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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book IX, Letter 108

Book IX, Letter 108

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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 you, and rejoice with you in the Lord, most beloved brother, for that I find you, by the testimony of many, so endowed with this same charity that you both yourself becomingly exhibit what befits a priest, and laudably show 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 (præpositum) of my monastery, and now our brother and fellow bishop), I have found you to be, as was right, so solicitous, devoted, and in all ways helpful, as to lay me under a great debt to you in this matter, therefore moved by the consideration of so great an obligation, I cannot bear to put aside your Fraternity's petition, lest I should appear towards you unprofitable. Consequently, according to the tenor of your request, we have provided under God for your being dignified by the use of the pallium , to be worn within your church, in the celebration of mass only. Nevertheless we have decided that it should be given you only on condition of your 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 learned that you excel, a more distinguished adornment of outward apparel should accrue to you; especially as we think that you have asked for it, not with a view to the pomp of needless elation but with regard to the character and dignity of your 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 you give up the talents entrusted to you with multiplied gain, in the day of retribution you may be counted worthy to hear, Well done, good and faithful servant: enter into the joy of your lord Matthew 25:23.

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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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