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Epistle LVIII.

To Martin, Scholasticus3737    On the designation Scholasticus, see II. 32, note 2; V. 36, note 9.  The occasion of this and the following epistle appears to have been as follows.  Crementius, who was at that time primate of the province of Bizacia in Africa, had been accused by other African bishops.  The Emperor, appealed to by them, had desired Gregory to take cognizance of the case; but his interference had been objected to in Africa, where, as appears elsewhere, there was still jealousy of the claims of the Roman See.  Gregory had commissioned John, Bishop of Syracuse, to investigate the matter, and to him Crementius (who now professed—though Gregory doubted his sincerity—to defer to the Roman bishop) had sent the lawyer Martin to state his case.  The latter seems to have been directed to go on to Rome too, but had not done so.  Both Martin and John had subsequently written to Gregory on the subject, and to them he now replies.  Some three years seem to have afterwards elapsed without anything more being done:  see XII. 32, where Gregory urges the bishops of the province to investigate the old charges against their primate in synod:  but with what result does not further appear..

Gregory to Martin, &c.

Seeing that questions arising in civil affairs need, as is known to thy Greatness, very full enquiry, let thy wisdom consider with what care and vigilance the causes of bishops should be investigated.  But, in the letter which thou hast sent us by the bearer of these presents on the questions with respect to which thou wert sent to us by our brother and fellow-bishop Crementius, thou hast given only a superficial account of them, and hast been entirely silent about their root.  But, had their origin and intrinsic character been manifest to us, we should have known what should be decided about them, and would then settle the mind of our aforesaid brother by a plain and suitable reply.  This, however, is altogether displeasing to us, that thou givest us to understand that some of the bishops have gone to the court3838    Ad comitatum; referring to the suffragans of Crementius having complained to the Emperor against their primate. without letters from their primate, and that they hold unlawful assemblies.  But since, as we have before said, the origin and nature of the questions are entirely unknown to us, we cannot pronounce anything definitely, lest, as would be very reprehensible, we should seem to pass sentence about things imperfectly known.  Hence it was very needful that, for our complete information, thy Greatness should have proceeded hither to reply to our questions during the time of thy lingering in Sicily.  Nevertheless, now that thou hast seen our brother and fellow-bishop John, we believe that in him thou hast seen us also.  And so since he has been at pains himself also to write to us about the same questions, we have written in reply to him what seemed to us right.  And, since he is a priest of ripe and cautious judgment, if you are willing to treat with him on the questions which he has been commissioned to entertain, we are sure that you will find in him what is both advantageous and reasonable.

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