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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book XIII, Letter 34

Book XIII, Letter 34

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To Pantaleo, Notary.

Gregory to Pantaleo, etc.

Your Experience remembers what and what kind of oath you took over the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter. Whence also we committed to you without fear the charge of enquiry in the patrimony of the Syracusan district. It is, then, incumbent on you to have your own good faith and the fear of the same blessed apostle Peter ever before your eyes, and so to act that neither with men in this present life nor with Almighty God in the last judgment you may be open to blame. Now from the report of Salerius our chartularius we have learned that you have found the modius in which the husbandmen (coloni) of the Church have been compelled to give their grain to be one of twenty-five sextarii . This we altogether execrated, and were sorry you had been late in making it a subject of enquiry. We rejoice, therefore, at your telling us that you have 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 your Experience by the fraudulent dealings of the farmers (conductores) from two territories, therefore, even as with a view to the future, we rejoice that you have 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 your 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 you to do with the advice of the most reverend lord bishop John , 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. You should 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 as the teacher of the Gentiles testifies, I have all and abound; nor do I seek money, but reward Philippians 4. So act therefore that in the day of judgment you may show me fruit of your labour from the service that has been committed to your Experience. If you do this purely, faithfully, and strenuously, you will both receive it back here in your children, and hereafter will have plenary retribution in the scrutiny of the Eternal Judge.

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Source. Translated by James Barmby. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 13. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1898.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

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