain place the body of Saint Sixtus the martyr, which seems to thy Fraternity to be neither the true body nor truly holy, may receive certain benefits from the most holy and approved martyr, and not reverence what is uncertain. Yet it seems to me that, if the body which is believed by the people to be that of some martyr is distinguished among them by no miracles, and if further there are none of the more aged who declare that they had heard the order of his passion from progenitors, the relics which thou hast asked for should be so deposited apart that the place in which the aforesaid body lies, be entirely blocked up, and that the people be not allowed to desert what is certain, and venerate what is uncertain.

 

Augustine’s tenth question.

 

Whether a pregnant woman should be baptized, or, when she has brought forth, after what length of time she should be allowed to enter the church. Or, to guard also against her issue being surprised by death, after how many days it may receive the sacrament of holy baptism. Or after what length of time her husband may have carnal intercourse with her. Or, if she is in her sickness after the manner of women, whether she may enter the church, or receive the sacrament of sacred communion. Or whether a man after intercourse with his wife, before he has been washed with water, may enter the church, or even go to the ministry (ministerium: in Bede, mysterium) of sacred communion. All these things it is right we should have made known to us for the rude nation of the Angli.

 

Answer of the blessed pope Gregory.

 

I doubt not that thy Fraternity has been asked these questions, and I think that I have supplied thee with answers to them. But I believe that thou wishest what thou art able of thyself to say and think to be confirmed by my reply. For why should not a pregnant woman be baptized, fecundity of the flesh being no fault before the eyes of Almighty God? For, when our first parents had transgressed in Paradise, they lost by the just judgment of God the immortality which they had received. Therefore, because Almighty God would not utterly extinguish the human race for their fault, He took away immortality from man for his sin, and yet, in the kindness of His pity, reserved to him fruitfulness in offspring. With what reason then can what has been preserved to the human race by the gift of Almighty God be debarred from the grace of holy baptism? For indeed it is very foolish to suppose that a gift of grace can possibly be inconsistent with that mystery wherein all human sin is entirely extinguished.

But as to how many days after her delivery a woman may enter the church, thou hast learnt that by the direction of the Old Testament she ought to keep away xxxiii. days for a male child, but lxvi. for a female. It should be known, however, that this is understood mystically. For, if in the same hour in which she has been delivered she enters the church, she subjects herself to no burden of sin. For it is the pleasure of the flesh, not the pain, that is in fault. But it is in the carnal intercourse that the pleasure lies; for in bringing forth of offspring there is pain and groaning. Whence even to the first mother of all it is said, In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children (Gen. 3:16). If, therefore, we forbid a woman after her delivery to enter the church, we reckon her very penalty to her for a fault. Moreover, it is by no means forbidden that either a woman after delivery or that which she has brought forth should be baptized without delay, if in peril of death; she even in the same hour in which she is delivered, or it in the same hour in which it is born. For, as in the case of those who live and have discretion the grace of the holy mystery should be seen to with great discernment, so to those who are in imminent danger of death it should be offered without any delay, lest, while time is being sought for administering the mystery of redemption, death should shortly intervene, and no way be found of redeeming the time that has been lost.

Further, her husband ought not to cohabit with her till that which is brought forth be weaned. But an evil custom has arisen in the ways of married persons, that women scorn to nurse the children whom they bring forth, and deliver them to other women to be nursed. Which custom appears to have been devised for the sole cause of incontinency, in that, being unwilling to contain themselves, they think scorn to suckle their offspring. Those women therefore who, after an evil custom, deliver their children to others to be nursed ought not to have intercourse with their husbands unless the time of their purification has passed, seeing that, even without the reason of childbirth, they are forbidden to have intercourse with their husbands while held of their accustomed sicknesses; so much so that the sacred law smites with death any man who shall go into a woman having her sickness (Lev. 20:18). Yet still a woman, while suffering from her accustomed sickness, ought not to be prohibited from entering the church, since the superfluity of nature cannot be imputed to her for guilt, and it is not just that she should be deprived of entrance into the church on account of what she suffers unwillingly. For we know that the woman who suffered from an issue of blood, coming humbly behind the Lord, touched the hem of his garment, and immediately her infirmity departed from her (Luke 8.). If then one who had an issue of blood could laudably touch the Lord’s garment, why should it be unlawful for one who suffers from a menstruum of blood to enter in the Lord’s Church?

But that woman, thou wilt say, was compelled by infirmity; but these are held of their accustomed sicknesses. Yet consider, dearest brother, how all that we suffer in this mortal flesh is of infirmity of nature, ordained after guilt by the fitting judgment of God. For to hunger and to thirst, to be hot, to be cold, to be weary, is of infirmity of nature. And to seek food against hunger, and drink against thirst, and cool air against heat, and clothing against cold, and rest against weariness, what is it but to search out certain healing appliances against sicknesses? For in females also the menstruous flow of their blood is a sickness. If therefore she presumed well who in her state of feebleness touched the Lord’s garment, why should not what is granted to one person in infirmity be granted to all women who through defect of their nature are in infirmity?

Further, she ought not to be prohibited during these same days from receiving the mystery of holy communion. If, however, out of great reverence, she does not presume to receive, she is to be commended; but, if she should receive, she is not to be judged. For it is the part of good dispositions in some way to acknowledge their sins. even where there is no sin, since often without sin a thing is done which comes of sin. Whence also, when we hunger, we eat without sin, though it has come of the sin of the first man that we do hunger. For the menstruous habit in women is no sin, seeing that it occurs naturally; yet still that nature itself has been so vitiated as to be seen to be polluted even without the intention of the will is a defect that comes of sin, whereby human nature may perceive what through judgment it has come to be, so that man who voluntarily committed sin may bear the guilt of sin involuntarily. And so females, when they consider themselves as being in their habit of sickness, if they presume not to approach the sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord, are to be commended for their right consideration. But when, out of the habit of a religious life, they are seized with a love of the same mystery, they are not to be restrained, as we have said. For, as in the old Testament outward acts were attended to, so in the New Testament it is not so much what is done outwardly as what is thought inwardly that is regarded with close attention, that it may be punished with searching judgment. For, while the law forbids the eating of many things as being unclean, the Lord nevertheless says in the Gospel, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but the things which come forth from the heart, these are they which defile a man (Matth. 15:11). And soon after He added in explanation, Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts (Ib. 19). Hence it is abundantly indicated that what is shewn by Almighty God to be polluted in act is that which is engendered of the root of polluted thought. Whence also Paul the Apostle says, All things are pure to the pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure (Tit. 1:15). And immediately, to declare the cause of this defilement, he subjoins, For their mind and conscience is defiled. If, then, food is not impure to one whose mind is not impure, why should what with a pure mind a woman suffers from nature be reckoned to her for impurity?

Further, a man after sleeping with his own wife ought not to enter the church unless washed with water, nor, even when washed, enter immediately. Now the law enjoined on the ancient people that a man after intercourse with a woman should both be washed with water and not enter the church before sunset. Which may be understood spiritually as meaning that a man has intercourse with a woman when his mind is joined with delight in thought to illicit concupiscence, and that, unless the fire of concupiscence in his mind should cool, he ought not to think himself worthy of the congregation of his brethren, seeing himself to be burdened with by lewdness of wrong desire. For, although in this matter different nations of men have different notions, and some are seen to observe one practice and some another, yet the usage of the Romans from ancient times has always been for a man after intercourse with his own wife both to seek the purification of the bath and to refrain reverently for a while from entering the church.

Nor do we, in saying these things, account wedlock as sin. But, since even the lawful intercourse of the wedded cannot take place without pleasure of the flesh, entrance into a sacred place should be abstained from, because the pleasure itself can by no means be without sin. For he had not been born of adultery or fornication but of lawful wedlock, who said, Behold I was conceived in iniquities, and in sin my mother brought me forth (Ps. 50:7). For, knowing himself to have been conceived in iniquities, he groaned for having been born in sin, because the tree bears in its branch the vicious humour which it has drawn from its root. Yet in these words he does not call the intercourse of the wedded iniquity in itself, but in truth only the pleasure of the intercourse. For there are many things which are allowed and legitimate, and yet we are to some extent defiled in the doing of them; as often we attack faults with anger, and disturb the tranquillity of our own mind. And, though what is done is right, yet it is not to be approved that the mind is therein disturbed. For instance. he had been angry against the vices of transgressors who said, Mine eye is disturbed because of anger (Ps. 6:8). For, since the mind cannot, unless it be tranquil, lift itself up to the light of contemplation, he grieved that his eye was disturbed in anger, because, though assailing evil doings from above, he still could not help being confused and disturbed from contemplation of the highest things. And therefore his anger against vice is laudable, and yet it troubles him, because he felt that he had incurred some guilt in being disturbed. Lawful copulation of the flesh ought therefore to be for the purpose of offspring, not of pleasure; and intercourse of the flesh should be for the sake of producing children, and not a satisfaction of frailties. If, then, any one makes use of his wife not as seized by the desire of pleasure, but only for the sake of producing children, he certainly, with regard to entering the church or taking the mystery of the body and blood of the Lord, is to be left to his own judgment, since by us he ought not to be prohibited from receiving it who knows no burning though in the midst of fire. But, when not the love of producing offspring but pleasure dominates in the act of intercourse, married persons have something to mourn over in their intercourse. For holy preaching concedes them this, and yet in the very concession shakes the mind with fear.For, when the Apostle Paul said, Who cannot contain let him have his own wife, he straightway took care to add, But I speak this by way of indulgence, not by way of command (1 Cor. 7:7). For what is just and right is not indulged: what he spoke of as indulged he shewed to be a fault.

Furthermore it is to be attentively considered that the Lord in mount Sinai, when about to speak to the people, first charged the same people to abstain from women. And if there, where the Lord spoke to men through a subject creature, purity of body was required with such careful provision that they who were to hear the words of God might not have intercourse with women, how much more ought those who receive the Body of the Almighty Lord to keep purity of the flesh in themselves, lest they be weighed down by the greatness of the inestimable mystery! Hence also it is said through the priest to David concerning his servants, that if they were pure from women they might eat the shewbread; which they might not receive at all unless David first declared them to be pure from women. Still a man who after intercourse with his wife has been washed with water may receive even the mystery of sacred communion, since according to the opinion above expressed it was allowable for him to enter the church.

 

Augustine’s eleventh question.

 

I ask also whether after an illusion, such is accustomed to occur in dreams, any one may receive the body of the Lord, or, if he be a priest, celebrate the sacred mysteries?

 

Answer of the blessed Pope Gregory.

 

Such a one the Testament of the old law, as we have already said in the last section, declares indeed to be polluted, and does not allow to enter the church until the evening, or without being washed with water. But one who understands this not only with special reference to that people at that time, but also spiritually, will regard it under the same intellectual conception that we have spoken of before; namely, that he has, as it were, an illusion in a dream who, being tempted by uncleanness, is defiled in thought by true images. But he is to be washed with water in the sense of washing away the sins of thought with tears. And, unless the fire of temptation has passed away, he should feel himself to be guilty, as it were, until the evening.

But in this same illusion discrimination is very necessary, since it ought to be nicely considered from what cause it occurs to the mind of the sleeper. For sometimes it happens from surfeit, sometimes from superfluity or infirmity of nature, sometimes from cogitation. And indeed when it has come to pass from superfluity or infirmity of nature, it is by no means to be viewed with alarm, since the mind is to be commiserated as having endured it unwittingly rather than as having done it. But when the appetite of gluttony in taking food is carried beyond measure, and consequently the receptacles of the humours are loaded, the mind has therefore some guilt, yet not to the extent of prohibition from receiving the sacred mystery, or celebrating the solemnities of mass, when perchance a festival day demands it, or necessity itself requires the mystery to be exhibited by reason of there being no other priest in the place. For, if others competent to execute the mystery are present, an illusion caused by surfeit ought not to debar from receiving the sacred mystery, though immolation of the sacred mystery ought, as I think, to be humbly abstained from; provided only that foul imagination has not shaken the soul of the sleeper. For there are some to whom the illusion for the most part so arises that their mind, though in the body which sleeps, is not defiled by foul imaginations. With regard to this, there is one case in which it is shewn that the soul itself is guilty, not being free even from its own judgment; that is where, while it remembers having seen nothing when the body was asleep, it still remembers having fallen into lewdness when the body was awake. But, if the illusion arises in the soul of the sleeper from foul cogitation while he was awake, the mind’s guilt is patent to itself. For a man sees from what root that defilement proceeded, if he has endured unwittingly what he wittingly cogitated. But it is to be considered whether the cogitation ensued from suggestion, or delight, or sinful consent. For there are three ways in which all sin is accomplished; to wit, by suggestion, by delight, and by consent. Suggestion is through the devil, delight through the flesh, consent through the spirit; since, in the case of the first sin, the serpent suggested it, Eve, as the flesh, delighted in it, but Adam, as the spirit, consented to it. And great discernment Is needed, that the mind may sit as judge of itself to distinguish between suggestion and delight, between delight and consent. For, when the evil spirit suggests sin in the soul, if no delight in sin should follow, no sin is in any wise committed. But, when the flesh has begun to take delight, then sin has its commencement. But, if it sinks to deliberate consent, then sin is known to be completed. In suggestion therefore is the seed of sin, in delight its nutriment, in consent its completion. And it often happens that what the evil spirit sows in the thought the flesh draws into delight, and yet the mind does not consent to this delight. And, while the flesh cannot be delighted without the soul, still the mind, though struggling against the pleasures of the flesh, is in some way bound against its will in carnal delight, so as by force of reason to protest against it and not consent to it, and yet to be bound by the delight, but still to groan exceedingly for being bound. Whence even that chief soldier of the heavenly army groaned, saying, I see another law in my members fighting against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members (Rom. 7:23). Yet, if he was a captive, he did not fight. But he did fight too, and therefore he was not a captive. And therefore he fought by the law of the mind, which the law which is in the members fought against. If he thus fought, he was not a captive. Behold then, man is, so to speak, both a captive and free: free with regard to the righteousness which he loves; a captive with regard to the delight which he endures unwillingly.

EPISTLE LXV

To Augustine, Bishop of the
Angli.

Gregory to Augustine, &c.

Though it is certain that for those who labour for Almighty God ineffable rewards of an eternal kingdom are reserved, yet we must needs bestow honours upon them, that by reason of remuneration they may apply themselves the more manifoldly in devotion to spiritual work. And, since the new Church of the Angli has been brought to the grace of Almighty God through the bountifulness of the same Lord and thy labours, we grant to thee the use of the pallium therein for the solemnization of mass only, so that thou mayest ordain bishops in twelve several places, to be subject to thy jurisdiction, with the view of a bishop of the city of London being always consecrated in future by his own synod, and receiving the dignity of the pallium from this holy and Apostolical See which by the grace of God I serve. Further, to the city of York we desire thee to send a bishop whom thou mayest judge fit to be ordained; so that, if this same city with the neighbouring places should receive the word of God, he also may ordain twelve bishops, so as to enjoy the dignity of a metropolitan: for to him also, if our life is continued, we propose, with the favour of God, to send a pallium; but yet we desire to subject him to the control of thy Fraternity. But after thy death let him be over the bishops whom he shall have ordained, so as to be in no wise subject to the jurisdiction of the bishop of London. Further, between the bishops of London and York in the future let there be this distinction of dignity, that he be accounted first who has been first ordained. But let them arrange by council in common, and with concordant action, whatever things may have to be done in zeal for Christ; let them be of one mind in what is right, and accomplish what they are minded to do without disagreement with each other.

But let thy Fraternity have subject to thyself under our God not only those bishops whom thou shalt ordain, and those whom the bishop of York may ordain, but also all the priests of Britain, to the end that they may learn the form of right belief and good living from the tongue and life of thy Holiness, and, executing their office well in their faith and manners, may attain to heavenly kingdoms when it may please the Lord. God keep thee safe, most reverend brother. Given on the tenth day of the Kalends of July, in the 19th year of the empire of our lord Mauricius Tiberius, the 18th year after the consulship of the same lord, Indiction 4.

EPISTLE LXVI

To Edilbert, King of The
Angli.

Gregory to Edilbert, &c.

On this account Almighty God advances good men to the government of peoples, that through them He may bestow the gifts of His loving-kindness on all over whom they are preferred. This we have found to be the case in the nation of the Angli, which your Glory has been put over to the intent that through the good things granted to you, heavenly benefits might be conferred on the nation subject to you. And so, glorious son, keep guard with anxious mind over the grace which thou hast received from above. Make haste to extend the Christian faith among the peoples under thy sway, redouble the zeal of thy rectitude in their conversion, put down the worship of idols, overturn the edifices of their temples, build up the manners of thy subjects in great purity of life by exhorting, by terrifying, by enticing, by correcting, by shewing examples of well-doing; that so you may find Him your recompenser in heaven Whose name and knowledge you shall have spread abroad on earth. For He Himself will make the name of your glory even more glorious to posterity, if you seek and maintain His honour among the nations. For so Constantine, the once most pious Emperor, recalling the Roman republic from perverse worshippings of idols, subjected it with himself to our Almighty Lord God Jesus Christ, and turned himself with his subject peoples with all his heart to Him. Hence it came to pass that that man surpassed in praise the name of ancient princes, and excelled his predecessors as much in renown as in well-doing. And now, therefore, let your Glory make haste to infuse into the kings and peoples subject to you the knowledge of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that you may both surpass the ancient kings of your race in renown and in deserts, and the more you shall have wiped away the sins of others among your subjects, the more secure you may become with regard to your own sins before the terrible scrutiny of Almighty God.

Moreover, you have with you our most reverend brother, Augustine the bishop, learned in monastic rule, replete with knowledge of holy Scripture, endowed by the grace of God with good works. Listen gladly to his admonitions, follow them devoutly, keep them studiously in remembrance: for, if you listen to him in what he speaks in behalf of Almighty God, the same Almighty God will the sooner listen to him when he prays for you. For, if (which God forbid) you disregard his words, when will it be possible for Almighty God to hear him for you, whom you neglect to hear for God? With all your heart, therefore, bind ye yourselves in fervour of faith to him, and aid his endeavours by the power which he gives you from above, that He Whose faith you cause to be received and kept in your kingdom may Himself make you partakers of His own Kingdom.

Furthermore, we would have your Glory know that, as we learn from the words of the Almighty Lord in holy Scripture, the end of the present world is already close at hand, and the reign of the saints is coming, which can have no end. And, now that this end of the world is approaching, many things are at hand which previously have not been; to wit, changes of the air, terrors from heaven, and seasons contrary to the accustomed order of times, wars, famine, pestilences, earthquakes t in divers places. Yet these things will not come in our days, but after our days they will all ensue. You therefore, if you observe any of these things occurring in your land, by no means let your mind be troubled, since these signs of the end of the world are sent beforehand for this purpose, that we should be solicitous about our souls, suspectful of the hour of death, and in our good deeds be found prepared for the coming Judge. These things, glorious son, we have now briefly spoken of, that, when the Christian faith shall have been extended in your kingdom, our speech to you may also extend itself to greater length, and that we may be pleased to speak so much the more fully as joy multiplies itself in our heart for the perfected conversion of your nation.

I have sent you some small presents, which to you will not be small, when received by you as of the benediction of the blessed Apostle Peter. And so may Almighty God guard and perfect in you the grace which He has begun, and extend your life here through courses of many years, and after a long life receive you in the congregation of the heavenly country. May heavenly grace keep your Excellency safe, sir son (domine fili). Given this 10th day of the Kalends of July, the 19th year of the empire of our most pious lord Mauricius Tiberius Augustus, the 18th year after the consulship of the same our lord, Indiction 4.

EPISTLE LXVII

To Quiricus, Bishop, &c.

Gregory to Quiricus, Bishop, and the other catholic bishops in Hiberia.

Since to charity nothing is afar off, let those who are divided in place be joined by letter. The bearer of these presents, coming to the Church of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, asserted that he had received letters for us from your Fraternity, and had lost them, with other things also, in the city of Jerusalem. In them, as he says, you were desirous of enquiring with regard to priests and people who have been bewildered in the error of Nestorian heresy, when they return to the Catholic Church which is the mother of all the elect, whether they should be baptized, or joined to the bowels of the same mother Church by confession only of the one true faith.

And indeed we have learnt from the ancient institution of the Fathers that whosoever among heretics are baptized in the name of the Trinity, when they return to holy Church, may be recalled to the bosom of mother Church either by unction of chrism, or by imposition of hands, or by profession of the faith only. Hence the West reconciles Arians to the holy Catholic Church by imposition of hands, but the East by the unction of holy chrism. But Monophysites and others are received by a true confession only, because holy baptism, which they have received among heretics, then acquires in them the power of cleansing, when either the former receive the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands, or the latter are united to the bowels of the holy and universal Church by reason of their confession of the true faith. Those heretics, however, who are not baptized in the name of the Trinity, such as the Bonosiaci and the Cataphrygœ, because the former do not believe in Christ the Lord, and the latter with a perverse understanding believe a certain bad man, Montanus, to be the Holy Spirit, like unto whom are many others;—these, when they come to holy Church, are baptized, because what they received while in their error, not being in the name of the Holy Trinity, was not baptism. Nor can this be called an iteration of baptism, which, as has been said, had not been given in the name of the Trinity. But the Nestorians, since they are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity—though darkened by the error of their heresy in that, after the manner of Jewish unbelief, they believe not the Incarnation of the Only-begotten—when they come to the Holy Catholic Church, are to be taught, by firm holding and profession of the true faith, to believe in one and the same Son of God and man, our Lord God Jesus Christ, the same existing in Divinity before the ages, and the same made man in the end of the ages, because The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (Joh. 1:14).

But we say that the Word was made flesh, not by losing what He was, but by taking what He was not. For in the mystery of His Incarnation the Only-begotten of the Father increased what was ours, but diminished not what was His. Therefore the Word and the flesh is one Person, as He says Himself, No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven (Joh. 3:14). He Who is the Son of God in heaven was the Son of man who spoke on earth. Hence John says, We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding (1 Joh. 5:20). And as to what understanding He has given us, he straightway added, That we may know the true God. Whom in this place does he mean as the true God but the Father Almighty? But, as to what he conceives also of the Almighty Son, he added, And that we may be in his true Son Jesus Christ. Lo, he says that the Father is the true God, and that Jesus Christ is His true Son. And what he conceives this true Son to be he shews more plainly; This is the true God, and eternal life. If, then, according to the error of Nestorius the Word were one and the man Jesus Christ were another, he who is true man would not be the true God and eternal life. But the Only-begotten Son, the Word before the Ages, was made man. He is, then, the true God and eternal life. Certainly, when the holy Virgin was about to conceive Him, and heard the angel speaking to her, she said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38). And, when she had conceived Him, and went to Elizabeth her kinswoman, at once she heard, Whence am I worthy that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Lo, the same Virgin is called both the handmaid and the mother of the Lord. For she is the handmaid of the Lord, because the Word before the Ages, the Only-begotten, is equal to the Father; but the mother, because in her womb from the Holy Spirit and of her flesh He was made man. Nor is she the handmaid of one and the mother of another, because, when the Only-begotten of God, existing before the ages, of her womb was made man, by an inscrutable miracle she became both the handmaid of man by reason of the divinity and the mother of the Word by reason of the flesh. It was not that the flesh was first conceived in the womb of the Virgin, and the divinity afterwards came into the flesh; but that as soon as the Word came into the womb, immediately the Word, retaining the excellence of His own nature, was made flesh. And the Only-begotten Son of God, through the womb of the Virgin, was born a perfect man, that is, in verity of flesh and of rational soul. Whence also He is called Anointed above his fellows, as the Psalmist says, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows (Ps. 44:8). For He is anointed with oil, that is to say with the gift of the Holy Spirit. But He was anointed above His fellows, because all we men first exist as sinners, and afterwards are sanctified through the unction of the Holy Spirit. But He Who, existing as God before the ages, was conceived as man through the Holy Spirit in the Virgin’s womb at the end of the ages, was there anointed by the same Spirit, even where He was conceived. Nor was He first conceived and afterwards anointed; but to be conceived by the Holy Spirit of the flesh of the Virgin was itself to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. This truth, then, concerning His nativity let all who are brought back from the perverse error of Nestorius confess before the holy congregation of your Fraternity, anathematising the same Nestorius with all his followers, and all other heresies. The venerable synods also which the universal Church receives let them promise to receive and venerate; and let your Holiness without any hesitation receive them in your assembly, allowing them to retain their own orders, in order that, while you both carefully sift the secrets of their hearts, and teach them through true knowledge the right things they ought to hold, and in gentleness make no difficulty or contradiction with them with respect to their own orders, you may snatch them from the mouth of the ancient foe; and that the retribution of eternal glory with Almighty God may increase to you the more as you gather together many who may glory with you in the Lord without end. Now may the Holy Trinity keep you in its protection while you pray for us, and grant you in its love still more manifold gifts.

[In Colbert. and Collect. Paul, “Given on the tenth day of the Kalends of Jul. Indict. 4.”]

EPISTLE LXVIII

(To Virgilius, Bishop of Arelate Arles.)

Gregory to Virgilius, &c.

What affection should be bestowed on brethren who come to us of their own accord is apparent from the fact that they are usually invited to visit us for the sake of charity. And so, if our common brother the bishop Augustine should chance to come to you, let your Love, as is fit, so affectionately and sweetly receive him as both to refresh him with the boon of your consolation and teach others also how fraternal charity should be cultivated. And, since it often happens that those who are placed at a distance learn first from others of things that require amendment, if he should perchance intimate to your Fraternity any faults in priests or others, do you, in concert with him, enquire into them with all subtle investigation. And do you both shew yourselves so strict and solicitous against things that offend God and provoke Him to wrath that, for the amendment of others, both vengeance may smite the guilty and false report not afflict the innocent. God keep thee safe, most reverend brother. Given the 10th day of the Kalends of July, the 19th year of the empire of our most pious lord Mauricius Tiberius Augustus, the 18th year after the same our lord’s consulship, Indiction 4.

EPISTLE LXIX

To Brunichild, Queen of the
Franks.

Gregory to Brunichild, &c.

Since it is written, Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin maketh peoples miserable (Prov. 14:34), a kingdom is then believed to be stable when a fault that is known of is quickly amended. Now it has come to our ears by the report of many, what we cannot mention without exceeding affliction of heart, that certain priests in those parts live so immodestly and wickedly that it is a shame for us to hear of it and lamentable to tell it. Lest, then, now that the rumour of this iniquity has extended as far as here, the wrong doing of others should smite either our soul or your kingdom with the dart of its sin, we ought to arise with ardour to avenge these things, lest the wickedness of a few should be the perdition of many. For bad priests are the cause of the ruin of a people. For who may offer himself as an intercessor for a people’s sins, if the priest who ought to have prayed for it commits more grievous offences? But, since those whose place it is to prosecute these things are stirred neither by care to enquire into them nor by zeal to punish them, let letters from you be addressed to us, and let us send over, if you order it, a person with the assent of your authority, who together with other priests may search into these things thoroughly, and amend them according to the will of God. For indeed what we speak of is not a thing to be winked at, since one who can amend a fault and neglects to do so without doubt makes himself partaker in it. See therefore to your own soul, see to your grandsons, whom you wish to reign happily, see to the provinces; and, before our Creator stretches out His hand to smite, take most earnest thought for the correction of this wickedness, lest He afterwards smite by so much the more sharply as He now waits longer and more mercifully. Know moreover that you will offer a great sacrifice of expiation to our God, if you cut off speedily from your territories the infection of so great a sin.

EPISTLE LXXVI

To Mellitus, Abbot.

Gregory to Mellitus, Abbot in France.

Since the departure of our congregation, which, is with thee, we have been in a state of great suspense from having heard nothing of the success of your journey. But when Almighty God shall have brought you to our most reverend brother the bishop Augustine, tell him that I have long been considering with myself about the case of the Angli; to wit, that the temples of idols in that nation should not be destroyed, but that the idols themselves that are in them should be. Let blessed water be prepared, and sprinkled in these temples, and altars constructed, and relics deposited, since, if these same temples are well built, it is needful that they should be transferred from the worship of idols to the service of the true God; that, when the people themselves see that these temples are not destroyed, they may put away error from their heart, and, knowing and adoring the true God, may have recourse with the more familiarity to the places they have been accustomed to. And, since they are wont to kill many oxen in sacrifice to demons, they should have also some solemnity of this kind in a changed form, so that on the day of dedication, or on the anniversaries of the holy martyrs whose relics are deposited there, they may make for themselves tents of the branches of trees around these temples that have been changed into churches, and celebrate the solemnity with religious feasts. Nor let them any longer sacrifice animals to the devil, but slay animals to the praise of God for their own eating, and return thanks to the Giver of all for their fulness, so that, while some joys are reserved to them outwardly, they may be able the more easily to incline their minds to inward joys. For it is undoubtedly impossible to cut away everything at once from hard hearts, since one who strives to ascend to the highest place must needs rise by steps or paces, and not by leaps. Thus to the people of Israel in Egypt the Lord did indeed make Himself known; but still He reserved to them in His own worship the use of the sacrifices which they were accustomed to offer to the devil, enjoining them to immolate animals in sacrifice to Himself; to the end that, their hearts being changed, they should omit some things in the sacrifice and retain others, so that, though the animals were the same as what they had been accustomed to offer, nevertheless, as they immolated them to God and not to idols, they should be no longer the same sacrifices. This then it is necessary for thy Love to say to our aforesaid brother, that he, being now in that country, may consider well how he should arrange all things. God keep thee safe, most beloved son. Given this 15th day of the Kalends of July, the 19th year of the empire of our most pious lord Mauricius Tiberius Augustus, the 18th year after the consulship of the same our lord, Indiction 4.

EPISTLE LXXVII

To Boniface, Guardian (Defensorem), in Corsica.

Gregory to Boniface, &c.

Thy experience is not free from blame, in that, knowing Aleria and Adjacium, cities of Corsica, to have been long without bishops, thou hast delayed admonishing their clergy and people to choose for themselves priests. But, since they ought to be no longer without rulers of their own, hasten thou, on receiving this authority, to exhort the clergy and people of these cities severally, that they disagree not among themselves, but that each city with one consent choose for itself a priest to be consecrated. And, when they have made their decree, let such person as shall have been elected come to us. But, if they should be unwilling to come to an unanimous decision, being divided in their choice between two persons, let both in like manner come to us, the decree having been made in the usual way, that, after enquiry made into their lives and characters, the one who may appear to be most fit may be ordained. Seeing, moreover, that many poor persons there are said to be oppressed and to suffer prejudice, let thy Experience give heed to this, and not allow them to be unjustly aggrieved; but so endeavour thyself that neither they who take action be unreasonably hindered nor those against whom action is taken be in danger of sustaining damage unjustly.

Furthermore, it has reached our ears that some of the clergy, thou being on the spot, are held in custody by laymen. If this is so, know that the blame will be imputed to thee, since, if thou wert a man, it would not have been the case. And accordingly thou must needs pay attention in future so that thou permit not the like to be done; but that, if any one should have a cause of complaint against a clerk, he resort to his bishop. And, if perchance the latter should be suspected, a commissioner must be deputed by him—or, if this too should be objected to by the plaintiff, by thy Experience,—who may compel the parties to choose arbitrators by mutual consent. And whatever may be decided by them, let it be in all ways so carried out, with due observance of law, by thy own or the bishop’s care, that there may be no occasion for them to weary themselves with disputes.

EPISTLE LXXVIII

To Barbara and Antonina.

Gregory to Barbara, &c.

On receiving your epistles, I was in all manner of ways delighted to hear of your wellbeing, and I entreat Almighty God that He would guard you by His protection from malignant spirits in thought, and from perverse men, and from all contrariety; and that He would, with the grace of His fear, settle you in unions worthy of you, and cause us all to rejoice in your settlement. But do you, most sweet daughters, rest your hope on His help, and, being always under the shadow of His defence, both by praying and by well doing, escape the plots of bad men. For, whatever human comforts or adversities there may be, there are none, unless either His grace protects or His displeasure troubles you. Rest therefore your hope on no one among men, but bind your whole soul to trust in Almighty God. While we sleep, then, He will protect you, of whom it is written, Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep (Ps. 120:4).

As to your saying that you are in haste to approach the threshhold of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, I wish exceedingly, and wait with fervent desire, to see you in his church united to husbands well worthy of you; that so both you may obtain some little comfort from me, and I no little joy from your presence. I have also commended your causes to my most reverend brother the bishop John, and to Romanus the guardian (defensori), that under God they may accomplish what they have begun.

Your present of two racanæ, which you sent me word were your work, I accepted gladly. But yet know ye that I did not believe the word you sent me. For you are seeking praise from the work of others, seeing that you have perhaps never yet put hand to spindle. Nor yet does this circumstance distress me, since I wish you to love the reading of Holy Scripture, that, so long as Almighty God shall unite you to husbands, you may know how you should live and how you should manage your houses.

BOOK XII

EPISTLE I

To Dominicus, Bishop of Carthage.

Gregory to Dominicus, &c.

How abundant is the charity of your heart you shew by its interpreter—your tongue, while so seasoning the words of your epistles with its sweetness that all you write is pleasant and delightful. Hence it comes that we embrace your Fraternity in the arms of love, though unable to do so in the body. For it is the office of charity to supply to souls that are in concord what distance of place denies. And, since the sickness of our most loving brethren saddens us even as their health refreshes us we give thanks to Almighty God, who has solaced our sadness by good news. For, having heard that you had contracted a very severe illness, before the receipt of your letter we were in a state of great distress. But since, when we are snatched from peril of death, it is uncertain, dearest brother, for what we are reserved, let us turn the time of respite to the profit of our souls, and, having to render our accounts to the coming Judge, let us fortify our cause before Him with tears and good works, that we may be counted worthy to have security given us with regard to the things that we have done. For in secular causes also a kind judge frequently grants a respite to this end, that one who had not been prepared before may afterwards come to his trial prepared. And what a thing it would be, were we to neglect for the salvation of the soul what we carefully attend to in matters of earthly concern! And so, since, according to the words of the Apostle John, no one is without sin, let us call to mind enticements of thought, incontinence of tongue, deeds of transgression; and let us, while we may, with great knocking, do away with the stains of our iniquities, that our just and loving Redeemer may not execute vengeance according to our deservings, but according to His mercy be bent to pardon. And, since we do not sufficiently fulfil our office by weeping for our own sins only, let us the more earnestly devote ourselves to the custody of the flock committed to us, and by persuading, by exhorting, by alarming, by preaching, so far as heavenly clemency gives us power, let us hasten to fulfil our office in very deed, that, through the bounty of our Creator, we may look for the longed for reward. But, since we cannot do anything that is good without divine aid, let us implore Almighty God, most beloved brother, with united prayers, that He would direct us, with the flock committed to us, into the way of His commandments by the leading of His grace, and Himself, who by the gift of His mercy has willed us to have the name of shepherds, grant to us to understand and do what is well pleasing to Him. Moreover, we have received with the charity wherewith you sent it the blessing of the blessed martyr Agileus, transmitted to us by your Holiness. In the month of September, Indiction 5.

EPISTLE VIII

To Columbus, Bishop of Numidia.

Gregory to Columbus, &c.

How serious, and intolerable even to be beard of, is the complaint of Donadeus, the bearer of these presents, who describes himself as having been a deacon, will be made manifest to your Fraternity by the petition presented by him, which is contained in what is subjoined below. But, since it has come to our ears that he had been deposed for bodily sin, let your Love make full enquiry into this, and, if it is so, let him be consigned to penance, that he may free himself by tears from the bond of the profligacy of which he has been guilty. If, however, he should be proved innocent of any such transgression, all that his petition contains must be enquired into with diligent examination by you, together with the primate of the council, and others our brethren and fellow-bishops. And, if his complaint is supported by the truth, let both such strictness of canonical discipline be brought to bear on his bishop Victor, who has not feared to commit so great a wickedness against God and his own priestly profession, that he may understand the wickedness of what he has done; and let the man himself be restored to his order: for it is indeed preposterous, and confessedly against ecclesiastical order, that any one whom his own fault or crime does not depose from the rank of the office which he fills should be deprived invalidly at the will of this or that person.

EPISTLE XXIV

To John, Subdeacon of Ravenna.

Gregory to John, &c.

Some monks who came to me from the monastery of the late abbot Claudius have petitioned me that the monk Constantius should be constituted their abbot. But I was exceedingly set against them as touching their petition, because they appeared to me to be altogether of a worldly mind in seeking to have a very worldly man for their abbot. For I have learnt how this same Constantius studies to possess property of his own: and this is the strongest evidence that he has not the heart of a monk. And I have learnt further that he presumed to go alone, without any one of his brethren with him, to a monastery that is situate in the province of Picenum. From this proceeding of his we know that he who walks without a witness lives not aright: and how can he maintain the rule for others who knows not how to maintain it for himself?

Giving him up, therefore, they asked to have a certain cellarer, Maurus by name, to whose life and industry there are many testimonies, the late abbot Claudius also with certain others having spoken in his praise. Let thy Experience therefore make careful enquiry; and, if his life should be such as fit him for a place of government, cause him to be ordained abbot by our brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus. But, if there is anything decidedly against him, and they cannot find any suitable person in their own congregation, let them choose some one from elsewhere, and let him whom they may choose be made abbot. Further, take care by all means to tell our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop to put down with the utmost earnestness the possession of property of their own by four or five of the monks of the monastery, which it has been found so far impossible to correct, and to make haste to cleanse this same monastery from such a pest; since, if private property is held there by monks, it will not be possible for either concord or charity to continue in this same congregation. What, indeed, is a monk’s state of life but a despising of the world? How, then, do they despise the world who while placed in a monastery seek gold? Wherefore let thy Experience so proceed that neither the ordering of the place be deferred, nor any complaint reach us any more on this subject.

Furthermore, forasmuch as my late most dear son Claudius had heard me speak something about the Proverbs, the Song of Songs, the Prophets, and also about the Books of Kings and the Heptateuch, which on account of my infirmity I was unable to commit to writing, and he himself had dictated them for transcription according to his own understanding of their meaning, lest they should be forgotten, and in order that he might bring them to me at a suitable time, so that they might be more correctly dictated (for, when he read to me what he had written, I found the sense of what I had said had been altered very disadvantageously), it is hence necessary that thy Experience, avoiding all excuse or delay, should go to his monastery, and assemble the brethren, and that they should produce fully and truly whatsoever papers on divers Scriptures he had brought thither; which do thou take, and transmit them to me with all possible speed.

Further, about thy return, having learnt that thou hast incurred serious trouble, we will consider by and by. Further, I have not been pleased to hear what has been told me by certain persons; namely that our most reverend brother and fellows-bishop Marinianus causes my comments on the blessed Job to be read publicly at vigils; seeing that this is not a popular work, and engenders hindrance rather than advancement to rude hearers. But tell him to cause the comments on the Psalms to be read at vigils, which mould the minds of secular persons to good manners. For indeed I do not wish, while I am in this flesh, that what I may have said should be readily made known to men. For I took it amiss that Anatolius the deacon of most beloved memory gave to the lord Emperor, at his request and command, the book of Pastoral Rule, which my most holy brother and fellow-bishop Anastasius of Antioch translated into the Greek tongue. And, as I was informed by letter, it pleased him much; but it much displeased me that those who have what is better should be occupied in what is least.

Further, in the third part of the blessed Job, in the verse wherein it is written, I know that my Redeemer liveth, I suspect that my aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop Marinianus has a corrupt copy. For in the copy in our bookcase this passage is given differently from what I find to be in the copies possessed by others; and consequently I have had this passage corrected, so that our often-named brother may have it as it is in our bookcase. For there are four words, the absence of which from the passage may cause the reader no little difficulty. Execute all these things thoroughly and speedily. And, if thou canst do nothing with the most excellent Exarch, shew thyself not to have neglected to do what is in thy power.

What shall I say concerning the place of Albinus, as to which the answer given us is plainly contrary to justice? Thou oughtest, however, to consider the case attentively. Furthermore, a little time ago we had enjoined thy Experience to treat with our most eminent son the præfect to the end that the care of the conduits (formarum) should be committed to Augustus the vicecount, in that he is in all respects a diligent and energetic man. And thou hast so far so put off the business as not even to inform us of what thou hast done. And so, even now, hasten thou with all earnestness to treat with the same our most eminent son, that the conduits may be entirely committed to the aforesaid most distinguished man, to the intent that he may to some extent succeed in repairing them. For these conduits are so scorned and neglected that, unless greater attention be given to them, within a short time they will go utterly to ruin. As thou knowest, then, how necessary this business is, and how advantageous to the general community, thou must use thy best endeavours that it may be committed, as we have said, to the aforesaid man for his careful attention. Given in the month of January, Indiction 5.

EPISTLE XXV

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, &c.

It is well known to thy Experience that Peter, whom we have made a guardian (defensorem), is sprung from the estate belonging to our Church which is called Vitelas. And so, since we ought to shew kindness towards him in such a way that nevertheless the Church may suffer no disadvantage, we command thee by this order to charge him strictly not to presume, under any pretext or excuse, to marry his children anywhere but in that estate to which they are bound by law and their condition. In this matter, too, it is necessary for thy Experience to be very careful, and to threaten them, so that on no occasion whatever they may go out of the property to which by their birth they are subjected. For, if any one of them (as we do not believe will be the case) should presume to depart from it, he may be assured that our assent will never be given to any of them dwelling or being married outside the estate on which they were born, but that also their land should be superscribed4. And then know that you will run no slight risk, if through your negligence any of them should attempt to do any of the things which we forbid.

EPISTLE XXVIII

To Columbus, Bishop of Numidia.

Gregory to Columbus, &c.

Inasmuch as it has long been known to us how thy Fraternity is distinguished for priestly gravity and ecclesiastical zeal, we have seen sufficient reason for thy taking part in the cognizance of things that require rebuke, lest, if they should be put off through connivance, every one should suppose that what he is able to do is allowed him. Now after what manner our brother Paulinus, bishop of the city of Tegessis is alleged by his clerics and by those who are constituted in sacred orders, to have been excessive towards them in corporal correction, thou needest not to be told, seeing that, before this complaint reached us, the matter, as we have learnt from their statement, had already been made known to thee. And, since superiors ought not to have the right of punishing their subordinates savagely, we have taken care to write to Victor our brother and fellow-bishop, who holds the primacy among you, that, together with thy Fraternity, or with others our brethren and fellow bishops whom you may think fit to call in, he may take cognizance of and thoroughly investigate the case between our aforesaid brother priest and his clergy. And let thy Love so give the matter thy close and careful attention, that the things that have been reported to us may not pass without a hearing, lest discord should be fomented in the Church, whence it ought by all means to be banished. And, if indeed the complaint of his clergy against him is well founded, so take cognizance of his fault, which he has scorned of his own accord to correct, with the force of our ecclesiastical decision that he may both feel for the present what a grave offence he has committed, and may learn for the future that he cannot do more than it is lawful for him to do. Above all things, then, we exhort thee that thou study ardently to exercise the zeal which we know thee to have for the sake of God.

