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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book III, Letter 48

Book III, Letter 48

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To Columbus, Bishop.

Gregory to Columbus, etc.

Even before receiving your Fraternity's letter, I knew you from the report of your deserved reputation to be a good servant of God. And now that I have received it, I understand more fully that what fame had already spread abroad was well founded; and I greatly rejoice in your deserts, in that you exhibit manners and deeds that testify to a praiseworthy life. Since, then, I feel that these things are conferred on you by the Supernal Majesty, I congratulate you; and I bless God our Creditor, who denies not the gifts of His mercy to His humble servants. On this account I declare it to be true that your Fraternity so kindles me with the flame of charity to love you, and my spirit is so united to you, that I both desire to see you and am also with you in heart, though absent. You perceive in your own thoughts that this is so. For in truth unity of minds in charity has power to unite more than bodily presence can. Furthermore, that with your whole mind, your whole heart, your whole soul, you cleave and art devoted to the Apostolic See I am now assured, as, indeed before your letter had borne testimony to the fact, I plainly knew. Wherefore, first addressing you with the greeting of charity which is due, I exhort you not to cease to be mindful of what you have promised to the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles.

Wherefore be thou urgent with the primate of your synod , that boys be in no wise admitted to sacred orders, lest they fall by so much the more dangerously as they hasten more speedily to mount to higher places. Let there be no venality in ordination: let not the influence or entreaty of any persons obtain anything in contravention of these our prohibitions. For without doubt God is offended if any one is promoted to sacred orders, not for merit, but by favour (which God forbid) or venality.

If, then, you are aware of these things being done, keep not silence, but oppose them urgently; since, if perchance you should neglect them, or conceal them when known of, the chain of sin will bind not those alone who do such things, but no light guilt before God will touch you also in the matter. If, then, anything of the kind is committed, it ought to be restrained by canonical punishment, lest so great a wickedness, with sin in others, acquire strength from connivance.

I have, therefore, the sooner given leave of departure to the bearer of these presents, Victorinus, your Fraternity's deacon, whom I think to be your imitator, and whom I have received with charity; and by him I have transmitted to you for a blessing keys of the blessed Peter, in which something from his chains is included.

Lastly, with regard to the unity and peace of the council which, under God, you are taking measures to assemble, let your Charity rejoice my mind by informing me of everything particularly.

About this page

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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