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Book VI
Note E

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

by
Thomas Hodgkin


2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London
1896

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Book VI
Note F

Book VI (continued)

Vol. V
p279
Chapter VII

Gregory the Great

Authorities

Sources: —

For the life of the greatest of the Roman pontiffs our first and best authority is the collection of his letters, Gregorii Epistolae, in twelve books, which will be abundantly referred to in this and many following chapters. Quotations are made from the great Benedictine edition (reprinted in Migne's Patrologia, vol. LXXVII), and from the edition contained in the 'Monumenta Germaniae Historica' (M. G. H.), Berlin, 1887‑1891. Of this, however, only nine books are yet published. The interesting but difficult question of the chronological arrangement of the letters is discussed in Note Fº at the end of this chapter. Another valuable but too brief authority for this part of the subject is the Vita Gregorii by Paulus Diaconus. This work is thus alluded to by the author in his 'History of the Lombards' (III.24): 'But concerning the blessed Gregory we refrain from saying more here, because we have already, many years ago, by God's help composed a treatise on his life. In which, to the best of our feeble powers, we have set forth all that was to be said concerning him.' This book gives us in short compass all the more important facts in the life of Gregory; a catalogue of his chief works — among which for some reason the Magna Moralia is not included — and a list of his miracles, some of which are of a poor and childish type. The chapters, however, which contain these miracles (XXIII‑XXVIII) are, as Bethmann has pointed out (Archiv, X.305), almost certainly an interpolation. In the genuine Life, Paulus says that Gregory might easily have wrought miracles, but refrained from using his power.

 p280  The Vita by Paulus dates of course from the eighth century, probably between 770 and 780:1 the next work to be named was written a hundred years later. This is the work de Vita Gregorii, by Johannes Diaconus, written at the request of Pope John VIII (872‑882), and dedicated to that pontiff. The biographer tells us in his preface that certain bishops were assembled at Rome, and that a complaint arose among them that the great pope who had written (in the Dialogues) the lives of so many other saints, should have had no history of his own life written, except two short sketches by a Lombard and a Saxon,2 but nothing from the bosom out of his own Church. It was agreed, therefore, that Johannes should write a fuller life, using the Papal archives as his quarry. He has accordingly written a somewhat voluminous work, divided into four books, the first of which tells us how Gregory attained to the summit of the Church; the second how he lived; the third how he taught; and the fourth how while teaching rightly he daily recognized his own weakness. It is true, however, as Ebers points out (Litteratur des Mittelalters, III.201), that none of the four books, except the first, corresponds very strictly to its title, and that throughout it is rather Gregory the Pope than Gregory the man whom it brings before us. Nor can this be wondered at, as by far the largest part of the work consists of the letters extracted from the Papal Archives; and for this reason, as we have the letters in another form, the work of Johannes does not really add much to our knowledge. As a sort of classified Index, however, to the letters it is not without its use.

Guides: —

Paul Ewald's 'Studien zur Ausgabe des Registers Gregors I' (in the Neues Archiv, III.433‑625); for a description of which see Note F.º

 p281  G. J. T. Lau's 'Gregor I der Grosse nach seinem Leben und seiner Lehre geschildert' (Leipzig, 1845), and C. Wolfsgruber's 'Gregor der Grosse' (Saulgau, 1890), are both useful monographs. Lau, though a Protestant pastor, does not differ much from his Benedictine competitor in his estimate of the great pontiff's virtues.

Re‑marriage of Theudelinda. 'King Authari dying left no seed; Then all the Lombards,' says Paulus, 'since the queen Theudelinda pleased them well, decided that she should remain queen, and that whosoever of the Lombards should be chosen by her as husband should wear the royal crown. She, therefore, taking counsel with the wise men of the realm, chose Agilulf, duke of Turin, for this double honour. For he was a strong man and a warrior and well fitted by manly beauty, as well as by courage, to grasp the helm of the kingdom.'3

Her second husband, Agilulf. 'Now this Agilulf (who was also called Ago)4 was with the rest of the Lombard nobles at Verona, when Theudelinda came thither amid the rejoicings of the people to wed her first husband, Authari. And it so happened at that time that the air was greatly disturbed, and that a certain tree in the royal garden was struck by lightning, accompanied with a mighty thunder-crash. Agilulf then, having among his servants a certain youth with a spirit of divination, who, by diabolical arts, could foretell things to come, was secretly told by him, "That woman, who has just been wedded to our king, will after no long time be thy wife." Which, when Agilulf heard, he told the boy that he would cut off his head, if he said anything more of that matter. "I may be killed," quoth the boy, "but it is none the less certain that  p282   p283 that woman has come into this land to be thy wife."5

'And now behold, after the death of Authari, Theudelinda ordered Agilulf to come into her presence, and she herself hastened as far as the town of Laumellum6 to meet him. And when they had met, after some words spoken, she ordered wine to be brought, and after she had first drunk of it, she ordered the residue to be handed to Agilulf. Then he, receiving the cup from the queen, reverently kissed her hand; but she with a blush and a smile said, "He ought not to kiss my hand who has the right to kiss my lips. So, raising him up to her salute, she opened to him her intentions concerning her re‑marriage and the royal dignity.

'The wedding was celebrated amid great rejoicings. Agilulf, who was a kinsman of the late King Authari, assumed the royal dignity in the beginning of the month of November (590), and afterwards in the month of May, when all the Lombards were gathered together into one place, he was solemnly raised to the kingdom at Milan.'7

So runs the Saga of Theudelinda and Agilulf in the pages of Paulus. Modern criticism, which would rob history of every touch of poetry, suggests doubts as to the accuracy of the story;8 but there seems no  p284 reason why it should not be strictly true. Of course the tale as to the divining boy, coupled with the suspicions as to the unnatural character of Authari's death, might easily suggest that the second marriage of Theudelinda was the climax of some dark domestic tragedy; but no contemporary writer makes this obvious suggestion, while the high and noble character of the great queen herself, and (as far as we can discern) of her second husband also, utterly negatives any such suggestion.9

Ancestry of Authari. Let us look a little more closely at this newly-wedded pair, who are to play so important a part in the history of Lombard Italy. Agilulf, late duke of Turin, now entering a victorious career which is to last for a quarter of a century, is of Thuringian extraction,10 though a relative of his predecessor, Authari. He is sprung, therefore, from the great nation settled in the centre of Germany, whose king, Hermanfrid, married Theodoric's niece,11 and whose  p285 state was, about the middle of the sixth century, swallowed up by the all‑devouring Austrasian monarchy. He is a man capable in war and of manly beauty, the ideal leader of a still semi-barbarous people.

Ancestry of Theudelinda. Theudelinda, daughter of the king (or duke) of the Bavarians, is descended on her father's side from the warlike nation of the Marcomanni, who so often saw the legions of Imperial Rome flee before their onset, and who, after long sojourn in the country which we now call Bohemia, entered, about the year 500, that fair and wide land which now bears their name.

But, on the mother's side, Theudelinda was descended from the old Langobardic kings, for Walderada, wife of Garibald, was daughter of Waccho, who so long ruled the nation in its Pannonian home.12 Undoubtedly this alliance with the old family of the Lithingi, together with the fame of Theudelinda's beauty and accomplishments, was a powerful motive with Authari when he sought her hand in marriage, and the same remembrance made the chiefs of the proud Lombard  p286 nation willing to leave the decision as to the choice of their king in the hands of one who, though foreign-born, was not a stranger in blood.

Central position of Theudelinda in Lombard history. And in fact Theudelinda is a central figure in the history of the Lombards. As I have said, she reached back through her mother's ancestry to the old barbarous Langobardic kings. She virtually established a new, a Bavarian dynasty in Italy, her descendants and those of her brother, the exiled Gundwald, occupying the Lombard throne with little intermission to the fifth generation. And lately, she was the main agent in that great change of creed which at last brought the Lombard nation into line with the other Teutonic monarchies of Western Eastern Europe, and made it possible — though even then not easy — to establish a modus vivendi between the Lombard kings and the successors of St. Peter.

Theudelinda failed to convert Authari to Catholicism. Looking to her later history, we can hardly doubt that so fervent a Catholic as Theudelinda sought to use her influence even with her first husband, to mitigate the bitterness of his Arianism. But the time was too short for her to accomplish anything noteworthy, and as late as the spring of 590 we find Authari putting forth an edict whereby he forbade the sons of the Lombards to be baptized at Easter according to the Catholic rite. For this act of oppression Pope Gregory saw a righteous retribution in the sudden death which prevented Authari himself from witnessing the celebration of another Easter.13 Over Agilulf, however,  p287 the man whom she had herself exalted to the throne, Theudelinda exercised a more potent influence; and though it cannot be positively stated that he ever formally renounced the creed of his forefathers, he cultivated the friendship of the rulers of the Catholic Church, and seems to have witnessed with complacency the baptism of Theudelinda's son by an adherent of the Creed of Nicaea.

In this great change Theudelinda was powerfully aided by the man who was placed in the chair of St. Peter, about the same time when Agilulf saluted his queenly bride at Lomello; a man who more than all other pontiffs who have received that title merited the epithet of the Great.

Pope Gregory the Great, 540 (?)‑604. His parentage. Gregory was born, about the year 540, of a noble Roman family,14 which had already given one Pope15 to the Church, and many Senators to the State. His father, Gordianus, a tall, grave-visaged Roman nobleman, who lived in a stately palace on the Coelian Hill, held the post of Regionarius, a civil office which seems to have represented the secular side of the duties of the seven deacons, each one of whom administered the vast charities of the Roman Church in one of the seven regions into which, for ecclesiastical purposes, the City was divided.16

 p288  Three of Gregory's aunts on one and the same day embraced with enthusiasm the conventual life now made illustrious by the fame of Benedict and Scholastica: and though one of them, Gordiana, fell away from that early fervour of faith, returned into the world, and even married her steward, the other two, Aemiliana and Tharsilla, persevered, and died in early life worn out by their pious austerities.