And, inasmuch as our said brother Paulinus is said to confer ecclesiastical orders through simoniacal heresy, which is a thing awful to hear of, let it be thy care, along with the aforesaid primate or others, to enquire thoroughly into this also with all diligence. And, if it should be found to be so (which God forbid), effort must be made and action taken that both he who has not feared to accept and he who has not feared to give a bribe may be smitten by a sentence of canonical punishment, to the end that their correction may avail as a reproof to many. And, before this deadly root acquires strength and slays many more, let it be condemned by the decision of the whole council, so that no one may ever dare to accept or to give anything for any order whatever, nor any be promoted for favour, but all for merit, test both ecclesiastical order be confounded, and probity of life be held in contempt, if one that is unworthy should receive the reward of merit.

Further we have given orders to Hilarus our Chartularius that, if the case should require it, he refuse not to take part in your enquiry.

If, therefore, it should be necessary, inform him by letter that you wish him to come to you, to the end that by treating the matter together with him you may better determine what ought to be ordained. In the month of March, Indiction 5. [N.B. This date is absent from several Codices.]

EPISTLE XXIX

To Victor, Bishop.

Gregory to Victor, &c.

While on the one hand it is a joy to us to learn that our brethren are solicitous about their children in fatherly charity, on the other we count it no less a matter for sadness when neither regard for other brethren nor consideration of their priestly office avails to restrain them from unlawful doings. How serious, then, and how harsh is the complaint against our brother Paulinus, bishop of the city of Tegessis, made by his clerics and by those who are in sacred orders, I have no doubt is well known to thy Fraternity, since what has reached us from a distance cannot have been hidden from thee who art near at hand. And, since there is need of great caution lest this bodily injury which they complain of at his hands in excess of his powers should be ventured on with allowance, or should grow worse by being connived at, manifest excesses should ever be so suppressed by canonical control that one proceeding may serve as a reproof of what is past and a rule for the future. Accordingly it becomes thee, together with our most beloved common brother the bishop Columbus, and with other priests whom you may think fit to call on, to sift the case between our above-named brother and his clergy by means of a thorough investigation. And, if the complaint of the petitioners stands with truth, so correct ye this thing by a regular reformation, that he may both be made aware what evil thing he has done and learn for the future not to exceed the limits of his office. And suffer him not, as is said to be the case, to disregard the rank of thy position, lest his contempt be to his risk and to thy blame. For whatever is committed by an inferior, unless it be carefully corrected, reflects on the person who occupies the superior place.

That other matter also, namely that the same our brother Paulinus is said to confer ecclesiastical orders for money, you should fully and very strictly enquire into. And, if it should clearly appear to be so, as we hope will not be the case, let your zeal for God so kindle itself to avenge this wrong that both the avarice of the ordainer may be turned into a penalty, and, the unlawful ordination being void of effect, the person ordained may not enjoy the longed-for object of his ambition. Herein we exhort you and before all things admonish you, that your Fraternity study to be so solicitous that, before the iniquity of simoniacal heresy shall gain strength in your parts from the offence of one, it may be cut off from the root by the pruning-hook of your sentence after a council diligently held. For whosoever does not, in consideration of his office, burn vehemently to correct this atrocity, let him not doubt that he will have his portion with him from whom this peculiar enormity took its beginning. And so, as we have said, you must act vigilantly and earnestly, that your council, which up to this time, under God’s keeping, has been preserved from any bad repute of this kind, may not by any possibility be polluted and ruined by the poison of this wickedness.

Furthermore, we have given orders to Hilarus our Chartularius, that, if the case should require it, he defer not to join you. Wherefore, should it be necessary, inform him by your letters of the need of his coming to you, to the end that you, together with him, may be able, God helping you, to determine all these things in a salutary way.

EPISTLE XXXII

To all the Bishops of the Council of Bizacium.

Gregory to all, &c.

As it is laudable and discreet to shew due reverence and honour to superiors, so it belongs to rectitude and the fear of God, if anything in them needs correction, not to put it off by any connivance, lest disease should begin to invade the whole body (which God forbid), sickness not being cured in the head. Now a considerable time ago certain things were reported to us about our brother Crementius, your primate, such as to pierce our heart with no slight sorrow. But through the pressure of divers tribulations, and especially from enemies raging round us, we had not time to enquire into the matter. And, since it is so serious that it ought by no means to be passed over without investigation, we hereby exhort your Fraternity with all carefulness and activity to search out in all ways the substantial truth, in order that either if these things are so, they may be cut off by canonical punishment, or, if they are false, the innocence of our brother may not long lie under the laceration of an infamous report. Wherefore, that there may be no torpor of idleness in the enquiry, we admonish you that neither the interest nor the favour nor the cajoleries of any person whatever, nor anything else, soften any one of you in your sifting of what has been reported to us, or shake you from the path of truth; but gird ye yourselves in priestly wise to investigate the truth. For, if any one should presume to be sluggish, or to shew himself negligent in this matter, let him know that he will be a partaker in the said crimes before Almighty God, by zeal for whom he is not moved to enquire fully into the causes of atrocious wickedness.

EPISTLE L

To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.

Gregory to Eulogius, &c.

The bearers of these presents, coming to Sicily, were converted from the error of the Monophysites, and united themselves to the holy universal Church. Having proceeded to the church of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, they requested of me that I should commend them by letter to your Blessedness, to the end that they may not now be allowed to suffer any wrong from the heretics that are near them. And because one of them says that the monastery in which he was had been founded by his kindred, he desires to receive authority from your Holiness that the heretics who are in it may either return to the bosom of holy Church or be expelled from the same monastery. Let it be enough for us to have indicated this to you: for we know of your Blessedness that whatever pertains to zeal for Almighty God you hasten with all fervour to do. But for me I beg you to pray, since amid the swords of the Lombards which I endure I am excessively afflicted by pains of gout.

BOOK XIII

In the Sixth Indiction, and the Thirteenth Year from his Ordination.

EPISTLE I

To the Roman Citizens.

Gregory, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved sons the Roman citizens.

It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these but preachers of Antichrist, who, when he comes, will cause the Sabbath day as well as the Lord’s day to be kept free from all work. For, because he pretends to die and rise again, he wishes the Lord’s day to be had in reverence; and, because he compels the people to judaize that he may bring back the outward rite of the law, and subject the perfidy of the Jews to himself, he wishes the Sabbath to be observed.

For this which is said by the prophet, Ye shall bring in no burden through your gates on the Sabbath day (Jerem. 17:24), could be held to as long as it was lawful for the law to be observed according to the letter. But after that the grace of Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ has appeared, the commandments of the law which were spoken figuratively cannot be kept according to the letter. For, if any one says that this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal sacrifices are to be offered: he must say too that the commandment about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained. But let him hear the Apostle Paul saying in opposition to him, If ye be circumcised, Christ profiteth you nothing (Galat. 5:2).

We therefore accept spiritually, and hold spiritually, this which is written about the Sabbath. For the Sabbath means rest. But we have the true Sabbath in our Redeemer Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. And whoso acknowledges the light of faith in Him, if he draws the sins of concupiscence through his eyes into his soul, he introduces burdens through the gates on the Sabbath day. We introduce, then, no burden through the gates on the Sabbath day if we draw no weights of sin through the bodily senses to the soul. For we read that the same our Lord and Redeemer did many works on the Sabbath day, so that he reproved the Jews, saying, Which of you doth not loose his ox or his ass on the Sabbath day, and lead him away to watering (Luke 13:15)? If, then, the very Truth in person commanded that the Sabbath should not be kept according to the letter, whoso keeps the rest of the Sabbath according to the letter of the law, whom else does he contradict but the Truth himself?

Another thing also has been brought to my knowledge; namely that it has been preached to you by perverse men that no one ought to wash on the Lord’s day. And indeed if any one craves to wash for luxury and pleasure, neither on any other day do we allow this to be done. But if it is for bodily need, neither on the Lord’s day do we forbid it. For it is written, No man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth it and cherisheth it (Ephes. 5:29). And again it is written, Make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rom. 13:14). He, then, who forbids provision for the flesh in the lusts thereof certainly allows it in the needs thereof. For, if it is sin to wash the body on the Lord’s day, neither ought the face to be washed on that day. But if this is allowed for a part of the body, why is it denied for the whole body when need requires? On the Lord’s day, however, there should be a cessation of earthly labour, and attention given in every way to prayers, so that if anything is done negligently during the six days, it may be expiated by supplications on the day of the Lord’s resurrection.

These things, most dear sons, being endowed with sure constancy and right faith, observe; despise the words of foolish men, and give not easy belief to all that you hear of having been said by them; but weigh it in the scale of reason, so that, while in firm stability you resist the wind of error, you may be able to attain to the solid joys of the heavenly kingdom.

[In two MSS., one Colbert. and Vatic. F., “mense Septembri, indict. 6.”]

EPISTLE V

To Etherius, Bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons).

Gregory to Etherius, Bishop.

Although what we say is very distressing to us, and fraternal compassion rather moves us to weep than allows us to lay down anything concerning the things we have heard of, yet solicitude for the government undertaken by us pricks our heart with an urgent spur to see with great care to the good of churches, and to arrange what should be done before their interests might possibly suffer irretrievably. It has come, then, to our ears from the report of certain persons that an affection of the head has so befallen a certain bishop that it is a matter of groaning and weeping to hear of what he is wont to do under alienation of mind. Lest, therefore, while the shepherd is sick, the flock should be exposed to be torn by the teeth of the lyer-in-wait (which God forbid), or the interests of the Church itself should suffer irretrievably, it is necessary for us to treat the case with cautious provision. And so, since during the life of a bishop, whom unadvoidable infirmity and not crime withdraws from his office, no reason allows another to be ordained in his place except on his resignation, let him, if he is accustomed to have intervals of sanity, himself make petition, declaring that he is no longer equal to this ministry owing to subversion of his intellectual faculties by infirmity, and let him request that another be ordained in his place. Which being done, let another who may be worthy be solemnly consecrated bishop in his place, by the election of all; yet so that, as long as life shall retain the said bishop in this world, his due expenses be supplied to him by the same Church. If, however, he at no time recovers the faculties of a sound mind, a trustworthy person of approved life must be chosen, who may be fit for the government of the Church, take thought for the benefit of souls, restrain the unquiet under the bond of discipline, take care of ecclesiastical property, and exhibit himself in all respects ripe and efficient. And also, should he survive the bishop who is now sick, he should be consecrated in his place.

 

But as to ordinations of presbyters or deacons, or of any other order, if cause requires any to be made in that Church, know that this is to be reserved to thy Fraternity, to the end that, it being in thy diocese, thou mayest enquire concerning the life, manners, and conduct of him who is chosen to such office. And if thou shouldest be satisfied, and there is nothing in him liable to the censure of canonical strictness, let him attain to his destined order not otherwise than through ordination by thee. Let thy Fraternity then, so proceed, and so order these things with vigilant provision, that the Church of God may no longer suffer from any neglect, and that thou mayest warn thy fellow-priests, not only by word but also by example, to have a care laudably for venerable places.

EPISTLE VI

To Brunichild, Queen of the Franks.

Gregory to Brunichild, &c.

Among other excellencies in you this holds the chief place beyond the rest, that in the midst of the waves of this world, which are wont with turbulent vexation to confound the minds of rulers, you so bring back your heart to the love of divine worship and to providing for the quiet of venerable places as if no other care troubled you. Whence, since conduct of this kind on the part of potentates is wont to be a great defence to subjects, we declare the nation of the Franks happy beyond other nations, having been accounted worthy to have a queen thus endowed with all good qualities.

On learning from the information contained in your letters that you have built the Church of Saint Martin in the suburbs of Augustodunum (Autun), and a monastery for handmaidens of God, and also a hospital in the same city, we rejoiced greatly, and returned thanks to Almighty God, who stimulates the sincerity of your heart to the doing of these things. In this case, that we may be held to some degree sharers in your good deeds, we have granted privileges according to your wish, to those places for the quiet and protection of those who live in them; nor have we borne to defer even in the least degree our embracing of your Excellency’s desires.

Furthermore, addressing you in the first place with the greeting of paternal charity, we inform you that to our illustrious sons, but your servants and legates, Burgoaldus and Varmaricarius, we have granted a private interview in accordance with what you wrote to us; and they have disclosed to us in detail all that they said they had been charged with. It will be our care in time to come to inform your Excellency of whatever is done with regard to these things. For, as for us, whatever is possible, whatever is profitable, and tends to the settlement of peace between you and the republic, we desire, under God, with the utmost devotion, that it should be accomplished.

As to Mennas, our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop, after we had enquired into what had been said about him, and found him in no way culpable, and he having made satisfaction under oath before the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter, and so proved himself to be unaffected by what had been objected against his reputation, we have allowed him to return to his post purged and acquitted, since, as it was right, if he were in any respect guilty, that we should punish his fault canonically, so it was not right when he had the support of innocence, that we should detain him longer, or any way distress him.

Moreover, with respect to a certain bishop who, as the aforesaid magnificent men have told us, is prevented by infirmity of the head from administering his office, we have written to our brother and fellow-bishop Etherius, that if he should have intervals of freedom from this infirmity, he should make petition, declaring that he is not competent to fill his own place, and requesting that another be ordained to his Church. For during the life of a bishop, whom not his own fault but sickness, withdraws from the administration of his office, the sacred canons by no means allow another to be ordained in his place. But, if he at no time recovers the exercise of a sound mind, a person should be sought adorned with good life and conversation, who may be able both to take charge of souls, and look with salutary control after the causes and interests of the same church; and he should be such as may succeed to the bishop’s place in case of his surviving him. But, if there are any to be promoted to a sacred order, or to any clerical ministry, we have ordained that the matter is to be reserved and announced to our aforesaid most reverend brother Etherius, provided it belong to his diocese2, so that, enquiry having then been made, if the persons are subject to no fault which the sacred canons denounce, he himself may ordain them. Let, then, the care of your Excellency conjoin itself with our ordering, to the end that the interests of the Church, which you have exceedingly at heart, may not suffer damage, and that increase of reward may accrue to the good deeds of your Excellency.

Having been asked likewise concerning a certain bigamist whether he might be admitted to a sacred order, we have, according to canonical rule, altogether forbidden it. For God forbid that in your times, in which you do so many pious and religious things, you should allow anything to be done contrary to ecclesiastical ordinance.

Moreover the aforesaid magnificent men, our sons, having delivered us a schedule, have requested among other things, what they said had been enjoined on them by your order, that such a person may be sent from us into Gaul as may, on the assembling of a synod, correct under the guidance of Almighty God whatever has been perpetrated against the most sacred canons. Herein we recognize the care of your Glory, how you take thought for the life of the soul and the stability of your kingdom, seeing that, fearing our Redeemer, and observing His precepts in all ways, you act in this case also so that the government of your kingdom may long subsist, and that after long courses of years you also may pass from an earthly to a heavenly kingdom. At a fitting time, if what we have said should be pleasing to God, we will take care to fulfil the venerable desires of your Excellency.

We, then, for the defence of the places about which your Excellency has written to us have been careful to order all things as you wish. But, lest haply our decrees should be suppressed at any time by the governors of those places on the ground that they are found to be interdicted from doing certain things, this same ordinance must be inserted among the public acts, that so it may be kept in your royal archives as well as in ours.

May Almighty God ever keep your Excellency in His fear, and so fulfil your desires and those of our sons the most excellent kings your grandsons, through the intercession of the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, to whom you commend them, as to grant you to have stable joy in their continual welfare, as you desire. Given in the month of November, Indiction 6.

EPISTLE VII

To Theoderic, King of the Franks.

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 shew 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.

EPISTLE VIII

To Senator, Abbot.

Gregory to Senator, presbyter and abbot of a hospital (or guest-house, xenodochii).

When the hearts of Catholic Kings, &c.

[See the epistle following (Ep. ix.), with which this agrees throughout, as does also Epistle X. to Lupo, except for the different designations of the persons addressed and places referred to, and the addition in epistles VIII. and IX., after the words “or absolve her (him) as innocent,” of the following paragraph.]

By a similar definition, according to the desire of the founders, we decree that none of those who may in future have been ordained as abbot or presbyter to the same guest-house and monastery shall dare by any secret scheming whatever to take the office of the Episcopate, unless he has been first deprived of the office of abbot, and another has been substituted in his place; lest, by consuming the property of the guest-house or monastery in unfair expenditure, he should cause most serious pressure of want to the poor and strangers, or to others who live from its resources. Moreover, we forbid that the bishop have licence, without the consent of the abbot and presbyter, to remove from the same place any monk for promotion to an ecclesiastical order, or for any cause whatever, lest usurpation in this regard should be carried to such an extent that places which have to be built up by the acquisition of men be destroyed by their removal.

EPISTLE IX

To Thalassia, Abbess.

Gregory to Thalassia, &c.

When the hearts of catholic kings are so inflamed with ardent desire, by divine grace preventing them, as of their own accord to demand the things that pontifical admonitions should provoke them to, such things are to be granted with cheerful and joyful mind all the more as the very things which they desire ought to have been demanded of them, had they been unwilling to do them. Accordingly, in accordance with the letters of our most Excellent royal children, Brunichild and her grandson Theoderic, to the monastery of Saint Mary, where there is constituted a congregation of handmaidens of God, founded in the city of Augustodunum by the bishop Siagrius of reverend memory, over which you preside, we indulge, grant and confirm by the decree of our present authority privileges as follows;—Ordaining that no king, no bishop, no one endowed with any dignity whatsoever, or any one else whatsoever, shall have power, under show of any cause or occasion whatsoever, to diminish or take away, or apply to his own uses, or grant as if to other pious uses for excuse of his own avarice, anything of what has been given to the same monastery by the above-written king’s own children, or of what shall in future be bestowed on it by any others whatever of their own possessions. But all things that have been there offered, or may come to be offered, we will to be possessed by thee, as well as by those who shall succeed thee in thy office and place, from the present time inviolate and without disturbance, provided thou apply them in all ways to the uses of those for whose sustentation and government they have been granted.

We also appoint that on the death of an abbess of the aforesaid monastery no other shall be ordained by means of any kind of craftiness of secret scheming, but such a one as the king of the same province, with the consent of the nuns, shall have chosen in the fear of God, and provided for the ordination of.

Under this head we also add, in order that we may exclude all place for avarice, that no one of the kings, no one of the priests, or any one else in person or by proxy, shall dare to accept anything in gold, or in any kind of consideration whatever, for the ordination of such abbess, or for any causes whatever pertaining to this monastery, and that the same abbess presume not to give anything on account of her ordination, lest by such occasion what is offered or has been offered to places of piety should be consumed. And, inasmuch as many occasions for the deception of religious women are sought out, as is said, in your parts by bad men, we ordain that an abbess of this same monastery shall in no wise be deprived or deposed unless in case of criminality requiring it. Hence it is necessary that if any complaint of this kind should arise against her, not only the bishop of the city of Augustodunum should examine the case, but that he should call to his assistance six other of his fellow-bishops, and so fully investigate the matter, to the end that, all judging with one accord, a strict canonical decision may either smite her if guilty, or absolve her if innocent.

All these things, therefore, which the paper of this our precept and decree contains we decree to be observed in perpetuity for thee as well as for all who may succeed thee in the same rank and place, and for all whom they may concern. Moreover, if any one, whether king, priest, judge, or secular person, being aware of this our written constitution, should attempt to contravene it, let him be deprived of the dignity of his power and honour, and know that he stands guilty before divine judgment for the iniquity that he has perpetrated. And, unless he either restore what he has wrongfully taken away, or lament what he has done unlawfully with fit penitence, let him be debarred from the most sacred body and blood of our God and Lord, the Redeemer Jesus Christ, and be subject to strict vengeance in the eternal judgment. But the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be to all who observe what is just to this same place, to the end that they may both receive here the fruit of their well-doing, and find the rewards of eternal peace at the hands of the strict Judge.

EPISTLE X

To Lupo, Abbot.

Gregory to Lupo, Presbyter and Abbot.

When the hearts of catholic kings, &c.

EPISTLE XII

To Paschasius, Bishop of Neapolis (Naples).

Gregory to Paschasius, &c.

Those who with pure intent desire to bring to the true faith aliens from the Christian religion should study kindness, and not asperity; lest such as reason rendered with smoothness might have appealed to should be driven far off by opposition. For whosoever act otherwise, and under cover of such intention would suspend people from their accustomed observance of their own rites, are proved to be intent on their own cause rather than on God’s. To wit, the Jews dwelling in Naples have complained to us, asserting that certain persons are endeavouring unreasonably to drive them from certain solemnities of their holidays, so that it may not be lawful for them to observe the solemnities of their festivals, as up to this time since long ago it has been lawful for them and their forefathers to keep and observe them. Now, if this is true, these people appear to be taking trouble to no purpose. For what is the use, when even such long unaccustomed prohibition is of no avail for their faith and conversion? Or why should we lay down rules for the Jews as to how they should observe their ceremonies, if we cannot thereby win them? We should therefore so act that, being rather appealed to by reason and kindness, they may wish to follow us, and not to fly from us; and that proving to them from their own Scriptures what we tell them, we may be able, with God’s help, to convert them to the bosom of Mother Church.

Wherefore let thy Fraternity, so far as may be possible, with the help of God, kindle them to conversion, and not allow them any more to be disquieted with respect to their solemnities; but let them have free licence to observe and celebrate all their festivals and holidays, even as hitherto both they and their forefathers for a long time back have kept and held them.

EPISTLE XVIII

To certain Bishops of Sicily.

Gregory to Leo, Secundinus, John, Donus, Lucidus, Trajan, bishops of Sicily.

Even as we are admonished through the speech of the apostles to impart one to another spiritual aids,—so, in matters that by God’s ordering we may have to settle in virtue of the government imposed on us for administration of the affairs of the poor, it is fit that priestly succour be not wanting. Accordingly in sending the bearer of these presents, Adrian our Chartularius, to govern the patrimony of our Church, to wit in the Syracusan district, we have thought it necessary to commend him to your Fraternity, that, wherein custom may demand it, you may afford him your succour, to the end that, while he is supported by you with bodily aid for doing his work, and with the spiritual aid of your prayers for carrying out with facility whatever he may undertake, he may be able, God also working with him, to accomplish prosperously what has been by us enjoined on him. But, as for yourselves, you should so acquit yourselves in good works before the face of Almighty God that there be not found in your doings anything that may be smitten by the judgment of God, or for which you may be accused by any man whatever lying in wait against you. For we have charged our aforesaid Chartularius that, if he should come to know of any inordinate doings on the part of our most reverend brethren the bishops, he should first himself take them to task by private and modest admonition; and, that, if such things are not amended, he should inform us of them speedily.

Furthermore, it has been reported to us that in the times of our predecessor of holy memory it was arranged by the deacon Servusdei, who then had charge of the ecclesiastical patrimony, that the priests of your several dioceses, when you go forth to seal infants3, should not be immoderately burdened. For a certain sum had been fixed, and this, as I hear, with your consent, to be given by the same priests for the services of the clerks (clericorum). And this, which was then approved of, is said to be by no means kept to now. Wherefore I admonish your Fraternity to endeavour not to be burdensome to your subjects, and, if they have any grievances, to abate them, seeing also that you ought not to have departed from what had once been determined. For you will be seeing to your own interest both in the future and the present life, if you keep those who have been committed to you free from grievance.

EPISTLE XXII

To Rusticiana, Patrician Lady.

Gregory to Rusticiana, &c.

As often as any one comes to us from the royal city, we take care to enquire of your bodily health; but, my sins being the cause, I always hear what I am sorry to hear, since, frail and weak as you already are, it is reported that the pains of gout still grow upon you. But I pray the Almighty Lord that whatever befalls your body may be ordered to the health of your soul, and that temporal scourges may prepare for you eternal rest, and that through the pains which have an end He may grant you joys without end. As for me, I live in such a state of groaning and in the midst of such occupations that it irks me to have arrived at these days which now I spend, and my only consolation is the expectation of death. Wherefore I beg you to pray for me, to the end that I may be soon released from this prison of the flesh, so as to be no longer tormented by such great pains.

Furthermore, I have to inform you that a certain person has come here, Beator by name, who gives himself out as comes privatarum, and is doing many things against all, but principally against your Excellency’s people, or those of your most noble granddaughters, as though he were making enquiry into matters of public import. And we indeed will not permit him to act wrongfully, but neither can we stand in the way of public interests. Do you therefore treat as you can with the most pious princes, that they may countermand any wrongful proceeding on his part. For neither is the public interest served by any kind of turmoil, nor does he appear to reclaim anything of great amount. I beg that my most sweet son the lord Strategius2 be greeted in my behalf, whom may Almighty God nourish for Himself and for you, and ever comfort you by His own grace and by the young lord’s life. Further, what should I write to you concerning your return hither, knowing as you do how much I desire it? But, when I look to the obligations of the business that detains you, I am in despair; and so I implore the Creator of all that, wherever you are, and wherever you may be, He would protect you by the extension of His right hand, and preserve you from all evil.

EPISTLE XXVI

To Anthemius, Subdeacon.

Gregory to Anthemius, Subdeacon of Campania.

It has reached our ears that our brother and fellow-bishop Paschasius is so idle and negligent in all ways that he is in no respect recognised as bishop; and that so neither his own Church, nor the monasteries, nor any, whether the sons of the Church4, or the oppressed poor, are conscious of any earnestness of love on his part towards them; nor does he afford any help in what is just to those who. supplicate him, and (what is a still more serious thing to say) he cannot bear on any account to receive the counsels of the wise and of such as admire what is right, so that he might at any rate learn from another what he cannot attend to of himself; but, passing over the things that pertain to a pastor’s charge, he occupies himself with his whole attention unprofitably in the building of ships. Whence, as is reported, it has come to pass that he has already lost four hundred solidi, or more. This also is added to his faults, that he is said to go down daily to the sea with one or two clerics in so mean a guise as to be the talk among his own people, and to seem to strangers so vile and despicable that he is judged to have nothing in him of the character or venerableness of a bishop. If this be so, know that it is not without fault of thine, who hast delayed to rebuke and restrain him, as is fit. Seeing, then, that all this not only discredits him, but also evidently brings reproach on the office of the priesthood, we desire thee to summon him for this thing before other priests, or some of his noble sons6, and exhort him that, shaking off the vice of sluggishness, he be not idle, but vigilant in the care of his Church and of the monasteries, exhibit fatherly charity to his sons, stand up for the defence of the poor with discretion in cases that are commended by justice, and receive gladly the counsels of the wise, to the end that both that city may be comforted by his solicitude, and he himself succeed in covering the faults of his idleness. If however, as we do not believe will be the case, after this our exhortation he should venture to be negligent after his accustomed manner, he must by all means be sent to us, that in our presence he may learn what it becomes a priest to do, and how to do it, after the fear of God. Given in the month of March, Indiction 6.

EPISTLE XXVII

To Anthemius, Subdeacon.

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.

EPISTLE XXXI

To Phocas, Emperor.

Gregory to Phocas Augustus.

Glory to God in the highest who, according as it is written, changes times, and transfers kingdoms, seeing that He has made apparent to all what He vouchsafed to speak by His prophet, That the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will (Dan. 4:17). For in the incomprehensible dispensation of Almighty God there are alternate controlments of mortal life; and sometimes, when the sins of many are to be smitten, one is raised up through whose hardness the necks of subjects may be bowed down under the yoke of tribulation, as in our affliction we have long had proof. But sometimes, when the merciful God has decreed to refresh the mourning hearts of many with His consolation, He advances one to the summit of government, and through the bowels of His mercy infuses the grace of exultation in Him into the minds of all. In which abundance of exultation we believe that we shall speedily be confirmed, who rejoice that the Benignity of your Piety has arrived at imperial supremacy. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad (Ps. 95:11); and let the whole people of the republic, hitherto afflicted exceedingly, grow cheerful for your benignant deeds. Let the proud minds of enemies be subdued under the yoke of your domination. Let the crushed and depressed spirits of subjects be revived by your mercy: let the power of heavenly grace make you terrible to your enemies, your piety kind to your subjects. Let the whole republic have rest in your most happy times, the pillage of peace under colour of processes at law being exposed. Let plottings about wills cease, and benevolences exacted by force. Let secure possession of their own return to all, that they may rejoice in having without fear what they have acquired without fraud. Let every single person’s liberty be now at length restored to him under the yoke of empire. For there is this difference between the kings of the nations and the emperors of the republic, that the kings of the nations are lords of slaves, but the emperors of the republic lords of freemen. But we shall better speak of these things by praying than by putting you in mind of them. May Almighty God in every thought and deed keep the heart of your Piety in the hand of His grace; and whatever things should be done justly, whatever things with clemency, may the Holy Spirit who dwells in your breast direct, that your Clemency may both be exalted in a temporal kingdom, and after courses of many years attain to heavenly kingdoms. Given in the month of June, Indiction 6.

EPISTLE XXXIV

To Pantaleo, Notary.

Gregory to Pantaleo, &c.

Thy Experience remembers what and what kind of oath thou tookest over the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter. Whence also we committed to thee without fear the charge of enquiry in the patrimony of the Syracusan district. It is, then, incumbent on thee to have thine own good faith and the fear of the same blessed apostle Peter ever before thine eyes, and so to act that neither with men in this present life nor with Almighty God in the last judgment thou mayest be open to blame. Now from the report of Salerius our chartularius we have learnt that thou hast found the modius in which the husbandmen (coloni) of the Church have been compelled to give their corn to be one of twenty-five sextarii3. This we altogether execrated, and were sorry thou hadst been late in making it a subject of enquiry. We rejoice, therefore, at thy telling us that thou hast broken the said modius and made a just one. But, inasmuch as the aforesaid chartularius has taken care to mention also what has already been collected under thy Experience by the fraudulent dealings of the farmers (conductores) from two territories, therefore, even as with a view to the future, we rejoice that thou hast acted zealously in breaking the unjust modius, so also we think of sins in the past; lest, if what the farmers have fraudulently taken away from the peasants (rusticis) accrues to us, we should be implicated in their sins. And accordingly we desire thy Experience, with all faithfulness, with all integrity—having regard to the fear of Almighty God, and recalling to mind the strictness of the blessed apostle Peter—to make a list throughout each several estate (massam) of poor and indigent husbandmen, and with the money found to have been got by fraud to procure cows, sheep, and swine, and distribute them among the several poor husbandmen. And this we desire thee to do with the advice of the most reverend lord bishop John2, and Adrian our chartularius and rector. If, moreover, it should be necessary for the sake of consultation, our son also the lord Julian should be called in, so that no one else may know, but all be kept quite secret. Do you therefore consult among yourselves whether this same assistance should be given to the said poor husbandmen in money or in kind. But, whatever be the common fund, first, as I have said, make a list, and afterwards take pains to distribute to each according to the degree of his poverty. For I, as the teacher of the Gentiles testifies, have all and abound; nor do I seek money, but reward (Phil. 4.). So act therefore that in the day of judgment thou mayest shew me fruit of thy labour from the service that has been committed to thy Experience. If thou do this purely, faithfully, and strenuously, thou wilt both receive it back here in thy children, and hereafter wilt have plenary retribution in the scrutiny of the Eternal Judge.

EPISTLE XXXVIII

To Phocas, Emperor.

Gregory to Phocas Augustus.

It pleases us to consider, with rejoicings and great thanksgivings, what praises we owe to Almighty God, that the yoke of sadness has been removed, and we are come to times of liberty under the imperial Piety of your Benignity. For that your Serenity has not found a deacon of the Apostolic See resident at the court according to ancient custom, is not owing to my negligence, but to most grave necessity. For, while all the ministers of this our Church shrunk and fled with fear from times of such oppression and hardship, it was not possible to impose on any of them the duty of going to the royal city to remain at the court. But now that they have learnt that your Clemency, by the ordering of God’s grace, has attained to the summit of Empire, those who had before greatly feared to go there hasten even of themselves to your feet, moved thereto by joy. But, seeing that some of them are so weak from old age as to be hardly able to bear the toil, and some are deeply engaged in ecclesiastical cares, and the bearer of these presents, who was the first of all our guardians (defensores), has been long well known to me for his diligence, and proved in life, faith, and character, I have judged him fit to be sent to the feet of your Piety. I have accordingly, by God’s permission, made him a deacon, and have been at pains to send him to you with all speed, that he may be able, when a convenient time is found, to inform your Clemency of all that is being done in these parts. To him I beg your Serenity to deign to incline your pious ears, that you may find it in your power to have pity on us all the more speedily as you learn the more truly from his account what our affliction is. For in what manner by the daily swords, and by how many invasions, of the Lombards, lo now for the length of five and thirty years, we have been oppressed, by no words of description can we fully express. But we trust in the Almighty Lord, that He will complete for us the good things of His consolation which He has begun, and that, having raised up pious lords in the republic, He will also extinguish cruel enemies. And so may the Holy Trinity guard your life for many years, so that we may the longer rejoice in the good of your Piety, which we have received after long waiting.

EPISTLE XXXIX

To Leontia, Empress.

Gregory to Leontia Augusta.

What tongue may suffice to speak, what mind to think, what great thanks we owe to Almighty God for the serenity of your empire, in that such hard burdens of long duration have been removed from our necks, and the gentle yoke of imperial supremacy has returned, which subjects are glad to bear? Glory, then, be given to the Creator of all by the hymning choirs of angels, thanksgiving be paid by men on earth, for that the whole republic, which has endured many wounds of sorrow, has now at length found the balm of your consolation. Hence we must needs implore the more earnestly the mercy of Almighty God, that He would keep the heart of your Piety ever in His right hand, and dispose your thoughts by the aid of heavenly grace, to the end that your Tranquillity may be able to rule those who serve you the more righteously as you know more truly how to serve the Sovereign of all. May He make you His champions in love of the catholic faith, having, of His benign dealing, made you our emperors. May He infuse into your minds zeal together with gentleness, that you may always be able with pious fervour not to leave unavenged whatever is done amiss with regard to God, and in case of any delinquency against yourselves to bear and spare. May He give us in your Piety the clemency of Pulcheria Augusta, who for her zeal for the catholic faith was called in the holy synod the new Helena (Act. 1 synodi Chalcedonensis). May the Almighty mercy of God grant to you fuller length of days to live with our most pious lord, that the longer your life is extended, the more strongly may the consolation of your subjects be confirmed.

I ought perhaps to have requested that your Tranquillity should hold as especially commended to you the Church of the blessed apostle Peter, which up to this time has laboured under grievous plots against it. But, knowing that you love Almighty God, I ought not to ask what you will exhibit of your own accord out of the benignity of your piety. For the more you fear the Creator of all, the more fully may you love the Church of him to whom it was said, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to whom it is said, To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shall bind an earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matth. 15:18). Whence it is not doubtful to us with what strong love you will bind yourself to him through whom you earnestly desire to be loosed from all sins. May he, then, be the guardian of your empire, may he be your protector on earth, may he be an intercessor for you in heaven: that through your relieving your subjects from hard burdens, and causing them to rejoice in your empire, you may, after many years, rejoice in the heavenly kingdom.

EPISTLE XL

To Cyriacus, Patriarch of Constantinople.

Gregory to Cyriacus, &c.

Observing diligently, most dear brother, how great is the virtue of peace from the Lord’s voice, which says, My peace I give unto you (Joh. 14:27), it becomes us so to abide in the love thereof as in no wise to give place to discord. But, since we cannot otherwise live in its root except by retaining in mind and in deed the humility which the very author of peace has taught, we entreat you with befitting charity, that, treading down with the foot of your heart the profane elation which is always hostile to souls, you make haste to remove from the midst of the Church the offence of a perverse and proud title, lest you should possibly be found divided from the society of our peace. But let there be in us one spirit, one mind, one charity, one bond in Christ, who has willed us to be his members. For let your Holiness consider how hard it is, how indecent, how cruel, how alien from the aim of a priest, not to have that peace which you preach to others, and so abstain from offending your brethren out of pride. But study this rather, how you may prostrate with the sword of humility the author of vain and profitless elation, to the end that in such a victory the grace of the Holy Spirit may claim you as a habitation for Himself, so that what is written may be plainly fulfilled in you; the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (2 Cor. 6:17.)

We commend to you in all things the bearer of these presents, our most beloved common son, the deacon Boniface, that in whatsoever may be needful he may find, as is becoming, the succour of your Holiness.

EPISTLE XLI

To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.

Gregory to Eulogius, Bishop of Alexandria.

A conversation having arisen one day between me and my familiar friends about the customs of churches, one who had studied the art of medicine in the great city of Alexandria told us that he had a fellow-student attending the same lectures, a boy of extreme depravity, who, he said, had been suddenly ordained a deacon. And he added that he had procured ordination by bribes and gifts; for he acknowledged that this custom had prevailed in the holy Alexandrine Church. On hearing this I was amazed, and exceedingly surprised that the tongue of the most holy and blessed man the lord Eulogius, which recalls so many heretics to the catholic faith, has not extirpated simoniacal heresy from the holy Alexandrine Church. And who will there be whose exhortation or correction will be able to amend this, if his great and admirable teaching shall have left it without amendment?

Wherefore, for the absolution of your soul, for the increase of your reward, that your works may be in all respects perfect before the eyes of the tremendous Judge, you ought to make haste utterly to pull up and eradicate simoniacal heresy, which was the first to arise in the Church, from your most holy See, which is our’s.

For on this account it comes to pass that the holiness of ecclesiastical orders falls away from very many, because persons are promoted to these orders, not for their life and deeds, but for bribes. But if meritorious character, and not bribes, be sought after, unworthy persons will not come to ordination. And by so much the more will reward begin to accrue to you as any good men who have been promoted to sacred orders shall have devoted themselves to the care of winning souls.

EPISTLE XLII

To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.

Gregory to Eulogius, &c.

We return great thanks to Almighty God, that in the mouth of the heart a sweet savour of charity is experienced, when that which is written is fulfilled, As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news front a far country (Prov. 25:25). For I had previously been greatly disturbed by a letter from Boniface the Chartularius, my responsalis, who dwells in the royal city, saying that your to me most sweet and pleasant Holiness had suffered from failure of bodily sight. From this letter I was smitten by heavy sorrow. But suddenly, by the prospering grace of our Creator and Redeemer, I received the epistle of your Blessedness, and, learning that the bodily trouble of which I had heard was cured, I rejoiced exceedingly, since gladness of heart succeeded which was as great as the bitterness of the sadness which had come before. For we know that, with the help of Almighty God, your life is the health of many. For sailors sail secure through the waves when an instructed and skilful steersman sits at the helm.

Moreover in my joy for your health I have this additional cause for exultation, that I have learnt how through your mouth the enemies of the Church are decreased in number, and the flocks of the Lord multiplied. For through the ploughshare of your tongue heavenly corn increases daily, and is multiplied in the garners on high; so that in you we rejoice that what is written is fulfilled, Where there is much increase, there is manifest the strength of the oxen (Prov. 14:4). Whence we gather plainly that the more you bring back fugitives to the service of Almighty God, the more merit you have with Him. And by how much the more merit you receive, the more fully can you obtain what you ask for. I beseech you therefore to pray the more earnestly for me a sinner, since both pain of body, and bitterness of heart, and immense ravages of mortality among the swords of so many barbarians, afflict me exceedingly. In the midst of all these things it is not temporal but eternal consolation that I require, which of myself I am not able to win by prayer, but which I trust that I shall obtain by the intercessions of your Blessedness. Last year I received no letters from your Holiness, and I was much distressed. It is true that your blessing, which you sent without a letter, was both given and received. But, since your tongue delights me more than your gifts, I was less gratified than I might have been by what was given. But I directed our common son, the deacon Epiphanius, to write to Alexander and Isidore, deacons of your most holy Church, to acknowledge the receipt of what had been sent.

I wrote to you, further, that I had got ready large pieces of timber for making masts and rudders, but that the small ship which had come could not carry them; and you have since written nothing in reply. Wherefore, it you need them, write to our common son Boniface, whom we are now sending as our representative (responsalem) to the royal city, that he may send me word that they may be prepared, and that they may be found ready when your Blessedness shall send for them.

Furthermore, we have sent you a small cross, in which is inserted a blessing from the chains of your lovers the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul; and let this be continually applied to your eyes, seeing that many miracles have been wont to be wrought through this same blessing.

May Almighty God inspire the heart of your Blessedness to be careful to pray for me continually, and may He protect yon and all yours with His right hand, and after many courses of years bring you to the heavenly kingdom.

We have received, corresponding with your description of them, the blessings of Saint Mark, sent to us by your most blessed Fraternity, and we return thanks for your kindness, since from these outward things we learn what you are towards us inwardly.

BOOK XIV

EPISTLE II

To Vitalis, Guardian (Defensorem) of Sardinia.

Gregory to Vitalis, &c.

From the information given us by thy Experience we find that the hospitals [or guest-houses, xenodochia] founded in Sardinia are suffering from grievous neglect. Hence our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Januarius would have had to be most strongly reprehended, did not his old age and simplicity, and the sickness which thou hast told us of coming on besides, keep us in check.

Seeing, then, that he is so situated that he cannot be fit to order anything, do thou warn the steward of that Church, and Epiphanius the archpresbyter, under our strict authority, that they themselves at their own peril endeavour themselves carefully and profitably to set those same hospitals (xenodochia) in order. For, if there should be any neglect there hereafter, let them know that they will not be able in any manner, or to any extent, to excuse themselves before us.

Further, since the proprietors of Sardinia have petitioned us that, seeing that they are afflicted by diverse burdens, thou mightest go to Constantinople for their redress, we grant thee leave to go. And we have also written to our most beloved son Boniface, desiring him to do his best to lend thee his aid in obtaining redress for that province.

Moreover, with regard to the Churches which thou hast informed us are without priests, we have written to our aforesaid most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Januarius, that he should supply them; yet so that all be not chosen for the episcopate from his own Church. For it becomes him so to supply other Churches as not to cause want in his own of persons who may be of advantage to it.

As to what thou hast told us of persons having been preferred to the government of certain monasteries who, while they were in a lower monastic order, had fallen into sin, they ought not indeed to have undertaken the office of abbot except after entire reformation of life and after due preceding penance. But since, as thou sayest, they have undertaken the office of abbots, heed must be given to their life, manners, and attention to duty. And, if their conduct should not be found inconsistent with their office, let them persevere in the order in which they are. Otherwise let them be removed, and others ordained who may profit the souls committed to them.

