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Epistle XIX.

To Natalis, Bishop of Salona13191319    Salona was the metropolis of the province of Dalmatia in Western Illyricum.  The misdoings of its bishop, Natalis, gave rise to a lengthy correspondence.  See, in addition to this letter, I. 20; II. 18, 19, 20, 52; III. 8, 32.  He had, as appears from this letter and others, desired to get rid of his archdeacon Honoratus, having apparently some grudge against him, and with this a few would have ordained him priest against his will, none but deacons being then capable of holding the office of archdeacon.  He was accused also of addiction to unbecoming conviviality, and of neglecting his episcopal duties.  Eventually, after continued contumacy, he appears to have satisfied Gregory in the matter of Honoratus, and also to have reformed his own habits of life, after writing what appears from Gregory’s reply to it to have been a racy letter in defence of conviviality, which was taken in good part and replied to in a good-humoured vein (II. 52).  Gregory subsequently said of him, “I was at one time much distressed concerning our brother and fellow bishop Natalis, having experienced proud behaviour from him.  But since he has himself corrected his manners, he has overcome me, and comforted my sadness” (II. 46)..

Gregory to Natalis, &c.

The acts of your synod which you have transmitted to us, in which the Archdeacon Honoratus is condemned, we perceive to be full of the seed of strifes, seeing that the same person is at one and the same time advanced to the dignity of the priesthood against his will, and removed from the office of the diaconate as though unworthy of it.  And, as it is just that no one who is unwilling should be advanced by compulsion, so I think we must be of opinion that no one who is innocent should be deposed from the ministry of his order unjustly.  Nevertheless, since discord hateful to God excuses thy part in the transaction, we admonish thee to restore his place and administration to the Archdeacon Honoratus, and agree to supply him with attendance sufficient for his divine ministry.  If cause of offence is still fomented between you, let the aforesaid Archdeacon submit himself to our audience and enquiry, when admonished to do so, and let thy love send to us a person instructed in the case, that in the presence of both, the Lord assisting us, we may be able to decide what justice approves without respect of persons.

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