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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book IV, Letter 21

Book IV, Letter 21

To Venantius, Bishop.

Gregory to Venantius, Bishop of Luna (in Etruria).

It has reached us by the report of many that Christian slaves are detained in servitude by Jews living in the city of Luna ; which thing has seemed to us by so much the more offensive as the sufferance of it by your Fraternity annoys us. For it was your duty, in respect of your place, and in your regard for the Christian religion, to leave no occasion for simple souls to serve Jewish superstition not through persuasion, but, in a manner, by right of authority. Wherefore we exhort your Fraternity that, according to the course laid down by the most pious laws, no Jew be allowed to retain a Christian slave in his possession. But, if any are found in their power, let liberty be secured to them by protection under the sanction of law. But as to any that are on the property of Jews, though they be themselves free from legal obligation, yet, since they have long been attached to the cultivation of their lands as bound by the condition of their tenure, let them continue to cultivate the farms they have been accustomed to do, rendering their payments to the aforesaid persons, and performing all things that the laws require of husbandmen or natives, except that no farther burden be imposed on them. But, whether any one of these should wish to remain in his servitude, or any to migrate to another place, let the latter consider with himself that he will have lost his rights as a husbandman by his own rashness, though he has got rid of his servitude by force of law. In all these things, then, we desire you to exert yourself so wisely that neither may thou be a guilty pastor of a dismembered flock, nor may your too little zeal render you reprehensible before us.

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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. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/360204021.htm>.

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