Furthermore, in the case of the monastery of Saint Hermas, which was founded by our brother in the house of the religious lady Pomponiana, inasmuch as it should be treated with tenderness rather than with strictness, let thy Experience endeavour to deal sweetly with the said lady, to the end that neither may she, to her own sin, disregard the will of the founder, nor thou fail to provide salubriously for the advantage of the monastery. Further, as to the girls of whom the aforesaid Pomponiana had formerly changed the religious dress, and converted them in the monastery, thou must by no means suffer them to be withdrawn from her, or disquieted; but let them continue, God protecting them, in the state of life in which they are.

With regard to the recovery of the property of Churches, or of monasteries, or any other devoted to pious uses, about which thou hast written, those who are interested must be admonished that it is for them to seek in all ways to recover it with thy support and aid. But, if they should haply prove negligent, or in any case if such as ought to recover it should not be found, then do thou search it all out and so get it back, when discovered, as not to appear to take legal action against any one with a high hand. As to what thou hast told us with respect to the hospitals (xenodochia) of Hortulanus and Thomas, we so far have no knowledge. Wherefore let thy Experience look diligently into the order of the Emperor so far given, and arrange all according to its tenour, and make known to us whatever thou hast done.

Concerning what thou hast written about our brother and fellow-bishop Januarius at the time when he celebrates the sacrifice often suffering such distress that he can hardly after long intervals return to the place in the canon where he has left off, and as to many doubting whether they should receive the Communion from his consecration, they are to be admonished to be in no alarm at all, but communicate with full faith and security, since a person’s sickness neither alters nor defiles the benediction of the sacred mystery. Nevertheless our said brother should by all means be exhorted privately, that, as often as he feels any trouble coming on, he should not proceed to celebration, lest he thus expose himself to contempt, and cause offence to the minds of the weak.

Furthermore, the religious lady Pomponiana has complained to us that the inheritance of her late son-in-law Epiphanius—of which the said Epiphanius had appointed his wife Matrona, daughter of the aforesaid Pomponiana, to be usufructuary for the benefit of the monastery which he had directed to be founded in his house, and for its benefit also in all ways after the extinction of the usufruct—together with other things which are proved to belong to the same Matrona by right of possession, have been unjustly taken away by thy Experience and by our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Januarius, and that nothing therefore has so far been paid to her daughter, or been of profit to the monastery. Now if the truth is so, and thou art aware of having done anything unbecomingly, without any delay restore what has been taken away; or at any rate, if thou thinkest it to be otherwise, lest the opposite party should seem to be aggrieved prejudicially, by no means defer submitting the case to arbitrators chosen with her concurrence, that it may be declared by a definite decision whether her complaint be true and just.

EPISTLE IV

To Fantinus, Guardian (Defensorem) of Panormus.

Gregory to Fantinus, &c.

Such things about our brother and fellow-bishop Exhilaratus, as thou thyself also knowest, have come to our ears as ought by all means to be visited with severe punishment. But, since it has been smoothed over by our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Leo, who has also declared that he was judge in that case, we have thought it fit that he [i.e. Exhilaratus] should be sent back to his Church, considering that what we have inflicted on him by keeping him here so long may be enough for him. Therefore we enjoin thy Experience to pay attention to his manners and deeds, and to admonish him frequently, to the end that he may shew himself solicitous in extending kind charity to his clerks (clericis), and, should need require, in correcting faults. But we desire thee also to admonish his clergy that they exhibit humility towards him, and the obedience which the Lord commands, nor in any respect presume to behave proudly with regard to him. And if any one of them, that is, either bishop or clerk, should disregard thy admonition, do thou, under this authority from us, either correct the sin of disobedience by canonical coercion, as thou seest fit, or make haste to send a report to us, that we may be able to arrange how the rein of discipline may keep from going off their road those whom the goad of evil inclination provokes to transgression.

EPISTLE VII

To Alcyson, Bishop of Corcyra.

Gregory to Alcyson, &c.

Not undeservedly does the ambition of an elated heart require to be quelled, when, disregarding the force of the sacred canons, the excess of rash presumption in coveting unlawfully what belongs to others is shewn to be not only harmful in causing expense, but also opposed to the peace of the Church. Having, then, perused thy Fraternity’s epistles, we have learnt what has been done formerly or of late by the bishop of the City of Euria with regard to the camp of Cassiopus, which is situated in thy diocese, and we are distressed that those who should have been debtors to thy Church for charity bestowed upon them, should rather become its enemies, no shame restraining them; and at last that, in a way contrary to ecclesiastical arrangement, contrary to priestly moderation, contrary to the ordinances of the sacred canons, they should attempt to withdraw the aforesaid camp from thy jurisdiction and subject it to their own power, so as to become as it were masters where they had before been received as strangers. Concerning which matter, seeing that Andrew, our brother of venerable memory, Metropolitan of Nicopolis, with the support also of an imperial order whereby the cognizance of this case had been enjoined on him, is known to have determined in a sentence promulged by him, as has been made manifest to us, that the aforesaid camp of Cassiopus should remain under the jurisdiction of thy Church as it always has been, we, approving of the form of that sentence, confirm it, as justice approves, by the authority of the Apostolic See, and decree that it remain firm in all respects. For no reason of equity, no canonical order, sanctions that one person should in any way occupy the parish of another. Wherefore, though the guilt of this contentiousness seems to require no slight strictness of treatment, in that they have returned evil for good, nevertheless care should be taken that kindness be not overcome by excess, nor that what is due to strange brethren, when they are suffering constraint too, be denied them, lest charity should be judged to have no operation in the minds of bishops, if those to whom great compassion is due should be left without the remedy of consolation. It is right, then, that the priests and clergy of the city of Euria be not repelled from habitation of the aforesaid camp of Cassiopus, but that they should have leave also to deposit with due reverence the holy and venerable body of the blessed Donatus, which they have brought with them, in one of the churches of the aforesaid place such as they may choose. Yet so that protection be procured for thy Love, in whose diocese this camp is situate, by the issue of a security whereby the bishop of Euria shall promise not to claim for himself any power therein, or any privilege, or any jurisdiction, or any authority in future, as though he were cardinal bishop; but that, peace being restored by the favour of God, they shall return by all means to their own places, taking away with them, if they will, the venerable body of Saint Donatus. So, this promise being kept in mind, neither may they dare on any pretext whatever to claim further to themselves any right of rule there, but acknowledge themselves guests there at all times, nor may the Church of thy Fraternity in any degree incur prejudice to its rights and privileges.

EPISTLE VIII

To Boniface, Deacon.

Gregory to Boniface, Deacon at Constantinople.

As often as the discord of those who ought to have been preachers of peace makes us sad, we should study with great solicitude that cause of contention may be removed, and that those who differ among themselves may return to concord. Now what has been done with respect to the camp of Cassiopus, which is situate in the island of Corcyra, and how the bishop of Euria is endeavouring to withdraw it from the jurisdiction of the bishop of Corcyra, and iniquitously to subject it to his own jurisdiction, it would be very tedious to tell. But, that your Love may understand all things fully, we have sent to you the letters of our brother Alcyson, the bishop of Corcyra, and have caused his man to go to you to inform you of everything more particularly by word of mouth. This, however, we briefly mention, that an order having been surreptitiously obtained from the late Emperor Mauricius, which order, having been given in opposition to the laws and sacred canons, had no effect, and the dispute between the parties remaining undecided, he gave another order to our late brother Andrew, then Metropolitan of Nicopolis, to the effect that, as both parties were subject to his jurisdiction, he should take cognizance of the case and terminate it canonically. The said Metropolitan, having taken cognizance of the case and pronounced sentence, of which we send you a copy, decided the aforesaid camp of Cassiopus to be under the power and jurisdiction of the bishop of Corcyra, in whose diocese it always was; and we, approving his sentence, have thought fit to confirm it by the authority of the Apostolic See. And, lest what we decreed should be so strict as to seem to have no admixture of benignity, we took care so to order the matter for the time being (as the text of our sentence which we send to thee shews) that neither should the bishop or clergy of the city of Euria incur the necessity of residence, nor the privileges of the Church of Corcyra be in any way disturbed. But inasmuch as at the very beginning of proceedings an order was surreptitiously got from the most serene lord the Emperor, and (contrary to the judgment of the Metropolitan of Nicopolis, which rested on ecclesiastical propriety and canonical reason) the aforesaid camp of Cassiopus is said to have been handed over to the bishop of Euria (a thing we cannot hear without grief or tell without groans), with still greater wrong to the bishop of Corcyra and his clergy, in such sort as (sad to say) to take away entirely the jurisdiction of the Church of Corcyra, and give as it were to the bishop of Euria the whole principal jurisdiction there; this being so, we have thought right to deliver our sentence to no one, lest we should seem to do anything contrary to the order of our most clement lord the Emperor, or (which God forbid) in contempt of him. Wherefore let thy Love diligently represent the whole matter to his Piety, and steadily insist that the thing is altogether unlawful, altogether bad, altogether unjust, and greatly opposed to the sacred canons. And so may he not allow a sin of this sort to be introduced in his times to the prejudice of the Church. But represent to him what is contained in the judgment of the aforesaid late metropolitan on the business, and in what manner his decision had been confirmed by us, and endeavour so to act that our sentence, with an order from him, may be sent to those parts, to the end that we may be seen to have paid due deference to his Serenity, and to have corrected reasonably what had been presumptuously done amiss. In this affair pains must by all means be taken that, if it can be effected, he may contribute also his own order, enjoining the observance of what has been decided by us. For if this is done, all place for subornation hereafter will be shut out. Make haste, then, so to exercise thy vigilance, with the help of Almighty God, for abating these wrongs, that neither may the will of those who attempt perverse things obtain any advantage now against the ancient settlement of ecclesiastical usage, nor a nefarious proceeding gain ground for example afterwards.

Furthermore, that thou mayest know what wrongs and what oppressions the above-written Alcyson, our brother and fellow-bishop, asserts that he endures from the agents (actionariis) of the Church of Thessalonica, we have forwarded to thy Love the letter which he has sent to us. And do thou accordingly cause the responsalis of the aforesaid Church to come to thee, and take cognizance of the case in his presence, and write to our brother and fellow-bishop Eusebius, on such heads as reason may suggest to thee, that he may prohibit his men from acting unjustly, and warn them not to oppress interiors, but rather help them in whatever may be just. This also we desire; that thy Love should write to him who may have been ordained as Metropolitan in the city of Nicopolis, to the end that he may take cognizance of the case with regard to the injuries which our aforesaid brother Alcyson complains of having been inflicted on his Church, and decide what is just, seeing that the matter itself is stated not to have been decided by his predecessors, but reserved.

EPISTLE XII

To Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards.

Gregory to Queen Theodelinda.

The letters which you sent us a little time ago from the Genoese parts have made us partakers of your joy on account of our learning that by the favour of Almighty God a son has been given you, and, as is greatly to your Excellency’s credit, has been received into the fellowship of the catholic faith. Nor indeed was anything else to be supposed of your Christianity but that you would fortify him whom you have received by the gift of God with the aid of Catholic rectitude, so that our Redeemer might both acknowledge thee as His familiar servant, and also bring up prosperously in His fear a new king for the nation of the Lombards. Wherefore we pray Almighty God both to keep you in the way of His commandments, and to cause our most excellent son, Adulouvald2, to advance in His love, to the end that, as he is in this world great among men, so also he may be glorious for his good deeds before the eyes of our God.

Now as to what your Excellency has requested in your letter, that we should reply in full to what our most beloved son, the abbot Secundus has written, who could think of putting off his petition or your wishes, knowing how profitable they would be to many, did not sickness stand in the way? But so great an infirmity from gout has held us I fast as to render us hardly able to rise, not only for dictating, but even for speaking, as also your ambassadors, the bearers of these presents, are aware, who, when they arrived, found us weak, and when they departed, left us in the utmost peril and danger of our life. But, if by the ordering of Almighty God I should recover, I will reply in full to all that he has written. I have, however, sent by the bearers of these presents the Synod that was held in the time of Justinian of pious memory, that my aforesaid most-beloved son may acknowledge on reading it that all that he had heard against the Apostolic See or the Catholic Church was false. For far be it from us to accept the views of any heretic whatever, or to deviate in any respect from the tome of our predecessor Leo, of holy memory; but we receive whatever has been defined by the four holy synods, and condemn whatever has been rejected by them.

Further, to our son the King Adolouvald we have taken thought to send some phylacteries; that is, a cross with wood of the holy cross of the Lord, and a lection of the holy Gospel enclosed in a Persian case. Also to my daughter, his sister, I send three rings, two of them with hyacinths, and one with an albula, which I request may be given them through you, that our charity towards them may be seasoned by your Excellency.

Furthermore, while paying you our duty of greeting with fatherly charity, we beg you to return thanks in our behalf to our most excellent son the King your consort for the peace that has been made, and to move his mind to peace, as you have been accustomed to do, in all ways for the future; that so, among your many good deeds, you may be able in the sight of God to find reward in an innocent people, which might have perished in offence.

EPISTLE XIII

To Alcyson, Bishop of Corcyra.

Gregory to Alcyson, &c.

To brethren who bethink themselves and return to wholesome counsels kindness is not to be denied, lest a fault seem to weigh more in the minds of bishops than charity. We have therefore received, in the presence of thy Love’s responsales, Peter, reader of the Church of Euria, who came to us with letters from our brother and fellow-bishop John, and, when the letters which he had brought had been read, we took care to ask him if he had anything to say against the allegation of those thy responsales. And on his stating that he had been charged with nothing, and had no answer to make, beyond what the epistle of his bishop contained, we decreed without tardiness, under God, what was agreeable to the canons. After a long time, however, the above-written Peter produced a document which he asserted had been given him by his bishop; and so the case underwent delay. But inasmuch as in this document the above-mentioned bishop was found to say that he had hoped to have leave to deposit the holy and venerable body of the blessed Donatus in the church of the blessed John which is within the camp called that of Cassiopus, saying that he is prepared, on account of its being proved to be in thy diocese, to give thy Love a security that no prejudice to thee should thence arise, we thought it right that his petition should not be left without effect, now that in a time of necessity he desires provision to be made for him in such a way as to secure his acknowledgment in all respects of the jurisdiction of thy Church. Moved therefore by this reason, we exhort thy Fraternity by this present letter, that, without any delay or excuse thou afford opportunity for depositing the venerable body of the above-written Saint in the aforenamed Church of the blessed John; on condition only that he previously protect thee by a security in writing that he will never on any plea whatever claim to himself any jurisdiction or privilege in the aforesaid Church or camp, as though he were the bishop of the place, but guard there inviolably all the right and power of thy Church, the place being in thy diocese. At the same time it becomes thee also, as the same our brother has requested, to reply to him that whenever, peace being restored by the mercy of God, he may be at liberty to return to his own place, it shall be lawful for him to take away with him, without any objection made, the aforesaid venerable body. Herein, lest what is done should seem to be personal, and occasion should possibly be found for stirring up the contention anew, your successors also should be in all respects included in this promise to keep things as they are, to the end that through this preventional security neither may he in future presume to claim anything there in thy diocese against equity and the decrees of the sacred canons, nor the rights of thy Church ever in any manner sustain any prejudice from such concession.

EPISTLE XVI

From Felix Bishop of Messana to St. Gregory

To the most blessed and honourable lord, the holy father Pope Gregory, Felix lover of your Weal and Holiness.

The claims under God of your most blessed Weal and Holiness are manifest. For, though the whole earth was filled with observance of the true faith by the preaching and doctrine of the apostles, yet the orthodox Church of Christ, having been founded by apostolical institution and most firmly established by the faithful fathers, is further built up through the teaching of divine discourses, while instructed by your hortatory admonition. To it did all the most blessed apostles, endowed with an equal participation of dignity and authority, convert hosts of peoples; and by salutary precepts and admonitions, piously and holily, brought such as were foreknown in the grace of divine predestination from darkness to light, from error to the true faith, from death to life. Following the merits of these holy apostles, and perfectly acting up to their example, your honoured Paternity adorns with them the Church of God by probity of manners and holiness of deeds; and, strong in sacred faith and Christian manners, enjoins what should be done to please God, and unceasingly follows and fulfils pontifical duties, thus observing the precepts of divine law; since (as says the Apostle) Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Rom. 2:13).

As we were meditating on these things, news was brought us by certain who came from Rome that you had written to our comrade Augustine (afterwards ordained Bishop for the nation of the Angli, and thither sent by your venerable Holiness), and to the Angli (whom we have long known to have been converted to the faith through you), that persons related in the fourth degree of descent, if married, should not be separated. Now this was not formerly the custom either in those or in these parts, when I was brought up and taught together with you from infancy; nor have I read of it in any decrees of your predecessors, or in the institutes of other Fathers generally or specially, or learnt that it had been allowed hitherto by any of the wise. But I have found from your holy predecessors, and from the rest of the holy Fathers, assembled as well in the Nicene synod as in other holy councils, that this [i.e. this prohibition of marriage] should be observed down to the seventh degree of descent; and I know that this is carefully seen to by men who live aright and fear the Lord. While these things were being discussed among us, other things also supervened, concerning which it seems necessary for us to consult your authority. For there came to us both Benedict, bishop of the Syracusan Church, and also others of our brethren, being bishops, weeping, and saying that they were greatly disturbed and afflicted in mind on account of the immoderate proceedings of secular and lay persons, in consequence of which some unjust things were also being said against them.

There are also some churches in our province about the consecration of which doubt is felt; and, because both of their antiquity and of the carelessness of their custodians, it is unknown whether they have been dedicated by bishops or not. As to all these things we beg to be instructed by your Holiness, and by the authority of your holy see; and we ask to be informed by your letters whether what, as we have before said, we have heard that you had written to our aforesaid comrade Augustine and to the nation of the Angli was written specially to them or generally to all; and we desire to be fully informed both on this matter and on the others above written.

For we do not signify to you what we have read, and what we know to be observed by the faithful, by way of finding fault (which be far from us); but we seek to know what we may reasonably and faithfully observe in this matter. And, since no slight murmuring is going on among us on this question, we seek an answer from you, as from the head, as to what we should reply to our brethren and fellow bishops; lest we should remain doubtful in the matter, and lest this murmuring should remain among us both in your times and in times to come, and your reputation, which has always been good and excellent, should be lacerated or disparaged through detractions, or your name (which God forbid) should be evil spoken of in succeeding times. For we, observing under God what is right with humble heart, being bound to you in one bond of charity, and defending your religion in all things as faithful pupils, seek knowledge of what is right from you. For we know that, as the apostles in the first place who were prelates of the holy See, and their successors afterwards, have always done, so you also take care of the universal Church, and especially of bishops, who on account of their contemplation and speculation are called the eyes of the Lord; and that you think continually about our religion and law, as it is written, Blessed is he who shall meditate in the law of the Lord day and night (Ps. 1:2). Which meditation of yours is not only seen by reading, through the outward expression of letters, but, by the grace of Christ abounding in you, is known to be immoveably engrafted in your conscience; while the most holy law of Christ the Lord in no wise departs from your heart; as says the Prophet in the Psalms, The mouth of the righteous will meditate wisdom, and his tongue will be talking of judgments: the law of God is in his heart (Ps. 37:30); written not with ink, but in secret by the Spirit of the living God; not therefore on tables of stone, but on the tables of the heart. Let all gloom of darkness, we pray you, be dispelled by your most wise replies and assistance, that the morning star may shine upon us through you, most holy Father, and a dogmatic definition causing joy to all everywhere, because the glorious Fathers of holy Church are known to have preached proper and most pious dogmas unto secure inheritance of eternal life.

Subscription. May the Lord keep you safe and well-pleasing to God for ever, holy father of fathers, while you pray for us.

EPISTLE XVII

To Felix, Bishop of Messana.

To our most reverend brother, the Bishop Felix. Gregory, servant of the servants of God.

Our Head, which is Christ, to this end has willed us to be His members, that through His large charity and faithfulness He might make us one body in Himself, to whom it befits us so to cling that, since without Him we can do nothing, through Him we may be enabled to be what we are called. From the citadel of the Head let nothing divide us, lest, if we refuse to be His members, we be deserted of Him, and wither as branches cast off from the vine. That we may be counted worthy, then, to be the habitation of our Redeemer, let us abide with the whole desire of our heart in His love. For he says, He that loveth me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him (Joh. 14:23). Now thy Love, most dear brother, has demanded of us that we should reply to shy enquiries with the authority of the Apostolic See. And, though we make haste to do this, not at length but succinctly (because of certain pressing cares that have come upon us, through the hindrance of our sins), yet we commit what follows to thy attention for wider enquiry, and investigation of other institutes of holy fathers. For a mind worn and weighed down with burdens and pressing cares cannot effect so much good, or speak of these things so freely, as can one that is joyful and free from depression. We have not therefore given the preference to such cares as wishing to deny to thy Holiness this and such other information as we might find to be needful, but in order that what is here found deficient may be more fully enquired into.

For, following the examples of thy predecessors, thou hast thought it right to consult the Apostolic See, in which thou hast been brought up and educated, on three points; that is on marriages of consanguinity, on vexation of bishops by subordinates, and on doubt with respect to the consecration of churches. Know then that what I wrote to Augustine, bishop of the nation of the Angli (who was, as thou rememberest, thy pupil), about marriages of consanguinity was written specially to him and to the nation of the Angli which had recently come to the faith, lest from alarm at anything too austere they should recede from their good beginning; but it was not written generally to others. Of this the whole Roman city is my witness. Nor did I thus order in those writings with the intention that, after they had been settled in the faith with a firm root, they should not be separated, if found to be below the proper degree of consanguinity, or should be united, if below the proper line of affinity, that is as far as the seventh generation. But for those who are still neophytes it is very often right in the first place to teach them, and by word and example to instruct them, to avoid unlawful things, and then afterwards, reasonably and faithfully, to shut out things that they may have done in matters of this kind. For according to the Apostle who says, I have fed you with milk, not with meat (1 Cor. 3:2), we have allowed these indulgences for them only, and not (as has been said above) for future times, lest the good which had been panted so far with a weak root should be rooted up, but that what had been begun should rather be made firm, and guarded till it reach perfection. Certainly, if in these things we have done anything otherwise than as we ought to have done, know that it has been done, not of wantonness, but in commiseration. Wherefore, too, I invoke God as my witness, who knows the thoughts of all men, and to whom all things are naked and open. For, if I were to destroy what those who came before me established, I should be justly convicted of being not a builder but an over-thrower, as testifies the voice of the Truth, who says, Every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand (Luke 11:17); and every science and law divided against itself shall be destroyed. And so it is needful for us all with one accord to hold to the appointments of our holy Fathers, doing nothing in contention, but, unanimous in every aim of good devotion, to obey, the Lord helping us, the divine and apostolical constitutions.

O how good is charity, which through love exhibits absent things in an image to one’s self as though they were present, unites things divided, sets in order things confused, associates things unequal, consummates things imperfect! How rightly the excellent preacher calls it the bond of perfectness, since the other virtues indeed produce perfectness, but yet charity so binds them that they cannot now be unloosed from the mind of hint that loves. This being duly considered, in what has been already spoken of I indulged charitably; nor did I give a command, but advice; nor did I deliver a rule to be held to by any who should come after, but shewed of two dangers which might be more easily avoided. If, then, in secular affairs every one should have his own right and his proper rank preserved to him, how much more in ecclesiastical arrangements ought no confusion to be induced, lest discord should find place there whence the blessings of peace ought to proceed. And this will be thus secured, if nothing is yielded to power, but all to equity. On this account our heart rejoices greatly with your greatness, because we find you so earnest in your doings as to have a care for us, and at pains to enquire about such things by questioning us, to the end that such things may acquire for you not only glory with men, but also rewards of recompense with the Almighty Lord.

But with regard to vexation of bishops, about which you wish to consult us, we know that the life of prelates ought to be perturbed by no excesses, since it is very unfit that those who are called thrones of God should be disturbed by any motion from kings or subjects. For, if David who was the most righteous of kings presumed not to lay his hand on Saul who was evidently already rejected of God, how much more should heed be taken that none lay the hand of detraction or vituperation or indiscreetness or dishonour on the Lord’s Anointed, or on the preachers of holy Church, since vexation or detraction of them touches Christ, in whose stead they fill the office of legates in the Church! Hence all the faithful should be exceedingly cautious not either secretly or publicly, by detractions or vituperations rend their bishop, that is, the Lord’s Anointed, considering that example of Mary [i.e. Miriam], who for speaking against Moses the servant of God because of the Ethiopian woman was punished with the uncleanness of leprosy (Num. 13); and that of the Psalmist, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm (Ps. 104:15). And in the divine law we read, Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people (Ex. 22:28). Hence great care should be taken by subordinates, whether clerical or lay, that they dare not to blame rashly the lives of their bishops or superiors, if perchance they see them do anything blameable, lest from their position of reproving evil they be sunk into greater depths through the impulse of elation. They are to be admonished also that, when they consider the faults of their superiors, they grow not too bold against them. But let them so consider with themselves the things that are bad that, constrained by divine fear, they refuse not to carry the yoke of reverence, seeing that the things done by bishops and superiors are not to be smitten with the sword of the mouth, even when they may seem to be such as may be properly blamed; since we are aware that it has been laid down by our predecessors and by many other holy bishops that sheep should not readily blame their shepherds, or presume to criminate or accuse them, because, when we sin against our superiors, we go against His ordinance Who gave them to us. Hence Moses, when he had learnt that the people complained against himself and Aaron, said, For what are we? not against us is your murmuring but against God (Ex. 16:8). Wherefore subordinates of either order are to be admonished that, when they observe the deeds of their masters, they return to their own heart, and presume not in upbraidings of them, since The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord (Matth. 10:24).

Concerning doubt as to the dedications of churches, about which among other things you have wished to consult us, you ought duly to hold to this which we have received as handed down to us from those who have gone before us; namely, that, as often as doubt is entertained as to the baptism or confirmation of any persons, as well as the consecration of churches, and there is no certain account to be given, either from writings or witnesses, as to whether persons have been baptized or confirmed, or whether churches have been consecrated, that such persons should be baptized and confirmed, and that such churches should be canonically dedicated, lest such doubt should become ruin to the faithful; inasmuch as what does not appear by certain proofs to have been duly done is not in such case done a second time. This, divine grace supporting us, we desire so to hold; and we enjoin it on you, as you have requested, to hold and teach; and we wish not wantonly to break through, but faithfully to observe, what has been determined by holy Fathers before us. Wherefore we implore the mercy of our Redeemer to assist you with His grace, and give unto you to carry into effect what He has granted you to will, since in this matter the good gifts of retribution by so much the more accrue to us as the zeal of labour is increased. But we decree that every one of those who have been faithfully taught, and already stand ineradicably planted with a firm root, shall observe his descent even to the seventh generation. And as long as they know themselves to be related to each other by affinity, let them not presume to approach the association of this union; nor is it lawful, or shall be lawfully for any Christian to marry a woman of his own kindred whom he has lived with as a wife, or whom he has stained by any unlawful pollution; since such intercourse is incestuous and abominable to God and to all good men. But we read that it has long been determined by holy Fathers that incestuous persons are not to be reckoned under any title of wedlock. And so we desire not to be blamed by you or any other of the faithful in this matter, seeing that in our indulgence herein to the nation of the Angli we have acted, not as laying down a rule, but as taking thought lest they should leave imperfect the good which they had began, &c.

SELECTIONS

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH

from the

HYMNS AND HOMILIES

of

EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN

and from the

DEMONSTRATIONS

of

APHRAHAT THE PERSIAN SAGE;

edited, with an introductory dissertation, by

JOHN GWYNN, D.D., D.C.L.,

regius professor of divinity in the university of dublin.

PREFACE

In the following selection from the voluminous writings of Ephraim, the great light of the Syrian Church of the fourth century, I have endeavored to give adequate specimens of his Hymns and of his Homilies; but have not included any part of his Commentaries on Holy Scripture. These last contain much that is worthy of study, but would not be found attractive to the general reader; nor could they be fairly represented by a series of extracts such as the limits of the present volume would admit of.

The Hymns (with small exceptions, presently to be specified), and the Homilies, which I have selected, appear now for the first time in an English version; and are translated from Syriac texts which have come to light within the last fifty years, in the great collection of manuscripts acquired by the British Museum by the purchase of the library of the monastery of the Theotokos in the Nitrian Desert, in Egypt.

To these I have added eight chosen from the twenty-three Demonstrations, or Epistles, of Ephraim’s contemporary Aphrahat. These also appear for the first time in English, and are translated from a Syriac text, long lost, and lately recovered from the same famous collection.

Of the Hymns of Ephraim, I have placed the Nisibene series first, including forty-six of the total number (originally seventy-seven; but a few are lost). The first twenty-one, relating to the history of Nisibis and of its Bishops, I have given in full, because of their special interest and historic value. The translation of these is the work of the Rev. Joseph T. Sarsfield Stopford, B.A. (Dublin), Rector of Castle Combe in the Diocese of Gloucester. It follows the text edited by Dr. Bickell (Leipzig, 1866), from Nitrian MSS.

Of the Hymns On the Nativity, which stand next in order, the first thirteen have already appeared in the Oxford “Library of the Fathers” (1847), translated by the Rev. J. B. Morris, M. A., from the text printed in the great Roman edition, S. Ephræmi Syri Opera Syriaca (Rome, 1743). These were all of the series known when that edition was published; but since then six complete hymns, and some fragments of the same have been recovered from Nitrian mss. I have reprinted Mr. Morris’s version of the thirteen, with some modifications, and have subjoined the Nitrian six, rendered from the text published by Professor Lamy, of Louvain, in Tom. II of his edition of Ephraim (Mechlin, 1889). These last, and the series of fifteen Hymns For the Epiphany which follow them, have been translated by the Rev. Albert Edward Johnston, B. D. (Dublin), formerly Assistant-Lecturer in Divinity in the University of Dublin, and now Principal of the Church Missionary Society’s College, Benares. The remaining series, of seven Hymns On the Faith, also called The Pearl, is borrowed, like the thirteen On the Nativity, from Mr. Morris’s version.

I have carefully revised and in parts rewritten all these translations of the Hymns, chiefly with a view to bringing into some approach to uniformity the style and method of rendering of a collection which thus includes the work of three independent translators. While very sensible of the high merit of Mr. Morris’s work, and conscious that by retouching and altering it I may incur the blame of presumptuousness, I have thought it expedient to tone down somewhat of the exceeding severity of his faithfulness to his original, and to remove some of the harsh expressions and harsher inversions which make his version, valuable as it is to the student, almost repulsive, and often barely intelligible, to the English reader. Of his learned Notes, I have retained a few, some of them in a curtailed form, of those which seemed most useful for the illustration of the text.

The three Homilies of Ephraim, which follow the Hymns, have been translated by Mr. Johnston from Professor Lamy’s text (as above, Tom. I., 1889).

The selections from the Demonstrations of Aphrahat are the work of the same translator, and follow the text of Dom Parisot’s edition, forming Tom. I of the Patrologia Syriaca (Paris, 1894).

The versions of the Homilies and of the Demonstrations, being all the work of one and the same hand, have called for but few and trivial alterations from the editor. I have, however, revised them throughout; and am responsible for the general accuracy of the rendering of the originals in these, and in the whole of the selections now presented to the public.

In the Introductory Dissertation prefixed to the work, I have drawn largely on the materials supplied by the Prolegomena of Dr. Bickell’s Carmina Nisibena, and of Professor Lamy’s S. Ephræmi Hymni et Sermones, Tom. I. and Tom. II.; and by Dr. Forget’s Treatise De Vita Aphraatis, and the Preface of Dom Parisot to Tom. I. of the Patrologia Syriaca.

John Gwynn.

Trinity College, Dublin, 31st March, 1898.

CONTENTS

    INTRODUCTORY DISSERTATION

Preliminary

    FIRST PART

    EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN

    I.    Summary of the authenticated facts of his life

    II.    Materials for his biography

    III.    The life as amplfied by mediæval biographers

    1.    His early years

    2.    Siege of Nisibis

    3.    Removed to Edessa

    4.    Work as a teacher

    5.    Journey to Egypt and sojourn there

    6.    Visit to St. Basil of Cæsarea

    7.    Return to Edessa

    8.    Controversies

    9.    Persecution by Valens

    10.    Penitent sent to Ephraim by St. Basil; St. Basil’s death

    11.    Exertions in relief of famine

    12.    His Testament

    13.    Death and burial

    IV.    Recapitulation of authentic facts of life

    V.    Historical criticism of mediæval amplifications

    (i.)    The miraculous details

    (ii.)    The demonstrably incorrect or contradictory statements

    1.    Ephraim’s alleged heathen parentage

    2.    The first and third sieges of Nisibis

    3.    Constantius and Constans

    4.    The alleged sojourn in Egypt

    5.    Interval between visit to St. Basil and the persecution of Valens

    6.    Death of St. Basil before that of Ephraim

    VI.    Rectification of the Vatican text of the Life

    1.    Date of his baptism mistaken

    2.    Julian substituted for Valens

    VII.    Chronology of life of Ephraim

    VIII.    His writings; their characteristics

    1.    Commentaries

    2.    Homilies

    3.    Hymns

    IX.    The selections included in the present collection

    X.    Probable dates of his works

SECOND PART

APHEAHAT THE PERSIAN SAGE

    1.    Name of author of Demonstrations long unknown

    2.    Their subjects and arrangement

    3.    Dates of composition

    4.    Extent and limits of their circulation

    5.    Ascribed to Jacob of Nisibis

    6.    Re-appearance of name of Aphrahat

    7.    His Nationality Persian, and probably heathen

    8.    Evidence that he was a cleric, and a Bishop

    9.    His writings little concerned with current controversies

    10.    Possibly suspected of a Nestorian tinge

    11.    Their popularity in the Armenian church

    12.    First printed in the Armenian version

    13.    Discovery of the Post-Syriac original

    14.    Was Aphrahat prior to Ephraim?

    15.    His use of Holy Scripture

    16.    Literary and theological Value of his writings

SELECTIONS FROM EPHRAIM

HYMNS

Nisibene Hymns

On the Nativity

For the Epiphany

On the Faith (The Pearl)

HOMILIES

On our Lord

On Admonition and Repentance

On the Sinful Woman

SELECTIONS FROM APHRAHAT

DEMONSTRATIONS

    I.    Of Faith

    V.    Of Wars

    VI.    Of Monks

    VIII.    Of the Resurrection of the Dead

    X.    Of Pastors

    XVII.    Of Christ the Son of God

    XXI.    Of Persecution

    XXII.    Of Death and the Latter Times

INTRODUCTORY DISSERTATION

EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN

AND

APHRAHAT THE PERSIAN SAGE

PRELIMINARY

The two Fathers of the Syrian Church, from whose writings the present Volume presents a selection, are from more than one point of view fitly associated as examples of the leaders of Syriac theological thought and literature. They are the earliest Syriac authors of whom any considerable remains survive; and they both represent the religious mind of the Syrian Church, but little affected by influences from without, other than the all-pervading influence of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.

Syriac Literature is, on the whole, of derivative growth. It consists largely of versions or adaptations from the Greek. The Syriac language, in the hands of those to whom the Syriac Church owes the admirable version of the Scriptures known as the “Peshitto,” proved itself capable of reproducing adequately, not only the sublime conceptions of God and of man’s relations to God which belong to the cognate Hebrew of the Old Testament, but also—the wider, subtler, and more complex religious ideas for which the writers of the New Testament found their fit vehicle in the Greek. But the Peshitto, great as its value must have been to the religious life of Syriac-speaking Christians, never became to them what Luther’s Bible has been to Germany, and the “Authorized” Bible of King James’s translators to England—an inspiring force in literature, not merely to elevate and enrich its language, but to quicken it in every branch. Syriac literature was indeed deeply penetrated by the Syriac Bible, but its level was never raised above mediocrity. For the most part it is imitative not original;—nay, it rarely succeeds in assimilating so as to make its own what it has borrowed. The Syriac translator, if he worked on the writings of a Greek divine, would often paraphrase or even interpolate; if of a Greek historian, would subjoin a continuation; but he would seldom venture farther. Those who essayed independent authorship were few. A home-grown Syriac literature began with Ephraim and Aphrahat; but [setting aside a very small number of the writers who followed] it may almost be said to have ended with them. These two, and these alone, in place of being imitators or translators, were translated and imitated by the writers of foreign nations. Aphrahat’s literary lot was the singular one, that his work survived in an alien tongue for alien readers. when the original had wellnigh perished out of the memory of his own people. To Ephraim pertains the high and unique distinction of having originated—or at least given its living impulse to—a new departure in sacred literature; and that, not for his own country merely, but for Christendom. From him came, if not the first idea, at all events the first successful example, of making song an essential constituent of public worship, and an exponent of theological teaching; and from him it spread and prevailed through the Eastern Churches, and affected even those of the West. To the Hymns, on which chiefly his fame rests, the Syriac ritual in all its forms owes much of its strength and richness; and to them is largely due the place which Hymnody holds throughout the Church everywhere. And hence it has come to pass that, in the Church everywhere, he stands as the representative Syrian Father, as the fixed epithet appended to his name attests—”Ephraim the Syrian,”—the one Syrian known and reverenced in all Christendom.

Of the two, it has been usual of late to reckon Aphrahat as the elder. Further on, it will be shown in this Dissertation that the reasons for so reckoning him are inadequate. For the present it suffices to note that they were contemporaries—both living and writing about the middle of the fourth century, and that priority of treatment cannot with confidence be claimed for either. On grounds of convenience, therefore, we may properly proceed to deal first with Ephraim, as being indisputably far the first in order of importance, of copiousness, and of celebrity.

FIRST PART

EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN

I.—Summary of the Authenticated Facts of his Life

All that is known, on early and trustworthy evidence, of the person and life of Ephraim may be briefly summed up. He was born within the Roman pale, in the ancient and famous city of Nisibis in Mesopotamia, in, or before, the earliest days of the reign (a.d. 306–337) of Constantine the Great: he was a disciple of St. Jacob, Bishop of that city, who died a.d. 338: and he lived in it, under Jacob and the three Bishops who successively followed him, through three unsuccessful sieges laid to it by Sapor, King of Persia, down to its final surrender under the terms of the ignominious peace concluded with Sapor by the Emperor Jovian after the defeat and death of his predecessor Julian (a.d. 363). Nisibis was then abandoned by its Christian inhabitants; and Ephraim finally settled at Edessa, and took up his abode as a “Solitary” in a cell on the “Mount of Edessa”—a rocky hill close to the city, where many anchorites sought retreat. Here he rose into repute as a teacher, and a champion against heresy; and no less as an ascetic and saint. The fame of St. Basil, metropolitan of Cæsarea in Cappadocia (370–379), drew him from his solitude to visit that great prelate and doctor, and from him he received the diaconate; but (though some affirm that he was advanced to the priesthood) it is agreed that he never became a Bishop. He died at an advanced age, in his retreat, in the year 373 according to most authorities, but some suppose him to have lived to 378. He was a most copious writer, and left an immense quantity of writings of which a large part is extant,—Sermons, Commentaries, and Hymns. These constitute such a body of instruction in the substance of Scripture and the faith of the church, that they have justly earned for him the title of malpono, or teacher. And not only have his Hymns done much to shape the ritual of the Syrian Churches, in which large portions of them are embodied, but to his Sermons this singular honour is paid, that lessons selected from them were appointed, and are still read, in the regular course of public worship.

II.—Materials for his Biography

Fuller details, of more or less authentic character, are forthcoming in many quarters. In Syriac, we have two Lives, a longer and a shorter; but whether the latter is an abridgment of the former, or is rather the nucleus from which the other has been expanded, is questionable. Of both alike, the date and the authorship are undetermined. The longer of the two is entitled, the History [tash itha] of the holy Mar Ephraim. It varies not a little in the two copies of it [the Vatican and the Parisian] which have been edited; and contains many things that are not easily credible, and some things that are irreconcilable with one another, or with established facts. In the main facts, however, this History is borne out by the Greek authorities—the narrations of three fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret, the brief notices of Jerome, De Viris Illustribus (392), and of Palladius, in his Lausiac History (circ. 420) ci., and (what is of most weight) the almost contemporary biographical particulars contained in the Encomium pronounced on Ephraim by Gregory of Nyssa. Other Greek Lives are extant;—one which bears the name of a writer coeval with Gregory, Amphilochius of Iconium, but is certainly by a later hand; one anonymous, and one ascribed to Simeon the Metaphrast, a writer of the tenth century.

We proceed to give an outline of the contents of the Syriac History, adding to it here and there such further noteworthy details or incidents as have reached us from the other sources indicated. Further on, it will be our business to examine this narrative and ascertain how far its statements are in themselves credible, or attested by other and earlier evidence.

III.—The Life, as Amplified by Mediæval Biographers

1. His Early Years

Ephraim, according to this biography, was a Syrian of Mesopotamia, by birth, and by parentage on both sides. His mother was of Amid (now Diarbekr) a central city of that region; his father belonged to the older and more famous City of Nisibis, not far from Amid but near the Persian frontier, where he was priest of an idol named Abnil (or Abizal) in the days of Constantine the Great (306–337). This idol was afterwards destroyed by Jovian (who became Emperor in 363 after the extinction of the Flavian dynasty by the death of Julian). In Nisibis, then included within the Roman Empire, Ephraim was born. The date of his birth is not stated, but it cannot have been later than the earliest years of Constantine’s reign. Though the son of such a father, he was from his childhood preserved, by Divine grace which “chose him like Jeremiah from his mother’s womb,” from all taint of idolatrous worship and its attendant impurities, to be, like St. Paul, a “chosen vessel” to spread the light of truth and to quench heresy. The biographer records farther on, but without fixing its time, an intimation of his future work which Ephraim himself relates in his “Testament” as belonging to the days “when his mother carried him on her bosom.” He saw in dream or vision a vine springing from his mouth, which grew so high as to fill all that was under the heavens, and produced clusters whereon the fowls of the air fed, and which multiplied the more, the more they were fed on. These clusters (the Testament explains) were his Sermons; the leaves of the vine, his Hymns.

But his entrance into the Christian fold was not to be without hindrance and suffering. His father, finding the youth one day in converse with some Christians, was filled with anger, chastised him with cruel and almost fatal severity, and repaired to the shrine of his god to seek pardon for his son by sacrifice and prayer. A voice issuing from the idol rejected his intercession, warned him that his son was destined to be the persecutor of his father’s gods, and commanded his expulsion from home. The father obeyed: the son received the sentence with joy, and went out from his father’s house, carrying nothing with him and not knowing whither he went. His way was divinely directed to the famous and saintly Bishop, Jacob of Nisibis, to whom he told his story and by whom he was affectionately welcomed and admitted into the number of “Hearers,”—that is, Catechumens in the first stage of preparatory instruction. From the first he showed himself a diligent disciple, in fasting and prayer, and in daily attendance on the teaching of the Scriptures. He frequented the Bishop’s abode, imitated his virtues, attracted his special notice, and acquired a high place in his love as well as in that of all the Church.

