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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book VI, Letter 29

Book VI, Letter 29

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To Marinianus, Bishop.

Gregory to Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

We wonder why the discernment of your Fraternity should have been so changed in a short time that it does not consider what it asks for. On this account we grieve, since you afford manifest proof that the words of evil counsellors have availed with you more than the study of divine lore has profited you. And, when you ought to be protecting monasteries, and with all your power congregating the religious therein so as to make gain from the gathering together of souls, you are on the contrary desiring to exercise yourself in oppressing them, as your letters testify; and, what is worse, art trying to make us partakers in your fault; to wit, in wishing, with our consent, to oppress the monastery which your predecessor founded under the name of looking after its property and business affairs.

For you ought to call to mind that, in your presence, and in the presence also of sundry of your presbyters, deacons, and clerics, we granted, as they requested, a precept contrary to the testament of your predecessor. Yet, though the disposition he had made with regard to the monastery itself was still therein confirmed, you now dissemble this, and demand of us that we should order the contrary. And indeed we know that this device is not your own; but, when you refuse not to listen to those who say incongruous things, you injure not only your own reputation, but also souls. Since, then, I love you much, I urgently admonish you — consider this attentively — that thou care not more for money than for souls. The former should be regarded collaterally; but the latter should be regarded with the whole bent of the mind, and vehemently striven after. On this spend vigilantly your labour and solicitude, since our Redeemer seeks from the priest's office not gold, but souls.

Further, it has reached our ears that monasteries which are constituted under your Fraternity are oppressed by importunities and various annoyances from the clergy. That this may no longer be so, restrain it by strict prohibition, to the end that the monks who live therein may be able to exult freely in the praises of our God.

With regard to the clerics Romanus and Dominicus, who presumed with rash daring to depart from this city without our blessing, though they were to have been stricken with heavier punishment, nevertheless such relaxation ought to be made in a spirit of kindness that they be urged to come back to their duty. The month of April, Indict. 14.

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Source. Translated by James Barmby. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

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