His education and early career. Gregory himself received a good education in Latin literature — the Greek language he never mastered — and apparently had sufficient acquaintance with the ordinary course of instruction pursued by the teachers of rhetoric to despise and avoid their frivolous pedantry. We hear, however, very little about his youth or early manhood, until we find him, about the year 573, Prefect of the City. filling the high office of Prefect of the City.17

 p289  The dignity of this office, which brought with it the presidency of the Senate, the right to wear a robe of Imperial purple and to be drawn through the streets of Rome in a four-horsed chariot, has been described in an earlier volume of this history.18 We have also, in following the fortunes of Sidonius and Cassiodorus, had a glimpse of the anxious responsibilities, especially in respect to the food-supplies of the City, which almost outweighed even its dignity. It is probable that when Gregory held the office its duties were lighter and its splendour less than half a century earlier. The Lombards had now been for some years in Italy, and we can perceive that, in presence of this continued danger, there was a tendency in the Imperial government to circumscribe the powers of the merely civil magistrates, and to concentrate all authority in the hands of the military chiefs. But there can be no doubt that the Prefect of the City was still an important personage, and great therefore must have been the marvelling of the populace in the Forum when, one day, the news was spread abroad that the Prefect of the City was about to lay aside his silken robe, decked with jewels, to don the coarse sackcloth of the monk, and to minister as a pauper to his pauper brethren.19 This, however, was the truth. He strips himself of his property and enters a monastery. Gregory laid down his high office (perhaps at the expiration of its usual term), founded and endowed six Benedictine convents in Sicily (then from various causes the especial  p290 asylum and Paradise of the Church), and divided all the residue of his property among the poor, except one possession, the ancestral palace on the Coelian Mount. This abode he turned into a monastery, which he dedicated to St. Andrew, and into this new monastery the descendant of so many Senators entered in mean attire, not as its abbot, but as humblest of the brethren.

Monastic life. It was apparently in the year 57520 that this great change occurred in the life of Gregory. For the next three years he remained in the monastery enjoying its deep repose and practising its austerities. His food consisted chiefly of uncooked vegetables, which his mother supplied to him on a silver dish, sole relic of the former splendours of the Coelian palace. This silver dish itself was at last given away to one who bore the appearance of a shipwrecked mariner, and who came for three days in succession, asking for alms. A student of these monastic biographies already knows the sequel. Long afterwards the self-styled shipwrecked mariner appeared again as a glorious angel, and told his benefactor that for him was reserved the honour of sitting in the chair of St. Peter and guiding the Church of God.

'Non Angli sed Angeli.' Of more interest for us, sons of the Saxons, than the conventional stories of the faintings, the fastings, and the macerations of the body, which, notwithstanding the wise caution of St. Benedict, still filled too large a place in the life of a young and earnest monk, is the story (too well known to need more than an allusion here) of the incident which first kindled Gregory's  p291 missionary zeal on behalf of the island of Britain. It was during his residence as a monk in the monastery of St. Andrew that Gregory took that memorable walk through the Forum, in the course of which he saw, exposed for sale, the fair-haired and fresh-faced Yorkshire lads, whose angelic beauty suggested to him the mission to the Angles and the hope of rescuing from the wrath to come the heathen inhabitants of Deira, and teaching the subjects of King Aelle to sing Alleluia.

He starts on a missionary journey. Gregory himself sought and obtained from Pope Benedict I leave to undertake this great mission, and had already accomplished three days' journey towards Britain when, during the noonday halt, a grasshopper lighted on the page of the scriptures which he was reading. His mind at this time, perhaps throughout his life, seems to have been singularly attuned to that pleasant figure of speech which has been so often an 'infirmity of noble minds,' and which grammarians term paronomasia. 'Ecce Locusta!' said he. 'Does this mean "Loco sta" ("Abide still in the place where thou art")? Know ye, my companions, that we shall not be suffered to proceed on our journey.' And even while they were talking, before the hot and tired mules were saddled for the next stage of the journey, messengers arrived who told them that the Pope had withdrawn his permission, and commanded Gregory to return. For the people of Rome, who perhaps thought that Benedict had seen without regret the departure of a man whose sanctity overshadowed his own, gathered round the Papal palace, and shouted with terrible voices, 'Ah, Apostolic one! what hast thou done? Thou has offended Peter; thou hast destroyed Rome in suffering Gregory to depart.'

 p292  Return to Rome. Is appointed 'Seventh Deacon.' Thus then Gregory returned to the great City, but not to his convent: for Pope Benedict, whose attention had perhaps, by his very event of his attempted flight and recall, been attracted to the great power and popularity of the former Prefect, now appointed him to the office of 'Seventh Deacon': thus associating him with his own cares and labours.21 The seven deacons of Rome, as has been already said, superintended — each one with the assistance of a Regionarius and his staff — the distribution of the alms of the Church to the poorer classes of the seven regions of the city. The cares of the public 'annona,' which had formerly devolved on the Imperial officers, and preeminently on the Prefect of the City, were thus, in great part, if not altogether, now discharged by the officers of the Church. We are not able exactly to state what is meant by the expression 'Seventh Deacon,' but if, as seems probable, it means the Archdeacon, that office was already looked upon as a frequent stepping-stone to the Papacy.22

Benedict I dies. Is succeeded by Pelagius II (578‑590). Soon, apparently, after Benedict I had thus called Gregory to his side, his own pontificate was ended by his death. The choice of a successor fell not, as yet, upon Gregory, but upon Pelagius II, some of whose letters against the Lombards were quoted in the last chapter. It may have been partly some jealousy of the popularity of Gregory, but more probably a praiseworthy  p293 desire to employ his great practical ability on behalf of the Church in a sphere where all that ability was sorely needed, that led the new Pope to send Gregory as his Nuncio, or (as it was then called) his Apocrisiarius23 to the Imperial court of Constantinople.

Gregory at Constantinople, 579‑585 (?). The years, probably not more than six in number,24 during which Gregory remained at Constantinople were important both for the Empire and the Church. He heard a new Emperor proclaimed, and saw a new Patriarch consecrated. On the 14th of August 582, the over-generous Emperor Tiberius was succeeded by the unconciliatory Maurice; and four months previously the aged Eutychius had been succeeded as bishop of Constantinople by the aspiring John the Faster, a man with whom Gregory was one day to wage a long and difficult spiritual combat. Discussion with the Patriarch Eutychius. With Eutychius his personal relations appear to have been friendly, but with him too he had a sharp discussion, turning on the mysterious question of the resurrection-body of the saints. Eutychius maintained that this body will be more subtle than aether, and too rare to be perceived by our present bodily senses. Gregory met him with  p294 the words of Christ, 'Handle Me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.' Eutychius answered that this was a body specially assumed by the Saviour in order to reassure the doubting hearts of his disciples; a suggestion which Gregory met by some obvious arguments against such a Docetic resurrection. Eutychius quoted, 'Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God,' and Gregory replied by distinguishing between two different senses of the word 'flesh' in the New Testament. The debate grew warm, and, as such discussions are wont to do, left neither party convinced by the arguments of the other. The good Tiberius visited each of the disputants separately, and tried in vain to reconcile them; but, convinced himself by the arguments of Gregory, committed the treatise of Eutychius to the flames. Ere any open breach had been caused, both the Patriarch and the Nuncio fell sick. Gregory, though his health had been thoroughly broken by his monastic austerities, recovered of this malady, a sharp attack of fever; Death of Eutychius, 482. Succeeded by John the Faster, 582‑593. but Eutychius, who had the burden of seventy years upon him, died of his sickness. On his death‑bed he touched his skin, and said to the friends who surrounded him, 'I acknowledge that in this flesh I shall see God'; an allusion to the celebrated passage in Job, which was accepted by Gregory as a recantation of his former errors.

The 'Magna Moralia.' It was on this same book of Job that Gregory, in the intervals of his busy diplomatic life at Constantinople, found leisure to write the voluminous commentary which goes by the name of the Magna Moralia, that marvellous treatise the object of which was to show that 'the book of Job comprehended in itself  p295 all natural, all Christian theology, and all morals. It was at once a true and wonderful history, an allegory containing in its secret sense the whole theory of the Christian Church and Christian sacraments, and a moral philosophy applicable to all mankind.'25

For our present purpose it is not the religious but the political results of Gregory's residence at Constantinople which are most important. Though I am not aware that he ever gave utterance to the feeling, we can well believe that a Roman noble, one who had seen from his childhood the triumphal arches, the fora and the palaces of Rome, glorious even in their desolation, viewed with some impatience the pinchbeck splendours of the new Rome by the Bosphorus, already, it is true, near three centuries old, but still marked with somewhat of the ineffaceable brand of a parvenu among cities.

Friendships with members of the Imperial Court. Gregory made some warm friendships with members of the Imperial family and household. Constantina, the wife, and Theoctista, the sister, of the Emperor; his cousin Domitian, Metropolitan of Armenia; Theodore, the Imperial physician; Narses, a general who not only bore the name, but in some degree shared the fame, of the mightier Narses of a previous generation; these and some others were admitted into the innermost circle of the friends of the Roman Apocrisiarius. But with Maurice himself, though that Emperor paid him the compliment of asking him to stand sponsor for his son, the infant Theodosius, it would seem that his relations were not cordial. We can imagine that  p296 the Emperor was worried by repeated applications from Rome for help in men and money against the Lombards; applications with which he felt himself unable to comply. We can imagine also that Gregory, in whose eyes 'Roma caput mundi' was the one absolutely priceless jewel of the Empire, was irritated by seeing the resources of the State muddled away, as he deemed it, in somewhat inglorious campaigns against the Persians and the Avars. With his undoubted genius for affairs, he probably despised the wordy inefficiency of the Greek statesmen; with his old Roman pride he scorned the Byzantine servility. Whatever the cause may have been, and though undoubtedly his residence at Constantinople largely increased his knowledge of the great game of politics and was an invaluable preparation for his own future political career, it seems clear that he left the Thracian capital with no great love in his heart either for the city or the Caesar. After he became Pope he was still outwardly the loyal subject of the Emperor, but 'the little rift within the lute' was already beginning to mar the harmony of their relations. We seem able to trace here that little crack in the earth which, two centuries later, was to widen into a mighty chasm, separating the successor of St. Peter from the successor of Divus Augustus.