A slanderous charge, however, was laid against him in his youthful manhood, which, but for supernatural interposition granted to his prayer, would have ruined his good name. A damsel of noble birth had been seduced by an official (Paramonarius, i.e., sacristan, or perhaps rather, steward) of the church, named likewise Ephraim. When pregnancy ensued and her frailty was detected, she at the instance of her paramour charged Ephraim the pious Catechumen as being the author of her shame. Her father laid the matter before the Bishop, who in much grief and consternation summoned his disciple to answer the accusation. The youth received it at first in amazed silence; but finally made answer, “Yea, I have sinned; but I entreat thy Holiness to pardon me.” Even after this seeming acknowledgment of guilt, however, the Bishop was unconvinced, and prayed earnestly that the truth might be revealed to him: but in vain,—a more signal clearing was in store for the humble and blameless youth. When the child of shame was born, and the father of the frail damsel required him to undertake the charge of it, he repeated his seeming confession of guilt to the Bishop; he received the infant into his arms: he openly entered the church carrying it; and he besought the congregation with tears, saying, “Entreat for me, my brethen, that this sin be pardoned to me.” After thus bearing for some days the burden of unmerited reproach, he perceived the great scandal caused to the people, and began to reflect that his meek acceptance of calumny was doing harm. On the following Sunday, therefore, after the Eucharist had been administered, he approached the Bishop in church in presence of the people, carrying the infant under his mantle, and obtained his permission to enter the bema (not the pulpit, but the raised sanctuary where the altar stood). Before the eyes of the astonished congregation, he produced the babe, held it up in his right hand, facing the altar, and cried aloud, “Child, I call on thee and adjure thee by the living God, who made heaven and earth and all that therein is, that thou confess and tell me truly, who is thy father?” The infant opened its mouth and said, “Ephraim the paramonarius.” Having thus spoken, it died that same hour. The people and the Bishop received this miraculous vindication of the wrongfully accused with amazement and tears; the father of the sinful mother fell on his knees and cried for forgiveness; the true partner of her sin fled and was seen in Nisibis no more; Satan was confounded; and Ephraim was restored to more than all the favour and affection he enjoyed before.

Not long after, the young disciple received a singular proof of the high esteem in which he was held by his Bishop. When summoned with the other prelates to the great Council of Nicæa (a.d. 325), Jacob took Ephraim with him as his attendant or secretary, and brought him into that holy Synod. It is to be inferred that a youth so chosen must have shown early maturity and zeal for the Faith. His presence on this first great battlefield of the Church’s war against heresy must have given a keen stimulus to his polemic activity, and influenced his subsequent life as a student and teacher of theology.

2. Siege of Nisibis

After some years his course of assiduous study, obedience, and devout piety, was rudely broken by the alarm of war. Soon after the death of Constantine (a.d. 337), Sapor, king of Persia was moved to seize the opportunity offered by the removal of the great Emperor and the inexperience of his sons, and to attempt the recovery of the provinces on the Tigris which had been ceded by Narses his predecessor to Diocletian (under the treaty of a.d. 297), so as to push his border westward in advance of the line which had for forty years defined the eastern limits of the Roman Empire. To this end it was essential that he should obtain possession of Nisibis, the strength and situation of that city marking it as a necessary safeguard for the frontier he sought to attain; and to it accordingly he laid siege in great force. After seventy days’ successful resistance, he had recourse to a novel mode of assault by which the city was wellnigh overpowered. The river (Mygdonius2) which flowed through it was by his orders embanked and its waters intercepted, and then let loose so as to bear with destructive rush against the city wall. It gave way; and Sapor prepared to enter and take possession. To his dismay he found his advance vigorously repelled; he saw the breach filled by a fresh wall, manned and equipped with engines of war. The holy Bishop Jacob and the devout Ephraim, by their unceasing prayers within the church and their exhortations, had stimulated the garrison and the people to accomplish this work with incredible rapidity, and had secured the divine blessing on its timely completion. But a more amazing sight than the newly-built wall awaited Sapor. On the ramparts there appeared a Figure in royal apparel of radiant brightness,—the Emperor Constantius in outward semblance; though he was known to be far off, in Antioch. Sapor in blind fury assailed this majestic phantom with missiles, but soon desisted when he perceived the futility of his attack. His final discomfiture was brought to pass by Ephraim. Having first sought and obtained the Bishop’s sanction, he ascended a tower whence he could view the besieging host, and there he offered prayer to God that He should send on them a plague of gnats and mosquitos, and show by what puny agents Divine Power could effectually work the ruin of its adversaries. The prayer was instantly answered by a cloud of these insects, tiny but irresistible assailants, descending on the Persian host. Maddened by this plague, the horses flung their riders; the elephants broke loose and trampled down the men; the camp was thrown into irretrievable confusion; a storm of wind, rain, and thunder (adds another chronicler) enhanced the panic; and Sapor was forced to raise the siege and retire with ignominy and heavy loss instead of success.

Soon after, the saintly Bishop Jacob died, in the fulness of his virtues and his fame; and Ephraim in deep affliction conducted his funeral.

3. Removal to Edessa

Our biographer then, passing over the remaining years of Constantius, goes on to the accession of Julian (a.d. 361). The troubles of the intervening period he assigns to the reign of Constans, whom (though he died before his brother Constantius) he supposes to have reigned after him and before Julian. He records the persecutions suffered by the Christians under the latter, the judgment that overtook him in his defeat and death by the hands of the Persians, the succession of Jovian, and the treaty concluded by him with Sapor, under which Nisibis was surrendered to Persia and emptied of its Christian inhabitants. Of Ephraim he tells us only that he raised his voice against Julian and his persecutions, and remained in Nisibis until its surrender, and then retired to a place called Beth-Garbaia, where he had been baptized at the age of eighteen and had received his first instruction in the Scriptures and in psalmody. Persecution having arisen there against the Church, he fled to Amid, where he spent a year; and thence proceeded to Edessa (now Urfa), which city, as soon as he came in sight of it, he fixed on as his permanent and final abode. As he was about to enter it, all incident occurred which nearly all the narratives of his life relate with variations, and which the historian Sozomen states to have been recorded in one of the writings of Ephraim himself. Beside the river Daisan which surrounds the city, he saw some women washing clothes in its waters. As he stood and watched them, one of them fixed her eyes on him and gazed at him so long as to move his anger. “Woman,” he said, “art thou not ashamed?” She answered, “It is for thee to look on the ground, for from thence thou art; but for me it is to look at thee, for from thee was I taken.” He marvelled at the reply and acknowledged the woman’s wisdom; and left the spot saying to himself, “If the women of this city are so wise, how much more exceedingly wise must its men be!”

Other authorities (including Ephraim’s contemporary, Gregory of Nyssa, who professes to collect the facts of his Encomium exclusively from Ephraim’s own written remains) give a somewhat different turn to this story. According to them, Ephraim approached the city, praying and expecting to meet at his first entrance there some holy and wise man by whose converse he might profit. The first person whom he encountered at the gate was a harlot. Shocked and bitterly disappointed, he eyed her, and was passing on; but when he noticed that she eyed him, in turn, he asked the meaning of her bold gaze. In this version of the incident, her answer was, “It is meet and fit that I gaze on thee, for from thee, as man, I was taken; but look not thou on me, but rather on the ground whence thou wast taken.” Ephraim owned that he had learned something of value even from this outcast woman; and praised God, who from the mouth of such an unlooked-for teacher, had fulfilled his desire for edification.

Another woman of Edessa is related by some of these authorities to have accosted the holy man, expecting that, even if she failed to tempt him to unchastity, she might at least move him to the sin, against which he strove no less sedulously to guard himself, of anger. He affected to yield to her solicitation; but when she invited him to fix on a place of assignation, he proposed that it should be in the open and frequented street. When she objected to such shameless publicity, he replied, “If we are ashamed in sight of men, how much more ought we to be ashamed in the sight of God, who knows all secret things and will bring all to His judgment!” By this reply the woman was moved to repentance and amendment, and gave up her sinful life,—and finally (as some add) retired from the world into a convent.

In Edessa, Ephraim at first earned a humble livelihood in the service of a bath keeper, while giving his free time to the task of making the Scriptures known to the heathen who then formed a large part of the population of the city. But before long he was led, by the advice of a monk whom he casually met, to join himself to one of the Solitaries (or anchorites) who dwelt in the caves of the adjacent “Mount of Edessa” (a rocky range of hills, now Nimrud Dagh). There he passed his time in prayer, fasting, and study of the Scriptures.

But a divine intimation was sent to call him back from his retreat into active life in the city. A vision came to the Solitary under whom Ephraim had placed himself. This man, as he stood at midnight outside his cell after prayer and psalmody, saw an angel descending from heaven and bearing in his hands a great roll written on both sides, and heard him say to them that stood by, “To whom shall I give this volume that is in my hands?” They answered, “To Eugenius the Solitary of the desert of Egypt.” Again he asked, “Who is worthy of it?” They answered, “Julian the Solitary.” The Angel rejoined, “None among men is this day worthy of it, save Ephraim the Syrian of the Mount of Edessa.”

He, to whom this vision came, at first regarded it as a delusion; but he soon found reason to accept it as from God. Visiting Ephraim’s solitary cell, he found him engaged in writing a commentary on the Book of Genesis, and was amazed at the exegetical power shown in the work of a writer so untrained. When this was speedily followed by a Commentary on Exodus, the truth of the vision became apparent, and the Solitary hastened to the “School” of Edessa and showed the book to “the doctors and priests, and chief men of the city.” They were filled with admiration, and when they learned that Ephraim of Nisibis was the author, and heard of the vision by which his merit was revealed, they went at once to seek him out in his retreat. In his modesty he fled from their approach; but a second divine vision constrained him to return. In the valley where he had sought to hide, an Angel met him and asked, “Ephraim, wherefore fleest thou?” He answered, “Lord, that I may sit in silence, and escape from the tumult of the world.” “Look to it,” rejoined the Angel, “that the word be not spoken of thee, Ephraim hath fled from me as an heifer whose shoulder hath drawn back from the yoke‘ (Hos. 4:16, 10:11—quoted loosely). Ephraim pleaded with tears, “Lord, I am weak and unworthy;” but the Angel silenced his excuses with the Saviour’s words, No man lighteth a candle and putteth it under a bushel, but on a candlestick that all may see the light (St. Matth. 5:5, St. Luke, 11:33). Accepting the rebuke, Ephraim returned to Edessa, with much prayer for strength from on high, to combat false doctrine. There he was ill received, and taunted as one who had fled in hypocritical affectation of reluctance, and was now returning in vainglorious quest of applause. This reproach he met with the meek reply, “Pardon me, my brethren, for I am a humble man;” at which they cried out the more against him, “Come, see the madman, the fool!” He held his ground notwithstanding, and taught many.

But this work which his adversaries failed to put down, the over-zeal of an admirer brought to a sudden close. One of the recluses of the Mount, having occasion to visit the city, saw him and followed him crying, “This is the fan in the Lord’s hand, wherewith He wilt purge all His floor, and the tares of heresy: this is the fire whereof our Lord said, I am come to send fire on the earth” (St. Matth. 3:12, St. Luke, 12:49). Hearing this, certain chief men of the city, heretics, heathens, and Jews, seized him and drew him outside the gates, stoned him and left him wellnigh dead. Next morning he fled back to his cell on the Mount.

4. Work as a Teacher

There, he gave himself to the work of refuting with his pen the heresies and misbeliefs of his time, which he had thus been hindered by violence from combating in speech. Disciples gathered round him, and a school formed itself under the teacher in his retirement. The names are recorded by our narrator of Zenobius, Simeon, Isaac, Asuna, and Julian. Others add those of Abraham, Abba, and Mara. All these are named with favour in his Testament (a document of which we shall treat hereafter) except Isaac; but two others, Paulinus and Aurit (or Arnad) are denounced as false to the Faith.

The biographer introduces into his narrative of this stage of Ephraim’s life an account of his famous dream of the vine (above referred to), which foreshowed his future fertility as a writer, as related in his Testament. It will be given farther on, in his own words.

Remote and isolated as was his abode, the fame of the illustrious Basil, Archbishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, reached him there, and moved in him a desire to see and hear so great a divine. He prayed for divine guidance in the matter; and in answer a vision was sent to him. Before the Holy Table there seemed to stand a pillar of fire, whereof the top reached unto heaven, and a voice from heaven was heard to cry, “Such as thou seest this pillar of fire, such is the great Basil.”

5. Journey to Egypt, and Sojourn there

Thus encouraged, Ephraim set out on his journey, taking with him an interpreter, for he was unable to speak Greek. In the first instance, however (according to the History), he made his way, not to Cappadocia, but to a seaport (not named by the writer—but probably Alexandretta is meant) where he took ship for Egypt. In the voyage the ship encountered perils, first in a storm, and afterwards from a sea-monster, but was delivered from both by his faith, which enabled him with words of power and the sign of the cross to rebuke the winds and waves into calm, and to slay the monster. Arrived in Egypt, he made his way to the city Antino (apparently Antinoë or Antinoopolis), and thence towards the famous desert of Scete, in the Nitrian valley—then, and still, the place of many monasteries. Here he found an unoccupied cave, in which, as a cell, he and his companion took up their abode for eight years. His habits of life in this retreat—and (as it appears) at Edessa—were of the most austere. His food was barley bread, varied only by parched corn, pulse, or herbs; his drink, water; his clothing, squalid rags. His flesh was dried up like a potsherd, over his bones. He is described as being of short stature, bald, and beardless. He never laughed, but was of sad countenance. Other authorities, Gregory especially, dwell much and with admiration on his profuse and perpetual weeping.2

In this Egyptian retreat he is related to have proved himself a victorious adversary against the Arians. On his arrival he had sought out and found a monk named Bishoi, to whom, because of his special sanctity, he had been divinely directed before he quitted Edessa; and with him he had sojourned for a week, communing with him by means of a miraculous gift which endowed each with the language of the other. By this gift he was enabled to carry on controversy with Egyptian heretics, many of whom he reclaimed to orthodoxy. Over one of these, an aged monk who had been perverted to heresy by the possession of a demon, he exercised a further miraculous power for his restoration, by casting out the evil spirit and restoring the old man at once to his right mind and to the right faith. This gift of language, and the intercourse of Ephraim with Bishoi, are told only in the Vatican form of the History, which adds that he not only spoke Egyptian, but wrote discourses in that tongue. The other version of it represents him as having learned to speak Egyptian in the ordinary way. It is to be noted that the name of Bishoi (in Greek, Pasoës) is known as that of the founder (in the fourth century) of the monastery of Amba Bishoi, still occupied by a community of monks, in the Nitrian Desert; and that in those sequestered regions the tradition of Ephraim’s visit to Bishoi was lingering even within the last century and probably still lingers. To this subject we shall have occasion to recur, further on.

6. Visit to St. Basil of Cæsarea

This long sojourn ended, he resumed his purpose of visiting Basil, and left Egypt for Cæsarea (which our narrator evidently supposes to be a maritime city—probably confusing it with the Caesarea which was the metropolis of Palestine). He was anxious that his first sight of the great Archbishop should be on the Feast of the Epiphany, and he succeeded in so timing his journey as to arrive the day before that Feast. On enquiry, he learned that Basil would take his part in its celebration in the great church; and thither accordingly on the morrow he and his interpreter repaired. On the same day (adds our historian) was the commemoration of St. Mamas.3 At first, when he saw the great Prelate in gorgeous vestments attended by his train of richly-robed clergy, the heart of the humble ascetic failed him: this man so surrounded with state and splendor could not be (he thought) the pillar of fire revealed to him in his vision. But when Basil ascended the bema to preach, Ephraim, though he could understand little if anything of the orator’s eloquence, was speedily brought to another mind. As he listened he saw the Holy Ghost (in the form of a dove, says Gregory, as also the Vatican History,—or, according to another account, of a tongue of fire), speaking from his mouth, (Gregory says, hovering by his ear and inspiring his words); and he joined in the applause which each period of the oration drew from the audience,—so vehemently that while others were content to utter the cry of approval (ahâ) but once, he reiterated it (ahâ, ahâ). Basil noticing this sent his Archdeacon to invite the stranger lute the Sanctuary; but the invitation was modestly declined. Another version of the story places this invitation before the sermon, attributing to Basil a spiritual insight which discerned the holy man’s presence and identified him. Again the Archdeacon was sent to summon him—this time, by name: “Come, my lord Ephraim, before the bema; the Archbishop bids thee.” Amazed to find himself thus discovered, Ephraim yielded, and praised God, saying, “Great art Thou in very truth; Basil is the pillar of fire; through his mouth speaks the Holy Ghost.” He begged, however, to be excused from coming into the Archbishop’s presence publicly, and asked to be allowed instead to salute him privately in the “Treasury,” “after the Sacred Oblation.” Accordingly, when “the Divine Mysteries” had been completed, the Archbishop’s Syncellus repeated the invitation, saying, “Draw near, Apostle of Christ, that we may enjoy thy presence.” He complied, and in his mean rags, silent, and with downcast looks, stood before the magnificent Prelate. Basil rose from his seat, received him with the kiss of brotherhood, then bowed his head, and even prostrated himself before the humble monk, greeting him as the “Father of the Desert,” the foe of unclean spirits; and asked the purpose of his journey,—”Art thou come to visit one who is a sinner? The Lord reward thy labor.” He then proceeded to give the Holy Eucharist to both the strangers. In the interchange of speech (through the interpreter) that ensued, Basil enquired how it was that one who spoke no Greek had followed his discourse with such applause. When he heard, in reply, of the visible manifestation of the Holy Ghost, he exclaimed, “I would I were Ephraim, to be counted worthy by the Lord of such a boon!” Ephraim then entreated of him a boon; “I know, O holy man, that whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, He will give it thee: ask Him, therefore, to enable me to speak Greek.” Basil in reply disclaimed such intercessory power, but proposed that they should join in prayer for the desired gift, reminding him of the promise, “He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him” (Ps. 145:19). They prayed accordingly for a long space; and when they had ceased, Basil enquired, “Why, my Lord Ephraim, receivest thou not the Order of Priesthood, which befits thee?” “Because I am a sinner,” answered Ephraim (through the interpreter). “I would thy sins were mine!” exclaimed Basil. He then desired Ephraim to bow his head, laid his hand on him and recited over him the Prayer of Ordination to the Diaconate, inviting him to respond. Forthwith, to the amazement of all, Ephraim answered in Greek, with the due form, “Save, and lift me up, O God.” And thenceforth he was able to speak Greek with ease and correctness. He persisted, however, in declining the higher Order of the Priesthood; but his interpreter was admitted both Deacon and Priest by Basil before they departed. Their sojourn lasted about a fortnight. Other writers, however, call Ephraim a Priest; and there is a passage where he himself seems to speak of himself, as holding the Priesthood (koh’ nîyô); but Palladius, Jerome, Sozomen, and others of the best-informed writers, confirm our History. He is in fact frequently styled Ephraim the Deacon, as if to emphasize the fact that one so high in repute never rose above that lowly rank.

Traces of Ephraim’s influence are to be found in two places of Basil’s writings. It can scarcely be doubted that he points to Ephraim when (De Spiritu Sancto, xxix. 74), in defending the familiar formula “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,”—and again (Homil. in Hexaêm. ii. 6), in explaining the action of the Spirit on the waters (Genesis 1:2)—he appeals to the authority of an unnamed man of great knowledge and judgment, “as closely conversant with the knowledge of all that is true, as he is far removed from worldly wisdom,” a “Mesopotamian,” a “Syrian.” From him he says he learned—in the former instance, that “and” was to be inserted before the name of the Holy Ghost as well as before that of the Son;—and, in the latter, that the Spirit was not to be conceived as being “carried upon” the waters (as the Septuagint represents); but (as the Peshitto more truly represents the Hebrew), as “brooding upon” them, to cherish them into life—as a bird on her nest. The verb thus variously rendered is common to the Hebrew with the cognate Syriac; and the explanation of it given by Basil is in fact found in Ephraim’s extant Commentary on the passage of Genesis: but he understands the “spirit” to be the wind—not (as Basil) the Holy Ghost.

7. Return to Edessa

Ephraim’s return to Edessa was hastened by the tidings that in his absence no less than nine new heresies had appeared there. His way thither lay through Samosata; and there he fell in with a chief man of the city, a heretic, who was passing by with a train of attendant youths. As the holy man sat by the wayside to eat bread, these followers mocked him, and one of them wantonly smote him on the cheek. The injury was borne in meek silence; but it was speedily avenged on the smiter, by a viper which came out from under a stone whereon he sat, and bit him so that he died on the spot. His master and companions hastened after Ephraim, and overlook him as he was begging his food in a village beyond the city which he had just passed through. At their entreaty he turned back with them, and by his prayers restored the dead youth to life. The nobleman and his followers, seeing this miracle, were converted to the orthodox faith.

8. Controversies

1.

I have chanced upon tares, my brethren,

That wear the color of wheat,

To choke the good seed;

Concerning which the husbandmen are commanded,

Take them not away nor root them out;

And though the husbandmen heeded not,

The seed waxed stronger than they,

Grew and multiplied and covered and choked them.

3.

I heard as I read them

How he blasphemes justice,

And grace her fellow-worker.

For if the body be not raised,

It were foul reproach for grace,

To have created it unto corruption;

And it were slander against justice,

To send it unto destruction.

2.

I have chanced upon a book of Bardaisan,

And I was troubled for an hour’s space;

It tainted my pure ears,

And made them a passage

For words filled with blasphemy.

I hastened to purge them

With the goodly and pure reading

Of the Scriptures of truth.

4.

This then that I read was grievous

For soul and for body alike;

And between these partners it casts

The severance of despair.

The body it cuts off from its resurrection,

And the soul from her comrade,

And the loss which the serpent threw on us

Bardaisan counts it for gain.

 

Arrived at Edessa, he engaged at once in the conflict against the multiform heresies of the place, old and new—Manichean and Marcionite, as well as Arian. Of all the forms of error he encountered, the one that gave him most grief and trouble was that which had been originated about the year 200 by a Syrian, Bardesan. Of this heresiarch he writes, in one of his Nisibene Hymns (the 51st; not included in the following selection):

The controversy against the disciples of this man gave to the literary work of Ephraim an impulse to which his fame is largely due. His polemic in the above instance took, as we see, the form of a hymn; and his biographer informs us that it was in this controversy he first was led to adopt hymnody as a vehicle for teaching truth and confuting error. Of his hymns we possess some which can be confidently assigned to an earlier period—the first twenty-one of the Nisibene collection (which are the Nisibene Hymns proper), belonging to the epoch of the third siege (a.d. 350); but those are songs of triumph and thanksgiving, or of personal eulogy and exhortation,—not of controversy. The idea of the controversial use of hymnody he borrowed (we are told) from his adversaries. It appears that Harmodius, the son of Bardesan, had popularized the false teaching of his father, as embodied in a series of a hundred and fifty hymns (in profane rivalry with the Psalms of David), by setting them to attractive tunes, which caught the ear of the multitude, and inclined them to receive his doctrines. So Ephraim himself tells us (attributing the work, however, to Bardesan solely) in his Homily (metrical) LIII., “Against Heretics” (not included in our selection). “He fashioned hymns, and joined them with tunes; and composed psalms, and brought in moods. By weights and measures, he portioned language. He blended for the simple poison with sweetness. The sick will not choose the food of wholesomeness. He would look to David, that he might be adorned with his beauty, and commended by his likeness. An hundred and fifty psalms, he likewise composed.”

To confute the heresies thus circulated, Ephraim borrowed the tunes employed by Harmodius; and his hymns, set to these tunes, soon carried the day in favor of orthodoxy, partly by the force of their truth, partly by their superior literary power, and partly by the help of a choir formed among the nuns whom he employed to sing them, morning and evening, in the churches. Thus the rival hymnody of heresy was superseded, and the hymns of Ephraim gained the place they have ever since held in the Church, wherever Syriac is the ecclesiastical language,—even though it is no longer the vernacular.

He celebrated this victory in the following strain of triumphant imprecation:—

“Cursed be our trust [if it be] on the Seven; the Æons which Bardaisan confesses!

Anathema [be he] who says, as he said: that from them descend the rain and the dew!

Anathema who affirms, like him: that from them are the showers and the frosts!

Cursed be he who says, as he said: that from them are the snow and the ice!

[Cursed be he who affirms, like him]: that from them are the seeds for the husbandmen!

Anathema who confesses, as he confessed: that from them are the fruits for the labourer!

Anathema who believes, like him: that from them are famine and plenty!

Anathema who confesses, as he taught: that from them are summer and winter!

Anathema be on the man: and on the woman who thus speaks!

Anathema be on the house: wherein it is thus affirmed!

Anathema his doctrine which rests: its trust on the Sevenfold!

Cursed be he who reproaches his Creator: and ascribes dominion to the Seven!

Cursed be he who reads the Scriptures: and becomes a gainsayer of the Scriptures!

Cursed be he who reads the Prophets: and breaks the words of the Prophets!

Cursed be he who reads the Apostles: and abides not by their words!”

To this is subjoined a verse, the response of Balai (Balæus) a disciple:—

“The Lord exalt thy horn: O Church that art faithful!

For the King, and the King’s son: are established in thine ark.”

Another demonstration of Ephraim’s zeal against heresy, which the compiler of the History judiciously omits, is (unhappily for the fame of both) attested, and with evident approval, by Gregory of Nyssa.

Apollinaris, who was his contemporary, and whose erroneous teaching he held in abhorrence, had committed his heresies to writing in two volumes which he gave into the keeping of a woman, a follower of his sect. Ephraim approached this woman and persuaded her to lend him the books, pretending that he agreed with the doctrine of their author and desired to use them in controversy against its opponents. At her instance he returned them in a short time; but before so doing, he treated them with fish-glue in such fashion that the leaves of each cohered into a solid mass, while to outward appearance they were unharmed. Soon after, he challenged Apollinaris to meet him in a public disputation concerning the articles of faith which the heretic had impugned. The latter sought to decline the controversy, pleading his old age and infirmities; but consented to it,—only on condition, however, that he should be allowed to read from these volumes the statement and defence of his tenets therein written by him. On these terms, the disputants met. Apollinaris was called on to maintain his thesis, and his writings were placed in his hands; but when he went to open the books, it was in vain. No part of either volume would yield to his fingers; he was obliged to desist and to retire, baffled and ashamed; in such dismay as to bring on an illness that nearly proved fatal.

Another incident of this period, related in the History, is a miracle (a genuine one this time, if true) wrought by Ephraim on a paralytic. Seeing him as he sat and begged at the door of a church in Edessa, the holy man asked him: “Wilt thou be made whole?” “Yea, my Lord; lay thy hand on me,” was the reply. With the words, “In the Name of Christ, arise and walk,” he was cured instantly; and departed, glorifying God.

At the end of four years, messengers came to him from Basil, summoning him to come and receive consecration to the Episcopate, for some see unnamed (to which, as Sozomen relates, he had been elected;—Hist. Eccles. II. 16). When he learned their errand, he reigned madness, going to and fro in the streets in unseemly fashion, in motley garb, eating bread as he went and letting his spittle run down. Thus he succeeded in evading the undesired elevation: the messengers, shocked at his behaviour, returned without him, and reported that they found him a madman. “O hidden pearl of price” (cried Basil) “whom the world knows not! Ye are the madmen, and he the sane.”

The city and the Mount of Edessa suffered in these days from an invasion of the Huns, who plundered, murdered, and ravished, without mercy,—not even sparing the cells and convents. This calamity Ephraim is said to have recorded, in writings which have not reached us.

9. Persecution by Valens

From another peril the Edessenes were saved by their faith and constancy. In the days of their Bishop Barses (361–378), the Arian Emperor Valens (364–378), in the course of his persecution of the orthodox, approached the city and summoned the inhabitants to wait upon him in his camp and hear his pleasure there. They disregarded the command, and gathered into the great Church of St. Thomas, where they and their Bishop continued unceasingly in prayer. The historian Socrates, a trustworthy and early (fifth century) authority, confirms our History here; and explains that Valens had ordered their Church to be surrendered to the Arians, and was enraged against them for resisting his decree, and against his Prefect Modestus for failing to carry it out. Valens then, finding them contumacious, ordered one of his generals (this same Modestus, according to Sozomen, who also relates the story) to enter the city and put the people to the sword. As Modestus, who was a humane man, sought to persuade them to yield, he met a woman leading her two sons to the Church. He strove to stop her, warning her of the danger she incurred; but her reply was, “I hear that they who fear God are to be slain, and I am in haste to win the crown with the rest.” “But what of these boys?” he asked. “Are they thy sons?” “They are,” she answered, “and we pray, both I and they, that we may be made an oblation to the Lord.” Amazed at her resolve, he reported the matter to Valens, to convince him that the Edessenes were prepared to die rather than submit. The Emperor was moved to relent; the people and their Bishop and priests came forth; he heard their plea, was ashamed of his cruel purpose, pardoned their disobedience, and departed. This well-attested incident is to be assigned to 371, or to the preceding or ensuing year. This victory of faith was celebrated by Ephraim in the following verses:—

“The doors of her homes Edessa

Left open when she went forth

With the pastor to the grave, to die,

And not depart from her faith.

Let the city and fort and building

And houses be yielded to the king;

Our goods and our gold let us leave;

So we part not from our faith!

Edessa is full of chastity,

Full of prudence and understanding.

She is clad in discernment of soul;

Faith is the girdle of her loins;

Truth her armour all-prevailing;

Love her crown, all-exalting.

Christ bless them that dwell in her,

Edessa, whose name is His glory,

And the name of her champion her beauty!

City that is lady over her fellows,

City that is the shadow

Of the Jerusalem in heaven!”

After all was thus restored to peace and orthodoxy, Ephraim withdrew to his retreat on the Mount, which he is not recorded to have again quilted, save on one occasion, to be presently related.

10. Penitent Sent to Ephraim by Basil: Basil’s Death

The death of Basil (at the end of 378) is said by our author to have caused great grief to Ephraim, and to have been lamented by him in hymns. But (as will be shown below) this is hardly possible, even if the latest date for Ephraim’s death be accepted.

Another miraculous incident connected with Ephraim’s biography, belongs to the year of Basil’s death. A woman of high rank, but of evil life, in Cæsarea, being moved to penitence, wrote on a paper a full confession of her sins, and gave it to Basil, who at her entreaty laid it with prayer before the Lord. Her repentance and his intercession prevailed so far, that the record of all her guilt disappeared from the paper, save of one sin, more heinous than the rest. Disappointed thus of her hope of full pardon, she had recourse again to Basil, supplicating that this sin too might be wiped out. He encouraged her to persevere in prayer, and advised her to repair to the Mount of Edessa, to Ephraim, and through him obtain her desire. To Ephraim accordingly she made her way, and cried to him, saying, “Have pity on me, thou holy one of God.” When he heard Basil’s advice and her petition, he disavowed all such power to prevail with God as Basil had ascribed to him, and advised her rather to hasten back and obtain her Archbishop’s farther intercession. She returned accordingly to Cæsarea; but, as it seemed, too late: Basil had died before her arrival, and she met his corpse as it was carried to burial. In despair, she prostrated herself in the dust, proclaimed her story to all that stood by, and upbraided the dead saint, “Woe is me, servant of God! why didst thou send me far away that I should return too late and meet thee borne to the grave! The Lord judge betwixt me and thee, who hast sent me to another, when thyself couldst have absolved me!” One of the attendant clergy, desiring to learn what was the sin for which pardon was so hard to win, took from her the paper she held, and opening found it blank. The last and deadliest of her list had vanished like the rest: and “thus, by the prayers of Basil and of Ephraim, and by the woman’s faith and perseverance, her sins were all of them blotted out.”

After this occurrence, the History places the following narrative of Ephraim’s last intervention in earthly concerns. It is related likewise by Palladius (Ephraim’s younger contemporary) and by Sozomen.

11. Exertions in Relief of Famine

In a season of severe famine, he ascertained that grain was being hoarded in the stores of certain persons who gave nothing to the starving poor. When he rebuked their inhumanity, they excused themselves on the plea that none was to be found of such probity as to guarantee fairness and honesty in the distribution of relief. Ephraim at once offered his services, and was accepted as their agent throughout the famine season, to dispense large sums as the treasurer and steward of their bounty. Among other things, he provided three hundred letters, partly for removing the sick to stations where they were duly tended, partly for carrying the dead for interment. A body of helpers worked with him in administering relief, and their care extended not merely through the city, but to the country and villages adjacent. The year of dearth ended, a year of plenty ensued; Ephraim retired to his cell,—this time to leave it no more. He died a month after the close of the charitable labours. Of them his biographer, following for once the better instinct which recognizes higher worth in services of love than in ascetic practices or in miraculous pretensions, writes thus:—”God gave him this occasion that therein he might win the crown in the close of his life.”

12. His Testament

In his Testament, which professes to have been composed in immediate anticipation of his end, he laid on his disciples a solemn charge that his body should be buried humbly, covered with no garment save his tunic (cothênô). Gregory of Nyssa adds that a rich friend who, though informed of his prohibition, had provided beforehand for this purpose a costly robe, was punished by the possession of an evil spirit, which tormented him until, on his confession, the dying saint relieved him, casting out the demon by prayer and laying on of hands.

From the extant Syriac of this document (which is metrical), the following have been selected as the most striking verses:

“I Ephraim am at point to die: and I write my testament;

That I may leave for all men a memorial: of whatsoever is mine,

That though it be [but] for my words: they that know me may remember me.

Woe is me, for my times are ended: and the length of my years is fulfilled;

The spinning for me is shortened: the thread is nigh unto cutting;

The oil fails in the lamp: my days are spent, yea, mine hours;

The hireling has finished his year: and the sojourner has fulfilled his season.

Around me are the summoners: on this side and that are they that lead me away.

I cry aloud, [but] none hears me: and I complain, [but] none delivers.

“Woe to thee, Ephraim, for the judgment: when thou shall stand before the Son’s judgment-seat,

And around thee they that know thee: on the right hand and the left,

Lo! there shalt thou be confounded: woe to him who is put to shame there!

Jesu, do Thou judge Ephraim: nor give his judgment to another;

For whoso has God for his Judge: he finds mercy in judgment;

For I have heard from the wise: yea, I have heard from men of knowledge,

That whoso sees the face of the King: though he has offended, he shall not die.

“By him who came down on Mount Sinai: and by him who spake on the rock,

By that Mouth which spake the “Eli“: and made the bowels of creation tremble,

By him who was sold in Judah: and by him who was scourged in Jerusalem,

By the Might which was smitten on the cheek: and by the Glory which endured spitting,

By the threefold Names of fire: and by the one Assent and will,

I have not rebelled against the Church: nor against the might of God.

If in my thought I have magnified the Father: above the Son, let Him have no mercy on me!

And if I have accounted the Holy Spirit less: than God, let mine eyes be darkened!

If as I have said, I confessed not: let me go into outer darkness!

And if I speak in hypocrisy: let me burn with the wicked in fire!

“I adjure you my disciples: with adjurations that may not be loosed,

That my words be not set aside: that ye loose not my commandments.

Whoso lays me beneath the altar: he shall not see the Altar of heaven;

For it is not meet that foul stench: should be laid in the Holy Place;

Whoso has laid me within the temple: he shall not see the temple of the Kingdom.

“Take nought from me as memorial: my beloved, my brothers, my sons,

For as much as ye have a memorial: that which ye have heard of Jesus.

For if ye take aught from Ephraim: into reproach will Ephraim come;

For He, my Lord, will say unto me: ‘More than in Me they have trusted in thee, For if they had relied on Me: they had not sought a memorial from thee.’

“Lay me not with the martyrs: for I am a sinner and unworthy,

And because of my unworthiness I fear: to be brought beside their bones;

For if stubble comes near to fire: it will scorch it, yea, devour it.

It is not that I hate their neigbourhood: because of mine unworthiness. I fear it.

“Whoso carries me on his fingers: may his hands be leprous as Gehazi!

“On your shoulders carry me: and in haste conduct me [to the grave],

And as a mean man bury me: for I have worn out my days in sadness.

Why glorify ye me, O men: who before our Lord am ashamed?

And why give ye me [the name of] ‘Blessed’: who am disclosed in my works?

Should one show you my transgressions: ye would all of you spit in my face.

For if the stench of the sinner: could strike one that stood by him,

Ye would all of you flee away: from the loathsome stench of Ephraim.

“Whoso lays with me a pall: may he go forth into outer darkness!

And whoso has laid with me a shroud: may he be cast into Gehenna of fire!

In my coat and cowl shall ye bury me: for ornament beseems not the hateful,

Nor does praise profit the dead: who is laid and cast into the tomb.

“Arise, my brethren of Edessa: my lords and my sons and my fathers!

Bring whatsoever ye have vowed: to lay along with your brother,

Bring and set it before me: whatsoever ye my brethren have vowed.

While I have yet a little memory: let me set on it a price;

And let there be bought pure vessels: and let there be hired workmen therewith,

And distribution be made among the poor: the needy and them that are in want.

“Blessed is the city wherein ye dwell: Edessa, mother of the wise,

Which from the living mouth of the Son: was blessed by His Disciple.

This blessing shall abide in her: until the Holy One shall be revealed.

“Whoso withholds from me aught that he has vowed: shall die the death of Ananias,

Who sought to deceive the Apostles: and was stretched [dead] before their feet.

“Whoso carries before me a taper: may his fire be kindled beside him!

For to what end avails fire: for him whose fire is from himself?

For when the visible fire is kindled: in it is consumed the secret fire.

Sufficient for me is the pain without: add ye not to me that which is within.

“Lay me not with sweet spices: for this honour avails me not;

Nor yet incense and perfumes: for the honour benefits me not.

Burn sweet spices in the Holy Place: and me, even me, conduct to the grave with prayer.

Give ye incense to God: and over me send up hymns.

Instead of perfumes of spices: in prayer make remembrance of me.

What can goodly odour profit: to the dead who cannot perceive it?

Bring them in and burn them in the Holy Place: that they which enter in may smell the savour.

Wrap thou not the fetid dung: in silk that profits it not.

Cast it down upon the dunghill: for it cannot perceive honour [done to it].

“Lay me not in your sepulchres: for your magnificence profits me not;

For I have a covenant with God: that I shall be buried with strangers.

I am a stranger, as they were: with them, O my brethren, lay me!

For every bird loves its kind: and man loves him that is like himself.

In the cemetery lay me: where are the broken of heart,

That when the Son of God comes: He may embrace me and raise me among them.”

[After blessing by name the five faithful disciples above mentioned (page 126), he leaves an anathema on the two, Paulinus and Urit, who had erred from the faith; and against]

“Arians and Anomœans: Cathari and those of the Serpent,

Marcionites and Manichœans: Bardesanites and Kukites,

Paulites and Vitalianites: Sabbatarians and Borborites,

With all the other doctrines: of superstitious that are unseemly.”

[The dying Saint recalls in the following lines the vision of his childhood, and praises God for its fulfilment.]

“I swear by your lives I lie not: in this thing that I tell.

For when I was a little child: and lay in my mother’s bosom,

I saw (I was as in a dream): a thing which has come to pass in truth.

There grew a vine-shoot on my tongue: and increased and reached unto heaven,

And it yielded fruit without measure: leaves likewise without number.

It spread, it stretched wide, it bore fruit: all creation drew near,

And the more they were that gathered: the more its clusters abounded.

These clusters were the Homilies; and these leaves the Hymns.

God was the giver of them: glory to Him for His grace!

For He gave to me of His good pleasure: from the storehouse of His treasures.”

This farewell strain has no doubt suffered interpolation, but the main part of what is above translated is confirmed as genuine by the references to it of Gregory, who had undoubtedly read it in a Greek version. As it has reached us, it ends with a narrative, which at most can only claim to be an appendix added by a disciple, of the lamentations uttered at his deathbed by a maiden named Lamprotate, daughter of a man of rank in Edessa, who entreated permission to make a tomb for him and another at his feet for herself. The narrative concludes with his consent to this petition, his parting commands to her, and her promise of obedience.

His body was followed to the grave by all the people of the city and neighborhood, and by the Bishops, priests, and deacons of the province, with the monks, whether “anchorites, stylites, or cœnobites”—solitary, or living in communities. It was laid (as he had desired) in the strangers’ burial-ground; but not long after, the citizens removed it thence, and made a grave for him, deacon as he was, among those of their Bishops,—probably in the monastery (now belonging to the Armenians) of St. Sergius on the Mount of Edessa, where his tomb is shown to this day, as we learn from the Reise in Syr. u Mesopot. of Dr. Sachau (p. 202).

13. Death and Burial

His death occurred in Haziran (June), on the 15th according to our History (Vat.), but other authorities differ, assigning it to the 9th, 18th, or 19th. The shorter Syriac Life gives the year as 372,—thus contradicting the History which represents him as living in the year of Basil’s death (378).

Even in the time of Gregory of Nyssa, an annual commemoration of Ephraim had become customary in the Church, which gave occasion for the Encomium above referred to. In the East, it was held on the 28th of January; but in the Roman Martyrology his name is recorded on the 1st of February.

IV.—Recapitulation of Authentic Facts of Life

The Life, whence the above narrative is mainly derived, though evidently put into its present form by compilers many generations later than the time of Ephraim, is in its leading outlines to be accepted as historically trustworthy, though it has no doubt been largely amplified by the incorporation of exaggerated or fictitious details. Of its essential points, not a few are confirmed by his own writings; and many more (as has been said above, p. 121), by evidence of hardly later date,—especially by the Encomium of Gregory of Nyssa (d. 395), who assures us that he derives his account from Ephraim’s written statements and from no other source. This Father, as being brother of Basil with whom Ephraim was so closely associated in his later life, may well have known personally the man of whom he wrote, and was at least in a position to collect and verify with discrimination the facts of his life. Further, the general historical framework of the biography is sufficiently attested as correct by the contemporary secular historians, non-Christian as well as Christian—notably (as will appear farther on), as regards the siege of Nisibis, by one whom Ephraim most abhorred, the Emperor Julian.

It may be briefly affirmed that the external independent evidence covers all the facts included in the summary given above (pp. 120, 121), at the opening of this Section. It extends farther to many incidents related in the Life,—such as the attempt of Sapor to take Nisibis by turning the river against its walls, Ephraim’s encounter with the woman who met him as he entered Edessa and her retort to his rebuke, his borrowing the music of the heretic in order to popularize the orthodox teaching of his own hymns, the call to the Episcopate and his evasion of it, the constancy of the faith of the Edessenes when threatened by the persecutor Valens, the famine and the work of relief organized by Ephraim in the last year of his life; also to a few of the details which belong to or verge on the supernatural,—the dream of the vine-shoot which foreshadowed his literary fertility, the vision of the Angel with the book who appeared to his brother-anchorite, and that of the dove, which he himself seemed to see, inspiring the discourses of Basil. In these facts, greater and smaller taken together, we have sufficient data for the derivation of the main outlines of his life and the leading features of his character.

