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Epistle XXXIII.

To Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

Gregory to Marinianus, &c.

On the arrival here of a certain man of Ravenna, I was smitten by most grievous sorrow for that he told me of thy 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 thy Fraternity can have in thine 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 shew hospitality and hold receptions, or such as may superintend the guardianship of monasteries—thy Fraternity should come to me before the summer season, that I may, as far as I can, take special charge of thy sickness, and keep thee 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 thou shouldest have any cares together with the unfavourableness of the season, there might be further risk to thee from this disorder.  I too myself am very weak, and it is in all respects advantageous that thou shouldest, with the favour of God, return to thy Church in health; or certainly, if thou art to be called, that thou shouldest be called in the hands of thy friends; and that I, who see myself to be very near death, if Almighty God should be pleased to call me before thee, should pass away in thy hands.  But if the circumstances of the present time stand in the way of thy coming, Ago139139    i.e. Agilulph, the Lombard king, referred to as Ago also in IV. 11.  It was the Lombard occupation of a great part of Italy at that time that was apprehended as likely to impede a journey from Ravenna to Rome. may be treated with, some small present being given him, that he may himself send one of his people with thee as far as Rome.  If, then, thou feelest thyself held heavily by this sickness, and 59arrangest to come, thou must come with few attendants, since, while thou stayest with me in the episcopal residence (episcopium), thou wilt have daily attendance from this Church.

Furthermore, I neither exhort nor admonish thee, but straitly charge thee, that thou 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.  Thou 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 thyself, beloved, any labour beyond thy powers.  I have said this that, if thou shouldest feel thyself better, and shouldest put off thy coming, thou mayest know what to observe by my command.

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