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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book XI, Letter 33

Book XI, Letter 33

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To Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

Gregory to Marinianus, etc.

On the arrival here of a certain man of Ravenna, I was smitten by most grievous sorrow for that he told me of your Fraternity being sick from vomiting of blood. On this account we have caused enquiry to be made carefully and severally of those here whom we know to be well-read physicians, and have sent in writing to your Holiness their several opinions and prescriptions. All, however, prescribe before all else quiet and silence, which I greatly doubt whether your Fraternity can have in your own Church. And accordingly it seems good to me that, when the Church there has been provided for — whether with such as may accomplish the solemnities of mass, or with such as may take charge of the episcopate, and may be able to show hospitality and hold receptions, or such as may superintend the guardianship of monasteries— your Fraternity should come to me before the summer season, that I may, as far as I can, take special charge of your sickness, and keep you from being disturbed, since the physicians say that the summer season is exceedingly dangerous for this kind of sickness. And I greatly fear lest, if you should have any cares together with the unfavourableness of the season, there might be further risk to you from this disorder. I too myself am very weak, and it is in all respects advantageous that you should, with the favour of God, return to your Church in health; or certainly, if you are to be called, that you should be called in the hands of your friends; and that I, who see myself to be very near death, if Almighty God should be pleased to call me before you, should pass away in your hands. But if the circumstances of the present time stand in the way of your coming, Ago may be treated with, some small present being given him, that he may himself send one of his people with you as far as Rome. If, then, you feel yourself held heavily by this sickness, and arrange to come, you must come with few attendants, since, while you stay with me in the episcopal residence (episcopium), you will have daily attendance from this Church.

Furthermore, I neither exhort nor admonish you, but strictly charge you, that you by no means presume to fast, since the physicians say that the practice is very prejudicial to this disorder; except that, if by chance a great solemnity demands it, I concede it five times in the year. You must also refrain from vigils; and let the prayers which in the city of Ravenna are wont to be said over the wax-taper, and the expositions of the Gospel which are given by priests about the time of the Paschal solemnity, be delivered by another. And by no means impose on yourself, beloved, any labour beyond your powers. I have said this that, if you should feel yourself better, and should put off your coming, you may know what to observe by my command.

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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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