V.—Historical Criticism of Mediæval Amplifications

But along with the genuine and trustworthy matter, the compiler has embodied much that is unattested and in many cases inherently improbable, and even some things that are demonstrably untrue.

i. The Miraculous Details.—To the category of the improbable—the fiction of hagiology or the growth of myth—belong the miracles so freely ascribed to Ephraim and the miraculous events represented as attending on his career. It is noteworthy that Ephraim himself, though no doubt he believed that he was the recipient of Divine intimations in dream or vision, never lays claim to supernatural powers. Nor does Gregory in the Encomium attribute to him any such—except in the case of the rich friend who for his mistaken zeal was given over to an evil spirit; and on his repentance relieved through Ephraim’s intercession. The voice that issued from his father’s idol foretelling his future war against idolatry—the answer of the new-born babe that cleared him from calumny—the crowned phantom on the walls of Nisibis that scared the besiegers—the plague of insects that drove them into disastrous flight—the Angel sent to call him back to Edessa when he had fled thence—the storm hushed and the sea-monster slain by his word on the voyage to Egypt—the monk whom he delivered at once from demoniacal possession and from heresy—the sudden gift of tongues which enabled him to speak Coptic with Bishoi and Greek with Basil—the restoration to life of the youth who had died of a viper’s bite at Samosata—the paralytic healed at the church door in Edessa—the disappearance of the record of guilt from the scroll on which the penitent of Cæsarea had written her confession—all these belong to the later growth of legend that springs up naturally over the tomb of a saint. Some of them may be safely set aside as purely fictitious; others are probably due to metaphoric expressions mistaken for literal assertions, or to rhetorical amplification throwing a false coloring of the supernatural over ordinary events. Most of them, moreover, bear evident signs of having been dressed by the compiler into spurious resemblance to the miraculous narrations in the Old and New Testaments, of the Divine dealings with Prophets and Apostles,—Elisha, Jonah, St. Peter, St. Paul, or even of the works of power which attested the mission of our Lord Himself on earth. In reading these, one cannot fail to feel painfully—though the narrator seems quite unconscious of—the irreverence of the travesty. It is noteworthy that some, even of the non-miraculous incidents of the Life appear to have been similarly handled. Thus the account of the stoning of Ephraim outside of Edessa seems modelled after that of St. Paul at Lystra, (Acts. 14:19, 20): and the simulated madness by which he evaded the call of the Episcopate is apparently borrowed from the history of David’s behavior before Achish and his servants at Gath (1 Sam. 21:13–15).

ii. The Demonstrably Incorrect or Contradictory Statements.—Farther, even when we have laid aside all that is seemingly exaggerated, invented or mythical in the Life, there remains much in it that, when critically examined, proves to need correction or to deserve rejection. We proceed to deal with some questions which arise affecting the historical credibility of its narrative.

1. Ephraim’s Alleged Heathen Parentage.—The heathen parentage assigned to Ephraim, and consequently the whole narrative of his conversion to Christianity and his consequent troubles, may be without hesitation discredited. They are irreconcilable with his own words (Adv. Hæreses, XXVI.), “I was born in the way of truth: though my boyhood understood not the greatness of the benefit, I knew it when trial came.” So again more explicitly (if we may trust a Confession which is extant only in Greek), “I had been early taught about Christ by my parents; they who begat me after the flesh, had trained me in the fear of the Lord.… My parents were confessors before the judge: yea, I am the kindred of martyrs.”

2. The First and Third Sieges of Nisibis.—In the narrative of the siege of Nisibis, and especially of the presence and intercession of St. Jacob the Bishop, there is confusion and grave error. It is certain that in the reign of Constantius (337–361), Nisibis was three times besieged by Sapor. The siege in which St. Jacob was within the city took place in the year 338, and he died the same year. The attempt of Sapor to employ the intercepted waters of the Mygdonius for the destruction of its walls, belongs to a later siege—the third, of the year 350—twelve years after the death of Jacob. These two sieges are expressly recorded in the “Paschal (otherwise Alexandrine Chronicle),” followed by Theophanes in his Chronographia (who also mentions briefly the intervening siege of 346); and the account given by the former of these chroniclers (who wrote in the seventh century) rests on the authority of an Epistle written by Valgesh, Bishop of Nisibis in 350, who is eulogized by Ephraim in five of the Nisibene Hymns contained in the present volume (XIII.–XVII.). Other contemporary evidence, fuller, and at first hand, to the same effect, is forthcoming from two widely different sources.—As already intimated, the Apostate is here alone with the champion of the Faith.

In his second Oration (addressed, probably in the year 358, to Constantius, then Emperor) Julian describes the siege with even more circumstantial detail than our biographer, placing it after the death of Constans, which took place in January 350, and thus confirming the date assigned by the Paschal chronicler and by Theophanes. According to Julian’s account, the embankment formed by Sapor, the work of four months,3 was so constructed as to encompass the whole circuit of Nisibis, so that the river intercepted by it “formed a lake in the middle of which the city stood as an island,” with “the battlements of its walls barely appearing above the surrounding waters”; and on the surface of this encircling lake, he launched armed vessels and floating war-engines. By these the fortifications were ceaselessly battered for several days,—till of a sudden the river (then in flood) burst its barrier, and carried away not only the embankment but a hundred cubits of the city wall. Through the breach thus made, Sapor pushed forward his cavalry to lead the advance upon the city which lay thus seemingly at his mercy. But they proved unable to overcome the difficulties of the intervening ground—torn up and flooded as it was by the torrent, and traversed moreover by an ancient moat—while the Nisibenes in the energy inspired by their deadly peril, showered missiles upon their assailants as they strove to struggle onward. The Persian next sent on his elephants; but their unwieldly bulk served only to enhance the panic and confusion, and to complete the disaster of his repulse. And when, the next morning, he prepared to renew the assault, he found himself confronted by a new wall, hurriedly raised in the night, to fill the gap in the ramparts, reaching already the height of six feet and manned by fresh and well-armed defenders. Despairing of success against a resistance so obstinate, he raised the siege on which he bad in vain expended so much time, labour, treasure, and blood, and retired ignominiously.

It is needless to add that of the miraculous incidents of the siege as related in the Life, no trace appears in Julian’s account. The only Providence he discerns in the successful defence of Nisibis, is that which he attributes to his imperial kinsman to whom his fulsome oratory is addressed.

Of the leading facts, as related by Julian, ample corroboration will be found in the first three of the Nisibene Hymns above referred to. In the first, Ephraim makes Nisibis herself tell the tale of her peril: she compares herself to the Ark of the Flood, compassed, not like it by waters merely, but by “mounds and weapons and waves” (I., 3); but (ib., 6, 8) the wall had not yet given way, for he still speaks of it as standing, and prays that it may continue to stand. This Hymn was therefore written while the siege was still in progress. In the second Hymn he celebrates her deliverance and the manner of it,—the very breach of her walls turned into triumph (II. 5, 7) by their reconstruction and the assault of the besiegers with their elephants (ib., 17, 18, 19), repulsed in disgrace, ending in immediate retreat. In the third Hymn, he follows on similar lines; and adds a point, significant in his apprehension, that whereas the wall fell on the Sabbath, it was raised again on the Lord’s day, the Day of the Resurrection (III. 6). In all three Hymns, it is again and again implied or asserted that this was the third siege of Nisibis (I. 11; II. 5, 19; III. 11, 12)—and farther (as it seems) the third time that a breach had been effected in her walls (I. 11; II. 19). In later Hymns also (XI. 14, 15; XIII. 17) the embanked river, bursting forth and breaking down the defences of the city, more than once appears. From one of these we learn incidentally that the Mygdonius flowed past, not through, Nisibis (XIII. 18, 19); from which fact it follows that the description in the Life, of the manner in which the Persian engineers employed the river waters against the walls, is to be set aside in so far as it differs from Julian’s account as confirmed by the Hymns.

It is remarkable how closely these two accounts, both contemporary with the facts they treat of, agree in all essential points, though coming to us from sources not only independent, but even adverse, inter se,—and in forms so little favourable to exactness of statement as thanksgiving Hymns and encomiastic Orations. When from Ephraim’s strophes we omit his pious ascriptions of praise to God, and from Julian’s periods, the fulsomeness of his panegyric on the Emperor, the residuum of material fact is in either case much the same; the main outlines of narrative (related or implied) are identical in both writers, each unconsciously attests the truthfulness of the other. Both are farther confirmed in great measure by the account of this siege embodied in the Pascha Chronicle above referred to, which (as already stated) rests on information drawn from a written record left by Valgesh who was Bishop of Nisibis at the time, and to whose prayers Ephraim (Hymn XIII. 17) attributed the speedy restoration of the breach in the city wall.

In confusing this siege (of 350, in the time of Valgesh), with the previous one (of 338, in the time of Jacob), our biographer, with most subsequent writers down to the eighteenth century, has been misled by following Theodoret’s narration in his Ecclesiastical History (II. 30). The account of the siege given in the Life is in fact a mere reproduction, somewhat abridged, and slightly varied, of Theodoret’s, from which it derives also its computation of the time occupied by the siege as but twenty days,—a period obviously inadequate for the vast engineering works for which the four months assigned by Julian are certainly not too much,—as well as its description of the method and aim of those works. In Theodoret likewise are found the two supernatural incidents of Sapor’s discomfiture, both repeated in the Life,—neither of which is affirmed or even hinted at by Ephraim any more than by Julian; the appearance of the Imperial Phantom on the wall, and the plague of insects sent in answer to Jacob’s, or, as the Life has it, to Ephraim’s prayer. Of these, the former, but not the latter, finds place in the Paschal Chronicle, and (in exaggerated form) in Theophanes. Whether, in this instance, the chronicler’s statement, which is guardedly expressed, or any nucleus of it, was derived from the Epistle of Valgesh,—or whether he borrowed it from Theodoret or some one of Theodoret’s sources, or some such authority—is matter of conjecture.

3. Constantius and Constans.—The Life errs grossly (as already noticed) in making Constans, who died in 350, and never reigned in the East, the successor of his brother Constantius, who survived till 361.

4. The Alleged Sojourn in Egypt.—The sojourn of Ephraim for eight years in Egypt, after he had taken up his abode in Egypt, and before his visit to Cappadocia, is impossible. It was in July, 363, that Nisibis was surrendered to Persia by Jovian, which court was the cause, as the Life (no doubt rightly) states, of Ephraim’s final departure from that city to Beth-Garbaia, thence to Amid, and finally, “at the end of the year,” to Edessa. It follows, therefore, that he did not reach Edessa till 364. In Edessa, or in his cell on the adjacent “Mount” according to the Life, he lived, worked, wrote commentaries and polemical discourses, taught, and formed a school of disciples, before his alleged journey to Egypt. It is therefore implied that he spent years in or near Edessa before he set out on that journey, which cannot therefore be placed so early as 365. Even if we assign to it the improbably early date of 366, the eight years in Egypt bring us to 374, or at earliest 373, for his visit to the Cæsarean Cappadocia. Now there is a prevailing weight of testimony to the effect that Ephraim died in 373, which date, if accepted, leaves no time for the incidents of his life after his return to Edessa. This, however, cannot be urged against our biographer, who (as will be shown) assumes that he lived till 379. But the Life represents him as resident in or near Edessa during the persecution which that city suffered from the Emperor Valens, which (as stated above, p. 132) took place probably in 371; certainly not later than 372, at which date (according to the biographer) he was still in Egypt. In fact, even without going into particulars, it is evident that between Ephraim’s arrival in Edessa in 364 and the persecution of Valens in 370–2, the eight years’ sojourn in Egypt and the visit to Cappadocia would so fill the interval as to leave no time for the prolonged Edessa residence, before and after that sojourn, which the Life, in common with all other authorities, attributes to Ephraim, and in virtue of which his name is inseparably associated with the history of Edessa.

If, with the Vatican recension of the Life, we read “Julian” for Valens, as the name of the persecutor of Edessa, the impossibility becomes yet more absurdly glaring. For Julian died in 363, and before that year Ephraim had not migrated from Nisibis to Edessa.

It is no doubt possible that Ephraim may have visited Egypt, as the Life affirms, before proceeding to Cæsarea: as an anchorite he would naturally be drawn to the land where the anchorite life had its origin and its greatest development. Yet it is hardly probable that, eager as he was to see Basil at Cæsarea, he would, when setting out on his travels, have directed his course to Egypt first,—a country so distant, and lying in a direction so different, froth Cappadocia. This improbability would naturally fail to strike our biographer, who appears to have supposed Basil’s Cæsarea (if indeed he had any definite idea of its situation) to have been the maritime city of that name in Palestine. One can hardly avoid suspecting that this whole narrative of the visit to Egypt—unknown as it is to all authorities save our Life (in its twofold recension), and the shorter form of the same—may have been invented by some compiler or reviser, writing in, or for, one of the Egyptian monasteries of the Nitrian Desert, and seeking to gratify the Syrian ascetics who were numerous in that region, by making it the scene of an episode in the life of the most famous of Syrian ascetics. It certainly has the air of an interpolation, coming as it does between the description of Ephraim’s longing desire to see Basil, and the narrative of the fulfilment of that desire by his visit to Cæsarea. More particularly, as regards the story of the visit of Ephraim to the Nitrian Saint Pesoës (or Bishoi), it is to be noted that it is mentioned, not in the Parisian recension of the Life, but only in that of the Vatican MS. It is a significant fact that this MS., which is thus our only written authority for the alleged visit, was written (probably) about the year 1100, in the Nitrian monastery of “Amba Bishoi” (St. Pesoës). On the other hand, it is to be added that a tradition of Ephraim’s sojourn in Egypt, connecting him with Pesoës, lingered in quite recent times, and may probably still linger, among the monks, Syrian and Coptic, of the Nitrian region. Travellers of the seventeenth, and even eighteenth, century, tell of a tamarind tree which was shown to them within the precincts of the Syrian monastery of the Theotokos in that region, reputed to have grown from Ephraim’s staff which he set in the ground on his arrival there, as he was about to enter the cell of Pesoës. It is probable that this legend of the staff (which reminds one of that of the staff of St. Joseph of Arimathea and the Glastonbury thorn tree) may have grown out of the belief that Ephraim once visited the monastery,—which belief again may have been originated by the pious fiction of the compiler or interpolator of the Life in its Vatican form. It is easy to imagine how gladly a community of Syrian monks in this Egyptian solitude would listen to what professed to be a record of the greatest of Syrian monks, a recluse like themselves, the author of the Sermons to Ascetics which they had read or listened to, and of the many hymns which enriched their offices and quickened their devotions;—and how ready they would be to welcome as fact the story of his sojourn in their valley, and to imagine that a memorial of it survived among the trees of their garden.

5. Interval between Visit to Basil and Persecution by Valens.—The interval of four years or more, which the Life seems to place between Ephraim’s return from Cæsarea to Edessa, and the persecution of the Edessenes by Valens, is likewise impossible. For at Cæsarea all agree that Ephraim found Basil Archbishop. But Basil was consecrated late in 370, and therefore Ephraim’s first meeting with him, which was on the Feast of the Epiphany, cannot be placed earlier than January, 371. But the persecution took place probably in 371, or at latest in 373—thus reducing the possible length of interval to two years at most—probably to a few months. It may be said, however, that the biographer, though he relates the persecution after mentioning the four years’ interval, does not mean to imply that it was subsequent in time to that interval. But it will be shown farther on (under next head) that the four years’ interval is inadmissible, independently of the date of that persecution; inasmuch as Ephraim survived only three years after his visit to Basil.

6. Death of Basil before that of Ephraim.—The story of the lady who was sent by Basil to Ephraim, and by Ephraim back to Basil, only in time to see his corpse,—and of Ephraim’s grief for Basil’s death, cannot be accepted unless we set aside the consent of the chronologers, who agree that Ephraim died in 373,—whereas Basil survived to 1st January, 379. It is true that there is extant among the Greek works ascribed to Ephraim, an encomium on Basil,3 which seems to be genuine. This, however, is not to be regarded as an eulogium pronounced after Basil’s death; but rather as a panegyric in which the living man is apostrophized. We may safely conclude that the story, which rests on a basis of erroneous chronology, is itself a fiction.

But the story of Ephraim’s helpful intervention and activity in a time of famine, which is undated, having early attestation, may well be accepted as true, and assigned to the winter of 372–3. The authorities who attest the date of his death as 373, place it in the month of Haziran (June); and we may reasonably conjecture that the exertions and anxieties of the season of famine had told too heavily on a frame already wasted by years and by excessive austerities, and had thus hastened his end.

VI.—Rectification of the Vatican Text of the Life

If the Life had reached us in its Vatican form only, it would have been necessary to correct one or two farther errors:

1. Date of his Baptism Mistaken.—According to the Vatican Life, Ephraim was baptized at the age of 28, after the surrender of Nisibis by Jovian. The surrender was in 363, and the age assigned to him would therefore make 334 the earliest admissible date for his birth—ten years after the Council of Nicæa, at which the Life records that he was present! The Parisian Life corrects this absurdity and shows how the mistake arose. The statement, in this version of the story, is that after quitting Nisibis, “he retired to Beth-Garbaia, where he had received baptism at the age of 18.” By omitting the auxiliary “had” (which in Syriac, as in English, expresses the pluperfect) the Vatican scribe or editor introduces this blunder about the date of the baptism. It is probable that, without having any distinct knowledge of the date of the departure from Nisibis, he felt that Ephraim must have been more than 18 at this stage of the narrative, and strove to make the age cohere better with the time required for the events related, by changing 18 into 28.

2. Julian substituted for Valens.—The substitution of the name of Julian for that of Valens as the persecutor of Edessa, has been already noticed. That the story (with the incident of the martyr-mother with her two sons) belongs to the time of Valens, is established by the united testimony of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. The whole history is clear, and coherent with itself and with chronology, in the Parisian Life; whereas the Vatican version of it, by bringing Ephraim to Edessa in the reign of Julian, makes hopeless confusion. It is to be noted that the names Julianus and Valens, so distinct as written in Latin, differ but little when transliterated (without vowel-points) into Syriac.

VII.—Chronology of the Life of Ephraim

Thus the fixed points for determining the chronology of Ephraim’s life are:

1. The death of his patron, St. Jacob, Bishop of Nisibis, in 338, after the first siege of that city.

2. The third siege, in which he was among the defenders of the city, in 350.

3. The surrender of Nisibis by Jovian, and its abandonment by its Christian inhabitants, 363; followed by Ephraim’s removal to Edessa.

4. The consecration of Basil to the see of Cæsarea, late in 370, followed by Ephraim’s visit to him there.

5. The deliverance of the Edessenes from the persecution of Valens (370–372), celebrated by Ephraim in a hymn.

6. Ephraim’s death, 373.

To this list it would be right to prefix the meeting of the Council of Nicæa in 325, if the evidence of Ephraim’s presence at it, along with St. Jacob, were sufficient. But it has no early attestation; and no writer prior to Theodoret (Hist. Eccles. II. 30) associates the name of Jacob with any incident in Ephraim’s life.

The date of Ephraim’s birth is nowhere directly stated, but it is usually assumed to have been early in the reign of Constantine (306–337), on the authority of the Vatican Life, which says, “In the days of the victorious Constantine, true believer, was born the holy man Ephraim.” But the statement of the Parisian Life is less explicit, and is capable of a different meaning:—”He was in the days of the victorious Constantine.” This merely implies that Ephraim (if the pronoun represent him) lived in the reign of that emperor. But it rather appears that Ephraim’s father is meant, inasmuch as he is the subject of the immediately preceding sentence which describes him as a heathen priest; and the purport of the passage is, that the saint was the son of a man who not merely had been one of an idolatrous priesthood, but continued to be so after Constantine had acknowledged the Christian religion.

The earlier authorities give no express statement on this point; but a late tenth-century Greek menologium, that of the Emperor Basil (Porphyrogenitus), says that he “continued from the reign of Constantine to that of Valens,”—implying as it seems that he was born, as the Vatican Life represents, after Constantine’s accession in 306.

Considering, however, that the Life in both its forms affirms that Ephraim was brought by St. Jacob to the Council of Nicæa in 325—in which it is borne out by Gregory Barhebræus in his Ecclesiastical Chronicle (who though a very late writer (1226–1286) had access to early authorities and judgment in using them)—it is hard to reconcile the chronology, for the improbability of the admission of a lad of nineteen, in any capacity, to that venerable assembly, is very great. If we accept it as a fact that he was chosen by Jacob to accompany him, and was permitted to be present among the Fathers at Nicæa, it seems almost necessary to place his birth before Constantine became emperor.4

Farther: the menologium above cited adds that he died “in extreme old age;” and the tone and tenor of his testament go far to confirm the truth of these words. But as he died in 373, he cannot have been more than 67 years old in that year if he was born in 306. No doubt 67 is a ripe age, but hardly sufficient to warrant the strong expression of the menologium. Without pressing its language unduly, we may surely take it as implying that he had passed the “threescore years and ten” of the Psalmist at the time of his death—in other words that he was born not later than the first or second year of the fourth century.

Thus by rectifying the text and rendering of the opening sentences of the Life, we relieve ourselves of the supposed necessity of placing his birth in or after 306. And his presence in the Council of 325, and his extreme old age in 373, concur in pointing to the beginning of the fourth century—if not to the later years of the third—as the probable time of that event.

However this may be, whether he was born in 306 or earlier, it is certain that by far the greater part of the long life of the “Deacon of Edessa”—all of it save its last ten or eleven years (363–373) was passed in his native Nisibis; and that he did not even attain the diaconate till he was considerably over sixty years of age, and within three years of his end.

VIII.—His Writings: Their Characteristics

Of the innumerable writings—controversial, expository, hortatory, devotional—which were for Ephraim the fulfilment of his dream in childhood, the fruit of the many years of literary activity that exercised his full heart and busy brain, enough remains to give an adequate idea of his powers and to amaze us by its variety and abundance. The exaggeration of Sozomen who reckons the number of lines written by him at “three hundred myriads” (three millions) is not to be taken as more than a rough guess at the probable total; but it is evidence of the impression made on the men of the generations to whom his works were transmitted by his fertility. That he himself was conscious of this gift appears in the fact that he records the dream and claims for his hymns and sermons that in them is to be found its interpretation. His faculty of speech, as Gregory informs us in a remarkable passage, though adequate to utter the thoughts of any other mind, was sometimes overborne by the rapid rush and abounding throng of the ideas with which his inspiration filled him, in such measure that he was forced to pray for the intermission of its flow, “Restrain, O Lord, the tide of Thy grace!” Copiousness is the characteristic, and its excess is the chief fault, of Ephraim as an author. The Syriac language has great capacity for condensation; and the parallelism of balanced clauses which Syriac literature affects, conduces to brevity. But on the other hand, the Syrian mind has a tendency to amplify; amplification is the besetting sin of Syriac writers,—of Ephraim not least. And thus, while each sentence has the severe precision of an epigram, the manifold reiteration of epigrammatic clauses amounts to verbosity: one and the same thought or fact is presented in a long-drawn series of slightly varied aspects, with change of expression or at most of illustration, till the recurrence becomes tedious. This criticism is meant primarily for his hymns; but it applies also to too many of his metrical homilies (to be described presently). In all his writings, metrical or otherwise, this habit of amplification leads him, in handling the narrations of Scripture, to fill out their simple outline with elaborate detail that wrongs their beauty and dignity. Of such treatment, examples will be found in this volume, in some of the hymns (such as the XIVth and XVth On the Epiphany, and in the Discourse on the Woman who was a Sinner.

His extant works (some of which are known to us only in a Greek version), and those of his lost works of which the titles are recorded, divide themselves into three classes;—Commentaries on Scripture, Homilies (mimrē), and Hymns (madrashē).

1. Commentaries.—His Commentaries belonged (if we may trust the Life) to his later years, after his migration to Edessa, when he was past middle life. There he is related to have begun his exposition (still extant) of Genesis, in the preface to which he refers to the homilies and hymns which he had previously produced (Opp. Syr. Tom. I., p. 1). He seems to have commented on almost all the canonical books of the Old Testament. His expositions of the Pentateuch, the chief historical books, the Prophets (including Lamentations), and Job, survive, and have been printed (in the Roman edition of 1732–43, supplemented by that of Professor Lamy, of Louvain, Tom. II., 1886); but those which he is recorded to have written on the Psalms and Proverbs, the books which may be presumed to have most influenced the religious spirit and literary form of his works, have not been preserved. None of the above, however, have reached us in a complete form, but rather as a series of extracts, apparently abridged, from the Commentaries as originally issued by their author. In commenting on the New Testament, he treated of the Gospels, not in their separate form, but in the continuous narrative known as the “Diatessaron” compiled from them by Tatian in the second century. This work, long lost, has been lately recovered in an Armenian version. His Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul has likewise been preserved for us in Armenian. Both have been published by the Mechetarist Fathers of St. Lazaro; first in Armenian, afterwards in a Latin version. In the present volume it has been judged best to include none of the Commentaries, inasmuch as the method and spirit of Ephraim’s treatment of Scripture are shown adequately, and in a more interesting form, in his Homilies and Hymns.

2. Homilies.—The Homilies are very varied in character. Many are controversial,—directed against the Jews, against heathenism in the person of the Emperor Julian, against the heresies of Manes, of Marcion, of Bardesan, of the Anomœan followers of Arius. Others set forth articles of the Faith—the Creation, the Fall, Redemption by the Passion and Crucifixion of Our Lord, His Descent into Hades, His Resurrection, the Mission of the Holy Spirit, the Rest of Paradise, the Second Coming, the End of the World. Others are expository, treating of narratives from the Old and the New Testaments, such as the life of Joseph, the Repentance of Nineveh, or the story of “the woman who was a sinner” of St. Luke 7—Others again are hortatory—calling to repentance, warning against sin, threatening future retribution, extolling virginity. Of the Homilies two—one doctrinal, of Our Lord; one expository, of the sinful woman, are given in this selection. It is to be noted that the Homilies are usually metrical in form, being written in regular stichoi (lines of uniform length). And some of them—for example, a series of nine for the “Rogation Days,” and another of eight for the “Passion Week” (week before Easter), and the vigil of “New Sunday” (first after Easter)—were and still are regularly read as lessons, as part of the offices of the Church;4 a singular mark of reverence—extended. it seems, to the sermons of no other divine.

3. Hymns.—But it is in his Hymns that Ephraim lives,—for the Syrian Churches, and indirectly for the Christian world, of the East if not of the West. Throughout Syrian Christendom, divided as it has been for ages—in the Malkite, Nestorian, Jacobite, and Maronite communities, from the Mediterranean to the Tigris, and beyond, even to the Malabar remnant of the Syro-Indian Church, all of which retain Syriac as the language of their ritual,—the whole body of public worship is shaped by his hymnody and animated with his spirit. It is literally the fact that the Hymns of Ephraim go with every member of every one of these Churches from the first to the last of his Christian life, from the font to the grave. The Epiphany Hymns (included in the present selection) are interwoven into the Baptismal Office; among the Funeral Hymns (which Dr. Burgess has made accessible to English readers) are to be found dirges proper for the obsequies of each and all, lay and cleric, young and old, male and female. Nor is it to be doubted that it was from these Syriac offices that those of the Greek-speaking Churches derived this characteristic, common to both, by which both are differentiated from those of the West,—”hymns occupying in the Eastern Church” (as Dr. Neale observes)2 “a space beyond all comparison greater than they do in the Latin,” so that “the body of the Eastern breviary is ecclesiastical poetry.” That the Syrian Church, and not the Greek, took the initiative in the development of ritual, appears from the facts that, though there is evidence of the use of Psalms and Canticles from Scripture throughout Christendom from the first, it is only with Ephraim’s contemporary, Gregory Nazianzen, that Greek sacred poetry can be said to have taken shape,—and that his verses failed to gain a place in public worship. He wrote in the metres of the heathen classics; and it was not until a later day, and from the hands of other writers, working on other lines, that the hymns appeared which won their way into the Greek ritual,—hymns written in rhythmic prose, in what seems to be conscious imitation of the Syriac model.

The imitation, however, is by no means complete; it is apparent in the general tone and manner, but does not extend to the form: just as the Greek version of Ephraim’s Hymns, though faithfully reproducing his thoughts and literary method, makes no attempt to retain his metrical system; but is a rendering into what in form is prose of an original which is in verse. That this should be so is unavoidable, for Syriac metres are incapable of adaptation to the Greek language. Syriac literature, in all else imitative, here and here only has found out for itself an independent course. Elsewhere it leans on one side to the Hebrew model to which it was drawn by affinity of language and by the influence of the Old Testament; on the other to the Greek, as found in the New Testament and in the writings of the great Divines of the Alexandrian and Antiochian patriarchates, who were the leaders of religious thought for Eastern Christendom. In hymnody alone it struck out a line of its own; it set an example for the Greek-speaking Churches to follow, so far as was possible for them under the conditions above indicated. The Syriac Hymnody is constructed on the Hebrew principle of parallelism, in which thought answers to thought in clauses of repetitive or antithetical balance: but, unlike the Hebrew, its clauses are further regulated by strict equivalence of syllabic measure. But though in this latter respect it seems to approach to the forms of Western verse, ancient or modern, yet the resemblance is but superficial: Syriac verse is not measured by feet—whether determined by syllabic quantity, as in Greek and Latin, or by accent, as in English and other modern languages. Thus the metre of Syriac poetry is substantially the “thought-metre” (as it has been well called) of Hebrew, reduced to regularity of form by the rule that each of the lines into which the balanced clauses fall, shall consist of a fixed number of syllables. There is no systematic rhyme; but the nature of the language which by reason of its uniformity of etymological structure abounds in words of like terminations, often causes correspondences of sound amounting to rhyme, or at least to assonance. The lines are very short; not exceeding twelve syllables, sometimes confined to four. Ephraim, though not the actual inventor, was the first master of this metrical system, the first to develop it into system and variety. His favorite metres are the five-syllabled and the seven-syllabled. In his more elaborate poems, such as the Nisibene series, which are rather Odes than Hymns, the strophes or stanzas into which the lines are arranged are often long and of complicated structure, each strophe consisting of many lines (ranging from four up to fourteen or more) of various lengths according to a fixed scheme rigidly adhered to throughout the poem—sometimes throughout a group of cognate poems. In other poems, especially in Hymns intended for popular or ecclesiastical use, where simplicity of structure is suitable, the lines which compose each strophe, whatever their number, are of uniform length. So easily do the Syriac tongue, and the genius of Syriac literature, lend themselves to this scheme of short, syllabically equal clauses, that (as has been already stated) many even of the Homilies are metrical; arranged not indeed in strophes, but in continuous succession of brief stichoi, all of one and the same length—usually of seven syllables; a sort of blank verse, but a blank verse with no animating accents, no varying pauses. A Homily so constructed would fatigue the ear of a modern audience by its monotony: but inasmuch as some portions of Ephraim’s Homilies were used in certain ecclesiastical Offices, probably recited in a sort of chant, it may be that in such use we have the explanation of their quasi-versified structure.

In point of literary value as poems, a high place cannot be claimed for these Hymns. Some of them indeed have much of the devotional fervor, and not a little of the human pathos, of the Psalms of David: others show something of the antithetic point and epigrammatic terseness of the Proverbs of Solomon. Yet the devout aspirations and confessions of the poet are too often forced and artificial in their utterance; in his funeral dirges we seem here and there to detect the false note of the professional mourner in the effort to exhaust all possible topics of grief; in all his poems he tends to prolong the series of his parallelisms to a wearisome length and with an iteration that, though laboriously varied, is tedious,—an iteration that has no precedent in the poetry of the Old Testament, save in one or two of the latest Psalms, such as the CXXXVIith with its recurring burden “For His mercy endureth for ever,” or the CXIXth with its artificial arrangement (often emulated in Syriac Hymnody) by which each of the twenty-two letters of the alphabet in turn is made to head each one of eight consecutive verses in praise of the Law of the Lord. On the whole, it must be admitted that the greater qualities of poetry, such as abound everywhere in nearly every writer of the Hebrew Scriptures,—of truth in rendering the inmost feelings of man’s heart in words of absolute simplicity, of aspiration that rises without effort to the highest things of God—to these Ephraim’s Hymns have no claim.

For these shortcomings in his poetry, two main causes may be assigned.

One is in the man himself,—or rather, in his mode of life. Naturally, he was prone to feel for and with his fellow-men; for the sorrows of the bereaved, the cares of the toiling poor whose lot (as he proved in the last and best episode of his history) moved him to sympathy and active succour. He can be simple accordingly when he deals with the homely facts of life. But the main tenor of his course was ascetic; he looked on this life and the life beyond—on man and to God—with a vision clouded by the gloom of unnatural solitude and self-mortification. An assiduous student of Scripture, he had an ear for its threatenings rather than its promises and consolations; dread and dismay entered into his heart more deeply than hope; the “Stand in awe and sin not” of the Psalmist was more familiar to his spirit than the “Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous.” The perpetual proneness to tears on which his biographers dwell with admiration, and which he seems to have thought it right to foster, has its reflex in his writings, in the hysterical overflow of his fears, his lamentations and his self-reproach. He had lived as an anchorite till his nature became morbid, and its moral fibre was weakened. But to reach the highest levels in religious literature, whether in prose or in poetry, a man must be sane, his mind healthy and strong,—with a health and strength sustained and exercised by wholesome daily contact with the lives of other men.

The second cause is to be found in the method, above described as his—developed though not actually invented by him, and made his own—which he chose as the vehicle of his thoughts and emotions. The “thought-metre” of the Hebrew poets was regulated (as we have seen) by balance of sense, not of sound—member answering to member, verse by verse, in equivalence or contrast of substance merely, not of verbal form: and in this metre, which has been happily likened to the alternating beat of a bird’s wings as it mounts aloft, they had shown it to be possible to attain the highest reach of sublime expression of the utmost that man’s spirit can conceive of God and Heaven. The Syriac Hymnists had the unhappy idea of effecting a compromise between their two contrasted models, the Hebrew and the Greek; and to this end they compelled their verses into conformity by syllabic measure, of sound, as well as of sense. This artificial structure has an effectiveness of its own, and is suited to the popular ear; but it is incapable of the elevation which the earlier and simpler method attained without effort. As its Semitic parallelism of substance excluded Syriac poetry from the variety in topic and largeness in conception of the Greek, so this grecized regularity of form hampered its efforts to rise to the upper regions where the Hebrew is at home. The wings are free and ample by whose regulated stroke Hebrew poetry is borne, and they carry it to the supreme height: in Syriac poetry the flight is too commonly low and feeble, because its wings are clipped. In the former we are conscious of a uniformity as of the unconstrained waves of the sea, following in a succession of endless change—a uniformity that is majestic: in the latter we detect the uniformity of the water-wheel, that with artificial movement draws up and dispenses the waters of the well in vessels of fixed measure—a uniformity that is mechanical and monotonous.

IX.—The Selections Included in the Present Collection

The specimens of Ephraim’s compositions offered in these selections are:—

(1) The Nisibene Hymns, (2) The Hymns of the Nativity, (3) The Hymns for the Epiphany, (4) Three Homilies (i., On our Lord; ii., On Reproof and Repentance; iii., On the Sinful Woman).

Of (2) the Nativity Hymns, the first thirteen are reprinted from the version by the Rex. J. B. Morris (Oxford, 1847), made from the Roman Edition of the Syriac Works of Ephraim. The rest of the series as translated (six in number, making nineteen in all) were unknown when that edition was completed in 1743. These latter, and also (3) the Epiphany Hymns (with one exception) have since come to light in the Nitrian collection of the British Museum, and were printed by Professor Lamy in his St. Ephraim (Tom. I., cc. 1–144; Tom. II., cc. 427–504), 1882–1889. In the same edition (Tom. I., cc. 145–274; 311–338) were first printed (4) the three Homilies. Our translations of these follow Lamy’s text, with here and there a slight variation where errors seem to exist. These two series of Hymns belong to the ecclesiastical class: their titles appropriate them to two great Festivals of the Church, and portions of these are embodied in Syriac Rituals still in use. Of the two Homilies, the former was written for the Feast of the Epiphany, like the Hymns which precede it.

The Nisibene Hymns (1) are translated from the text as first printed by Dr. Bickell (1866), whose edition, like that of Dr. Lamy, rests upon MSS. of the Nitrian collection. They also were unknown to the Roman editors of the last century, and to the English translator of 1847; and they have not till now appeared in English. The series when complete consisted of 77 Hymns. Of these the first division (I.–XXXIV.) treat of the fortunes of the Church in Nisibis, Carrhena [Haran], and an unnamed city (probably Edessa). The remainder (XXXV. to end) deal with the topics of Death and the Resurrection. The present selection comprises 46 of these, namely:—of the first division, the first 21, those which relate to Nisibis and which are the Nisibene Hymns proper; of the second division, two series—one of 8 hymns (XXXV.–XLII.) in which Death and Satan hold monologue or dialogue,—the other of 17 (LII.–LXVIII.), similar in character, but with Man as a third interlocutor.

X.—Probable Dates of His Works

Of the compositions contained in this volume, none yields internal evidence of its date, except the Nisibene Hymns of the first division. Hymns XXXV.–XLII. (not included here), apparently belong to the later (or Edessene) period of Ephraim’s life, and to the reign of Valens,—i.e., they are later than the year 363. The 21 Hymns which stand first in our collection may confidently be assigned to the year of the third siege (350) and the thirteen following years. Hymn I. was indubitably composed while the siege was still urgent; Hymns I. and III. immediately after the deliverance; Hymns IV.–XII. deal with the fortunes of the city and country in a troubled time of invasion that succeeded; the rest (XIII.–XXI.) treat of the four successive Bishops of Nisibis under whom Ephraim lived—Jacob, Babu, Valgesh, and Abraham. The last-named is not elsewhere recorded except by Elias of Nisibis, but the death of Valgesh is known to have occurred in 361. The Hymns therefore which celebrate the accession of Abraham to the See (XVII.–XXI.) must be placed in the interval, 361–363, the latter being the year when Ephraim with all the Christian population of the city was driven out by Sapor. Hymns XIII.–XVI., being written while Valgesh was Bishop—for they compare him with his two predecessors—fall into the interval between the year of the siege (350), which they speak of as past,—and the year of the death of Valgesh (361). Bickell assigns IV.–XII. to the months of Sapor’s invasion in 359; XIII.–XVI. to 358 and 359; XVII.–XXI. to 363, in the short space between Julian’s death and the surrender of Nisibis.

It is probable that most of his Hymns that are definitely controversial belong, like most of his controversial writings, to the years of his later life, at Edessa. And as we have seen, the earliest of them that can be confidently dated, is not earlier than 350. But it would be hasty to conclude that he had composed no Hymns before that date, and that in the Nisibene Hymns of the siege we have the first fruits of the vine of his vision. In 350 he must have been over forty—perhaps over fifty years of age; and it is highly improbable that a fertility which proved to be so abundant, did not begin to manifest itself at a much earlier age; or that a literary offspring of such bulk and importance was all produced in the last five and twenty years of a long life. The earlier authorities concerning his life give no definite information on this head; and the Syriac Life is vague in its statements and untrustworthy in its chronology. The account given of Barhebræus, a well-informed but very late writer (thirteenth century), can hardly be accepted as embodying any genuine tradition, but has probability in its favor:—”From the time of the Nicene Council (he writes), Ephraim began to write canticles and hymns against the heresies of his time,”—for few of his hymns are without a polemic spirit, though (as has been said) those that are purely controversial seem to be of a later period. A much later author indeed, Georgius “Bishop of the Arabians” (writing in 714) warns us that there is no evidence to assign any of Ephraim’s writings to the twenty years’ interval between the Nicene Council and the year 345—”especially (he adds) to the years before 337.”2 This writer, however, is here arguing in support of the claim of Aphrahat to be an independent author, against those who regarded him as a disciple of Ephraim; and he rests his case on the ground that whereas the Demonstrations of Aphrahat are (as we shall see presently) dated from 337 to 345, no composition of Ephraim’s can be shown to have been written so early. And it must be admitted that the earliest date (as above noted) that can be fixed with certainty for any of Ephraim’s innumerable productions in 350,—thirteen years later than Aphrahat’s earlier Demonstrations. Against this is to be set the tradition of Ephraim’s presence at Nicæa, implying as it does that even in 325 he had made himself a notable person,—and the probability that one who has left such ample proof of the copiousness of his literary gift, must have begun to exercise it before a date at which he would have passed his thirtieth year (supposing his birth to have been in 306), or even have entered middle life (if we place it at the beginning of the century). The two writers were unquestionably contemporary, and as yet no sufficient data have been discovered to determine to which of them seniority belongs.

SECOND PART

APHRAHAT THE PERSIAN SAGE

1. Name of Author of Demonstrations long Unknown

The author of the Demonstrations, eight of which appear (for the first time in an English version) in the present volume, has a singular literary history. By nationality a Persian, in an age when Zoroastrianism was the religion of Persia, he wrote in Syriac as a Christian theologian. His writings, now known to us as the works of Aphrahat, were remembered, cited, translated, and transcribed for at least two centuries after his death; but his proper name seems to have been for a time forgotten, so that in the MSS. of the fifth and sixth centuries the Demonstrations are described as composed by “the Persian Sage,” or “Mar Jacob the Persian Sage;” and a writer of the eighth century, who had made a minute study of these writings and ascertained their date, admits that he has been unable to find out “who or what he was, his rank in the Church, his name or abode.” Not only so, but the name Jacob assigned (rightly or wrongly) to him has led to a confusion of identity. His works have been ascribed for many hundred years—from a date not long after their composition down to quite recent times, to an earlier Jacob, the famous and saintly Bishop of Nisibis in the days of Constantine the Great. It is not until the tenth century that the true name of “the Persian Sage” emerges to light as Aphrahat, by which he is unhesitatingly designated by several well informed and accurate authorities of that and the three succeeding centuries and under which he is known to modern scholars.

2. Their Subjects, and Arrangement

The Demonstrations are twenty-two in number, after the number of the letters of the Syriac alphabet, each of them beginning with the letter to which it corresponds in order. The first ten form a group by themselves, and are somewhat earlier in date than those which follow: they deal with Christian graces, hopes, and duties, as appears from their titles:—”Concerning Faith, Charity, Fasting, Prayer, Wars, Monks, Penitents, the Resurrection, Humility, Pastors.” Of those that compose the later group, three relate to the Jews (“Concerning Circumcision, the Passover, the Sabbath“); followed by one described as “Hortatory,” which seems to be a letter of rebuke addressed by Aphrahat, on behalf of a Synod of Bishops, to the clergy and people of Seleucia and Ctesiphon; after which the Jewish series is resumed in five discourses, “Concerning Divers Meats, The Call of the Gentiles, Jesus the Messiah, Virginity, the Dispersion of Israel.” The three last are of the same general character as the first ten,—”Concerning Almsgiving, Persecution, Death, and the Latter Times.” To this collection is subjoined a twenty-third Demonstration, supplementary to the rest, “Concerning the Grape,” under which title is signified the blessing transmitted from the beginning through Christ, in allusion to the words of Isaiah, “As the grape is found in the cluster and one saith, Destroy it not” (65:8). This treatise embodies a chronological disquisition of some importance.

