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Epistle XVIII.

To certain Bishops of Sicily.

Gregory to Leo, Secundinus, John, Donus, Lucidus, Trajan, bishops of Sicily.

Even as we are admonished through the speech of the apostles to impart one to another spiritual aids,—so, in matters that by God’s ordering we may have to settle in virtue of the government imposed on us for administration of the affairs of the poor, it is fit that priestly succour be not wanting.  Accordingly in sending the bearer of these presents, Adrian our Chartularius209209    Adrian, who had already been commissioned as notarius Siciliæ (X. 23), had now been made rector patrimonii, being succeeded as notary by Pantaleo (XIII. 34)., to govern the patrimony of our Church, to wit in the Syracusan district, we have thought it necessary to commend him to your Fraternity, that, wherein custom may demand it, you may afford him your succour, to the end that, while he is supported by you with bodily aid for doing his work, and with the spiritual aid of your prayers for carrying out with facility whatever he may undertake, he may be able, God also working with him, to accomplish prosperously what has been by us enjoined on him.  But, as for yourselves, you should so acquit yourselves in good works before the face of Almighty God that there be not found in your doings anything that may be smitten by the judgment of God, or for which you may be accused by any man whatever lying in wait against you.  For we have charged our aforesaid Chartularius that, if he should come to know of any inordinate doings on the part of our most reverend brethren the bishops, he should first himself take them to task by private and modest admonition; and, that, if such things are not amended, he should inform us of them speedily.

Furthermore, it has been reported to us that in the times of our predecessor of holy memory it was arranged by the deacon Servusdei, who then had charge of the ecclesiastical patrimony, that the priests210210    Sacerdotes, meaning here apparently parish priests, though more commonly, in Gregory’s epistles, denoting bishops.  The abuse complained of seems to have been that of charging priests of parishes unreasonably for the remuneration of the clerici who attended the bishops on their confirmation progresses. of your several dioceses, when you go forth to seal infants211211    Ad consignandos infantes; i.e. for confirmation, cf. IV. 26, note 6., should not be immoderately burdened.  For a certain sum had been fixed, and this, as I hear, with your consent, to be given by the same priests for the services of the clerks (clericorum).  And this, which was then approved of, is said to be by no means kept to now.  Wherefore I admonish your Fraternity to endeavour not to be burdensome to your subjects, and, if they have any grievances, to abate them, seeing also that you ought not to have departed from what had once been determined.  For you will be seeing to your own interest both in the future and the present life, if you keep those who have been committed to you free from grievance.

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