Return to Rome.
Abbot of his monastery.
It was probably in 585 or 586 that Gregory returned to Rome, and re‑entered the monastery of St. Andrew; not now as a humble monk, but as head of the community. We hear scarcely anything of his life during these years of his second residence in the convent, except that, during this time, his pen seems to have been put at the service of the Pope, in the interminable p297  controversy with the bishops of Istria, about the condemnation of the Three Chapters. We are also told that he inflicted signal punishment on one of his monks who had sinned against the monastic rule that all things were to be in common. This monk, Justus by name, had some knowledge of the art of a physician, and had in that capacity tended Gregory himself in his frequent illnesses. But he had, apparently by the exercise of his profession, earned three golden solidi,26 which, against the rule of his order, he kept secreted in his medicine chest. He was attacked by a mortal disease, and his brother Copiosus, a physician outside the monastery, who tended him in his sickness, discovered his secret and reported it to the Abbot. All beside Copiosus were ordered to absent themselves from the sick man's cell. He died almost alone, with the brand of ignominy upon him, in deep penitence for his sin. At his burial his body was laid in unhallowed earth, and a monk threw the three solidi after him into his grave, crying with a loud voice, 'Thy money perish with thee.' But after thirty days the heart of Abbot Gregory relented, and he ordered mass to be said without intermission during thirty days more for the soul of Justus, who at the end of the appointed time appeared in a dream to Copiosus, his countenance radiant with joy, and assured him that hell's torment was ended and that he was now received into the communion of the blessed.27

Death of Pelagius II, 590. In such cares as these passed away the years of Gregory's abbotship. In 589 came the terrible inundations, at the beginning of 590 the more terrible  p298 pestilence which ravaged Italy. On the eighth of February Pope Pelagius II died; the clergy and people of Rome flocked to the gate of the monastery of St. Andrew and insisted that Gregory should fill the vacant chair.

Gregory elected Pope. His resistance. He resisted and wrote a letter to the Emperor Maurice, imploring him to withhold that Imperial assent which in those days was deemed necessary ere the Pope elected by the people clergy should receive consecration. But the Prefect of the City, who was himself, according to one account, brother of the Pontiff elect,28 sent a swift messenger who overtook the bearer of Gregory's letter, suppressed that document, and substituted for it the earnest petition of the people that Gregory should be made Pope.

The answer from the Imperial court was long in arriving, and meanwhile the pestilence raged fearfully in the City. The eyes of all the citizens were turned towards the Abbot of St. Andrew's, who came forth from his seclusion, and, like another John the Baptist, preached a sermon of repentance and conversion to the people.29

Gregory's sermon on the pestilence. 'The judgments of God are upon us, dearest brethren. Let grief and fear open the path of penitence in our hearts, for it is indeed with us as the prophet Jeremiah said of old, "Thy sword reacheth  p299 unto the very soul."30 Lo! the whole people is smitten with the sword of the divine anger and a sudden mortality lays waste the city. The languor of disease does not precede death, for death itself cuts short all its lingering pains. Each one who is struck down is hurried off before he has had time to turn to repentance. The dwellers in the city are not cut off one by one, but in whole companies do they hurry to the grave. The houses are left empty: parents have to behold the funerals of their sons, and their own heirs die before them.

'Let us then turn to Him who hath said that He willeth not the death of a sinner. Let us imitate the three days' penitence of the men of Nineveh and beseech our merciful God to turn away His anger from us. Therefore, dearest brethren, let us come, with contrite hearts and pure hands and minds prepared for tears, to the Sevenfold Litany, to which I now invite you, and the celebration of which will begin at dawn on the fourth day of the week, according to the following order.'

Order of the solemn procession. Then followed the programme of the great procession,31 which gives us an interesting glimpse of the 'regions'32 and churches of Rome at the close of the sixth century: —

(1) In the church of SS. Cosmas and Damiana (in  p300 the Roman Forum) were to assemble the great body of the clergy, with the priests of the sixth region.

(2) The abbots and monks of Rome with the priests of the fourth region, in the church of SS. Gervasius and Protasius,33 on the southern slope of the Quirinal.

(3) The abbesses and their nuns with the priests of the first region, in the church of SS. Marcellinus and Peter,b two miles out of Rome on the eastward-leading Via Labicana.

(4) All the children, with the priests of the second region, in the church of the martyrs John and Paul,c on the Coelian Hill, very near to Gregory's own monastery.

(5) All the laymen, with the priests of the seventh region, in the church of the Protomartyr Stephen,d that quaint round building which, with its strange and ghastly modern frescoes representing the torments of the martyrs, still stands, a little to the west of the Lateran.

(6) All the widows, with the priests of the fifth region, in the church of St. Euphemia.34

(7) All the married women, with the priests of the third region, in the church of the holy martyr Clement,e that church between the Colosseum and the Lateran, the successive stages of whose development have been  p301 recently laid bare and form one of the most interesting monuments of Christian antiquity in Rome.

From their several places of assembly these seven troops of suppliants were to march in solemn procession, with prayers and tears, to the great basilica on the Esquiline, now known as S. Maria Maggiore, and there for three days in succession (Wednesday to Friday) were to implore the pardon of the Lord for the sins of the people.

The assembling took place at dawn, the march through the streets at the third hour of the day, and all as they went sang loud the great penitential hymn Kyrie Eleison. A deacon of Tours, who was present at the ceremony, informed his bishop (the chronicler) that in one hour, while the procession was moving through the streets, eighty men fell to the earth and gave up the ghost; a proof of the severity of the pestilence, but also an event which raises a doubt whether the great concourse, and the excitement of soul caused by the Sevenfold Litany, were the best means of staying its ravages.

With this solemn act of intercession ordered by the chosen of the people, the imagination of much later ages coupled a beautiful legend, which changed the name of one of the best-known monuments of ancient Rome. In the course of the three days' procession, so it was said, Gregory was about to march with the seven groups of chanting penitents over the bridge of Hadrian, in order to worship at the tomb of St. Peter, when, lifting up his eyes, The angel on the Mausoleum of Hadrian. he saw standing on the top of the mighty Mausoleum of Hadrian the Archangel Michael with a flaming sword, which he was in the act of returning to its sheath; thereby  p302 showing that the penitential Litany was accepted in Heaven, and that the pestilence was about to cease. From this story the Mausoleum received the name of the Angel's Castle, which it bore already in the tenth century. 1740‑1758 In later days Pope Benedict XV fixed the legend for ever in the memories of all pilgrims to Rome, by erecting that statue of St. Michael which has now stood for a century and a half on the summit of 'The Castle of Sant' Angelo.'35

Imperial assent. Gregory's election completed. It seems that seven months elapsed before the Imperial assent to the consecration of the new Pope arrived in Rome. Possibly the wretched state of the City and of Italy, distracted both by pestilence and by the ravages of the Lombards, caused delays to the messengers, alike in going and returning. But the assent came at length; probably about the end of August: and Gregory began to prepare for flight, in order to avert the dreaded honour. Legend36 said that he was carried forth from one of the City gates in a basket of merchandise, and that he hid himself in some solitude of the Campagna, but that his hiding-place was revealed by a light from heaven. His contemporary and namesake, Gregory of Tours, knows  p303 nothing of all this. He says simply37 — and this is no doubt the true account of the matter — that 'while he was preparing for flight and concealment, he was taken prisoner, dragged to the basilica of St. Peter, and having there been consecrated to the Pontifical office, was given as a Pope to the City.'

His lamentations over his new dignity. The letters of Gregory I, for some time after his elevation to the Papacy, are full of lamentations over this disastrous change in his life. 'It is an old and terribly shaken ship,' he writes to the Patriarch of Constantinople,38 'the command whereof has been entrusted to my weak and unworthy hands. At every seam the waves are entering, and the rotten planks, shaken by daily and fierce tempests, creak out the word "shipwreck." I pray you, in the Almighty's name, stretch out the hand of your prayers to help me.'

To Theoctista, sister of the Emperor, he writes:39

'Under the colourable pretext of bishopric, I am in truth brought back into secular life; for in this office I am in bondage to so many worldly cares, that in no part of my career as a layman can I remember to have been in equal slavery. I have lost the deep joys of my old quietness, and while I seem to have risen into a higher station, internally I am in a state of collapse. Thus must I bewail that I am driven far from the face of my Creator. I was endeavouring each day to put myself outside of the world, outside of the flesh, to banish all the phantasms of the body from the eyes of the mind, and to look with disembodied gaze on the joys of heaven. Not in words only, but in my inmost soul did I pant for the countenance of God,  p304 saying with the Psalmist, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek."40 Naught desiring in this world, naught fearing, I seemed to myself to stand, as it were, at the summit of all things, so that I could almost believe that in me was fulfilled the Lord's promise to His prophet, "I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth."41 Then suddenly, being caught by the whirlwind of temptation, I have been dashed down from this high pinnacle, and plunged into all sorts of fears and terrors, since, though I have no fear for myself, for those committed to my charge I do greatly tremble.'

Then the Pope goes on, in that vein of mystical commentary which was the fashion of the age, to explain that a contemplative life was the Rachel of his tenderest affections, barren, it might be, of visible result, but lovely beyond telling in his eyes. Homely, blear-eyed Leah, the life of activity and affairs, was doubtless more fruitful in offspring, but she possessed none of his love. Yet now that the veil of night was removed, it was to this bride, unlovely and unloved, that he found himself hopelessly united.