3. Dates of Composition

Of the dates at which they were written, these discourses supply conclusive evidence. At the end of section 5 of Demonstr. V. (Concerning Wars), the author reckons the years from the era of Alexander (b.c. 311) to the time of his writing as 648. He wrote therefore in a.d. 337—the year of the death of Constantine the Great. Demonst. XIV. is formally dated in its last section, “in the month Shebat, in the year 655 (that is, a.d. 344). More fully, in closing the alphabetic series (XXII. 25) he informs us that the above dates apply to the two groups—the first ten being written in 337; the twelve that follow, in 344. Finally, the supplementary discourse “Concerning the Grape” was written (as stated, XXIII. 69) in July, 345. Thus the entire work was completed within nine years,—five years before the middle of the fourth century,—before the composition of the earliest work of Ephraim of which the date can be determined with certainty.

4. Extent and Limits of their Circulation

These Demonstrations, though they fell far short of attaining the unbounded popularity which was the lot of the countless Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim, appear to have won for themselves a recognized place in Syriac literature. It is true that, in striking contrast with the overwhelming numbers of MSS. containing portions, great or small, of Ephraim’s works, which are to be met with in nearly every collection of Syriac written remains, one complete and two incomplete copies are all that have reached us of this series of twenty-three treatises; and extracts or quotations from them very rarely occur. Yet it is clear that compositions which were thought worthy at an early date of translation into at least one foreign tongue, must have had some considerable reputation in the country of their origin; and it may be presumed that these two or three MSS. (of the fifth and sixth centuries), are the survivors of a fairly large number of which the majority have perished.

The Armenian translation is probably the earliest evidence now extant of the circulation (though under a wrong ascription of authorship) of the Demonstrations, of which it comprises nineteen. Armenian scholars seem to agree in the belief that it was made in the fifth century, before its original was more than a hundred years in being. An Ethiopic translation of the discourse “On Wars” is extant, but there is no evidence that it formed part of a version extending to all or any of the remaining twenty-two, nor is its date even approximately determinable.

The manuscript evidence hardly reaches so far back as that of the Armenian version. The oldest extant MS. of these discourses (Add. 17182 of the British Museum) contains the first ten, and is dated 474. With it is bound up (under the same number) a second, dated 512, containing the remaining thirteen. A third (Add. 14619) of the sixth century likewise, exhibits the whole series. A fourth (Orient, 1017), more recent by eight centuries, will be mentioned farther on. Of the three early MSS., the first designates the author as “the Persian Sage” merely, as does also the third: the second prefixes his name as “Mar Jacob the Persian Sage.”

Among Syriac authors, the first to show an acquaintance with these treatises, at a date prior to that of the earliest of these MSS., is Isaac of Antioch, known as “the Great,” whose literary activity belongs to the first half of the fifth century. In his works passages have been pointed out which are evidently borrowed with slight change from the Demonstrations,—especially from that Concerning Fasting, and (though less distinctly) from that Concerning Faith. The imitation, however, is tacit, and Isaac nowhere names the work (or its author) whence he derived the illustrations and even the expressions he uses in treating of these topics.

Before the close of the same century, we find evidence that they were known—by repute, though apparently no farther—to a Latin writer of Western Europe, Gennadius of Marseilles, the continuator of St. Jerome’s work De Viris Illustribus, who wrote about the year 495. Though mistaken (as will presently be shown) about their parentage, and incorrectly informed as to their number (which he supposes to be twenty-six), Gennadius states their titles with such an approach to accuracy, as to leave no room for doubt that the discourses he describes are those of which we now treat. He shows himself aware that they are in Syriac, but gives no hint that he has ever seen them, or that he is able to read them.

In the seventh century, or (however) early in the eighth, tokens appear of a revival of interest in them. Georgius, “Bishop of the Arabs,” a Jacobite prelate, having been applied to by one Joshua an anchorite for information concerning the “Epistles” (as he styles them) of “the Persian Sage” and their authorship, wrote (in Syriac) in the year 714 a very full and elaborate reply, in which he cites at length passages from several of them, including those (above referred to) in which the dates of writing are stated with precision,—and he infers from these dates, that the author, of whose name he professes himself to be ignorant, wrote too early to be a disciple of Ephraim. To this inference we may safely assent, even though we hold that Ephraim wrote and taught earlier in the century than Georgius endeavours to place him. The point to be noted is, that this learned and acute writer, though he had by careful study made himself familiar with the Demonstrations, neither knows, nor can guess at, the name of their author, nor can he record any tradition concerning his identity. He can only tell what he has learned from their contents, that they were written from 337 to 345, by one who was a monk, and a cleric, and that they were characterized by certain peculiarities of doctrine.

5. Ascribed to Jacob of Nisibis

Thus it appears that the series of discourses now known as the Demonstrations of Aphrahat, were imitated, and transcribed, and translated, into Armenian, and their titles cited by a Latin biographer, and their contents minutely investigated by an able critic, within the four centuries that followed the time of their composition; while through all that long period the name of Aphrahat had passed out of memory, and the “Persian Sage” simply, or else with the addition of an ambiguous and misleading name, “Jacob, the Persian Sage,” was the designation by which their author was usually known. As we have seen, the scribes of two MSS., of the fifth and sixth centuries, and Georgius in the early eighth, confine themselves to the former; and the scribe of the sixth, thirty-eight years later than the earlier of the other two, uses the latter. Misled by it, the Armenian translator, and Gennadius in his biographical work, fell into the error of identifying the Jacob who wrote the Demonstrations with a namesake, the earlier and more conspicuous Jacob of Nisibis, of whom we have had occasion to speak in treating of the life of Ephraim. But of this celebrated personage no writings are recorded, nor was he a Persian, but a native of Nisibis (in his time a city of the Roman Empire), in 338, seven years before the completion of the treatises in question. As Jacob of Nisibis is thus too early to be the author of them, so, on the other hand, Jacob of Sarug, whom Assemani suggested in correcting the mistake of Gennadius,2 is too late; for he was not born till more than a century after the date of the last Demonstration.

6. Reappearance of the Name of Aphrahat

It is not until some years after the middle of the tenth century, that the “Persian Sage” first appears under his proper name,—of which, though as it appears generally forgotten in the Syriac world of letters, a tradition had survived.—The Nestorian Bar-Bahlul (circ. 963) in his Syro-Arabic Lexicon, writes thus:—”Aphrahat [mentioned] in the Book of Paradise, is the Persian Sage, as they record.”—So too, in the eleventh century, Elias of Nisibis (Barsinæus, d. 1049), embodies in his Chronography, a table, compiled from Demonstr. XXIII., of the chronography from the Creation to the “Era of Alexander” (b.c. 311), which he describes as “The years of the House of Adam, according to the opinion of Aphrahat, the Persian Sage.”—To the like effect, but with fuller information, the great light of the mediæval Jacobite Church, Gregory Barhebræus (d. 1286), in Part I. of his Ecclesiastical Chronicle, in enumerating the orthodox contemporaries of Athanasius, mentions, after Ephraim, “the Persian Sage who wrote the Book of Demonstrations;” and again in Part II., supplies his name under a slightly different form, as one who “was of note in the time of Papas the Catholicus,” “the Persian Sage by name Pharhad, of whom there are extant a book of admonition [al., admonitions] in Syriac, and twenty-two Epistles according to the letters of the alphabet.” Here we have not only the name and description of the personage in question, but a fairly accurate account of his works, under the titles by which the MSS. describe them, “Epistles and Demonstrations;—and moreover a sufficient indication of his date, in agreement with that which the Demonstrations claim: for one who began to write in 337 must have lived in the closing years of the life of Papas (who died in 334), and in the earlier years of the life of Ephraim. So yet again, a generation later, the learned Nestorian prelate, Ebedjesu, in his Catalogue of Syrian ecclesiastical authors, writes, “Aphrahat, the Persian Sage, composed two volumes with Homilies that are according to the alphabet.” Here once more the name and designation are given unhesitatingly, and the division of the discourses into two groups is correctly noted; but the concluding words appear to distinguish these groups from the alphabetic Homilies. Either, therefore, we must take the preposition rendered “with” to mean “containing,”—or we must conclude that Ebedjesu’s knowledge of the work was at second-hand and incorrect. Finally, in a very late MS., dated 1364, is found the first or chronological part of Demonstration XXIII., headed as follows:—”The Demonstration concerning the Grape, of the Sage Aphrahat, who is Jacob, Bishop of Mar Mathai.” Here (though the prefix “Persian” is absent) we have the author’s title of “Sage”; and the identification of the “Aphrahat” of the later authorities with the “Jacob” of the earlier is not merely implied but expressly affirmed. Here, moreover, we have what seems to account for the twofold name. As author, he is Aphrahat; as Bishop, he is Jacob—the latter name having been no doubt assumed on his elevation to the Episcopate. Such changes of name, at consecration, which in later ages of the Syrian Church became customary, were no doubt exceptional in the earlier period of which we are treating. But the fact that Aphrahat was a Persian name, bestowed on him no doubt in childhood—when he was still (as will be shown presently) outside the Christian fold—a name which is supposed to signify “Chief” or “Prefect,” and which may have seemed unsuited to the humility of the sacred office—supplies a reason for the substitution in its stead of a name associated with sacred history, both of the Old and of the New Testament. Here finally we have the direct statement of what Georgius had justly inferred from the opening of Dem. XIV., that the writer was himself of the clergy, and in this Epistle writes as a cleric to clerics.

We have now brought together all the known authorities who yield information concerning this collection of treatises, and its author. It remains that we should put into a connected form the facts to which they testify, and point out the inferences yielded by their notices, and by the treatises themselves.

7. His Nationality Persian, and Probably Heathen

That the author was of Persian nationality, is a point on which all the witnesses agree, except the fourteenth-century scribe of the MS. Orient. 1017, who however is merely silent about it. The name Aphrahat is, as has been already said, Persian—which fact at once confirms the tradition that he belonged to Persia, and helps to account for what seems to be the reluctance of early writers to call him by a name that was foreign, unfamiliar, unsuited to his subsequent station in the Church, and superseded by one that had sacred associations. As a Persian, he dates his writings by the years of the reign of the Persian King: the twenty-two were completed (he says) in the thirty-fifth, the twenty-third in the thirty-sixth of the reign of Sapor.—Again: as a Persian of the early fourth century, it is presumable that he was not originally a Christian. And this is apparently confirmed by the internal evidence of his own writings; for he speaks of himself as one of those “who have cast away idols, and call that a lie which our father bequeathed to us;” and again, “who ought to worship Jesus, for that He has turned away our froward minds from all superstitions of vain error, and taught us to worship one God our Father and Maker.”2—But it is clear that he must have lived in a frontier region where Syriac was spoken freely; or else must have removed into a Syriac-speaking country at an early age; for the language and style of his writings are completely pure, showing no trace of foreign idiom, or even of the want of ease that betrays a foreigner writing in what is not his mother-tongue. It is clear also that, at whatever age or under whatever circumstances he embraced Christianity, he must have taken the Christian Scriptures and Christian theology into his inmost heart and understanding as every page of his writings attests.

8. Evidence that he was a Cleric, and a Bishop

We have already seen that Georgius in his study of the Demonstrations perceived the indications which prove the writer to be of the Clergy. He goes farther, and notes that the sixth (Concerning Monks) is evidently written by a monk. He might have added, what is yet more important, that the fourteenth (which he rightly fixes on as evidently written by a cleric) can hardly have been written by one of lower rank than that of Bishop. The translation of the opening sentence of this discourse (which is an Epistle to the Bishops, Clergy and people of the Church of Seleucia and Ctesiphon) is disputed; for “we being gathered together have taken counsel to write this Epistle to our brethren … the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, and the whole Church” (XIV. 1) may be read so as to make the “Bishops, Priests, etc.,” either, the “we” who write,—or, the “brethren” who are written to. Whichever construction is adopted, the fact remains that Aphrahat here writes on behalf of a body of men assembled in council, who through him admonished their “dear and beloved brethren” whom they designate (farther on) as “the Bishops, Priests and Deacons … and all the people of God who are in Seleucia and Ctesiphon.” It is not conceivable that any body of men but a synod of Bishops (with their clergy and people present and assenting) would, in that age of the Church, have taken upon itself to meet and consult and address such an epistle of admonition and implied rebuke to that great see, the seat of the “Catholicus of the East,”5 the prelate who in the oriental hierarchy was inferior in dignity to the Antiochian Patriarch alone, and in authority almost coequal with him. And it may be safely assumed that the writer of the Epistle was one—probably the chief—of the Bishops in whose name it is written. If we accept the late, but internally probable, statement of the Scribe of MS. Orient. 1017 (above mentioned), that “the Persian Sage” was “Bishop of the monastery of Mar Mathai,” we arrive at a complete explanation of the circumstances under which this Epistle was composed. For the Bishop of Mar Mathai was Metropolitan of Nineveh, and ranked among the Bishops of “the East” only second to the Catholicus; and his province bordered on that which the Catholicus (as Metropolitan of Seleucia) held in his immediate jurisdiction. The Bishop of Mar Mathai therefore would properly preside in a Synod of the Eastern Bishops, met to consider the disorders and discussions existing in Seleucia and its suffragan sees. It thus becomes intelligible how an Epistle of such official character has found a place in a series of discourses of which the rest are written as from man to man merely. The writer addresses the Bishops, Clergy, and people of Seleucia and Ctesiphon in the name of a Synod over which he was President, a Synod probably of Bishops suffragan to Nineveh, and perhaps of those of some adjacent sees. Thus the admonition comes officially from “Mar Jacob Bishop of Mar Mathai;” but the thoughts, and language, and literary form are the production of Aphrahat personally, and he accordingly embodies it as fourteenth in his alphabetic series of twenty-two treatises, in which it is duly distinguished by its initial letter nun, the fourteenth of the Semitic alphabet. It certainly breaks the sequence of subjects, coming after and before treatises relating to Judaism: but for the alphabetic sequence it is essential.—This alphabetic arrangement was overlooked or ignored (as it seems) by the Armenian translator, who has omitted four of the twenty-two and transposed others, placing the fourteenth apart from the rest,—although in Demonstr. XXII. (which however is not included in the Armenian version) the author recites all their titles, arranging them in their order, and noting that it is the order of the alphabet. In the Syriac original the fact is beyond question that Demonstr. XIV. is an integral part of the series; and we may rely with confidence on the internal evidence it yields of the high ecclesiastical rank of the writer—evidence confirmed by, and in its turn confirming, the statement of the fourteenth-century scribe who makes him Bishop of the second see of the East.3

Reverting to the subject of the Persian nationality of Aphrahat, we note that this monastery of Mar Mathai was on the eastern, that is, the Persian, side of the Tigris, not far from what once was Nineveh and is now Mosul, on the precipitous mountain Elpheph (now Maklob) where it still stands, though ruinous, and is known by the name of Sheikh Matta, and is occupied by the Metram (or Metropolitan) and a few monks.

9. His Writings little Concerned with Current Controversies

To the remoteness of his see, and probably of the place of his obvious origin and abode, from the centres of religious thought and controversy, is probably due the notable absence from these discourses of all reference to the great theological questions that had employed, and in his time were engrossing, the leading minds of Christendom. He began to write within ten years after the Nicene Council and the Arian controversy, and the disputations that grew out of it were still ripe, and continued to abound long after. The writings of Ephraim show how vehemently in Aphrahat’s lifetime, or possibly a few years later, the theologians of Nisibis and of Edessa deemed themselves bound to strive for the Faith against Arians, Anomæans, Apollinarians,—and not less against the surviving or revived heresy of home-grown production—that of Bardesan. But in Seleucia and Ctesiphon it is not heresy, but strife, self-seeking, and neglect of duty, that are censured by the Synod through the letter which we know as Demonstr. XIV., and the errors which the Bishop of Mar Mathai combats for the benefit of those whom he addresses are the errors of the Jews who refused and resisted the creed and the customs of the Church. There is in one place (Demonstr. III. 9) a passing reference to the heresiarchs of the second and third centuries, Valentinus, Manes, and Marcion; but it merely amounts to a brief statement in which the false teaching of each is summed up in a sentence, each followed by the question, Can one who holds such doctrine find acceptance before God by his fasting? No later heresy is even mentioned.

These facts not only confirm the tradition which places him at Nineveh, but they go far to account for the obscurity in which his name and his writings lay so long. In an age of excited controversy, these quiet hortatory discourses, marked by no striking eloquence of style or subtlety of reasoning, dealing with no burning question of the time, nor with any disputes more recent than those of the two previous centuries, or those between Jew and Christian, would hardly attain to more than a local circulation; and when they penetrated to Edessa or other such centres of Syriac theological life, would awaken but a languid interest. That they did so penetrate is certain; for of the existing MSS. whence we derive their text, one (the oldest) was written in Edessa in 474, and Isaac of Antioch, who knew and imitated them, before that time, was a disciple of Zenobius of Edessa. But the paucity of such MSS., and still more the oblivion which so long covered the name of Aphrahat, prove, either, that the work failed to attain popularity—or, that it provoked some prejudice which led to its practical suppression. It would be difficult, however, to point out anything in it to which exception could be so seriously taken as to be a bar to its acceptance. None of the errors which so keen a critic as Georgius detected in its theology—even if we admit the justice of his censure—is such as to shock the orthodoxy of the fourth or fifth century.

10. Possibly Suspected of a Nestorian Tinge

Yet it is possible that theological prepossession may indirectly have brought about the disfavour or at least disuse into which the Demonstrations fell. In Edessa there was an institution known as the “School of the Persians,” to which as it seems disciples from Persia resorted for theological instruction. From Ibas, Bishop of Edessa (435–457), who was infected with Nestorianism, the Nestorian taint passed to Maris, a Persian (and through him to Persia generally), and likewise to Maro, a teacher in the school. After the death of Ibas, the Persian and others who had followed him were expelled from Edessa, by Nonnus his orthodox opponent and successor; and the school was finally closed by the next Bishop, Cyrus, in the reign of Zeno (who died 491). These facts may well be supposed to have raised a prejudice against all writings coming from a Persian source; and the works of “the Persian Sage,” absolutely free though they are from any thought or phrase which could be construed as favouring or tending in the direction that led to the errors of Nestorius, may have come undeservedly under the ban issued against the School of the Persians and all that was connected with it, by the orthodox zeal of Cyrus. It is probable that his writings were read in that school, and that he himself may have studied them in early life. Prescribed in Edessa, the centre of Syriac theology, these discourses would be effectually checked in their circulation in all churches of Syriac-speaking Christendom that were anti-Nestorian.

11. Their Popularity in the Armenian Church

How the book made good and held its footing in the Armenian Church is perhaps more difficult to explain. It is not indeed the only instance in which an author, of whom no works are extant in their original tongue, has survived and been widely known in a translation. A notable example is that of Irenæus, of whose great work on Heresies, so well known in its early Latin dress, but a few fragments have reached us, through citations, in Greek. There is no obvious ecclesiastical channel through which the knowledge of the writings of Aphrahat can be supposed to have reached Armenia, unless by way of Edessa, before they fell (as above suggested) into discredit in that city. But it is to be borne in mind that from and after the close of the fourth century “greater (i.e. Eastern) Armenia was ruled as a dependency of Persia, by Persian Kings.” Of these the earlier at least were Christians, and their policy led them to promote the Syriac language and literature, as against the Greek, among their people; until, under the Catholicus Isaac (d. 441), the Armenian tongue was reduced to writing (in the characters then invested by Mesrob), and a beginning made of an Armenian sacred literature by the translation of the Scriptures into Armenian from the Syriac. Versions of the works of Syriac divines would naturally follow before long. That among these Ephraim’s Commentaries were conspicuous we have already mentioned (p. 147): that those of a Syriac Divine of Persian nationality should be passed over is unlikely—a Divine too of such repute as to have won the honourable title of “the Persian Sage,” and who as occupant of a great Persian see was also known as Jacob of Mar Mathai, metropolitan of Nineveh. How readily his assumed name would lead to his being confused with his far more widely known namesake of Nisibis, we have already pointed out; and it is obvious that the name, once attributed and accepted, would lend fictitious vogue to the book.

12. First Printed in an Armenian Version

The mistake of the Armenian translator became, in later times, the means of first making the work—though not the name—of Aphrahat known to European scholars. The Armenian version, containing nineteen of the Demonstrations (XX. being omitted), was printed at Rome in 1756, edited, with a Latin version, by Antonelli. Its text is derived from a transcript made in 1719, after an ancient copy in the Armenian Monastery at Venice, by order of the Abbot Peter Mechitar, and presented by him to Pope Clement XI. for the Vatican Library. In this edition, entitled S. Patris Jacobi Episcopi Nisibeni Sermones, the discourses are not merely ascribed to Jacob of Nisibis, but the theory is advanced by the editor, that the Armenian text is the original. It is hardly necessary to point out that the alphabetic arrangement of the twenty-two discourses—which is not and could not be reproduced in Armenian, a language with an alphabet of thirty-eight letters—is alone sufficient to expose the impossibility of this idea.

13. Recovery of the Post-Syriac Original

The Syriac text, so long forgotten, was first discovered among the MSS. of the great Nitrian collection in the British Museum, by Dr. Cureton, whose name is so honourably known as a great Syriac scholar, and editor of Syriac documents. He did not live, however, to accomplish his desire of publishing it, but bequeathed that task to his still more eminent successor, in the leadership of Syriac studies in England, the late Dr. William Wright, then assistant keeper of MSS. in the British Museum, and afterwards Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge. To him is due the admirable editio princeps of the Syriac text of all the twenty-three Demonstrations (from the MSS. 14617 and 17182), issued in London, 1869. He did not, however, carry out his intention of adding to this work a second volume, containing an English translation of the whole.

Since then, another edition of the series of twenty-two has been published in Paris (Firmin-Didot, 1894), as the first volume of a Patrologia Syriaca, under the general editorship of Dr. R. Graffin, lecturer in Syriac in the Theological Faculty of the Catholic Institute of Paris. This excellent work includes a Latin Version, and is preceded by a learned and copious Introduction, in which all questions relating to Aphrahat and his writings are fully treated,—both of which are the work of Dom Parisot, Benedictine Priest and Monk.

14. Was Aphrahat Prior to Ephraim?

In thus placing Aphrahat first as their projected series of Syriac Divines, the learned editors follow the opinion which, ever since Wright published his edition, has been adopted by Syriac scholars—that Aphrahat is prior in time to Ephraim. This is undoubtedly true (as pointed out above) in the only limited sense, that the Demonstrations are earlier by some years (the first ten by thirteen years, the remainder by five or six) than the earliest of Ephraim’s writings which can be dated with certainty (namely, the first Nisibene Hymn, which belongs to 350). It is then assumed that Ephraim was born in the reign of Constantine, therefore not earlier than 306, and that Aphrahat was a man of advanced age when he wrote (of which there is no proof whatever), and must therefore have been born before the end of the third century—perhaps as early as 280. It has been shown above (p. 145) that even if we admit the authority of the Syriac Life of Ephraim, we must regard the supposed statement of his birth in Constantine’s time as a mistranslation or rather perversion of the text. Thus the argument for placing Ephraim’s birth so late as 306 disappears, while for placing Aphrahat’s birth no argument has been advanced, but merely conjecture; and the result is, that the two may, so far as evidence goes, be regarded as contemporary. It is true that Barhebræus, in his Ecclesiastical History, reckons Aphrahat as belonging to the time of Papas, who died 335; but it is to be noted that in the very same context he mentions that letters were extant purporting to be addressed by Jacob of Nisibis and Ephraim to the same Papas,—and though he admits that some discredited the genuineness of these letters, he gives no hint that Ephraim was too young to have written them. In fact he could not do so, for in the earlier part of this History he had already named Ephraim as present at the Nicene Council in 325, and had placed his name before that of Aphrahat in including both among the contemporaries of the Great Athanasius.

15. His Use of Holy Scripture

Concerning the canon and text of the Books of the Bible as used by Aphrahat,—a subject hardly within the scope of this Introduction—a few words must suffice.

In citing the Old Testament, he shows himself acquainted with nearly all the Books of the Jewish Canon, and with some, but not all, of the deutero-canonical books commonly called Apocrypha—with Tobit, Ecclesiasticus (and perhaps Wisdom), and Maccabees, but not Judith, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, or Baruch. He follows the Peshitto rather than the Greek, but not seldom departs from both; and he shows a knowledge of the Chaldee Paraphrase.

His New Testament Canon is apparently that of the Peshitto;—that is to say, he shows no signs of acquaintance with the four shorter Catholic Epistles, and in the one citation which seems to be from the Apocalypse, it has been shown to be probable that he is really referring to the Targum of Onkelos on Deut. 33:6. But he omits all reference also to the longer Catholic Epistles, except 1 John. He also passes over (of St. Paul’s Epistles) 2 Thessalonians, Titus, and Philemon. But as regards the last, its shortness accounts for the omission; and as to the former two, he can hardly have been unacquainted with them, inasmuch as he knew 1 Thessalonians and 1 and 2 Timothy. He designates the writer of Hebrews as “the Apostle,” probably meaning to ascribe it to St. Paul.

In citing the Gospels, he seems sometimes to follow the Diatessaron, which, as we have said, was in the hands of his contemporary Ephraim, and which is known to have circulated largely in the East until far on in the following century. Sometimes, however, his references seem to be to the separate Gospels as commonly read. It cannot be claimed for the Peshitto that he always or even usually follows its text; nor yet does he uniformly agree with the Curetonian, or with the probably earlier form of the Syriac Gospel recently discovered by Mr. Lewis. With each of these last, however, his text has many points of coincidence. In the rest of the New Testament, we can only say that he must have had before him a text which diverged not seldom from the Peshitto.

16. Literary and Theological Value of his Writings

From the Demonstrations, eight have been selected for the present volume, viz.: I. Of Faith (with Letter of an Inquirer prefixed); V. Of Wars; VI. Of Monks; VIII. Of the Resurrection of the Dead; X. Of Pastors; XVII. Of Christ the Son of God; XXI. Of Persecution; XXII. Of Death and the Latter Times. Of these, one only (XVII.) is controversial,—directed against the Jews: it is painfully inadequate in the treatment of its great theme,—so inadequate as to suggest the surmise that doubts may have arisen about the orthodoxy of the writer, such as to discredit his works, and to account for the neglect in which they lay (as we have seen) for centuries. But in all his writings his mastery of the Scriptures, of the Old Testament especially, is conspicuous; and in many of them, especially in those of a hortatory character, there is much force of earnest persuasiveness, rising at times into eloquence.

Ephraim

HYMNS

A. The Nisibene Hymns

    I., II., III.    The Siege of Nisibis (a.d. 350)

    IV.–XII.    The Persian Invasion of Mesopotamia (a.d. 359)

    XIII.–XVI.    The Bishops of Nisibis: Jacob, Babu, Valgesh

    XVII.–XXI.    Abraham, their Successor (a.d. 363)

    XXXV.–XLII.    Death and Satan

    LII.–LXVIII.    Death, Satan, and Man

B. The Hymns On the Nativity

C. The Hymns For the Epiphany

D. The Hymns On the Faith (The Pearl)

HOMILIES

    I.    On Our Lord

    II.    On Admonition and Repentance

    III.    On the Sinful Woman

THE NISIBENE HYMNS

(Translated by Rev. J. T. Sarsfield Stopford, b.a.)

1.    THE SIEGE OF NISIBIS (I.–III.)

2.    THE PERSIAN INVASION (IV.–XII.)

3.    THE BISHOPS OF NISIBIS (XIII.–XVL)

4.    ABRAHAM THEIR SUCCESSOR (XVII.–XXI.)

5.    CONCERNING SATAN AMD DEATH (XXXV.–XLIL, LXIL–LXVIIL)

NISIBENE HYMNS

I

1. O God of mercies Who didst refresh Noah, he too refreshed Thy mercies. He offered sacrifice and stayed the flood; he presented gifts and received the promise. With prayer and incense he propitiated Thee: with an oath and with the bow Thou wast gracious to him; so that if the flood should essay to hurt the earth, the bow should stretch itself over against it, to banish it away and hearten the earth. As Thou hast sworn peace so do Thou maintain it, and let Thy bow strive against Thy wrath!

R. Stretch forth Thy bow against the flood, for lo! it has lifted up its waves against our walls!

2. In revelation, Lord! it has been proclaimed, that that lowly blood which Noah sprinkled, wholly restrained Thy wrath for all generations; how much mightier then shall be the blood of Thy Only Begotten, that the sprinkling of it should restrain our flood! For lo! it was but as mysteries of Him that those lowly sacrifices gained virtue, which Noah offered, and stayed by them Thy wrath. Be propitiated by the gift upon my altar, and stay from me the deadly flood. So shall both Thy signs bring deliverance, to me Thy cross and to Noah Thy bow! Thy cross shall cleave the sea of waters; Thy bow shall stay the flood of rain.

3. Lo! all the billows trouble me; and Thou hast given more favour to the ark: for waves alone encompassed it, mounds and weapons and waves encircle me. It was unto Thee a storehouse of treasures, but I have been a storehouse of debts: it in Thy love subdued the waves; I in Thy wrath, am left desolate among the weapons; the flood bore it, the river threatens me. O Helmsman of that ark, be my pilot on the dry land! To it Thou gavest rest in the haven of a mountain; to me give Thou rest also in the haven of my walls!

4. The Just One has chastened me abundantly, but it He loved even among the waves. For Noah overcame the waves of lust, which had drowned in his generation the sons of Seth. Because his flesh revolted against the daughters of Cain, his chariot rode on the surface of the waves. Because women defiled him not, he coupled the beasts, whereof in the ark he joined together, all pairs in the yoke of wedlock. The olive which with its oil gladdens the face, with its leaf gladdened their countenances: for me the river whereof to drink is wont to make joyful, lo! O Lord, by its flood it makes me mournful.

5. The foulness of my guilt Thy righteousness has seen, and Thy pure eyes abhor me. Thou hast gathered the waters by the hand of the unclean, that Thou mightest make for me purification of my guilt; not that in them Thou mightest baptize and purify me, but that in them Thou mightest chasten me with fear. For the waves will stir up to prayer, which shall wash away my guilt. The sight of them which is full of repentance, has been to me a baptism. The sea, O Lord, which should have drowned me, in it let Thy mercies drown my guilt. In the Red Sea Thou didst drown bodies; in this sea drown Thou my guilt instead of bodies!

6. An ark in Thy mercy Thou didst prepare, that Thou mightest preserve in it all the remnants. That Thou shouldest not desolate the earth in Thy wrath, Thy compassion made an earth of wood. Thou didst empty them one into the other; Thou didst render them back one unto the other. But my lands have thrice been filled and emptied again; and now against me the waves rebel, to overwhelm the remnant that has escaped in me. In the ark Thou didst save a remnant; save in me, O Lord, yea in me a leaven. The ark upon the mountain brought forth; let me in my lands bring forth my imprisoned ones!

7. O Lord, gladden Thou in me the imprisoned ones of my fortresses, Thou Who didst gladden those prisoners with the olive leaf! Thou sentest healing by means of the dove to the sick ones that were drowning in every wave; it entered in and drove out all their pains. For the joy of it swallowed up their sorrow, and mourning vanished away in its consolation. And as the chief of a host gives heartening to the fugitives, so the dove disseminated courage among the forsaken. Their eyes tasted the sight of peace, and their mouth hasted to open in Thy praise. As the olive leaf in the waves, save Thou me, that Thou mayest gladden in me the prisoners of my fortresses!

8. The flood assails, and dashes against our walls: may the all-sustaining might uphold them! It falls not as the building of the sand, for I have not built my doctrine upon the sand: a rock shall be for me the foundation, for on Thy rock have I built my faith; the secret foundation of my trust, shall support my walls. For the walls of Jericho fell, because on the sand she had built her trust. Moses built a wall in the sea, for on a rock his understanding built it. The foundation of Noah was on a rock; the dwelling place of wood it bore up in the sea.

9. Compare the souls which are in me, with the living things that were in the ark; and instead of Noah who mourned in it, lo! Thy altar mourning and humbled. Instead of the wedded wives that were in it, lo! my virgins that are unmarried. Instead of Ham who went forth from it and uncovered his father’s nakedness, lo! workers of righteousness, who have nourished and clothed apostles. In my pains, O my Lord, I rave in my speech; blame me not if my words provoke Thee! Thou puttest to silence the prosperous when they murmured: have mercy on me as on them that were silenced aforetime!

10. Before Thy wrath Thou madest a house of refuge, and all the nations rebelled against it. Noah was refreshed in rest, that his dwelling-place should give rest according to his name. Thou didst close the doors to save the righteous one; Thou didst open the floods to destroy the unclean. Noah stood between the terrible waves that were without, and the destroying mouths that were within: the waves tossed him and the mouths dismayed him. Thou madest peace for him with them that were within; Thou broughtest down before him them that were without: Thou didst speedily change his troubles, for light to Thee, O Lord, are hard things.

11. Hear and weigh the comparison of me with Noah, and though my suffering be light beside his, let Thy mercy make our deliverance alike; for lo! my children stand like him, between the wrathful and the destroyer. Give peace, O Lord, among them that are within, and humble before me them that are without; and give me twofold victory! And whereas the slayer has made his rage threefold, may He of the three days show me threefold mercy! Let not the Evil One overcome Thy lovingkindness: seeing he has assailed me twice and thrice overcome Thou him! Let my victory fly abroad through the world, that it may earn Thee praise in the world! O Thou who didst rise on the third day, give us not over to death in our third peril!

II

1. This day are opened, our mouths to give thanks. They who opened the breaches, have opened my sons’ mouths. Thank the Merciful, who has delivered the men of our city, nor thought at that time of exacting the debts that were due by us. When they rose up they that took us captive, the worlds in our deliverance, tasted of Thy graciousness.

R. From all that have mouths, glory be to Thy grace!

2. He has saved us without wall, and taught us that He is our wall: He has saved us without king and made us know that is our king: He has saved us, in each and all, and showed us that He is All: He has saved us in His grace and again reveals, that freely He has mercy and quickens. From every boaster, He takes away his boasting, and gives it to His own grace.

3. The sound of all mouths, is too little for Thy praise: for lo! in the hour when our light was smoking, and was at the point to be quenched (seeing that all is easy to Thee) of a sudden it awoke and shone! Who has seen these two marvels, that for him whose hope was cut off, hope has sprung up and increased; the hour of mourning has been turned into good tidings?

4. This is a festival day, whereon hang the feasts: for if wrath had taken us captive, lo! our feasts too had ceased. Whereas our peace has conquered and triumphed, lo! I our festivals resound. This blessed day supports all: upon it depends the city, on the city depends the people, on the people depends peace, on peace depends all.

5. Out of these breaches, Thou hast multiplied triumphs. Praise unto the Triune God goes up from the three breaches; for that He descended and repaired them, in His mercy which restrains wrath. He smote the enemy who understood not that He was teaching us. He taught those within, for in His justice He made the breaches; He taught those without, for in His goodness He repaired them.

6. Speak and give glory, my delivered ones on this day; old men and boys, young men and maidens, children and innocents, and thou, O Church, mother of the city! For the old men have been rescued from captivity, the youths from torture, the sucklings from being dashed in pieces, the women from dishonour, and the Church from mockery.

7. He came to us with hardness; we were afraid for a moment: He came in gentleness, and we rejoiced for an hour. He turned and left us for a little, we wandered without end; like a beast of prey which is trained by blandishments and by fear, but if so be that men turn from it, rebels and strays and becomes savage in the midst of peace.

8. He punished us and we feared not; He rescued us, and we were not shamed: He straitened us and our vows were multiplied; He enlarged us and our crimes were multiplied. When He constrained there was a covenant, when He gave breathing-space there was straying. Though He knew us He lowered Himself to establish us. In the evening we exalted Him; in the morning we rejected Him. When necessity left us, faithfulness left us.

9. He afflicted us by the breaches, that He might punish our crimes: He raised the mounds that thereby, He might humble our boasting. He made a breach for the seas that thereby, He might wash away our pollution. He shut us in that we might gather together in His Temple. He shut us in and we were quenched; He set us free and we went astray. We are like unto wool, which passes into every colour.

10. We know that when the blessed sons of Nineveh repented, it was not because of mounds they repented, nor yet by means of waters, nor was it by reason of a breach, nor yet by reason of bows; it was not at the sound of the bowstring they feared and repented. They harkened to a feeble voice; they caused their little ones to fast; they made their youths chaste, they made their kings humble.

11. Thou smotest us and we justified Thee, for it befel not by chance; Thou deliveredst us and we gave thanks, for it was not that we were worthy. Thou hadst mercy on us not because Thou erredst, in hoping that we should repent. It was manifest to Thee that when Thou hadst mercy on us we strayed. Thou knewest that we had sinned; Thou knewest that we are sinners: with our iniquity that has been and is, Thou wast acquainted when Thou hadst mercy on us.

12. Weigh our repentance, that it may outbalance our crimes! But not in even balance, ascends either weight; for our crimes are heavy and manifold, and our repentance is light. He had commanded that we should be sold for our debt: His mercy became our advocate; principal and increase, we repaid with the farthing, which our repentance proffered.

13. Ten thousand talents for that little payment, our debt He forgave us. He was bound to exact it, that He might appease His justice: He was constrained again to forgive, that He might make His grace to rejoice. Our tears for the twinkling of an eye we gave Him; He satisfied His justice, in exacting and taking a little; He made His grace to rejoice, when for a little He forgave much.

14. Ten thousand are the crimes that He has pardoned; ten thousand tongues, are unable to suffice, in presence of His goodness. He has pardoned us and we have not pardoned; we have requited to Him contrariwise; the guilt committed we write up afresh. “Pardon, O Lord,” we cry; “Requite, O Lord,” we pray: “pardon” verily when we have done wrong; “requite” verily when wrong is done us.

15. Yea not as those without, have we laboured for our lives. They have raised their mounds, but we not even our voices: they have broken through the wall, but we—not even the chains, the frail chains on our heart within have we broken. God has rejected the diligent, for the sake of the slothful; He has rejected the labour done without, though He was rejected from within.

16. He has set free them that talked, and smitten the silent; the wall was beaten, and the people were instructed: He spared them that can suffer, He smote that which knows no suffering. For instead of souls that feel, He smote the stones that feel not, that He might chasten us. In His love He spared our bodies, and hasted to smite our wall.

17. Who has ever seen, that a breach became as a mirror? Two parties looked thereinto; it served for those without and those within. They saw therein as with eyes, the Power that breaks down and builds up: they saw Him who made the breach and again repaired it. Those without saw His might; they departed and tarried not till evening: those within saw His help; they gave thanks yet sufficed not.

18. Let the day of thy deliverance, arouse thee from sloth! When the wall was broken through, when the elephants pressed in, when the javelins showered, when men did valiantly, then was there a sight for the heavenly ones. Iniquity fought there; mercy triumphed there; lovingkindness prevailed below; the watchers shouted on high.

19. And thine enemy wearied himself, striving to smite by his wiles, the wall that encompassed thee, a bulwark to thine inhabitants. He wearied himself and availed not; and in order that he might not hope, that if He broke through He should also enter and take us captive, he broke it through and not once only; and was put to shame, nor was that enough, even unto three times, that he might be shamed thrice in the three.

20. Let my happiness by God’s grace, be also multiplied in thy midst! Whereas in thee my crimes have been many, many be in thee my fruits! Whereas in thee I have sinned in my youth, in thee let there be mercy for my old age! By the mouth of thy sons pray for thy son, for I have sinned beyond my ability, and have repented below my ability; I have scattered above measure, and have gathered below measure.

III

1. Fix thou our hearing, that it be not loosed and wander! For it is a-wandering if one enquire, who He is and what He is like. For how can we avail, to paint in us the likeness, of that Being which is like to the mind? Naught is there in it that is limited, in all of it He sees and hears; all of it as it were speaks; all of it is in all senses.

R., Praise to the One Being, that is to us unsearchable!

2. His aspect cannot be discerned, that it should be portrayed by our understanding: He hears without ears; He speaks without mouth; He works without hands, and He sees without eyes. Because our soul ceases not nor desists, in presence of Him Who is such; in His graciousness He put on the fashion of humankind and gathered us into His likeness.

3. Let us learn in what way that Being is spiritual and appeared as corporeal; and how it also is tranquil and appears as wrathful. These things were for our profit; that Being in our likeness was made like to us, that we may be made like Him. One there is that is like Him, the Son Who proceeded from Him, Who is stamped with His likeness.

4. O Nisibis, hear these things, for, for thy sake these things were written and spoken. Both to thyself and to others, thou hast been in the world a cause of strife and of disputations. Mouths over thee, O thou that wast shut up, even over thee mouths sang; when thou didst triumph and wast enlarged, in thee mouths were opened, for lamentation and for thanksgiving.

5. The prayer of thy inhabitants, sufficed for thy deliverance; it was not that they were righteous, but that they were penitent: according as they were disgraced, so did they haste to submit to the rod. In transgressions and in triumphs they had like part. They whose crimes were great, so be their fruit great; they who triumphed in their sackcloth, have triumphed also in their crowns.

6. The day of thy deliverance, is king of all days, The Sabbath overthrew thy walls, it overthrew the ungrateful; the day of the Resurrection of the Son, raised again thy ruins; the day of Resurrection raised thee according to its name, it glorified its title. The Sabbath relaxed its watch; for the making of the breaches, it took blame to itself.

7. In Samaria hunger prevailed, but in thee fulness prevailed. In Samaria there broke in and came on her, abundance of a sudden; but in thee there roared and came in on thee a sea of a sudden. In her was eaten a child, and it saved her alive; in thee was eaten the body, living and all life-giving; of a sudden He delivered them, the Eaten delivered the eaters.

8. We know that the Blessed wills not the afflictions, that have been in all ages; though He has wrought them, it is our offences that are the cause of our troubles. No man can complain against our Creator; it is for Him to complain against us, who have sinned and constrained Him, to be wrathful though He wills it not, and to smite though He desires it not.

9. The Earth, the vine, and the olive, are in need of chastisement. When the olive is bruised, then its fruit smells sweet; when the vine is pruned, then its grapes are goodly; when the soil is ploughed its yield is goodly. When water is confined in channels, desert places drink of it; brass, silver and gold, when they are burnished shine.

