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Epistle XVII.

To all the Bishops of Italy.

Gregory to all, &c.

Inasmuch as the abominable Autharit13181318    Autharit (al. Autharith, called by Paul. Diac. Authari), who died at Pavia in this year (a.d. 591) had been king of the Lombards for six years, having effected extensive conquests in Italy.  “Rex Authari apud Ticinum Nonas Septembris veneno, ut tradunt, accepto moritur, postquam sex regnaverat annos.”  (Paul. Diac. de gestis Longob. iii. 36).  It is he who is said to have advanced to Rhegium at the toe of Italy. and there, riding up to a pillar in the sea, to have touched it with the point of his spear, and said, “As far as this shall the boundaries of the Lombards extend.”  (Paul. Diac. iii. 33.)  He had been a determined Arian.  He was succeeded by Agilulph, whom his widow Theodelinda, a Catholic Bavarian princess, selected as her consort.  With her Gregory carried on a very friendly correspondence and probably through her influence, Agilulph himself, originally an Arian, is said to have been converted to Catholicity.  Gregory’s letters to Theodelinda are IV. 4, 38; IX. 43; XIV. 12. during this Easter solemnity which has been lately completed, forbade children of Lombards being baptized in the catholic faith, for which sin the Divine Majesty cut him off, so that he should not see the solemnity of another Easter, it becomes your Fraternity to warn all the Lombards in your districts, seeing that grievous mortality is everywhere 79bimminent, that they should reconcile these their children who have been baptized in Arian heresy to the catholic faith, and so appease the wrath of the Almighty Lord which hangs over them.  Warn, then, those whom you can; with all the power of persuasion you possess seize on them, and bring them to a right faith; preach to them eternal life without end; that, when you shall come into the sight of the strict judge, you may be able, in consequence of your solicitude, to shew in your own persons a shepherd’s gains.

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