After many more reflections of this kind, he ends a long and interesting letter with a grotesque piece of self-disparagement. 'Behold! the most serene Emperor has ordered an ape to become a lion. A lion indeed it may be called at the Imperial command, but a lion it cannot become.'

Were these lamentations sincere? In reading these many similar utterances of the greatest Pope who ever sat in the chair of St. Peter, we are forced to ask ourselves, 'Is the passionate reiteration of the formula Nolo episcopari quite  p305 sincere?' Gregory could not but know and feel that he had capacities for the great office of the Popedom, such as no other man then living upon the earth possessed. He belonged to the Imperial race of Rome, and showed forth its noblest qualities, as scarce any Roman had done since Trajan died. Is it possible that he was wholly indifferent to the master-passion of his countrymen, Ambition? Must we not rather believe that even in the days of his Prefecture he had perceived that the office of Pope was the only one which brought with it real power, or which was worthy of a Roman's acceptance? And the successive stages of 'the Great Renunciation' which followed, the laying aside of the purple robe, the conversion of the paternal palace into a monastery, the fastings, the austerities, the self-humiliations, — were they not all parts of a subtle and unavowed canvass for that splendid prize?

As in the cases of Mohammed, of Savonarola, and of Cromwell, this easy hypothesis of conscious hypocrisy seems to me to be a quite inadequate solution of the problem. Rather is the solution to be found in a frank recognition of that dual nature which many men who have played a great part on the stage of the world have evidently possessed. There were two men, not one, within the visible enwrapping of this great Aristocrat Bishop. One man, seeing keenly the follies and vanities of the world, longing after the joys of Heaven, disliking the petty routine of daily business, and cherishing ardent aspirations after that clear vision of the Most High which was thought to be the peculiar guerdon of a life of contemplation: — this man was happy in the cloisters of the Coelian, and had no  p306 desire to quit their grateful shade. Another man, inhabiting the same fleshly tabernacle, and thinking through the same brain, saw, as has been said, that none of the offices of the effete and decaying Empire, neither Exarchate, Prefecture, nor Duchy, was, for real power over the wills and inclinations of men, to be compared with the Bishopric of Rome. He saw that the holder of this office had an opportunity of conferring incalculable benefits on powerful races and vast kingdoms of men, and of winning for the half-ruined city by the Tiber a wider and more enduring empire than had been swayed by Titus or by Aurelius. This man, full of a noble ambition, longed to be Pope, and was, perhaps, dimly conscious that the austerities, the generosities, the humiliations of his other self were all bringing him nearer to that splendid goal. But when the goal was reached, satiety began to reign in his soul, and to poison all the joys of possession. Though the strong and vigorous intellect at once set itself to grapple with the difficulties of the situation and overcame them with brilliant success, the body, enfeebled by monastic austerities and tortured by gout, longed for the ordered life and the inviolable repose of the cloister; and the soul, weary of the sordid cares of the administration of the vast Papal Patrimony, yearned for the mystic joys and the serene contemplative happiness which had once been hers. In short, to use his own metaphor, the man was truly wedded to two wives. The Rachel of ascetic holiness was his best beloved, but the Leah of practical beneficence had also a share of his affections, and it was through her progeny, through such facts as the conversion of England, the remodelling of the liturgy, the spiritual  p307 conquest of the Lombards, that Gregory most powerfully influenced the world.

Gregory's Epistles. The chief monument of Gregory's life of practical statesmanship is the Epistles, composed by him during the fourteen years of his pontificate, arranged in fourteen books corresponding to those years, and filling nearly 500 closely printed pages.42 Though the writer despised all rhetorical artifices, and even allowed himself to speak disrespectfully of the rules of the grammarians,43 he wrote in a vigorous style, and his generally correct, if not polished, Latinity was utterly unlike the grammatical chaos which we find in the writings of his namesake of Tours. It is probably the very fact that he did not write rhetorically, which makes his letters so much pleasanter reading than the prolixities of Cassiodorus or the pompous obscurities of Ennodius. He does not, like the scholars of the Renaissance period, labour to give all his sentences a hexameter ending, but they are often instinct with manly and simple eloquence. Thus there is in them no affected imitation of Cicero, but often a true echo of Caesar.

These fourteen books of the Epistles of Gregory are a vast quarry, out of which the student of early mediaeval history may hew almost endless material. While the letters of the heathen Prefect, Symmachus,  p308 give us little beside hollow compliments and literary inanities, almost every letter of Gregory affords some information as to the politics, the morals, or the economics of his age. In this respect it would be hardly too much to say that Gregorii Epistolae are only surpassed, and not far surpassed, by the two great Codes of Theodosius and Justinian. It is of course impossible in a single chapter of this book to give any proper idea of a correspondence, for an adequate description of which two volumes like the present would not more than suffice; but a few samples culled almost at random throughout the mighty collection may give some faint idea of the world-wide activity of the Second Founder of the Papacy.

Care of the Patrimony of St. Peter. If not the most anxious of the new Pope's duties, one of the most troublesome to a man who had any longings after contemplative repose, must have been the care of the vast estates which went by the name of the Patrimony of St. Peter. These estates, the proofs of the liberality of the faithful during four or five centuries, had probably been much increased during the last two hundred years by the financial burdens and military perils to which the landowners in outlying districts found themselves exposed. When the demands of the Imperial tax‑gatherer were trenching more and more closely on the narrow margin of profit left to the owner of the soul; when the barbarian henchmen of Alaric or Alboin were burning the villas and liberating the slaves in Picenum or Campania, the pleasures of possession began to be outweighed by its anxieties, and the devout landowner felt a strong inducement to make over his threatened domains to the Church and to save his soul by retirement into  p309 a monastery, or his body by flight to Constantinople. Notwithstanding all the troubles of the times, the Church had armour of defence both against the tax‑gatherer and the barbarian, such as no lay proprietor possessed, and we may well believe that of all the real estate thus surrendered to the Bishops of Rome, they succeeded in retaining by far the largest portion.

Extent of the Patrimony. The Patrimony of St. Peter (we may well marvel what would have been the feelings of the simple-hearted fisherman of Bethsaida, could he have surveyed the lordly lands which were said to be his inheritance) was largest and richest in the island of Sicily; but it also embraced considerable estates in Rome and its environs, in the country of the Sabines, in Picenum, in the neighbourhood of Ravenna, in Campania, Apulia and Bruttii, in Gaul and Illyricum, and in the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. The precise extent of all these widely scattered possessions can only be approximately stated, but a careful German enquirer44 estimates it at 1800 square miles. These wide domains, it must be remembered, were not ruled, but owned, as an English nobleman owns his estate, and the revenue accruing therefrom is calculated at £300,000 a year.

The care of this magnificent property, though administered by able and generally by conscientious stewards,45 was evidently a heavy burden on the shoulders of an ascetic Pope, to whom great revenues  p310 and large estates could, in themselves, bring no pleasure.

Letters to sub‑deacon Peter about the Sicilian portion of the Patrimony. In the first eighteen months of his pontificate Gregory wrote fourteen letters (some of them extremely long ones, touching on a great variety of topics) to the sub‑deacon Peter, the steward whom he had set over the Apostolic Patrimony in Sicily in succession, but not in immediate succession, to a layman, Antoninus the defensor.46 Antoninus, it seems, had in several instances pushed the claims of the Roman Church both against its neighbours and its serfs (coloni) beyond what justice and humanity warranted. The new Pope shows in his letters a praiseworthy anxiety that all these wrongs shall be redressed by his representative. Peter, however, as far as we can judge from the letters addressed to him, though an honest man and a personal friend of Gregory's, seems to have been somewhat weak, forgetful and procrastinating. A few passages selected from the fourteen letters just mentioned will help the reader to imagine their general tenour.

'It has come to my ears that during the past ten years, from the times of Antoninus the defensor, many persons have suffered violence and wrong at the hands of the Roman Church, and that men openly complain that their borders have been invaded, their slaves enticed away, their moveable property taken from them by the strong hand with no pretence of judicial  p311 process. Pray, in all these things, let your Experience exercise the most strenuous vigilance, and let this letter be your warrant for the restoration of whatever you may find to have been violently taken away or wrongfully detained in the Church's name during these ten years: that he who has suffered wrong may not be forced to come to us, undertaking the toil of so long a journey, when, after all, the truth of his story cannot be so well tested here as there. Considering, then, the awfulness of the coming Judgment, restore all things that have been sinfully taken away, being assured that you will bring me in a more profitable return if you accumulate the reward of a good conscience than if you bring back great riches.

'We are informed also that many complain of the loss of slaves, saying that any runaway slave who professes himself to be under ecclesiastical law is at once claimed and kept by the Church's bailiffs (rectores), who, without any judicial decision in their favour, back up the slave's assertions by violence. All this displeases me as much as it is abhorrent to the spirit of justice and truth. Wherefore I desire that your Experience should shake off all sloth and correct all misdeeds of this kind which you may discover. Let any slaves now in the Church's power, who were taken away without a judge's order, be restored before any proceedings are taken; and if any such do lawfully belong to the Holy Church, let the right to them be asserted against their alleged owners in a regular and orderly action.