10. If then it be that man, by chastening makes all things goodly; and if he who despises and rejects chastening, is hated and all rebels against him; then by that which he chastens, let him learn Him that chastens him; since whoso chastens does so that he may profit thereby. For whoso chastens his servants, does so that he may possess them; the good God chastens His servants that they may possess themselves.

11. Let thy afflictions be, books to admonish thee, for the thrice-besieged, suffice to become for thee, books to meditate therein, every hour on their histories. Because thou despisedst the two Testaments, wherein thou mightest read thy life, therefore He wrote for thee, three hard books wherein thou shouldst read thy chastisements.

12. Let us avert by that which has been, the thing that is yet to be; let us be taught by that which has come, to escape that which is coming; let us remember that which is past, to avoid that which is future. Because we had forgotten the first stroke, the second fell on us; because we forgot the second, the third bore heavy on us. Who will yet again forget!

IV

1. My God, without ceasing, I will tread the threshold of Thy house; I who have rejected all grace, I will ask with boldness. that I may receive with confidence. R., Our hope, be thou our Wall!

2. For if, O Lord, the earth, enriches manifold, a single grain of wheat, how then shall my prayers, be enriched by Thy grace!

3. Because of the voices of my children, their sighs and their groans, open to me the door of Thy mercy! Make glad for their voices, the mourning of their sackcloth!

4. O firstborn that wast a weaned child, and wast familiar with the children, the accurst sons of Nazareth, hearken to my lambs that have seen the wolves, for lo! they cry.

5. For a flock, O my Lord, in the field, if so be it has seen the wolves, flees to the shepherd, and takes refuge under his staff, and he drives away them that would devour it.

6. Thy flock has seen the wolves, and lo! it cries loudly. Behold how terrified it is! Let thy Cross be a staff, to drive out them that would swallow it up!

7. Accept the cry of my little ones, that are altogether pure. It was He, the Infant of days, that could appease, O Lord, the Ancient of days.

8. The day when the Babe came down, in the midst of the stall, the Watchers descended and proclaimed, peace—may that peace be, in all my streets for all my offspring.

9. Seventy and two old men, the elders of that people, sufficed not for its breaches. The Babe it was, the Son of Mary, that gave peace on every side.

10. Have mercy, O Lord, on my children! in my children call to mind Thy childhood, Thou Who wast a child! Let them that are like Thy childhood, be saved by Thy grace!

11. Mingled in the midst of the flock, are the cry of the innocents, and the voice of the sheep, that call on the Shepherd of all, to deliver them from all.

 

13. There is a joy that is affliction, misery is hidden in it; there is a misery that is profit, it is a fountain of joys, in that new world.

14. The happiness that my persecutor has gained, woes are hidden in it; therefore I rejoice. The wretchedness that I have gained from him, happiness is concealed for me in it.

15. Who will not give praise, to Him that has begotten us, and can beget again, from the midst of evil rumours, the voices of glad tidings!

16. Thou Healer of all, hast visited me in my sicknesses! Payment for Thy medicines, I cannot give Thee, for they are priceless.

17. Thy mercies in richness, surpass Thy medicines: they cannot be bought, they are given freely, it is for tears they are bartered.

18. How, O my Master, can a desolate city, whose king is far off, and her enemy nigh, stand firm without aid of mercy?

19. A harbour and refuge, art Thou at all times. When the seas covered me, Thy mercy descended and drew me out. Again let Thy help lay hold on me!

20. Apply to my afflictions, the medicine of Thy salvation, and the passion of Thy help! Thy sign can become, a medicine to heal all.

21. I am greatly oppressed, and I hasten to complain, against him that troubles me. Let Thy mercy, my Lord, take the bitterness from the cup, that my sins have mixed.

22. I look on all sides, and weep that I am desolate. Very many though be my chiefs and my deliverers, one is He that has delivered me.

23. My young men have fled, O Lord, and gone forth, and are like chickens, which an eagle pursues; lo! they hide in a secret place: may Thy peace bring them back!

24. The sound of my grape-gatherers, lo! my ears miss it, for their voices fail. Let it resound with the glad tidings, O Blessed One of Thy salvation!

25. A voice of terror, I have heard on my towers; as my defenders cry, while they guard my walls. Still Thou it with the voice of peace!

26. The noise of my husbandmen, shall speak peace without my walls: the shouting of my dwellers shall speak peace within my walls, that I may give peace without and within.

27. Make an end, O Lord, of the mourning, of this Thy pure altar, and of Thy chaste priest, who stands clothed in mourning, covered over with sackcloth!

28. The Church and her ministers shall give praise for Thy salvation; the city and its dwellers. Be the voice of peace, O Lord, the reward of their voices!

V

1. Cause to be heard in Thy grace, the tidings of Thy salvation: for an hearing has been made, a path of passage; our minds have been downtrodden, by messages of terror. R., Praises to Thy victory! Glory to Thy Dominion!

2. Comfort Thou with profits, though small and scanty, those that have had harvest, of hurt by their labour: at a time of profit, they have gained but loss.

3. It is manifest that He has stood, portioning wrath upon earth: loss and profit in anger He divided. There are whom He has cast down of a sudden, and there are whom He has puffed up of a sudden.

4. To teach us that He can, chastise in all ways; when He saw the persecutors, were terrible before mine eyes, He laid me out before my children, and they my beloved chastised me.

5. Lo! He taught me to fear, Himself and not man: for when there was none to smite us, His wrath gave command of a sudden, and every man stretched himself out, and chastised himself.

6. In like manner that Babylonian, who struck down all kings when he was confident and hoped that there was none to smite him, God caused that by his own hands. he should strike himself down.

7. His majesty and his mind, of a sudden became mad together: he rent and cast off his garments; he went forth and wandered in the desert; he drove himself out first, and then his servants drove him out.

8. He showed to all kings, whom he had led captive and brought down, that not by his own power, could he have overcome: the power that struck him down, was that which punished them.

9. I have stood and borne, O my Lord; the blows of my deliverers. Thou art able in Thy grace, to make me profit by the smiters: Thou art able in Thy justice to punish me by my helpers.

10. The day when the host was bold, to come up against Samaria; their plenty and their pleasure, their treasures and their possessions, they cast away and forsook and fled. He crowned her by her persecutors.

11. My beloved ones crowned me, and my deliverers healed me. Through the guilt of my dwellers, my helpers chastised me, give me drink from Thy vines, of the cup of consolation!

12. The corn and the vine, preserve, O my Lord, by Thy grace! Be the husbandman cheered, by the vine of the grape-gatherer; be the vinedresser glad, in the corn of the husbandman!

13. They are joined each to each, the corn and the grape. In the field the reapers, wine can make cheerful, in the vineyard the dressers, bread strengthens in turn.

14. These two things have power, to comfort my troubles: the Trinity has power, to comfort more exceedingly; whom I will praise because of a sudden, I was delivered through grace.

15. But the man whose life, is preserved through grace, if he goes away to murmur, at the loss of his goods, he is thankless for the grace, of Him who had pity on him.

16. Of His own will He destroys, one thing instead of another. He destroys possession, and spares the possessor: He destroys our plants, instead of our lives.

17 Let us fear to murmur, lest His own wrath be roused, and He spare the possessions, and smite the possessor; that we may learn in the end, His mercy in the beginning.

18. Let us learn against whom, it is meet for us to murmur. Learn thou to murmur, not against the Chastener, but against thine own will, that made thee sin and thou wast punished.

19. Let us put away murmuring, and turn unto prayer: for it the possessor dies, his possessions also cease for him; but while he survives, he seeks to recover his losses.

20. Let consolations be multiplied, in mercy to my dwellers: let the remainder and residue, console us in the midst of wrath; and cause Thou us to forget in the residue, the mourning of our devastation!

21. Heal and increase O my Lord, the fruits Thy wrath has left! They seem to me like sick ones, that have escaped in pestilence. Make me to forget in these weak ones, the suffering of the many!

22. While I speak, O my Lord, I call to mind that this too is the month, when the blossom pined, and dropped off in blight, may it return to soundness, to be a consolation!

23. For these escaped the pestilence, that carried off their brethren. The vines though voiceless, wept when before them, a multitude was cut down and felled, of trees that they loved.

24. The company of plants, lo! the earth misses! The roots for the husbandmen, weep and cause them to weep. Their beauty had spread and gave shade, and it was torn away in one hour.

25. The axe came nigh and struck; and struck the husbandman; the blow was on the trees, and it caused the husbandman to suffer; every axe that smote, he bore the pain of it.

VI

1. I will run in my affections, to Him who heals freely. He who healed my sorrows, the first and the second, He who cured the third, He will heal the fourth. R., Heal me, Thou Son the First Born!

2. My sons, O my Lord, drank and were drunken, of the tidings which wrath had mixed; and they rushed on my adornments, and spoiled and cast away my ornaments; they rent and spared not, my garments and my crowns.

3. They uncovered me and I was made bare. Because I was shamed a little, by means of that stripping, the first and the second, because I was shamed a third time, lo! they have stripped me a fourth time.

4. For they have seized and taken away my garments, my ornaments and my gardens. On the sackcloth that girds my altar, look Thou, O my Lord, and have pity on me! Let the sackcloth be to me, O my Lord, the breastplate of salvation!

5. Lo! it is not by the hand of the chaste, that Thou hast chastised me, O my Master! For lo! his shame is before him, and behind him his disgrace; for as to his marriage, adultery is better than it.

6. Lo! his daughter is his wife, and his sister his consort; and his mother whence he came forth, he turns again and takes her to wife! The heavens are astonished that thus, he provokes Thee, and lo! he prospers.

7. And though, O my Lord, my crimes are many, are my offences so heavy, that Thou shouldst make over a chaste woman, mother of chaste daughters, to foul Assyria, mother of defiled daughters?

8. Restrain him that he come not, and wag at me his head, and stamp on me his heel, and rejoice that the voice of his fame, thus troubles the world; and be uplifted yet a little!

9. My sons, O my Lord, have seen my nakedness, yea have uncovered me and wept. Uncover Thou me before my children, who are pained by my pain, and let not those mock at me, the accursed that have no pity!

10. My lands had brought forth fruits and pleasant things; good things in the vineyard, abundance in the fields. But as I rested secure, of a sudden wrath overtook me.

11. The husbandmen were plundered, the spoilers heaped the grain; what thou had borrowed and sown these destroyed. With one’s debt his hunger, haply will also remain unsatisfied, for his bread is snatched from him.

12. The husbandman, O my Lord, is plundered, for he lent to the earth; she has received the deposit, and given it to a stranger; she has borrowed it of the husbandman; and paid it to the spoiler.

13. Be jealous over me who am Thine, and to Thee, O my Lord: am I betrothed! The Apostle who betrothed me to Thee, told me that Thou art jealous. For as a wall to chaste wives is the jealousy of their husbands.

14. Samson stirred up seas, because he was mightily jealous over his wife, though she was greatly defiled, and was divided against him. Keep Thy Church, for no other, has she beside Thee!

15. Whoso is not jealous, over his spouse despises her. Jealousy it is that can make known, the love that is within. Thou art called jealous, that thou mayest show me Thy love.

16. The nature of woman is this; it is weak and rash: it is jealousy keeps it, under fear every hour. Thou hast been named among the jealous, that Thou mightest make known Thy solicitude.

17. Every man has been master, of something that was not his own; every man has gone forth gathering, something that he scattered not. The day of confusion, I have prepared for myself by my crimes.

18. How shall they bear the suffering, the labourers and tillers? In the face of the vinedresser, they have cut down the vines and driven away the flocks of the husbandman; his sowing they have reaped and carried off.

19. They had yoked cattle sown and harrowed, they had ploughed, planted. nurtured. They stood afar and wept; and they went away bereft of all. The labour was for the toilers, the increase for the spoilers.

20. The rulers, O my Lord, maintained not, order in the midst of Thy wrath. If they had willed it they might have kept order, but our iniquity suffered it not. Though wrath had greatly abated, wrath compelled them to spoil.

21. To whom on any side, shall I look for comfort, for my plantations that are laid low, and my possessions that are laid waste? Let the message of the voice of peace, drive away my sadness from me!

22. Give me not over; lest it be thought that Thou, hast given me a writing of divorce, and sent me away and driven me out! Let them not call me, O my Lord, the forsaken and the disgraced!

23. I have not anything, to call to mind before Thine eyes, for I am wholly despised. Call Thou to mind for me, O my God, this only that none other, have I set before me beside Thee!

24. Who would not weep for me, with voice and wailing? for before the days of full moon I was chaste and crowned; and after the days of full moon, I was uncovered and made bare.

25. My chaste daughters of the chambers, wander in the fields; for the wrath that makes all drunken, has caused my honourable women to be despised. Let Thy mercy which gives peace to all, restore these beloved ones to honour!

26. My elder daughters and my younger, lo! they cry before Thee; the damsels with their voices, they that are aged with their tears; my virgins with their fasts, my chaste ones with their sackcloth!

27. Mine eyes to all the streets, I lift up and lo! they are deserted. There are left of a hundred ten, and a thousand of ten thousand. Give Thou peace and fill my streets, with the tumult of my dwellers!

28. Bring back them that are without, and make them glad that are within! Mighty is Thy grace, that Thou extendest it within and without. Let the wings of Thy grace gather my chickens together!

29. Let the prayer of my just men, save my fugitives! The unbelievers have plundered me, and the believers have sustained me. In them that believe put Thou to shame them that believe not!

30. There came together on one day, two festivals as one: the Feast of Thine Ascension, and the Feast of Thy Champions; the feast that wove Thy Crown, and the memorial of the crowning of Thy servants.

31. Have thou mercy because there were doubled for us, these feasts on one day; and there were doubled for us instead of them, even the two feasts in one, suffering from the voice of ill tidings, and mourning from desolation!

32. Give peace to my festivals! for both my feasts have ceased; and instead of rejoicing, of my remnants in festivals, tremblings and desolations meet me in every place.

33. Bring home mine that are far off, make glad mine that are nigh; and in the midst of our land shall be preached, good tidings of joy; and I shall render in return for peace, praise from every mouth!

VII

1. Wrath came to rebuke, the greedy who in the midst of peace, bargained, defrauded and plundered. In calamity the greedy have waxed rich: lo! what was theirs they have scattered, what was not theirs they have gathered. R., Give peace, O Son, to our land!

2. Twenty years my troubles, have been like branches, O my Saviour! which are kept back throughout winter, but when it is time to shoot forth, my troubles shoot forth: with our fruit our heart ripens.

3. Nisan is the time of buds: in it the ill tidings budded. When our delights crowded on us, then crowded on us our ills. At the time of winnowing of wheat, came the winnowing of cities

4. For the three brethren in Babylon fled not from the fire that men kindled, because they were steadfast: from lust they fled, because they were perfect.

5. The fire of them that have triumphed, is able to turn the black kids into white: the fire of vain men is able to make the lambs into spotted leopards.

6. How great will be my cries, to be cried at any alarm! How great my indignation to ripen at every ill tidings! How great my harvests, to perish every mouth!

7. For the crimes of my sons He has chastened me, in their struggling for my deliverance. The people who deliver me, bring chastisement upon me. Restrain ye your sins, and lo! my chastisements are restrained!

8. In ill tidings they are afflicted; in time of wrath they are tortured; in time of peace they are distressed; for when every man breathes freely, and all are unthankful for grace, they render thanks on behalf of every man.

9. Their sackcloth is humble for my sake; their ashes are sprinkled in my affliction; their prayer is for my victory; their fast for my deliverance: Lo! the debt is on my ascetics, the guilt with my nobles.

10. Great is in every age, the folly of the wise; the scribes and elders envied and killed the teacher, who taught all people the Law of Moses.

11. Wisdom in this age is a possession that brings loss: he who has a little folly, very small is his guilt; but he who has a little prudence, his iniquity passes measure.

12. They build with their words, and overthrow in their deeds; for the teachers were many and foolish, but the mouth of the judge is both of these things, the judge and the accuser.

[Hymn VIII. is wanting, as also the earlier part of IX.]

IX

… My afflictions are as Job’s. Thy justice delivered him; let Thy grace have mercy on me!

2. In these two things is profit; that neither should the just, be weary in supplication, nor should the rebellious, multiply transgression.

3. With the sons Thou labourest, to chastise and help them; and that the fathers should not be grieved, by the sound of the scourge, they left me in peace.

4. Look, O my Lord, on my woods without, how they have been cut down! behold, O my Lord, my breasts within, that they are too weak, for me to bear my beloved ones!

5. With swords they have cut off, my wings that are without; again the fire kindles, in my bosom within, the incense of burnt offering.

6. The sun-worshippers have killed, my sons in the plain: and they that offer to Baal, have sacrificed my bulls in the city, my sheep with my babes.

7. In my fields is lamentation; in my halls wailing; in my vineyards terror; in my streets confusion. Who can suffice for me?

8. The Evil One who dealt treacherously, and disturbed me with his words, stirred up trouble within, so that my inward part, is wholly as my outward part.

9. With what face, O my Lord, shall I call on Thee to send, a camp of holy ones, to guard my bosom, which is full of uncleanness?

10. With Thy new leaven, Thou hast chastened creation. Make Thou the old leaven, which ensnares and humbles, to be like the new leaven!

11. By the manifest striving, of Thy power let us conquer; lest error should crown, those that strive for Thee, cleaving to them with blandishment!

12. If we look into our time, it is like our deceit;—for in the years of truthfulness, we practised divinations,—and secretly used enchantments.

13. If I look into the time, it provokes and into light,—brings secret things, that our deceit may be shamed,—which wore the raiment of Truth.

14. Verily it is truth, that overcomes all;—and the sea with its bitterness, cannot trouble it,—for it is pure in its nature.

15. In wisdom Thou hast made it, O my Lord, that it has laid bare our lust.—That the foolish should come to nought, and should not be encouraged,—Truth has withheld the crown.

16. On the tottering walls, whereon Thou hast given me victory,—the unthankful repay Thee, with sacrifice and libation, which provoke Thee openly.

17. If it were at that time, sacrifices had been offered;—there had been room even, for delusion to suppose,—that in these I was delivered.

18 Through the multitude of deliverances, Thou hast rebuked two things:—the delusion of graven images, and the teaching of magicians;—for in Thee, O my Lord, have I been delivered!

X

1. My children have been slain; and my daughters that are without me,—their walls are overthrown, their children scattered,—and their holy places trodden down. R., Blessed is Thy chastisement!

2. The fowlers have taken, my doves out of my strongholds,—which quitted their nests, and fled to the caves;—in the net have they taken them.

3. After the manner of wax, that melts before the fire,—thus melted and dissolved, the bodies, of my sons before the heat—and the drought of my strongholds.

4. And instead of streams, of milk that used to flow,—for my sons and my little ones, milk fails the sucklings, and water the weaned children.

5. The suckling falls, from its mother and gasps,—because it cannot suck, nor can she give suck:—they breathe out their spirit and die.

6. How is it possible, that Thy grace can refrain—the welling of its stream, when it is not possible to restrain—the abundance of its flow?

7. And why has Thy grace, shut up its mercies,—and withheld its streams, from the people that cry,—for one to moisten their tongue?

8. And there was a pit, between them and their brethren;—like the rich man who cried, and there was none to answer,—to moisten his tongue.

9. And as into the midst of fire, the wretched ones were cast;—and heat in the midst of thirst, the fire was blowing,—and kindling upon them.

10. Their carcases were melted, and dissolved by the heat;—they that had thirsted gave in turn the earth to drink,—of the reek of their bodies.

11. And the fort that with thirst, had killed, its dwellers,—it drank in its turn of the flux from the corpses,—that were melted by thirst.

12. Who has seen a people—that were burning with thirst,—while there surrounded them a wall of water and they could not—moisten their tongue!

13. Surely with the judgment of Sodom, were my beloved judged,—and my children smitten, with the torment of Sodom;—though that was but for one day.

14. The torment of fire, though it be for one hour, O my Lord,—in lingering thirst, is a lingering death, and a subtle punishment.

15. After my sorrows, O my Lord, and my bitter sufferings,—this is the best comfort, wherewith Thou hast comforted me,—that Thou hast multiplied my afflictions.

16. The medicine that I hoped, it is sorrow decreed;—the binding up that I looked for, it is bitter calamity,—that it seeks to work for me.

17. And whereas I hoped to escape, from the midst of the storm;—worse for me is the storm in it, even in the harbour,—than that in the sea.

18. Whereas I thought in my folly, that I should anchor and escape—from the midst of the Gulf; my sins have cast me back—again into the midst of it.

19. Look, O my Lord, on my limbs, how the swords are thick in me,—and have left their mark on my arms; and the scars of the spears,—are planted in my sides!

20. Tears in mine eyes, and in my ears ill rumours,—wailing in my mouth, and mourning in my heart!—Add no more, O my Lord, to me!

XI

1. Thy chastening is, as a mother of our infancy:—her rebuke is merciful, in that Thou hast restrained,—the children from folly, and they have been made wise! R., Glory be to the justice.!

2. Let us search out Thy justice; for who is sufficient—to measure its help? since by it the wanton—are oftentimes made chaste.—

3. Oftentimes Thy hand, O my Lord, has made the sick whole,—for it is the healer in secret of their diseases,—and the fount of their life.

4. Exceeding gently, the finger of Thy justice,—in love and compassion, touches the wounds—of him that is to be healed.

5. Exceeding mild and merciful, is her cutting to him that is wise:—her sharp remedy, in its mighty love,—consumes the corrupt part.

6. Exceeding welcome her wrath, to him that is discerning;—but her remedies are hated, of the fool who has delight—in the trouble of his limbs.

7. Exceeding eager is she, to bind the cut she has made;—when she has smitten she pities, that from between these two—she may breed healing.

8. Exceeding welcome her wrath, and her anger pleasant,—and sweet her bitterness, sweetening bitter things—that they may be made pleasant.

9. A cause of negligence is Thy indulgence to the careless;—a cause of profit, is Thy rod among the slothful—so that they become as traffickers.

10. The cause of our affliction, it is Thy justice;—the cause of our carelessness, it is Thy graciousness,—for our understanding has turned foolish.

11. Pharaoh hardened himself, because of Thy graciousness;—for when the plagues were stayed, his cruelties waxed strong,—and he lied to his promises.

12. Justice requited him, because he lied greatly against her,—even Grace her freeborn sister; yea she restrained him again—that he should not again provoke.

13. Rebuke, O my Lord, my guide, for it has been false as Egypt!—my prayers testify, that I am not as she,—for Thy door have I not forsaken.

14. Let Thy cross, O my Lord, which stands, in my breaches that are open,—repair again the breaches that are hidden; for instead of those without,—those within have cleft me asunder!

15. A sea has broken through, and cast down, the watch tower wherein I had triumphed.—Iniquity has dared to set up, a temple wherein I am shamed: its drink-offering chokes me.

16. My prayers on my walls, my persecutors have heard:—the sun and his worshippers, are ashamed of their magicians,—for I have triumphed by Thy cross.

17. All creatures cried out, when they saw the struggle,—while Truth with falsehood, on my battered walls, fought and was crowned conqueror.

18. The force of Truth, chastised falsehood:—in its chastisement it felt Truth, and through its own sins, it earned her victory.

19. I have great alarm; for since my deliverance,—the honourable and mighty, who were devoted to my altar, have built in me high places.

20. My seven senses, O my Lord, even though they had been as fountains of tears, yet my tears were too little—to lament our ruin.

21. The streets that were in sackcloth, and ashes cried out,—disturbed by the play, akin to that which was,—in the wilderness before the calf.

22. Poison seeks and wears, the beauty of lilies;—and though their buds may conceal, and hidden disguise it,—it blossoms in their bitter flowers.

XII

1. I will call in my affliction, on the Power that subdues all;—that is able to subdue, the Captor in his wrath,—as it overcame Legion. R., Glory to His grace!

2. The Evil One has repaid me my brethren, debts that he borrowed not of me:—the good God likewise has repaid me, mercies that I lent Him not.—Come and marvel ye at these two things!

3. The good God has divided and given, my misdeeds to His grace,—my offences to His justice; His mercy has blotted out my misdeeds—His judgment has requited my offences.

4. Sin was exceeding wroth, and abode in alarm,—when she saw how grace, put restraint on freedom, that she might overcome transgressions.

5. Glow Thou, O my Lord, and send down Thy love, break out and pour forth Thy wrath!—Thy wrath to destroy, Thy love to rescue—the captives from the captor!

6. The days wherein the Evil One, decreed to cast me forth,—as with a sling into perdition, in them the good God has bound up and kept—my soul in the bundle of life.

7. The men of speech who keep not silence, from praising continually,—who have kept me in the midst of waves, and supported me that I fell not, let them give praise in my stead, O my Lord!

8. For who has at any time sufficed, in presence of the grace,—of the mercies which surrounded him, that I should suffice to praise—the mercies that encompass me?

XIII

Concerning Mar Jacob and his Companions.

1. Three illustrious priests, after the manner of the two great lights,—have carried on and handed down one to another, the See and the Hand and the Flock.—To us whose mounting was great for the two, this last is wholly a consolation. R., Glory to Thee Who didst choose them!

2. He Who created two great lights, chose for Himself these three Lights,—and set them in the three dark seasons of siege that have been.—When that pair of Lights was quenched, the other shone wholly forth.

3. These three priests were treasures, who held in their faithfulness,—the key of the Trinity; three doors they opened for us;—each one of them with his key, unlocked and opened his door.

4. In the first was opened the door, for the chastisement that betel us;—in the next was opened the door, for the King’s power that came down on us,—in the last was opened the door, for the good tidings that came up for us.

5. In the first was opened the door, for battle between two hosts;—in the next were opened doors, for the kings from either wind;—in the last was opened the door, for ambassadors from either side.

6. In the first was opened the door, for battle because of misdeeds;—in the next was opened the door,—for the kings because of strife;—in the last was opened the door, for ambassadors because of mercies.

7. Lo! in these three successions, as in a mystery and a figure,—wrath is likened to the sun; it began under the first;—it waxed strong under the next; it sank and was quenched under the last.

8. Three figures the Sun also, shows forth in the three quarters:—its rising is keen and bright; its meridian strong and overpowering;—and like a torch that is burnt out, its setting is mild and pleasant.

9. Small yet bright is its rising, when it comes to waken sleepers;—hot and overpowering its meridian, when it comes to ripen the fruits;—tender and pleasant its setting, when it reaches its consummation.

10. Who is this daughter born of vows, enviable above all women,—whose successions thus proceed, and her ranks are thus manifold,—and her degrees thus ascend, and her teachers thus excel.

11. Do these similitudes belong, only to the daughter of Abraham,—or to thee too, O daughter, born of vows, whose adorning is according as thy beauty?—for as thine occasion, so was thy help, and as thy help so was its minister.

12. According to the measure of her need, there came to her the supply of her need.—Her fathers were as was her birth; her teachers were as was her understanding;—her training as was her growth; her raiment as was her stature.

13. Grace weighed out to her and gave all these things as in the scales;—she laid them in her balance, that therefrom there might be profit;—she drew them into succession, that therefrom might be perfection.

14. In the days of him that was first, peace abounded and peace vanished;—in the days of him that was next, kings came down and kings went back;—but in the days of the last, hosts assailed and hosts retreated.—

15. By the first order came in, it came in with him and went out with him;—by the next the diadem that gladdened our churches, came nigh and withdrew far away;—but by the last there dawned on us, grace that was not thankfully received.

16. Against the wrath that was first, the labour of the first contended;—against the heat that was at noon, the shade of the second stood up;—against peace that was thankless, the last multiplied warnings.

17. For the first invader of the land was the first and illustrious priest;—for the second invader of the land, was the second and merciful priest:—but the prayers of him that was last, repaired our breaches secretly.

18. Nisibis is set upon waters, waters secret and open:—living streams are within her; a noble river without her. The river without deceived her; the fountain within has saved her.

19. The first priest was her vinedresser; he made her branches to grow even unto heaven.—Lo! being dead and buried within her, he has become fruit in the midst of her bosom:—when therefore the pruners came, the fruit that was in her midst preserved her.

20. The time of her pruning came; it entered and took from her her vinedresser,—that there should not be one to pray for her. She made haste in her subtlety;—He laid in her bosom her vinedresser, that she should be delivered through her vinedresser.

21. Be ye wise like Nisibis, O ye daughters of Nisibis,—for that she laid the body within her, and it became a wall without her.—Place ye within you the living body, that it be a wall for your lives!

XIV

I. Under the three pastors,—there were manifold shepherds;—the one mother that was in the city,—had daughters in all regions.—Since Wrath has destroyed her dwellings,—Peace shall build up her churches. R. Blessed be He who chose out those three!

2. The kindly labour of the first,—bound up the land in her affliction:—the bread and wine of the next,—healed the city when she was broken:—the sweet speech of the last,—sweetened our bitterness in affliction.

3. The first tilled the land with his labour,—he rooted out of her the briars and thorns:—the next fenced her round about,—he made a hedge for her of them that were saved:—the last opened the garner of his Lord,—and sowed in her the words of her Lord.

4. The first priest by means of a fast,—closed up the doors of men’s mouths:—the second priest for the captives,—opened the mouths of the purse:—but the last pierced through the ears,—and fastened in them the ornament of life.

5. Aaron stripped off from the ears,—the earrings and made a calf.—That lifeless calf in secret,—pierced and slaughtered the camp:—those who had fashioned his horns,—he ripped them up with his horns.

6. But our priest who was the third,—pierced through the ears of the heart:—and fastened there the earrings he had fashioned,—of the nails that were fixed in the cross,—whereon his Lord was crucified,—and gave life to His fellow-men.

7. A son unto death the fire brought forth;—Death feeds upon all bodies:—the son of Death who surpassed Death,—upon the souls of men he fed.—The calf forsook his provender,—for men’s minds were the food for him.

8. To the first Tree that which killed,—to it grace brought forth a son,—O Cross offspring of the Tree,—that didst fight against thy sire!—The Tree was the fount of death;—the Cross was the fount of life.

9. The son that was born to Death,—all mouths were opened to curse him.—He devoured bodies and souls,—and multiplied the disgrace of his father.—But the Cross caused to pass away the rebuke,—of its father that first Tree.

10. The two sons were even as were—the two mothers that bare them.—The calf which the fire brought forth,—the fire consumed in the midst of the people:—the Cross the offspring of grace,—divided good gifts to all creation.

11. O my tongue hold thy peace and be silent of the histories of the Cross that press to be told!—for my mind of a sudden has conceived,—and lo! pangs of travail smite it:—it has conceived these among the last,—and they strive to become the firstborn.

12. The babes struggled in the womb;—the elder made haste to come forth:—the younger desiring the birthright,—laid his hand upon his heel;—that which he obtained not by birth,—he obtained by the mess of pottage.

13. After the like sort these later histories,—lo! they make light of the former ones,—that themselves may come forth and take the birthright.—Let us bring forth the history of our fathers,—for lo! the histories of the Cross—are the firstborn of all creatures.

14. For if that which has no beginning—is the first of all created things,—its histories also are the firstborn,—for they are eider than all creatures.—Let the histories of Thee, O my Lord, yield place,—that we may tell of Thy ministers!

15. The first in degree of doctrine,—His eloquence was like as was his degree;—the next who was second in degree,—his interpretation mounted to the height of his degree;—the last who was third in degree,—his eloquence was great as he was.

16. The first in his simple words,—gave milk unto his infants;—the next in his plain sayings,—gave victual to his children;—the third in his perfect sayings,—gave meat to his that were of perfect age.

17. She too the daughter of instruction,—mounted from degree to degree,—along with her teachers and fathers.—A young child she was with the first; a simple maid was she with the next;—she came to perfect age in the third.

18. The first dealing with her as a child,—loved her and taught her to fear;—the next as with a damsel, rebuked her and make her glad;—the third as with one fully instructed,—was to her a solace of pleasantness.

19. Even the Most High with the daughter of Jacob,—gave blandishment and the rod to her childhood;—and in her frowardness and full age,—gave part in the sword and the Law;—and according to her discipline and instruction,—He came to her in mildness and pleasantness.

20. The first that begat the flock,—his bosom bare her infancy;—the next of gladsome countenance,—cheered with song and made glad her childhood;—the last grave of countenance,—lo! he guards her chastity in her youth.

21. The first priest who begat her,—gave milk to her infancy;—the next priest interpreted,—and gave victual to her childhood;—the third priest nourished her, and gave meat to her perfect age.

22. The wealthy father who was first,—laid up treasures for her childhood;—the next for her maturity—multiplied provision for her journey;—the third the goodly olive tree,—multiplied oil in her vessels.

23. When she comes before Him who is rich,—she will show the treasure of the first;—when she comes before the Saviour, she will show the saved ones of the next;—when she goes forth to meet the Bridegroom,—she will show the oil of her lamps.

24. Before Him who rewards the weary toilworn,—she will offer the labour of the first;—before Him who loves cheerful givers,—she will show the almsgiving of the next;—before Him who judges doctrines,—she will offer the discourse of the last.

25. And I the sinner who have striven to be—the disciple of these three,—when they shall see Him of the Third Day,—that he has closed the door of His chamber,—may these three pray Him for me, that He keep the door open a little while for me!

26. May the sinner press into and enter—rejoicing and fearing to behold!—May the three masters call in—the one disciple in their grace!—May he gather up under the table—the crumbs that are full of life!

XV

1. If the head had not been right,—haply the members had murmured:—for when because of a perverse head—the course of the members is put astray,—they are wont to lay the blame on the head.

R. Blessed be He who chose thee the pride of our people!

2. If now on one that is all goodly,—on it we lay our hatred;—how much more if we were hateful!—Yea even God though He is kind,—bitter men complain against Him.

3. Be like the head O ye members!—Get repose in his purity—and pleasantness in his tranquillity;—in his sanctity renown,—and in his wisdom learning!

4. Get discernment in his mildness,—and chastity in his gravity,—and bounty in his poverty!—As he is fully and altogether fair,—let us be altogether fair with him!

5. See ye how meted and weighed—are his words and his actions!—Take heed how even his steps—keep the measure of peace!—With all his might he holds the bridle of all himself.

6. He was master over his youth;—he bound it in the yoke of chastity:—his members were not enticed by lust;—for they were kept under the rod:—his will he had in subjection.

7. For he was ready beforehand for his degree,—as he was ready beforehand in his conversation,—as he laid his foundations securely.—He became Head in his youth,—when they made him preacher to the people.

8. Excellent was he among preachers,—learned was he among scholars,—and understanding was he among the wise:—chaste was he among his brethren,—and grave among his familiar friends.

9. In two abodes was he—a solitary recluse from his early days;—for he was holy within his body,—and solitary within his dwelling;—openly and secretly was he chaste.

10. But although we my brethren—have put astray those measures,—and we have lost that savour,—and have become teachers to ourselves,—unto the perfection that called us.

11. Yet that measure of Truth—preserves itself in its vessel:—Truth chose it because she saw it chose her;—she has preserved in it her fragrance and savour,—from the beginning to the end.

12. The Head both chaste and grave,—that was not wrathful nor hard,—nor transgressed even as we did,—set and kept his own measures,—and cast a bridle on his thoughts.

13. He gave example in his person,—that as he kept the measure of his time,—so was it meet that we should know our time.—We have become strangers to our time,—for we have been witless in the time of discernment.

14. In the beginning the blast of the wind—in its might chastens the fruit;—then in the meantime the might of the sun:—but when its mightiness is passed,—its end gathers his sweetness.

15. But we—they that were first chastened us;—and also they that came next rebuked us;—and they that were last added sweetness to us:—then when the time of tasting us arrives,—great was our savourlessness.

16. For we came to maturity,—that we might wean the children from wantonness,—and lead them to gravity:—but our old age stood in need—that we should be rebuked as youths.

17. Accordingly he in kindness endured, nor did he make use of force,—that he might increase honour to our old age:—and even if it knew not its degree,—let him be magnified who knew its time!

18. And if one say that for the multitude,—force and the rod should govern it;—even as for the thief fear,—and for the spoiler threatening,—and for fools open shaming.

19. Yet if with the head as first,—the members had hasted to move as second,—they would have drawn that which was third,—and the whole body from the end—would have followed after them.

20. They that were second despised those that were first,—and that were third those that were second:—the degrees were set at naught one by another.—While these within despised one another,—they were trodden down likewise by those without.

XVI

1. Herein is a mirror to be blamed,—if its clearness is darkened—because there are spots on its substance;—for the foulness that is on it becomes—a covering before them that look on it.

R. Blessed be He Who polished our mirror!

2. For that comeliness is not adorned in it,—and blemishes are not brought to view in it,—it is altogether a damage to comely things;—seeing that their comeliness gain not—adornments as their profit.

3. Blemishes are not rooted out by it,—likewise adornments are not multiplied by it.—A blemish that remains is as a loss;—that there is no adornment is a defect:—loss is met together with defect.

4. If our mirror be darkness,—it is altogether joy to the hateful;—because their blemishes are not reproved:—but if polished and shining,—it is our freedom that is adorned.

5. Twofold is the loss in defect,—for the hateful and for the goodly;—in that the goodly gain no crown,—and likewise the hateful get no adorning:—the mirror divides the loss.

6. Never does the mirror drive—by compulsion him that looks therein:—so likewise grace which followed—upon the righteousness of the Law,—does not possess the compulsion of the Law.

7. Righteousness was unto childhood,—its adorner of compulsion;—for when mankind was in childhood,—she adorned it by compulsion,—while she robbed it not of its freedom.

8. Righteousness used blandishment,—and the rod to deal with childhood;—when she smote it she roused it; her rod restrained frowardness, her blandishment softened the minds.

 

9. [If one turn from the Gospel,] wherewith we are adorned to-day, my brethren,—to another gospel he is a child:—in a time of greatness of understanding,—he is become without understanding.

10. For in the degree of full age,—he has gone down to childhood;—and he loves the law of bondmen,—which when he is confident smites him,—and when he rejoices buffets him.

11. Whatsoever ornament is compulsion,—is not true but is borrowed.—This is a great thing in God’s eyes,—that a man should be adorned by himself:—therefore took He away compulsion.

12. For even as of His prudence—in its own time He employed compulsion,—so likewise of His prudence,—He took it away at a time—when gentleness was desired in its stead.

13. For as it is befitting to Youth,—that it should be made to haste under the rod;—so is it very hateful that under the rod—Wisdom should be brought to serve,—that compulsion should be lord over her.

14. Behold therefore how likewise—God has ordered my successions—in the pastors I have had,—and in the teachers He has given me,—and in the fathers He has reckoned unto me!

15. For weighed out according to their times—were the helps of their qualities;—namely in him in whom it was needful, fear; and in whom it was profitable, heartening; and in whom it was becoming, meekness.

16. By measure He made my steps advance:—to my childhood He assigned terror; likewise to my youth, fear;—to my age of wisdom and prudence,—He assigned and gave meekness.

17. In the frowardness of the degree of childhood,—my instructor was a fear to me:—his rod restrained me from wantonness,—and from mischief the terror of him,—and from indulgence the fear of him.

18. Another father He gave to my youth:—what there was in me of childishness,—that was there in him of hardness; what there was in me of maturity,—that was in him as meekness.

19. When I rose from the degrees—of childhood and of youth,—there passed away the terror that was first,—there passed away the fear that was second;—He gave me a kind pastor.

20. Lo! for my full age his food;—and for my wisdom his interpretations;—and for my peace his meekness;—and for my repose his kindness;—and for my chastity his gravity!

21. Blessed is He who as in a balance—weighed out and gave me fathers:—for according to my times were my helps;—and according to my sicknesses my medicines;—and according to my comelinesses my adornments!

22. We then are they that have disturbed—the succession and fair order;—for in a time of mildness—lo! we crave for hardness,—that Thou should rebuke us as though we were children!

XVII

Concerning Abraham, Bishop of Nisibis.

I. Suffer, O Lord, that even my lowliness, should cast into Thy treasury its farthing, even as the merchant of our flock, who made increase of his talent of Thy doctrine, and has departed and entered Thy haven. I will speak of the shepherd, under him who has become head of the flock; who was disciple of the Three, and has become our fourth master.

R., Blessed be He Who has made him our comfort!

2. In one love will I cause them to shine, and as a crown will I weave them, the splendid blossoms, and the fragrant flowers of the teacher and of his disciple, who remained after him as Elisha; for the horn of his election and he was consecrated and became head, and he was exalted and became master.

R., Blessed be He Who made him chief!

3. And they in heaven rejoiced for the flock, that by the pastor whom they fed, they feed it; the abode of the shepherds under him rejoiced, because they saw the succession of their degrees. He took and set him as a mind in the midst of the great body of the church, and his members came round him to buy of him life, doctrine, new bread.

R., Blessed be He Who made him their treasury!

4. He chose him from the multitude of shepherds, because he had given trial of his stedfastness; the time tested him in the midst of the flock, and length of days proved him as a crucible; for that he gave proof in his person, He made him a wall for many. Let thy fasting be armour to our country, thy prayer a shield to our city, let thy censer purchase reconcilement.

R., Blessed be He Who has hallowed thy sacrifices!

5. The Pastor who has been parted from his flock, fed them on spiritual pastures, and by his exalted staff, he defended them from secret wolves. Fill thou up the room of thy master, which thirsts for the sound of his melody; set up thyself as a pillar, in the city of the trembling people; support her with thy prayers.

R., Blessed be He Who has made thee our pillar!

6. He has committed the Hand to his disciple, the Throne to one that is worthy of it, the Key to one that is proved faithful, the Flock to one that has excelled. To thy hand belongs the laying-on, to thy offering propitiation, and to thy tongue consolation. May peace adorn thy Dominion; be the watchmen within and the congregations without.

R., Blessed be He Who has chosen thee for rejoicings!

7. May thy doctrine abound, in deeds more than words! In saying few words, till Thou our land with labour, that by much tillage the scanty seed may become rich, the increase of the old seed, may come among us thirtyfold, and thy new seed sixtyfold.

R., Blessed be He Who multiplies an hundredfold!

8. The wrath that was against thee ceases, because peace flows over thee altogether; the jealousy against thee is quenched, for thy love hourly flames forth: thou hast broken the string of envy, that it should smite none in secret; slander that confounds, to it thy ear turns not, for open truth is pleasing to thee.

R., Blessed be He Who adorned thy members!

9. Thou shalt give counsel in the midst of thy people, like Jethro among the Hebrews; thou shalt altogether go with him, who for thy profit counsels thee, thou shalt altogether flee from him, who otherwise counsels thee: Rehoboam shall be a sign to thee; thou shalt choose counsels of profit, thou shalt refuse counsels of envy.

R., Blessed be He Who has counselled comfort!

10. The gift that has been given thee, from on high it flew and came down: thou shalt call it by a name of man, thou shalt not bear it in another power, lest haply to its place there should come, Satan in his guile, supposing, that the sons of men have given it to thee, so that this freeborn gift should serve in bondage to man.

R., Blessed be He Who has handed down his gift!

11. Thy master is painted in thy person; lo! his likeness is on thee altogether; parted from us one with us is he. In thee we shall see those three, the excellent ones who are parted from us. Thou shalt be unto us a wall as Jacob, and full of tenderness as Babu, and a treasury of speech as Valgesh.

R., Blessed be He Who in one has painted them!

12. I, too, the offscouring of the flock, have not withholden aught that was meet: I have painted the similitude of these two, in the colours of these two; that the sheep may see their adornment, and the flock their beauties. And I who have become a lamb endowed with speech, unto Thee, O God of Abraham, in the posture of Abram will give Thee praise.

R., Blessed be He Who has made me His harp!

XVIII

1. O thou who art made priest after thy master, the illustrious after the excellent, the chaste after the grave, the watchful after the abstinent, thy master from thee has not departed; in the living we see the deceased: for lo! in thee is his likeness painted; and impressed upon thee are his footprints, and all of him shines from all of thee.

R., Blessed be He Who in His stead has given us thee!

2. The fruit wherein its tree is painted, bears witness concerning the root. Hitherto there has not failed us, the savour of his sweetness. His words thou showest forth in bodily act, for thou hast fulfilled them in deed. In thy conversation is painted his doctrine, in thy conduct his exposition, in thy fulfilment his interpretation.

R., Blessed be He Who has made thy lustre to excel!

3. The last pastor who was exalted, and became head unto the members, the younger who obtained the birthright, not for price like Jacob, not in jealousy like Aaron, whose brethren the Levites envied him, but by love obtained he it like Moses, though he was older than Aaron. In thee thy brethren rejoiced as in him.

R., Blessed be He Who chose thee in unanimity!

4. There is no envy or jealousy, among the members of the body; for in love they ive ear unto him, with tenderness they are visited by him. A watch tower is the head unto the members, for on every side he looks forth. Exalted is he yet meek in his graciousness, even to the feet he humbleth himself, that he may turn away harm from them. R., Blessed be He Who instilled thy love into us!

5. A small thing verily had this been, if by an old man apostasy were overcome. Old age in its prudence submitted; youth in its season conquered; for a youthful combatant endured, the hateful conflict waged, by force that was full of apostacy, which like smoke waxed and passed: with its beginning was its end.

R., Blessed be He Who blew upon it that it vanished!

6. The voice of the cornet on a sudden, amazed and called Thee to battle. Thou wentest up like a new David, by Thee was subdued a second Goliath. Thou wast not untried in combat, for a secret warfare day by day, Thou art waging against the Evil One. Exercise in secret is wont to attain the crown openly.

R., Blessed be He Who chose Thee for our glory!

7. In face of trial Job trained his body and his mind, and in temptation he was victorious. And Joseph conquered in the chamber; Ananias and his company in the furnace, and in the midst of the den Daniel. Satan did foolishly, when in tempting, he confirmed their victory openly.

R., Blessed be He Who has multiplied shame on him!

8. And the husbandman who apostatized and was urgent, to sow thorns with his left hand; zealous against him was the righteous husbandman, stopped and cut off his left hand. He filled His own right hand and sowed in the heart the words of life; and lo! our understanding is tilled, by His prophets and His apostles. By Thee may our souls be tilled!

R., Blessed be He Who chose Thee for our husbandman!

9. And if so be Thy words are too little, till Thou our land with deeds, that amid much tillage, stock and root may be strengthened. Better is a goodly deed, than the hearing of ten thousand words. Thy seed shall yield an hundredfold, and the after crop sixtyfold, yea that which grows of itself thirtyfold.

R., Blessed be He Who multiplied Thy increase!

10. That light should be darkened it is not meet, that salt should lose its savour it is not right; defilement for the head is not seemly, nor yet foulness for the mirror. Nor if medicines have lost their savour sicknesses also are not cured; and if so be the torch is quenched, the stumbling also are many. Thy light shall chase away our darkness.

R., Blessed be He Who hath made Thee our lamp!

11. Appoint for thee scribes and judges, exactors also and dispensers, overseers also and officers: to each assign his work, lest haply by care should be rusted, or by anxiety should be distracted, the mind and the tongue, wherewith thou offerest supplication, for the expiation of all the people.

R., Blessed be He Who makes illustrious Thy ministry!

12. That he should purge his mind, and cleanse also his tongue; that he should purify his hands, and make his whole body to shine; this is too little for the priest and his title, who offers the Living Body. Let him cleanse all himself at all hours; for he stands as mediator, between God and mankind.

R., Blessed be He Who has cleansed His ministers!

XIX

1. Thou who answerest to the name of Abraham, in that Thou art made father of many; but because to Thee none is spouse, as Sarah was to Abraham,—lo! Thy flock is Thy spouse; bring up her sons in Thy truth; spiritual children may they be to Thee, and the sons be sons of promise, that they may become heirs in Eden.

R., Blessed be He Who foreshowed Thee in Abraham!

2. Fair fruit of chastity, in whom the priesthood was well pleased, youngest among Thy brethren as was the son of Jesse; the horn overflowed and anointed Thee, the hand alighted and chose Thee, the Church desired and loved Thee; the pure altar is for Thy ministry, the great throne for Thy honour, and all as one for Thy crown.

R., Blessed be He Who multiplied Thy crowning!

3. Lo! thy flock, O blessed one, arise and visit it, O diligent one! Jacob ranged the flocks in order; range Thou the sheep that have speech, and enlighten the virgin-youths in purity, and the virgin-maids in chastity; raise up priests in honour, rulers in meekness, and a people in righteousness.

R. Blessed be He Who filled Thee with understanding!

4. Guard thou the sheep that are whole, and visit them that are sick, and bind up them that are broken, and seek out them that are lost; feed them in the pastures of the Scriptures, and give them drink or the spring of doctrine: let the truth be a wall unto thee, let the cross be a staff unto thee, and truthfulness be peace unto thee.

R., Blessed be He Who multiplied Thy virtues!

5. Let there be with Thee in Thy flock, the power that was with David; for if he plucked a straying lamb, from the mouth of the lion, how meet is it for Thee, O exalted one, to be zealous to snatch from the Evil One the souls that are precious above all, for by nothing can they be bought, save by the blood of Christ!

R., Blessed be He Who was sold and bought all!

6. Unto Moses Joshua ministered, and for the reward of his ministry, from him received the right hand. Because to an illustrious old man thou hast ministered, he too gave thee the right hand. Moses committed unto Joshua, a flock of which half were wolves; but to thee is delivered a flock, whereof a fourth yea a third is sanctified.

R., Blessed be He who adorned thy flock!

7. Let the love of Moses abide in thee, for his love was a discerning love, his zeal a discreet zeal. When Korah and Dathan sundered themselves, he sundered the earth from beneath them; by sundering he made the sundering to cease. In Eldad and Medad he made known, that his good will was altogether this that all the people should prophesy.

R., Blessed be He who in His good will was reconciled!

8. The poor estate of Elijah, Elisha loved above wealth; a poor man gave to a poor man, a gift that was great above all. Because thou hast loved the poverty, of thy master who in secret was rich, the fountain of his words shall flow from thee, that thou mayst become a harp for the Spirit, and mayst sing to thyself inwardly His good will.

R., Blessed be He who made thee His treasurer!

9. There is none that envies thy election, for meek is thy headship; there is none angered by the rebuke, for thy word sows peace; there is none terrified by thy voice, for pleasant in thy visitation; there is none that groans against thy yoke, for it labors instead of our neck, and lightens the burden of our souls.

R., Blessed be He who chose thee for our rest

10. Contend not with the mighty, despair not of the outcast; soften and teach the rich, exhort and win the poor; with the harsh join the forbearing, and the long suffering with the wrathful; catch them that are evil by them that are good, and them that spoil by them that give, and the defiled by means of the sanctified.

R., Blessed be He who made thee our hunter!

11. Take to thee ten thousand medicaments, and arise and go forth among the sick; to the diseased offer medicine, and to him that is sound a preservative; not one medicine only shalt thou offer, for the sickness lest haply it be not meet: offer many remedies, that the sickness may find healing; likewise thou shalt learn experience.

R., Blessed be He who laboured to heat our wounds!

12. May the land be according to thy desire; may the vineyard be according to thy husbandry; may the flock be in the midst of thy dwelling, and the sheep sound under thy staff! Mayest thou be a great Head, and we the jewels of thy crown! May we be beautiful in thee and thou be beautiful in us! for they are goodly each in the other, people and priest when they are at one.

R., Blessed be He who has sowed among us unity!

13. Hearken to the Apostle when he saith, to that virgin whom he had espoused; I am jealous over you with jealousy, with a jealousy verily of God, not of the flesh but of the spirit. Be jealous therewith thou also in pureness, that He may know what she is and whose she is. In thee may she cherish, and in thee may she love, Jesus the Bridegroom in truth.

R., Blessed is he whose zeal is holy!

14. As are her masters, so are her manners: for with the teacher that lags a laggard is she, and with him that is noble, excellent is she. The Church is like unto a mirror, for according to the face that gazes into it, thus does it put on the likeness thereof. For as is the king so also his host, and as is the priest so also his flock; according as these are it is stamped on them.

R., Blessed be He Who stamped her in His likeness!

15. Without a testament they departed, those three illustrious priests; who in Testaments used to meditate, those two Testaments of God. Great gain have they bequeathed to us, even this example of poverty. They who possessed nothing the blessed ones, made us their possessions; the Church was their treasure.

R., Blessed is he who possessed in them his possessions!

16. The priest Jacob the noble, with him she was ennobled as he was: because he joined his love to his jealousy, with fear and love he was clothed. With Babes a lover of bounty, for money she redeemed the captives. With Valgesh a scribe of the law, her heart she opened to the Scriptures. With thee then may her profit be manifold!

R., Blessed be He Who has magnified her merchantmen!

XX

1. O virgin-youth that art become bridegroom, move to a little jealousy thy mind, towards her who is the wife of thy youth: cut off the attachments which she had, in her girlhood with many others; rebuke her and call together her affections, that she may know what she is and whose she is. In thee may she desire yea love, Christ the Bridegroom of truth.

R., Blessed be He Who betrothes her to His Only Begotten!

2. Be jealous O husbandman against the tares, which have sprung up and entangled themselves among the wheat. Easy is it to root up the thicket, rather than the despised: if a slight breeze bears it, it attacks the sowing and conquers it. That which three husbandmen have sown, may it return in threefold measure! thirty-fold and sixty and an hundred!

R., Blessed be He Who makes rich thine increase!

3. A new shepherd for him it is right, that he should oversee the flock in new wise, and should know what is the number of it, and should see what are its needs. A flock it is that was purchased with the blood, of that chief of the shepherds. Call thou and cause to pass each sheep by its name, for it is a flock whereof the name is written, and its reckoning in the Book of life.

R., Blessed be He Who will require the number thereof!

4. Lo the spouse of thy Lord is with thee! keep her from all harm, and from men that deal corruptly, and call the congregations by their own names. The name of her spouse is set on her; let her not go a whoring for another name, for she was not baptized in the name of man; with Names wherein she was baptized let her make confession, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

R., Blessed be He by Whose Name she is called!

5. The Apostle her betrother was jealous over her, that she should not be corrupted by names, yet not by names that were false, but not even by names that were true; not by Cephas yea not by his name. They who were true betrothers, set the Name of her betrothed upon her; the false betrothers like whoremongers, set their own names on the flock.

R., Glory be to Thy Name, our Creator!

6. The stamp on living creatures, O my brethren, no man destroys openly; and a name that is signed to a letter, no man adds to or alters: whoso effaces the stamp is a thief; and whoso alters the name is a falsifier. The name of Christ has been altered; names of falsehood lo! have been set, upon the congregations that have been corrupted.

R., Blessed be He Who has called His flock by His Name!

7. Look at the Prophets and Apostles, how like they are each to the other! By the Prophets the Name of God, was set on the flock of God; and by the Apostles the Name of Christ, was set on the Church of Christ. The false betrothers also are like one another, for by their names are called, the congregations who commit whoredom with them.

R., Blessed be He in Whose Name we were sanctified!

XXI

1. John who was a torch, laid bare and rebuked the wanton ones: they made haste and quenched the torch, that they might let loose the desire of their lust. Be thou a lamp in brightness, and make the works of darkness cease, that whensoever thy doctrine shines, no man may dare at its rising, to give ear to the lusts of darkness.

R., Blessed be He Who made thee our lamp!

2. A great blessing was hidden in it, even in the reproof of Elijah. Elisha ministered unto him and sought, a twofold reward of his ministration. Twofold glory it gave to him, for in double measure was he clad with his virtues. Thou who hast loved the reproof of Valgesh thy master rich in gifts, mayest thou inherit the treasure of his wisdom!

R., Blessed be He Who makes thy Doctrine rich!

3. May greediness be overcome by thy fasting even as by the fasting of Daniel! May lust be confounded before thy body, like as it was confounded before Joseph! May lust of money be overcome by thee! like as it was overcome before Simeon, Mayest thou bind on earth even as he, and loose on high after his likeness; for thy faith is even as his!

R., Blessed is He Who committed to thee His ministry!

4. Thy chastity be as Elisha’s, and thy celibacy Elijah’s, the covenant with thine eyes as Job’s, thy tender mercies as David’s; without envy as Jonathan, thy firmness as Jeremiah’s, thy gentleness the Apostles’! Thine be the ancient things of the prophets, thine the new things of the Apostles,

R., Blessed be He Who filled thee with their treasures!

5. Be a crown to the priesthood, and in thee be the ministry made to shine! Be a brother to the elders, likewise an overseer to the deacons; be a master to youth, a staff and a hand to old age; be a wall to the consecrated virgins. In thy conversation may the covenant prevail, and the Church in thy comeliness be adorned.

R., Blessed be He Who chose thee to be priest!

6. In thy poverty be brought to nought, the hateful custom of the house of Gehazi; in thy sanctity be abolished, the abominable custom of the house of Eli; in thy unity be done away, the treacherous greeting of the lips of Iscariot the deceiver! Pour forth all our thought, and form it anew from the beginning!

R., Blessed be He Who in thy crucible refines us!

7. In thy conversation let Mammon be put to shame, who has been lord over our freedom! Let the disease be done away from us, which is customary with us and pleasant to us; abolish the causes that have maintained, customs that are full of harm! Evil things have possessed us through custom: let good things possess us through custom! Be thou, O Lord, the cause of help to us.

R., Blessed be He Who chose Thee in order to our life!

8. Let evil customs be cut off: let not the Church possess wealth; that she be sufficed let her possess souls, and if thus she be sufficed let it be in marvellous measure! And let not her deceased be buried in the cutting off of hope heathenishly, with vestments and wailing and lamentation; for the living is clothed in raiment, but the deceased his all is a coffin.

R., Blessed be He Who to our dust turns us again!

9. A cause of evil is the lust, also the greediness of the house of Eli, and the thievishness of the house of Gehazi, and the reviling of Nabal. These hateful wellsprings close thou up, lest there be a great outpouring, and there come from it defilement, and even thou be reached by its overflow. The Lord restrain their outpourings!

R., Blessed be He Who dried up their overflowings!

10. For the old man commit speech to him; for the young enjoin silence on him; for the stranger who comes in unto thee, learns of thee from thy discipline, namely who speaks first, and who second and third: and if every man keeps his mouth, and every man knows his degree, they will call thee happy.

R., Our Lord perform thy desire!

11. Let the voice of thy truth be single and thy assumed voices without number; the image of truthfulness on thy heart, and on thy face all aspects, sadness, gladness, and feebleness. To him that errs show that thou art wrathful, to him that is chaste show that thou art glad. Be single towards the Godhead, and to mankind be manifold.

R., Blessed be He Who with all men is all things!

12. If thou hearest an evil report, from truthful men that deceive not, pour forth tears that thou mayst quench the fire that burns in others; let them that are wise pray with thee, and appoint thou a fast for them that have knowledge, and let thy dwelling be in mourning, for him who is lost in sin, that he may turn back in repentance.

R., Blessed be He Who found the sheep that was lost!

13. To every man give not thy ear, lest liars overwhelm thee; to every man lend not thy foot, lest vile ones misguide thee; to every man give not thy soul, lest the insolent trample thee. Keep thy hand from the false man, lest he gather thorns into thy hand. Be far off and near at hand.

R., Blessed be He Who is near though far!

14. Lo the fame of the new king, resounds and comes into the world! To the spoiled he is a comfort, and to the spoilers a terror. On the covetous vomiting has come, that they may render up all that they have swallowed. Let them be put to fear from before thee also, that between a priest and a righteous king, the former customs may be done away.

R., Blessed be He Who was angry, and turns and has mercy!

15. There is that finds opportunity and ventures, and there is that forces and compels his will. One thinks that judgment is reserved, and another that it is not to be at all. There is that steals and quenches his thirst, and there is that steals and thirsts to steal. The rich steal and the poor; but the hungry steal by measure, and the full steal without measure.

R., Blessed be He Who has searched out all wills!

16. But now has He given opportunity, and every man has shown his will, of what kind it is and to what it is like, and what he has chosen for himself rather than what. He has removed temptation from every man, lest even he who is not hateful should deny him. He has given us opportunity that we may understand, that better think this power is chastisement which profits much.

R., Blessed is He Who for our profit rebukes us!

17. For He wills not by compulsion, to cast his yoke on our neck; He gave us opportunity and we waxed proud, that so when we rebelled and were punished, we might love His light yoke, might choose His pleasant staff. Our rest is very wearisome to us, for in His compulsion is restfulness, and in His yoke is lightening.

R., Blessed be He Whose labour is pleasantness!

18. The whole world like a body, had fallen into a heavy sickness; for in the fever of heathenism, it burned and pined and fell. The right hand of tender mercy touched it, and dealt with its soul in pity; and cut off speedily its heathenism, for that was the cause of its sickness, and it was purged and sweated and restored.

R., Glory be to the Hand that has healed it!

19. The land shall have peace in thy days, for it has seen thee that thou art full of peace. In thee shall the churches be built, and shall be clothed with their ornaments, and their books shall be opened in them, and their tables shall be spread, and their ministers shall be adorned; from them shall go up thanksgiving, as first fruits to the Lord of peace.

R., Blessed is He Who revives our Churches!

20. Let thy prayer go up to heaven, with it let reconciliation go up! May the Lord of Heaven rain down His blessings upon our [

], and His consolations upon our afflictions, and His gathering upon our dispersion: may He waken His jealousy with His love; may His righteousness avenge our disgrace, may His grace blot out our iniquity!

R., Blessed is He Who blesses His flock!

21. The first priest and first king, even as if depicted each in the other, were balanced as if in scales. So too Valgesh and so too the son of that king, for they were gentle and calm. May these latter be like each to other; the priests be shining lights, the king be glowing lights, likewise illustrious judges!

R., Blessed be He Who has enlightened our souls!

22. From the king’s office laws, and from the priest’s office propitiations. That both should be mild is hateful; that both should be strong is grievous. Let one be strong and one be tender; in prudence and in discretion, let fear with mercy be mingled. Let our priesthood be tender, likewise our king strong.

R., Blessed be He Who has mingled our helps!

23. Let the priests pray for the kings, that they may be a wall to mankind! From beside the kings be victory; and from beside the priests faith! May victory save our bodies, and faith our souls! May kings put an end to war; priests put an end to strife! May disputing and quarrelling cease!

R., Blessed be the Son of Him Who gives peace to all! Praise to Thee for Thy gift!

[XXII.–XXV. (wanting); XXVI. (only a fragment remains); XXVII.–XXXIV. (relate to Edessa and Carrhæ),]

XXXV

Concerning our Lord, and Concerning Death and Satan.

1. The Voice made proclamation: and they gathered and came; the hosts of the Evil One, together with his ministers. The army of the tares was gathered altogether, for they saw that Jesus had triumphed, to the grief of all them on the left hand, for there was none of them but had been tormented. They began one by one to relate all whatsoever they had endured. Sin and Hell were terrified: Death trembled and the dead rebelled; and Satan because sinners rebelled against him.

R., To Thee be glory because the Evil One saw Thee and was troubled!

2. Sin cried aloud; she gave counsel to her sons, to the demons and the devils, and unto them she said, Legion the head of your ranks is not, the sea has swallowed him and his company; and likewise ye my sons if ye despise, this Jesus will destroy you. Ye who in a snare took Solomon, it is therefore a reproach to you, that ye should be overcome by his disciples, takers of fish and ignorant men; for lo! they have taken the draught of men, which had been taken by us.

3. This is great, above all evils (saith the Evil One, concerning our Saviour); for this suffices Him not that He has spoiled us, but likewise on us He has begun retribution for Jonah son of Amittai. On Legion therefore He was avenging him when He seized and cast him into the sea. Jonah emerged, after three days and came up; but Legion yea not after a long season, for the depth of the sea closed upon him at the command.

4. I tempted Him, after his past, with pleasant bread, but He desired it not. To my grief I strove to learn a psalm, that by His psalm I might take Him as a prey: I paused and learned it a second time, but He made my second trial to be vain. I brought Him up to a mountain and showed Him all possessions; I gave them to Him and He was not moved. Better was it for me in the days of Adam, who gave me no great trouble in teaching him.

5. The Evil One ceased, from his activity and said, A cause of idleness to me, is this Jesus; for lo! the publicans and harlots take refuge in Him. What work shall I seek for myself? I who was master to all men, to whom shall I be a disciple? Sin again said, It must be, that I forsake, therefore, and change from that which I am; for this Son of Mary who is come, as a new creation, has created mankind.

6. Gluttonous Death, lamented and said, I have learned fasting, which I used not to know; lo! Jesus gathers multitudes, but as to me, in His feast a fast is proclaimed for me. One man has closed my mouth, mine who have closed the mouths of many. Hell said I will restrain my greed; hunger, therefore, is mine: this Man triumphs as at the marriage, when He changed the water into wine, so He changes the vesture of the dead into life.

7. And moreover, God made a flood, and washed the earth, and purged her crimes; fire and brimstone again He sent on her, that He might make white her stains. By fire He gave me the Sodomites, and by flood the Giants. He closed the mouth of the hosts of Sennacherib, and opened the mouth of Hell. These things and such as these, I loved. But now, in place of deadly visitations of justice, He has wrought in His Son, the quickening of the dead by grace.

8. Prophets and righteous men, said the Evil One, unto his companions, have been seen by me; and though their strength was exceeding mighty, there was in them a savour of that which is mine; for the stuff whereof the sons of man are made, is near akin to our heaven. This man has clothed Himself with the body of Adam, and is troubling us, for our leaven has no power on Him. He is man, therefore, and God; for His manhood in His Godhead is intermingled.

9. Adam was seen by me, that fountain from whence flowed all races of men; his children has been sought out by me, and proved one by one. Yet have I not seen from the beginning a man, of whom one part was of God, and the other half, man. Moses, who shone in his splendour, I tempted again, and in his tongue I made him to err; but this man, yea, not in His mind, for pure exceedingly is the fountain of His thoughts.

10. The lust of the body, is in all bodies; for even while they sleep, it wakes in them. Him, who in his waking hours keeps himself pure, by means of a dream, I disturb. The dregs of the body are stirred in him, by a shaking movement in secret inwardly. The sleeping and the waking besides, I trouble alike. This is He Who alone keeps Himself pure, Whom not even in a dream can I disturb, Who even in His sleep is pure and holy.

11. But separate was even His childhood, from that of the children who have been seen by me; for I have not seen in Him any part of that which is of me. I was afraid of His childhood; therefore. I stirred up Herod, that among the infants He might be slain. Because of this also that He escaped, I was greatly afraid, for our mystery how did He find out! He received the offerings of the Wise Men; He scorned us and departed and escaped from our sword.

12. Children have been seen by me, sons of righteous men; yea, also youths, sons of chaste women; and I have moved them from the womb, one by one, and I have seen in them our leaven. For they were wrathful men and revilers, yea, also furious and gluttonous; fruits were they that by instruction were to be ripened and sweetened. But this man from His first planting, was a good fruit that possessed sweetness, wherewith sinners were made sweet.

13. Even while He was an infant, He was a teacher of the sons of men, by the splendour that was upon Him. Even the priest as he carried Him was amazed at Him. In the prudence of old men was He clad. Joseph stood aloof from Him: His mother gloried in His presence. He was a help in His childhood, to every one that saw Him; He was a profit to them that knew Him, from the day when He entered into the world, He was a helper of mankind by His excellencies.

14. From whence has it sprung up before me, this fruit of Mary, the grape whereof the wine is not according to nature? For lo! I stand between doubts. To turn away and leave Him, I am afraid, lest by His teaching, they should be sweetened, they, who have acquired by bitterness. But again to tread on Him and crush Him, is a terror to me, lest haply He turn and become, new wine unto sinners, and when they are drunken therewith, lo! they forget their idols.

15. Lo! I am afraid of both things, as well His death, as also His life. Then unto the Evil One His ministers made answer and counselled Him. Though both these things be grievous, somewhat lighter to us is the trouble, that we should choose His death rather than his life. Let Death tell us whether any one from among the righteous, has ever from the first been aroused again. The sons of the Giants and the renowned ones, there is none that has issued forth from her, even Hell, the Devourer.

16. The blowing of the wind, a man may feel after; but the Son of Mary, who shall search him out? for when He wept, by His tears He robbed me; and again when I bid Him cast Himself, from the holy Temple, I thought, that it was through fear He cast Himself not: yet when they threw Him from the hill-top, He flew through the air. On the well again when He was weary He sat. His variableness I understand not, for on the dry land alike and on the water He walks.

17. I have seen Him that He hungered, as a Son of man; yet this was done away by the bread which He multiplied. From the beginning I proved Him and I came to Him; He questioned me as though He knew me not; but this, too, was done away, when He showed that He knew our secrets. Again He chose Iscariot, as though He knew him not; then He turned and showed that He knew him, though he was binding and loosing. I was mistaken in Him, for He was baptized and emerged and overwhelmed me.

18. But one token there is which I have seen in Him that heartens me exceedingly above all. For while He was praying I saw Him and was glad, because He changed colour and was afraid: His sweat was as drops of blood, because He felt that His day was come. This is pleasant to me, exceedingly above all, if it be not that deceiving He has deeived me therein. But if beguiling He has beguiled me, this is both for me and for yon alike, my ministers.

19. Then shouted the host of devils and said, Hateful is the sign that we see in thee, for never from the beginning has it thus happened to thee. In prompt counsels thou wast excellent: the Son of Mary captures our cities, while thou art prolonging thy discourse. Arise, go forth, let us fight with Him, for this were to us a reproach, that we being many should be overcome by one. And if thou art in pain or fear, give us counsel for the battle and stay thou behind.

20. This Jesus out of His own words it is, that I shall teach Him, and war with Him; for He said that he, even Satan, is divided, himself against himself, and that he cannot stand. Though He desires to fight with us, He has given us arms which are against Himself, gage and divide for me His disciples, for if ye divide them, with these yon will conquer them, even with Eve and the serpent, the weak powers, whereby I conquered the first Adam.

21. Death unto the Evil One, made answer and said to him, Wherefore tarriest thou not according to thy wont? for lo! it is those that are despised and least, that thou ensnarest after thy custom: Jesus Who is great above all, wherewith hast thou sought to ensnare Him? The experience of His weapons moves thee to fear, which He hurled against thee when he was tempted of thee. Thou and I with thy followers, the host of us is too little for the battle with Him, the Son of Mary.

22. I counsel, then, if this our strife permits us to do anything: go thou into that disciple, let thyself loose, that head may speak with heads; and let loose all thy host, let it go and stir up the Pharisees. And beware, lest thou speak contentiously as thou art wont. If thou be a god, descend from hence, with fondness kiss them and betray Him; and, lo! we will bring on Him the envy and the sword of the Levites.

XXXVI

1. Our Lord subdued His might and constrained it, that His living death might give life to Adam. His hands He gave to the piercing of the nails, instead of the hand that plucked the fruit: He was smitten on the cheek in the judgment hall, instead of the mouth that ate it in Eden. And because his foot bore Adam thence, His feet were pierced. Our Lord was stripped, that He might make us modest: with the gall and vinegar He made sweet the bitterness of the serpent, which he had poured forth into mankind.

R. Blessed is He Who gave me the victory and quickened the dead to His glory!

2. (Death.)—If Thou be God show Thy power; and if Thou be man, feel our power. And if it be Adam that Thou seekest, get Thee hence! because of his transgressions he is shut up here; Cherubim and Seraphim await not, in his stead to pay his debt. There is none among them mortal, so as to give his life in his stead. Who can open the month of hell, and plunge and bring him up from her, who has swallowed him and keeps a hold on him, and that forever!

3. I am He who has conquered all the wise men; and lo! in the corners they are heaped for me in hell. Come, enter, son of Joseph, and see terrible things; the limbs of the giants, the mighty corpse of Samson, and the skeleton of the stubborn Goliath; Og, moreover, the son of the giants, who made for himself a bed of iron and lay thereon, from whence I hurled him and cast him down; that cedar I laid low to the gate of hell.

4. I by myself alone have conquered multitudes, and one may single-handed seek to conquer me. Prophets and priests and men of renown have I carried off; I have conquered kings in their armies, and mighty men ill their hunts, and righteous men in their excellencies. Streams of corpses are hurled by me into hell, and though they pour into her she is athirst. Though one be near or though he be far off, the end brings him to the gate of hell.

5. Silver I despised at the hand of the rich, and their offerings corrupted me not. The lords of slaves never once persuaded me, to take a slave instead of his lord, and a poor man instead of a rich man, or an old man instead of a child. As for wise that are able to charm wild beasts, their charms enter not into my ears. Hater of persuasion all men call me; and I the thing that is commanded me that I do.

6. Who is this, or whose son is He, or what His lineage who has conquered me? The book of families is by me; lo! I went in and read and studied the names from Adam till now, and not one of the dead do I forget. Family by family, lo! they are written, upon my limbs. Because of Thee, O Jesus, I went in and made a reckoning, that I might show Thee that there is none that escapeth my hands.

7. Yet were there two men (that I lie not) whose names have escaped me in Hell. For Enoch and Elijah came not to me. In all the world I have sought them; yea thither where Jonah descended, I descended and sought and they were not. And though I suppose that into Paradise, they have entered and escaped, a mighty Cherub guards it. The ladder Jacob saw, what if haply by it they have entered into Heaven!

8. Who is there that has measured the sand of the sea, and has spilt only two grains? This harvest wherein every day there labour, diseases as harvesters, I alone carry the handfuls and gather them up; other gatherers in making haste, drop handfuls. Vintagers overlook clusters; but two grapes have escaped me, in that great vintage which I alone have plucked.

9. I am He that has taken (said Death), on sea and on dry land, all prey in chase. Eagles of the air come to me; yea and dragons of the deep: creeping things and fowl and cattle; old men, youths and children. These will convince Thee, O Son of Mary, that this my power rules over all. Thy Cross how shall it conquer me, who by a tree lo! I have prevailed and conquered from old time?

10. But I was desirous to speak yet farther, for I am not wanting in words; yea words are not to be sought by me, for lo! deeds call on me close at hand. Not as you do I make promise, to the simple of secret things, that forsooth there is to be a resurrection at some time or other. If then Thou art very powerful, give a present pledge, that Thy distant promise also may be believed.

11. Death ended his speech of derision: and the voice of our Lord sounded into Hell, and He cried aloud and burst the graves one by one. Tremblings took hold on Death; Hell that never of old had been lighted up, into it there flashed splendours, from the Watchers who entered in and brought out the dead to meet Him, who was dead and gives life to all. The dead came forth, and the living were ashamed, they who thought that they had conquered the Life Giver of all.

12. But who gave me the day of Moses, (said Death) who made a feast for me? For that lamb that was slain in Egypt gave me, from every house the first fruit: heaps and heaps of the first born, at the gate of Hell he piled me them. But this Lamb of the festival, has robbed Hell; of the dead He has taken title and carried them off from me. That lamb filled the graves for me; but this has emptied the graves that were full.

13. The death of Jesus to me is a torment; I prefer for myself His life rather than His death. This is the Dead whose death (lo!) is hateful to me; in the death of all men else I rejoice, but His Death, even His, I detest; that He may come back to life I hope. While He was living He brought to life and restored three that were dead; but now by His death, at the gate of Hell they have trampled on me, the dead who have come to life, whom I was going to shut in.

14. I will haste and will close the gates of Hell, before this Dead, Whose death has spoiled me. Whoso hears will wonder at my humiliation, that by a dead man who is without I am overcome. All the dead seek to go forth, but this one presses to enter in. A medicine of life has entered into Hell, and has restored life to its dead. Who then has brought in and hidden from me, that living fire wherein have reposed, the cold and dark recesses of Hell?

15. Death has seen the Watchers in Hell; the immortal instead of the mortal; and he said Confusion has entered our abode, for in these two things is torment to me: That the dead have come forth out of Hell. and the Watchers that die not have entered therein. Lo! one at the pillow in this tomb, has entered and sat down by it, and a second his companion at His feet. I will entreat of Him and will persuade Him, with His pledge to ascend and go to His Kingdom.

16. Be not wroth against me, gracious Jesus, for the words that my pride has spoken before Thee! Who is there that when seeing Thy Cross, shall have doubted that Thou art man? Who is there that shall have seen Thy Power, and shall not believe that Thou art also God? Lo! thus by these two things I have learnt to confess that Thou art man and likewise art God! For as much as the dead in Hell repent not, go up among the living, O Lord, and preach repentance.

17. O Jesus King, receive my supplication, and with my supplication take to Thyself a pledge, even Adam the great pledge accept for Thyself, him in whom are buried all the dead; even as when I received him. in him were hidden all the living. The first pledge I have given Thee, the body of Adam; go Thou up therefore and reign over all; and when I shall hear Thy trumpet, I with mine own hand will lead forth the dead at Thy Coming.

18. Our King living has gone forth and gone up, out of Hell, as Conqueror. Woe He has doubled to them that are of the left hand; to evil spirits and demons He is sorrow, to Satan and to Death He is pain, to Sin and Hell mourning. Joy to them that are of the right hand, has come to-day. On this great day, therefore, great glory let us give to Him, who died and is alive that, unto all He may, give life and resurrection!

XXXVII

1. Death was weeping for her, even for Sheol, when he saw her treasury that it was emptied. And he said, Who, then, has plundered thy riches? Gehazi stole and was discovered; I am stealing every day, but theft has not been laid to my charge. I am sent to Kings, in their sicknesses, their guards are set around them, guards are also at their gate. The soul of kings I snatch and I go forth.

R., Blessed is He Who has broken the sting of Death by His Cross!

2. All women grieve that are barren; Sheol rejoices because of her barrenness; she is desolate if so be that she brings forth. The all-compelling Power constrained it, even the bosom that was barren and cold, and it rendered back though wont to deny its debts. Rebekah, when the two babes afflicted her, asked for death. How great then the pain of Sheol, when there smote her strange pangs; the dead were roused and brake forth and came out from her bowels.

3. Is this then perchance that saying, which was heard by me from Isaiah? (but I despised it) when he arose and said, “Who hath heard such a thing as this? that the earth should travail in one day, and bring forth a nation in one hour.” Is it this that has come to pass? or else, is it reserved for us hereafter? And if it be this it is a vain shadow that I thought I am a king; I knew not it was but a deposit I was keeping.

4. Two utterances that were different, have I heard from him, even this Isaiah. For he said that a virgin should conceive and bring forth; and he said again that the earth should bring forth. But lo! the Virgin has brought Him forth, and Sheol the barren has brought Him forth; two wombs that contrary to nature, have been changed by Him; the Virgin and Sheol both of them. The Virgin in her bringing forth He made glad; but Sheol He grieved and made sad in His Resurrection.

5. I saw in the valley that Ezekiel, who quickened the dead when he was questioned; and I saw the bones that were in heaps and they moved. There was a tumult of bones in Sheol, bone seeking for his fellow, and joint for her mate. There was there none that questioned, or that was questioned, whether those bones lived. Unquestioned, the voice of Jesus, the Master of all creatures quickened them.

6. Sheol was made sorrowful when she saw them, even the sorrowful dead made to rejoice. She wept for Lazarus when he went forth, “Go in peace thou dead that livest, bewailed by two houses of mourning.” Within and without were lamentations for him; for his sisters wept for him when he came into the grave unto me, and I wept for him as he went forth. In his death there was weeping among the living; likewise in Sheol is great mourning at his resurrection.

7. Now it is that I have tasted the taste of his sorrow, even of him who weeps over his beloved. The dead that are thus beloved of Sheol, how dear were they to their fathers! The limbs which I severed and carried away, lo! they are shorn away and carried off from me. If I thus suffer for the departure of him, the youth who was restored to life, blessed is He Who had compassion on the widow; in her only son He gave peace to her dwelling that had been made desolate.

8. Lo! this suffering which I cause men to suffer in their beloved ones, in the end on me it gathers itself altogether. For when the dead shall have left Sheol, for every man there will be resurrection, and for me alone torment. And who is he then that shall bear for me all these things, that I shall see Sheol left alone, because this voice which has rent the graves, makes her desolate and sends forth the dead that were in her midst?

9. If a man reads in the Prophets, he hears there of righteous wars. But if a man meditate in the story of Jesus, he learns of grace and tender mercy. And if a man think of Jesus, that He is a strange God it is a reproach against me. No other strange key into the gate of Sheol could ever be fitted. One is the key of the Creator, that which has opened it, yea, is to open it at His Coming.

10. Who is he that is able to join the bones, save that Power which created them? What is it that shall reunite the shreds of the body, save the hand of the Maker? What is it that shall restore the forms, save the finger of the Creator? He, who created and turned and destroyed, is He that is able also to renew and raise up. Another God is unable to enter in and restore creatures not his own.

11. But were he another Power, I should be very joyful that He is coming to me. Into the bosom of Sheol He would descend and learn that One alone is God. Mortals that have erred and preached that there are Gods many, lo! they are bound for me in Sheol, and their Gods have never grieved because of them. One God do I know, and His Prophets and His Apostles do I acknowledge.

XXXVIII

1. My throne was set for me in Sheol: and one arose that was dead, and hurled me from it. Every man feared me alone, and I feared no man. Terror and trouble were among the living, rest and peace among the dead. In a man that was slain lo! there has entered into Sheol He that takes her captive. I used to take all men captive: the Son of Captivity Whom I took captive has taken me captive. He Whom I took captive has led her away and is gone to Paradise.

R., Blessed is He Who has quickened the dead of Sheol by His Cross!

2. All men complain much against me; and I against one only have complained. Who is there among men so just as I? Has corruption touched my integrity? I held all men in affection, and whoso hates me knows it; I know not all my days what a bribe is. The person of a king have I not accepted. By me is preached equality, for bondman and his lord in Sheol I make equal.

3. Before God it is that I minister, with Whom is no acceptance of persons. What other is there that endures as I do, I that am cursed when I do good? Perversely are requited to me the benefits I have rendered. Though my deeds are goodly, my name is not goodly. Yet my mind rests in its integrity: in God it is that I comfort myself; for though He is good He is denied every day and endures it.

4. The old I remove from all sufferings, likewise the young from all sins. Secret contention I quell in Sheol; in our land there is no iniquity: it is Sheol and Heaven alone, that are removed from all sins; this earth that lies between, in her iniquity dwells. He therefore that is prudent will either go up into Heaven, or, if that be too hard, will go down to Sheol which is easy.

5. To one man because of one that is dead, every man hastes to comfort him. But for me though many of my dead have come to life, there is none that comes in and comforts me. Satan came in, against Whom, had been proclaimed seven woes even against him; though mightily the Son of Mary had trodden on him, yet uplifted is his spirit; for he is the serpent that strives though bruised. Better is it for me to fall and worship, before this Jesus Who has conquered me by His Cross.

6. When He enters at the gate of Sheol, in place of John who preached before His coming, then will I cry “Lo! He that quickens the dead is come; Thy servant am I from henceforth, Jesu! Because of The Body I reviled Thee, for it covered Thy Godhead. Be not angry, O Son of the King, against Thy treasury; at Thy command I have opened and closed. Though my wings be very swift it is at thy nod I haste to every quarter.

7. All that have been raised were not first born; for our Lord is the First-born of Sheol. How can any that is dead go before Him, that power whereby he was raised? There are last that are first, and younger that have become first-born. For though Manasseh was first-born, how could it be that Ephraim should take the birthright? And if the second born was set before him, how much rather shall the Lord and Creator prevent all in His Resurrection!

8. Lo! John as a herald declares that he is later, though he was elder-born; for he said, “Behold a man cometh after me, and yet He was before me.” For how could he be before Him, that Power in Whom he preached? For everything that comes to pass because of another thing, is after that other even though it seem to be before. For the cause which called it into being, is elder than it and before it in all things.

9. The cause of Adam was elder than all creatures, which were made for him, for to him even to Adam He had respect continually, the Creator even while he was creating. Thus though Adam as yet was not, he was elder than all creatures. How much more then, my Lord, must this Thy manhood be elder, which in Thy Godhead is, from eternity with Him that begat Thee! To Thee be praise and through Thee to Thy Father from us all!

10. To Thee be praise for Thou art the first, in Thy Godhead and in Thy manhood! For even though Elijah was first to go up, he was not able to prevent Him, for whose sake he was taken up. For his type depended on Thy verity: and even though the types apparently are before Thy fulfilment, it is before them secretly. Creatures were before Adam; he was before them because for his sake they were made.

11. O my Lord, work for me this resurrection, not of Thy compulsion but of Thy love. For Thy compulsion gives life to sinners also: Iscariot would rather again choose for himself the death of Sheol, than the life of Gehenna. Work for me then the resurrection that is of Thy mercy; and even though Thy justice permits not, let there be occasion for Thy grace. This only let it remember for me, that in it I have sought refuge.

XXXIX

1. There have come to me ransomers from among the saints, but none has plundered me like the Son of Mary. For lo! Elijah brought a dead man to life; and even though be himself escaped from my hands, yet had I consolation after him, for the dead man whom he quickened, I carried off from him. By Elisha son of Shaphat. I was beaten as with rods, for he brought two dead men to life. By one staff I in turn bore away both the prophet and the dead whom he had raised.

R., Blessed is He Who cleft the tombs of Sheol by His voice!

2. I feared him even Gehazi when I saw, him lay the staff upon the youth. The thief took the staff away and returned; Elisha came and bowed himself; laid himself low as the child and raised himself up, and walked hither and thither. I marvelled at the new mysteries which I saw there, which restored but one youth to life. It was well with me then when those were but mysteries, and not now when the dead have rebelled and conquered me.

3. Moses when I saw the mighty splendour upon his face, I fe