'Amend all these abuses with firmness, for you will thus approve yourself a true soldier of the blessed Apostle Peter, if in causes where he is concerned you  p312 do anxiously maintain truth, without suspicion of partiality even towards Peter himself. But if, on the other hand, you see some piece of property which you think justly belongs to the Church, beware of defending our right even to this with the strong hand; especially since we have published a decree, forbidding, under the penalty of our anathema, the affixing of notices of claim47 to any property, either urban or rural, by our Church. Whatever reasonably belongs to the poor ought to be defended by reason, lest otherwise our unrighteous action in a good cause should make even our just claims seem unjust in the sight of Almighty God. May the noble laymen and the glorious Praetor love you for your humility and not abhor you for your pride. So act that your humility may not make you slack, nor your authority rigid; but that the righteousness of your purpose may give a seasoning to your humility, and your humility may impart mildness even to your righteousness.'48

Runagate monks. In another letter,49 Gregory says that he has been informed that the monks of a city in the south of Italy dispersed by barbaric violence (probably some raid made by the Lombards of the Duchy of Benevento), are wandering over Sicily without a ruler, without any care as to the health of their souls, without the habit of their order. These vagabond monks are all to be collected into the monastery of St. Theodore at Messina, and there placed under proper discipline.

Exactions from the peasants on the Patrimony. In another long and extremely interesting, but difficult letter,50 Gregory describes the various unjust exactions  p313 to which the peasants on the farms of the Sicilian Patrimony had been subjected, and orders the immediate reformation of these abuses. These peasants (called rustici Ecclesiae) had to pay a cornº-rent to the Church, that is the equivalent in golden solidi of a certain number of pecks51 of corn; and Gregory enjoins that they shall not have the value of the peck oppressively beaten down in times of plenty. Thus, if there were a bountiful harvest, the Church under Gregory's liberal management of her estates would leave to her tenants the whole of the profit which the favourable year had brought them. It would certainly seem, however, as if an unvarying price fixed for the modius must have borne hardly upon the rustic in years of scarcity.

The iniquitous oppressions of the farmers of the ecclesiastical revenue, some of whom insisted on the peasants supplying 25 sextarii52 to the modius instead of the normal 16, were rigorously suppressed, a margin of 2 sextarii only (or 18 to the modius) being left to allow for shrinkage or short measurement.53 The unjust weights which, according to the report of a previous administrator,54 were found to be in use in some parts of the Patrimony, were to be at once broken, and new and righteous weights made in their stead. To prevent the recurrence of any similar exactions after Pope Gregory's death, each tenant was to receive a document called his libellus securitatis,  p314 in which the exact sum that might be legally claimed from him was to be clearly set forth.

Besides these and many other ordinances of a general kind for the regulation of the estate, a great number of cases of individual hardship were dealt with in this letter, which gave orders for their relief.

Defaulting stewards of the Church. Both Antoninus the defensor, and a certain Theodosius (who was perhaps a subordinate in the Patrimonial Estate-office), seem to have died in debt to the Church. The legacies left by Antoninus were to be in part discharged by Peter out of his sequestered property. From the goods of Theodosius a return was to be made to the unfortunate peasants who had been forced to pay their taxes to the Imperial government twice over, Theodosius having collected the money from them and then made default in his payments to the treasury. 'If, after repayment of the sum required for this purpose, amounting to 507 solidi [£304], there are still left, as you reckon, 40 solidi [£24], they may be handed over to the daughter of Theodosius, that she may redeem her property which is in pawn. And we wish also that her father's drinking‑cup55 be restored to her.'

Almost every word of this long and carefully-written letter of some forty paragraphs, is in favour of a wise and generous liberality towards the tenants, the servants and the debtors of St. Peter. Yet that the Pope could, on occasion, use sharpness is clearly seen, not only by the command, twice or thrice repeated, 'Lay aside all sluggishness,'56 and fulfil this or that commission, but also by the following caustic  p315 paragraph about an order which Gregory had given with reference to a member of his own family, and which Peter had apparently forgotten: —

A sharp reprimand. 'We must express our great thanks to your Anxiety,57 since I desired, in respect to my brother's affairs, that you should retransmit his money [hither], which injunction you have treated with as complete forgetfulness as if it had proceeded from the meanest of your slaves. Now then, let — I will not say your Experience, but — your Negligence set about obeying my commands. Anything of his which you may find to have been lodged with Antoninus, retransmit [hither] with all speed.'

At last the long letter, the fruit probably of many days of toil, ends thus: —

'Carefully read over all these commands and lay aside that too fondly indulged habit of negligence. Cause my writings which I have addressed to the rustics to be read to them on every farm; that they may know how they ought to defend themselves by our authority against the violence of their superiors, and let authentic copies be given to every one of them. See that you keep all these precepts in their integrity, for I, who write them for the preservation of justice, am thereby freed from responsibility, and you, if you neglect my words, remain bound. Consider the terrible Judge who is coming, and let that consideration cause you to tremble now before His Advent, lest you should then fear, and have no plea to urge in your behalf,58 when before His presence  p316 Heaven and Earth shall tremble. You have heard what I wish: see that you perform it.'

In other letters of his Gregory gives orders that the son of a certain Godischalcus,59 being blind and poor, shall receive annually 24 pecks of wheat, 12 pecks of beans, and 20 decimatae (?) of wine, at the charge of the Patrimony:60 while Pastor, a man apparently of somewhat higher rank, formerly on the staff of the Magister Militum, who is also afflicted with blindness, having a wife and two servants, is to receive annually 300 pecks of wheat and 300 of beans out of the same revenues.61

Joanna, the wife of Cyriacus, a woman who was converted from Judaism to Christianity after her betrothal, has been subjected to some annoyance in the courts of law, probably by her Jewish relatives, from whom she is to be protected in future.62 The possessions of the Church of Tauromenium (beautiful Taormina), which border on the Patrimony of St. Peter, are said to have been unjustly invaded by the bailiffs63 of the Roman Church, and it is ordered that these wrongs shall be redressed.64

The livestock in the Patrimony. The correspondence closes with another long letter,65 the receipt of which, we may be sure, caused some bitter heart-stabs to the procrastinating sub‑deacon. After directing that the Jewish tenants on the Church's farms, if they are willing to become Christians, shall receive some mitigation of their pecuniary burdens, the Pope passes on to ordinary landlord's  p317 business: 'Let the cows that are too old to calve, and the bulls which appear to be useless, be sold, so that at least their price may serve some good purpose. I wish all those herds of horses which we keep in very useless style, to be disposed of, and only 400 of the younger mares to be kept for breeding. Of these, one is to be sent to the tenant of each farm,66 who is each year to make some return on its behalf, for it is a very hard thing that we should be paying 60 solidi [£36] a year to our stud-grooms,67 and not receiving 60 denarii [£2 10s.] from our stud.'

Towards the end of the letter, the Pope says, 'You have moreover sent us one wretched horse and five good asses. The horse I cannot ride, because it is a wretch, nor the asses, good as they are, because they are asses. I pray you, if you are disposed to serve me, to bring with you something worthy of my acceptance.'

Peter recalled to Rome. The reason why the Pope tells Peter to bring the horse with him is because he has already, in an earlier part of the letter, summoned him to Rome. Gregory himself is sick, but he desires the sub‑deacon to come to him with all speed before St. Cyprian's day,68 that he may escape the equinoctial storms. He wishes to consult with Peter whether it will be better that he should return to Sicily or that some one else shall be appointed in his place. Several sentences reveal the Pontiff's deep dissatisfaction with his subordinate.

'If you have an atom of sense,69 you will be able to arrange this matter so as to perform my will without  p318 displeasing the bishop of Syracuse. I wrote to you to pay the legacies of Antoninus. I cannot think why your Experience has delayed the execution of my orders. I desire you to attend to these payments at once, that you may not, when you come to visit me, leave behind you the groans of the poor.'

'Abbot Martinianus tells me that the storehouse70 in the Praetoritan monastery is not yet half finished. Wherefore, what can I do but praise the zeal of your Experience?71 Even now, being thus warned, rouse yourself and show what you can do towards the construction of that monastery.'

'I am further informed that you have ascertained that some [moveable] things and many farms [in our possession] belong of right to other owners, but that, owing to the entreaties of certain persons or your fear of them, you hesitate to restore these things to their lawful owners. But if you were truly a Christian, you would fear the judgment of God more than the voices of men. Give your mind to this business, about which I have incessantly warned you. If you fail to fulfil it, my words will rise up as witnesses against you at the last day.'

Such being the mood of mind to which eighteen months of Peter's administration had brought his master, it is not surprising that his official career soon came to an end. The letter from which these extracts have been taken, virtually contained his dismissal, and we have no more epistles of Gregory addressed to Peter the sub‑deacon of Sicily.72

 p319  Expenditure of the Papal revenues. Of course, not only the receipt, but also the expenditure, of the large income derived from the Papal Patrimony imposed severe labour on so conscientious a steward of his wealth as Pope Gregory. Hints of his discriminating liberality to the poor have reached us in the few letters already quoted. The description of his public benefactions given by Joannes Diaconus, though written nearly three centuries after his death, seems vouched for in a way that entitles it to credit: —

'He turned into money73 the revenues of all the patrimonia and farms, according to the ledger74 of [Pope] Gelasius, of whom he seems to have been a most studious follower: and then, having collected all the officials of the Church, the palace, the monasteries, the lesser churches, the cemeteries, the deaconries,75 the reception-houses for strangers,76 in the city and suburbs, he decided from the ledger (in accordance with which, distribution is still made)77  p320 how many solidi, out of the above-named receipts in gold and silver, should be given to each person four times in the year, namely, at Easter, on the birthday of the Apostles,78 on the birthday of St. Andrew,79 and his own birthday. At the first dawn of the day of the Lord's resurrection, in the basilica of Pope Vigilius, near to which he dwelt, he gave to all bishops, presbyters, deacons, and other dignitaries of the Church, an aureus80 a‑piece, after bestowing on them the kiss of peace.81

'On the first day of each week, he distributed to the poor generally, the same kinds of produce which were collected from the rents.82 Thus corn in its season, and in their several seasons, wine, cheese, pulse, bacon or other wholesome flesh,83 fish and oil, were most discreetly distributed by that father of the family of God.84 But pigments and other delicate articles of commerce were courteously offered by him to the nobles of the City, so that the Church came to be regarded as the warehouse of the whole community.'

'To three thousand maids of God (whom the Greeks call monastriae) he gave 15 lbs. of gold85 for  p321 bed‑furniture86 and bestowed upon them for their daily stipends 80 lbs.87 annually.'

'Moreover, every day, by means of charioteers appointed to the office, he sent out cooked rations to all the sick and infirm poor throughout the streets and lanes of the City. To those who had seen better days88 he would send a dish89 from his own table, to be delivered at their doors with his Apostolic blessing.'

The biographer then goes on to tell us of Gregory's grief on learning that a poor man in one of the common lodging-houses of Rome had died of hunger. He blamed himself as if he had killed the man with his own hands, and for some days he would not permit himself to celebrate mass.

'There exists to this day,' Joannes continues, 'in the most holy muniment room90 of the Lateran Palace, a very great paper volume, compiled in his times, wherein the circumstances of all persons of either sex, of all ages and professions, whether at Rome or in the suburbs, in the neighbouring towns, or even in the far‑off cities of the coast, are described in detail, with their names, ages, and the remunerationes which they received.'

Certainly in all these philanthropic engagements there was abundance of work, abundance of drudging and wearisome routine, to fill up the hours of a studious and meditative Pope. Leah's progeny came with quick-thronging steps, with loud and importunate voices, to call the Paterfamilias Dei away from communion with the Rachel in whom his soul delighted.

In addition to the cares of the largest landowner  p322 in Italy and the greatest almsgiver in Rome, His work as Metropolitan of the West. there were those cares which came upon Gregory as the Metropolitan Bishop of the West. In reading his correspondence we realise how thoroughly monarchical the constitution of the great Latin Patriarchate had now become. For generations the tendency of events had been in this direction, and when a man of Gregory's saintly character and intellectual force entered the Lateran Palace, the transformation was complete. The chair of St. Peter was now indeed a throne. Though desirous to preserve the dignity of his brother bishops unimpaired, Gregory would assert, upon occasion, almost with severity, the right of the Bishop of Rome to the unquestioning obedience of all the bishops of the West, and even to receive appeals from the East and to reverse the judgments of the Patriarch of Constantinople himself. So wide a spiritual Empire necessarily brought a vast accession of care to him who ruled it, especially when the ruler was such a man as Gregory.

In Africa. In Africa he organised a system of firm and quiet ecclesiastical pressure, which, with the frequently-invoked assistance of the secular arm, at length extinguished the schism of the Donatists — a schism which had lasted for three centuries and which the Catholic Church in Africa vanquished, only just in time to enjoy the honours of victory before she and her rivals were swept together into destruction by the followers of Mohammed.

In Sardinia. In Sardinia Gregory stirred up the clergy to undertake the conversion of the idolatrous Barbaricini, and set himself to control the vagaries of the bishop of Cagliari, the white-haired Januarius, who crowned the  p323 eccentricities of a lifetime by going forth into his neighbours' corn-fields, and ploughing them on the Lord's Day, both before and immediately after his celebration of mass.91

In Gaul. In France, by his correspondence with his somewhat lethargic vicar, Vergilius, bishop of Arles, he laboured, with more zeal than success, to correct that barbarisation of the Gallican Church, of which the pages of 'Gregory of Tours' furnish so terrible a picture, to uproot the simony which was destroying the Church's life, to induce the bishops to resume their almost abandoned custom of assembling in national and provincial councils for the reform of abuses, and to combat the disorders which were making the Frankish monastery, and yet more the Frankish nunnery, a scandal to Christendom.

In Spain. With Visigothic Spain, which (as has been related), after nearly two centuries of uncompromising Arianism, had entered the Catholic fold three years before Gregory's elevation to the Papacy, the correspondence is somewhat less active than might have been expected, from the splendour of such a conquest and from the ties of old friendship which bound the Pope to the most conspicuous actor in the drama, Leander  p324 the Metropolitan of Seville. In a letter,92 written just after his consecration, Gregory, while expressing his joy at the conversion of his 'most glorious son Recared' to the Catholic faith, entreats Leander to warn his nephew against the snares of the devil, which, in his case, will probably take the shape of temptations to spiritual pride. The correspondence then seems to languish. Perhaps Recared expected a more enthusiastic welcome from the pontiff. Perhaps he was engaged in suppressing some revolt of the discontented Arians. At any rate the first letter from the Visigothic king to Pope is assigned to so late a date as the ninth year of Gregory's pontificate. In this letter,93 written in somewhat halting and barbarous Latin (possibly the consciousness of these defects had something to do with the King's silence), Recared excuses himself for having so long delayed to express his reverence to the head of the Christian priesthood. Hindered for three years by the cares of his kingdom, he had at last chosen certain abbots and charged them to bear his gifts to St. Peter. But when already within sight of the shores of Italy they were overthrown by the violence of the sea, thrown back on the rocks near Marseilles, and barely escaped with life. Now at last Recared sends another messenger, with a golden chalice studded with gems for the Apostolic treasury, and the expression of his profound reverence for the Pope, whom he has already learned to love through his conversations with his uncle Leander. Apparently this letter was accompanied or followed by a communication of a more political nature.

 p325  Recared and the Empire. King Recared desired to establish a modus vivendi with the Emperor, who had acquired (as we have seen) a footing on both sides of the Peninsula, and, with this view, asked for a sight of the treaty between Justinian and an earlier Visigothic king, a copy of which he believed to be stored in the archives of the Holy See. The request gives us a glimpse into the still lingering barbarism of the court of Toledo, which, for a document so vitally affecting its own interests, had to depend on the presumed superior accuracy of the Papal chancery, through that body had really no immediate concern in the affair. In this case, however, Gregory replied that the archives of the See had suffered so severely from fire in the time of Justinian, that scarcely a single paper of that time was still extant.94

As some compensation for this disappointment, and an indication of good-will, we send you,' says the Pontiff, 'a little key from the most holy body of the blessed Apostle Peter, in which is enclosed some iron from his chains, so that the same metal which bound his neck to the cross of his martyrdom may loose you from all your sins.95 The bearer of these presents will also offer you a crucifix, wherein is some of the wood of our Lord's cross, and some hairs of the blessed John the Baptist: so that by means of this cross you may  p326 also have the consolations of Christ, through the intercession of his Forerunner.'

Conversion of England. The spiritual conquest of Spain was glorious, but it had been achieved before Gregory mounted the Papal throne. The conquest of England was all his own work, his own daring thought translated into action. In 596 he sent forth Augustine, Abbot of his own beloved monastery of St. Andrew, on his memorable mission, armed with letters of introduction to all the chief prelates of Gaul, requesting them to speed the missionaries on their way. But whatever might be the outward professions of respect and obedience tendered by these eminent ecclesiastics, so weak was their faith, and so alarming the picture which they drew of the savage temper of our Saxon forefathers, that the timid monks, accustomed as they were to the stormless atmosphere of the convent, shrank from encountering the perils before them, and Augustine actually returned to Rome to beseech permission to abandon the difficult enterprise. Then it was that Gregory's singleness of purpose and inflexibility of will saved the endangered project, and he who had once, in obedience to a Pope, left the path to Britain untrodden, now, as Pope, claimed the obedience of Augustine, sent him forth again on his great mission, and forced upon the timid Abbot of St. Andrew's the glory of being the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

The success of that mission, the conversion of Ethelbert and the larger part of his nobles and people to Christianity, are events which lie beyond our present province, and are too well known to need more than a passing allusion here. All that we are here concerned with is the fresh burden of toil, fruitful and  p327 triumphant, but still toil, which the conduct of the great enterprise must have brought upon the pain-racked Pope. In 601 he sent out a second mission under Mellitus, to reinforce Augustine and his fellow-labourers. These also had to be sped upon their difficult way; letters of commendation had to be written for them to the Gaulish bishops, and protection had to be claimed from the Frankish kings. In the same year a letter was sent to Augustine, in which, at great length, Gregory replied to eleven questions which the English missionary had addressed to him as to the government of the new province won from heathenism. The questions travelled over a wide range of subjects, touching on the division of the Church revenues, the punishment of sacrilege, the degrees of affinity within which marriage was prohibited, the consecration of bishops, the ceremonial defilements which operated as a bar to holy communion, and so forth. Gregory's answers were upon the whole wise and statesmanlike, especially in reference to varying ecclesiastical usages.

'Your Brotherhood knows already the custom of the Roman Church in which you remember that you were nourished. But my pleasure is that you should carefully select, not only from the Roman, but also from the Gallican, or any other Church, whatsoever you can find that is pleasing to Almighty God, and in the Church of the Angles, which is still new to the faith, implant all that you have thus collected from various Churches. For we ought not to value a thing because of the place from which it has sprung, but value places according to the things which they produce.96 From  p328 the several Churches, therefore, select all customs which are godly, religious, just, and, weaving them all into one wreath, crown with them the souls of the Angles.'

Gregory's reconstruction of the Liturgy and reform of Church music. Besides that which came upon Gregory daily, the care of all the Churches, he laboured also at that reformation (if it were in truth a reformation) of the music of the Church, which has perpetuated his fame in some quarters where his other great deeds are little remembered. He remodelled the Roman Liturgy, composing a new Sacramentarium and Antiphonarius, and giving to the service of the Mass nearly the same form which it bears at the present day in the Roman ritual.97 He established and endowed two schools of singers, one at the Lateran, the other under the steps of the  p329 basilica of St. Peter,98 at which the pupils were taught the Gregorian 'plain song,' which now superseded the Ambrosian chants, and the musical scale divided into octaves, which superseded the eighteen tones or five tetrachords of the Greeks. Three centuries after his death, men still looked with veneration upon the memorials of Gregory's musical enthusiasm which were preserved in the Lateran Palace, not only the authentic copy of his Antiphonarius, but the bed on which he reclined when, racked with gout and dyspeptic pains, he still persisted in giving his lessons to the choir, and the rod with which he corrected the youthful singers, when they failed to render a passage in one of his chants correctly.

Government of his household. As diligently as he laboured to cultivate the musical sense of his people, even so diligently did he reorganize his own household at the Lateran on the strictest monastic and Roman models. All the lay servants who had ministered to the pride and luxury of former pontiffs were banished from his palace. None but monks and clergy were to be in attendance on the visible head of the Church. The Pope led, with these, his brethren in religion, that life in common which was the characteristic of the convent, and we may fairly infer that he, though lord of such mighty resources, submitted himself to that stern prohibition against private property which he had enforced so rigidly against the unfortunate Justus.

All offices held by ecclesiastics. This change applied not merely to the personal attendants of the Pontiff. He first, apparently, inaugurated that strict rule that the Church's possessions should be governed by churchmen, which prevailed with  p330 few exceptions down to the fall of the temporal power of the Popes in our own day. 'No layman could administer any part of the Church's patrimony, but all ecclesiastical charges were held by ecclesiastical men, laymen being relegated to the profession of arms or the occupations of agriculture.'99

Roman patriotism of Gregory. And not only was the lay element excluded from even the outer courts of the Church's service; the descendant of so many Roman Senators also barred his doors against the all‑pervading influence of the barbarians. 'None,' says his biographer, 'of those who were in the Pope's service, from the lowest to the highest, ever showed anything barbarous either in speech or attire, but the purest Latinity of speech, and the constant use of the toga of the Quirites or the trabea [of the old Consuls] preserved, as it were, an inviolate Latium in the dwelling of the Latin Pope.'100

Relics in his ancestral home. From his palace in the ancient domain of the Senator Lateranus, the gift of Constantine to the Roman See, Gregory doubtless often wandered to his own ancestral home on the slope of the Coelian Hill, scarcely more than half a mile distant, that palace which had become the monastery of St. Andrew. There101 are still shown his marble chair and a recess in the wall, in which, if the inscription speak truly, the great Pope often  p331 passed the night. There undoubtedly, for centuries after his death, were visible the contemporary portraits, in fresco, of himself and his parents, with which the liberality of Gregory had adorned the walls of the convent. Portrait of Gregory's father. Near the fountain in the courtyard were two doors, on one of which St. Peter, in a sitting posture, was represented as holding out an encouraging right hand to the regionarius, Gordian, father of Gregory. Gordian was depicted as tall of stature, with somewhat solemn face but penetrating eyes, with short hair and scanty beard. His feet were shod with the military caliga, and over his dalmatic was thrown a mantle (planeta) of a chestnut colour.

Portrait of his mother. Silvia, the mother of Gregory, was painted as also tall, but with a round and cheerful face, beautiful notwithstanding the wrinkles of age, and with the large grey eye of genius. On her head she wore the turban of a Roman matron, and over her milk-coloured tunic a white veil flowed in ample folds from her shoulders to her feet. With two fingers of her right hand she made the sign of the cross, while her left hand held the Psalter, open at the words, 'My soul liveth and it shall praise thee and thy judgments shall help me.'f A scroll in the background of the picture, running from the right shoulder to the left, bore the words, 'Gregorius Silviae matri fecit.'

Portrait of Gregory. In an apse behind the monks' cellarium (cupboard) was the likeness of Gregory himself, designed by the same artist — a namesake of his own — who had painted the portraits of his parents. A face which combined in comely proportions the length of his father's, and the roundness of his mother's, countenance; a high and noble forehead crowned with two little curls  p332 bending towards the right; a head, bald above but with a wisp of nearly black hair, brushed back behind his ears; dark and small eyes, and a slightly aquiline nose; fresh-coloured cheeks, which became even high-coloured102 towards the close of his life; moderate stature and a goodly figure: long taper fingers which seemed well adapted to handle the pen of the writer; — such was the guise in which, 270 years after his death, John the Deacon beheld the mightiest of the Popes, the converter to Christianity of our Saxon forefathers.


The Author's Notes:

1 Dahn (Paulus Diaconus, p56) refers the composition of the 'Vita' to 787; but as it was some years before he wrote the 'History of the Lombards' ('jam ante aliquot annis ejus vitam texuimus'), an earlier date, if possible, seems desirable. The latter work was probably written about 790.

2 Paulus and Beda. I have not included the latter among my authorities, as his contribution relates solely to the mission to Britain. Paulus has copied extensively from him.

3 Hist. Lang. III.35.

4 Ibid. IV.1.

5 Hist. Lang. III.30.

6 Lomello, a little north of the Po, about 20 miles west of Pavia.

7 Hist. Lang. III.35.

8 Waitz, in his edition of Paulus, says, 'Whether all this belongs to the domain of authentic history may be questioned. The short narrative of the Origo seems to hint that Agilulf sought for the crown by violence, and obtained it by marriage with Theudelinda, which also fits with the indications of time given by Paulus. Nor does the Continuer of Prosper seem to imply anything else.' But the 'Origo' only says, 'Et exiit Aequo dux Turingus de Taurinis, et junxit se Theudelindae reginae, et factus est rex Langobardorum.' The Codex Gothanus says almost exactly the same. The Continuer of Prosper, 'Agilulfus, qui et Ago, gloriosissimam Theudelindam reginam sibi matrimonio copulavit.' As Weise (pp147‑8) points out, there is here no real contradiction of the narrative of Paulus.

9 There is a mysterious sentence in Paulus, just after the story of the divining boy: 'Hoc tempore, quam ob causam incertum est, Ansul cognatus regis Authari apud Veronam interfectus est.' But we shall only make darkness darker by conjectures as to an event the causes of which were uncertain even in the days of Paulus.

10 We are informed of this fact by the Prologue to the Edict of Rothari: 'Quarto decimo, Agiluth, Thoringus ex genere Anaval.'

11 See vol. III p296.

12 See p118. Walderada was three times married; her first husband being Theudebald, king of Austrasia, and her second, Chlotochar, king of Neustria, by whom she was divorced. Weise proves very clearly, perhaps at almost unnecessary length (pp103‑112), that there is no reason for rejecting the current statement that Theudelinda was daughter of the ruler of Bavaria. It is true that, in H. L. I.21, Paulus says that the king of the Franks (whom he calls Cusupald), gave his divorced wife 'uni ex suis qui dicebatur Garipald,' but in III.10 and 30 he calls him distinctly 'Garibaldus rex Baioariorum.' The 'Origo' also calls Theudelinda 'filia Garipald et Walderada de Bajuvaria.' In the face of these testimonies we may reject the statement of the often inaccurate 'Fredegarius' (IV.34), that Theudelinda was 'ex genere Francorum.'

13 'Nefandissimum Autharith in hac quae nuper exempta est paschali solemnitate, Langobardorum filios in fide catholica baptizari prohibuit, pro qua culpa eum divina majestas extinxit, ut solemnitatem paschae alterius non videret' (Greg. Epist. I.17).

14 We lack authentic testimony for Gregory's alleged descent from the gens Anicia, whence sprang Boethius and so many other illustrious Romans.

15 A Felix, probably Felix IV, but possibly Felix III.

16 See Hegel (Städtverfassung von Italien, I.163). Some writers make Regionarius equivalent to deacon, but I think it is clear that the Regionarius was a secular officer, head of the bureau, as we should call it, which had to respond to the deacon's requisitions. Thus these very deacons, who, according to the original conception of the office (Acts VI.2), were ordained to relieve the apostles from the secular duty of 'serving tables,' having now themselves become prominent spiritual personages, had their Regionarii (each probably with a large staff of clerks at his disposal) to relieve them from the mere business routine of almsgiving.

17 The authority for this statement is a passage in one of Gregory's own letters (IV.2), where, in describing the recantation signed by Laurentius, bishop of Milan, he says, 'Laurentius districtissimam cautionem sedi apostolicae emisit in qua viri nobilissimi et legitimo numero subscripserunt. Inter quos ego quoque, tunc urbanam praeturam [praefecturam] gerens, pariter subscripsi.' The MSS. vary between 'praeturam' and 'praefecturam.' Apparently documentary authority preponderates in favour of the former; but there can be little doubt that 'praefecturam' is the right reading, the office of praetor having fallen into disuse long before this. (See Diehl, Études sur l'Administration Byzantine, 127, n. 4.) The Episcopate of Laurentius (573‑592) gives us the year 573 as at any rate the earliest possible date for the close of Gregory's prefecture. How long before that date he may have held the office or how long after it he may have laid his office down we cannot say with certainty.

18 See vol. I p214 (p608 second edition).

19 'Et qui ante serico contextu ac gemmis micantibus solitus erat per urbem procedere trabeatus, post vili contectus tegmine ministrabat pauper ipse pauperibus (Paulus Diaconus, Vita Gregorii, iv).

20 Hardly any of the dates in Gregory's life, previous to his elevation to the papacy, can be fixed with certainty.

21 'Cernens Romanus pontifex . . . virtutum gradibus Gregorium ad alta conscendere, eum a monasterio abstractum ecclesiastici ordinis officio sublimavit, Levitamque septimum ad suum adjutorium adscivit' (Paul. Diac. Vit. Greg. c. xx).

22 Wolfsgruber quotes, in proof of this, the language of Eulogius, the contemporary patriarch of Alexandria (apud Photium Cod. 182).

23 The Pope's ambassador seems to have been called indifferently Apocrisiarius and Responsalis. The latter word is only the Latin translation of the former.

24 As before remarked, all the dates of the earlier events in the life of Gregory are more or less conjectural. I should be inclined to make his stay at the Imperial court last from about 579 to 585. The words of his biographers seem to imply that he was sent as Apocrisiarius by Pelagius II soon after the elevation of that pope. He was certainly in Constantinople for some time before the death of Eutychius (April, 582), and since he stood godfather to the young Theodosius, who was born in 585, he must have remained at the Imperial court at least till that year.

25 I take this description of the Magna Moralia from Milman's History of Latin Christianity, I.435.

26 Twelve shillings a‑piece.

27 Gregorii Dialogi, IV.55.

28 The words of Gregory of Tours (X.1) are, 'Praefectus urbis romanae Germanus ejus anticipavit nuntium.' Is Germanus a proper name or does it mean 'brother of Gregory'? Does 'ejus' therefore depend on 'nuntium' or on 'germanus'? This is a point which we have no means of deciding.

29 The interesting, because absolutely contemporary, report of this sermon is given us by Gregory of Tours (H. F. X.1), near the very end of his history.

30 Jer. iv.10.

31 This procession, according to a tradition which dates from the seventh century, took place on the festival of St. Mark, the 25th of April (Wolfsgruber, Gregor der Grosse, 58).

32 These are the ecclesiastical regions, seven in number, differing of course from the fourteen regions into which, for civil purposes, the City was divided by Augustus. The boundaries of these seven ecclesiastical regions seem to be not yet clearly ascertained (cf.  Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Rom, I.77 and II.33). I do not think we can argue that each of the churches mentioned above stood in the region from which the votaries were to assemble.

33 Otherwise named from the father of these two saints, St. Vitalis.

Thayer's Note: Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, V5, with further citations and links, including a link to Armellini's history and description.

34 Gregorovius (II.34),º quoting Martinelli, says that the church of St. Euphemia was on the Vicus Patricius, near the Titulus Pudentis, on the Viminal Hill.

Thayer's Note: Martinelli's ultimate sources for the location information are the Einsiedeln Itinerary and the Liber Pontificalis (Leo III); further citations are provided by Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, E2, whose entry is also linked to Armellini's brief word-sketch of the church.

For details on the ancient Roman street, see the entry Vicus Patricius in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome and the citations there.

35 I follow Gregorovius (II.34, 35) in my account of the history of this legend. It is not mentioned by either of the two chief biographers of Gregory, Paulus or Joannes, but first occurs (according to Gregorovius) in the Legenda Aurea, written about the end of the thirteenth century. It was, however, doubtless derived from much earlier sources. Gregorovius says, 'The legend dates back long before the tenth century. Possibly some statue of a winged Genius, left standing after the great destruction of the statues by the soldiers of Belisarius, may have given occasion to the legend of St. Michael's appearance.'

36 As reported by Joannes Diaconus, I.43.

37 H. F. X.1.

38 Ep. I.4.

39 Ep. I.5.

40 Psalm xxvii.8.

41 Isaiah lviii.14.

42 In Migne's Patrologia.

43 'Ipsam loquendi artem, quam magisteria disciplinae exterioris insinuant, servare despexi. Nam, sicut hujus quoque epistolae tenor enuntiat, non metacismi collisionem fugio, non barbarismi confusionem devito, situs motusque et praepositionum casus servare contemno, quia indignum vehementer existimo ut verba coelestis oraculi restringam sub regulis Donati' (Epistle to Leander prefixed to Magna Moralia, quoted by Wolfsgruber, p11).

44 Grisar in his paper, 'A Survey of the Patrimonies of the Holy See about the year 600' (Zeitschrift für Kathol. Theologie, 1877, pp321‑360).

45 Called Defensores or Rectores. Originally these were laymen, but Gregory preferred employing ecclesiastics, deacons, presbyters, even bishops, in this office.

46 Apparently Servus‑Dei, a deacon, had been Rector of the Sicilian Patrimony immediately before Peter. The Sicilian Patrimony seems to have been sometimes administered as a whole by the same Rector, sometimes divided into two portions, the Syracusanum and Panormitanum, each with its own Rector (Grisar, l.c. 331‑334).

47 Tituli.

48 Ep. I.36 (I.39 a).

49 I.41 (I.39).

50 I.44 (I.42).

51 Modii.

52 Pints.

53 This provision clearly points to a payment of the rents in kind, while the previous paragraph as clearly indicated a payment in money. Probably the usage was different on different estates of the Sicilian Patrimony.

54 Servus‑Dei.

55 Baciola.

56 'Postpositâ omni tarditate.'

57 'Agimus autem gratias Sollicitudini tuae.' This of course is ironical.

58 'Ne tunc sine causâ [?] jam timeat consideratio tua.'

59 Evidently the Teutonic name Gottschalk. The new edition reads Filimuth, another Teutonic name.

60 I.46 (I.44).

61 I.67 (I.65).

62 I.71 (I.69).

63 Actionarii.

64 I.73 (I.71).

65 II.32 (II.38).

66 Condoma.

67 Pastoribus.

68 14 September, 592.

69 'Si quidem parvo corpusculo majorem sapientiam habes.'

70 Fabrica.

71 Ironical.

72 Prof. Grisar (p332) takes rather a different view of the relations of Gregory and Peter from that given in the text. According to him Peter was such an intimate friend of the Pope's that the latter could safely address him in a vein of scolding banter and mock anger without fear of his words being taken too literally. The fact that Peter reappears as Rector of Campania in the third book of the Epistles is, according to Grisar, a proof that the Pope was not seriously offended with him. But the name Peter is such a common one that we cannot affirm with certainty that the Rector of Campania is the same person as the deposed Rector of Sicily, and I think most men will feel that if Gregory's letters to the latter are only a joke, they are a joke of a very disagreeable kind.

73 Adaeravit: meaning, as I understand it, that he commuted the tributa payable in kind into a money-payment.

74 Polypticus.

75 Diaconia.

76 Xenodochia.

77 'Quo hactenus erogatur.' 'Erogatur,' as we have seen (vol. IV p169), is the word which was used in Imperial Rome for the distribution of water from an aqueduct.

78 June 29.

79 Nov. 30.

80 Twelve shillings.

81 On the Apostles' birthday and his own 'mistos solidos offerens, peregrina nihilominus vestimenta offerebat.' I have not found the clue to the meaning of these words.

82 'Easdem species quae congerebantur ex reditibus erogabat.' This seems to agree with the suggestion made above as to the diversity of practice in different patrimonies. Adaeratio, money commutation, was the rule, but payment in kind still survived alongside of it.

83 'Lardum seu manducabilia animalia.'

84 'Paterfamilias Dei.'

85 £600, or four shillings a‑piece.

86 Pro lectisterniis.

87 £3200: £1 1s. 4d. a‑piece.

88 Verecundioribus.

89 Scutella.

90 Scrinium.

91 The scandal apparently consisted not only in ploughing on Sunday, but also in removing the landmark of the bishop's neighbour, a certain Donatus, who made complaint to the Pope and brought back the letter of admonition: 'Dictum mihi est quod dominico die, priusquam missarum solemnia celebrares, ad exarandum messem latoris presentium perrexisti, et post exarationem ejus missarum solemnia celebrasti. Post missarum solemnia etiam terminos possessionis illius eradicare minime timuisti' (Ep. IX.1). 'Die dominico ante missas messem de agro quem Donatus possidebat feceris exarari' (Ep. IX.4 (11).

92 Ep. I.43 (41).

93 IX.61 (227 a).

94 'Chartofilacium, praedicti piae memoriae Justiniani principis tempore, ita subripiente subito flamma incensum est, ut omnino ex ejus temporibus pene nulla carta remaneret' (Ep. IX.122 (229)). As Justinian's foothold in Spain was not obtained till 554, we cannot connect the fire which destroyed this document with any of the sieges of Rome during the Ostrogothic war.

95 This 'key of St. Peter' was a favourite present from Gregory to his votaries.

96 'Non enim pro locis rest, sed pro rebus loca nobis amanda sunt' (Ep. XI.64).

97 Lau, in his 'Gregor I der Grosse' (pp251‑258), discusses at some length the obscure and difficult question of the changes which the Sacramentarium and Antiphonarius of Gregory underwent at the hands of later compilers. A more recent writer, Grisar (in the Theologische Zeitschrift for 1885; quoted by Wolfsgruber, p396), seems to have successfully vindicated Gregory's claim to a larger share in the composition of the Roman Liturgy as it now stands than would have been conceded by the writers followed by Lau. His changes seem to have been chiefly in the direction of abbreviation; but the various parts of the service were apparently still scattered over many books, the Sacramentarium, the Antiphonarius, the Apostolus, the Diptychs, and so forth, and not yet collected into one volume for the convenience of the officiating priest. Wolfsgruber (following the Benedictine Kienle) gives a striking picture (pp398‑413) of High-Mass as performed by the Pope at S. Maria Maggiore on Easter‑day, 600. It was an elaborate and splendid ceremony, but differed in some respects from the modern rite. All the priests present joined, in a low voice, in the words of consecration. No bell announced the elevation of the Host. The bread and wine were provided out of the actual offerings of the faithful, and the laity communicated in both kinds.

98 Joann. Diac. II.6.

99 Joann. Diac. II.15. I have some doubt whether an exception should not be made to this statement as regards the defensores, who seem to have still been appointed from among the laity.

100 Joann. Diac. II.13: 'Nullus Pontifici famulantium, a minimo usque ad maximum, barbarum quodlibet in sermone vel habitu proferebat: sed togata, Quiritum more seu trabeata Latinitas suum Latium in ipso Latiali palatio singulariter obtinebat.'

101 In what is now the church of S. Gregorio.

Thayer's Note: There have been at least nine churches of St. Gregory in the City; this one is S. Gregorio al Celio (S. Gregorii in clivo Scauri): see Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, G7, with further citations and links, including a link to Armellini's history and description.

102 'Colore aquilino (?) et vivido, nondum, sicut ei postea contigit, cardiaco (?).'


Thayer's Notes:

a There have been a good half-dozen churches of SS. Cosmas and Damian in the city of Rome; the one meant is probably the one still open under that name, on the Sacra Via: see Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, C27, with further citations and links, including a link to Armellini's detailed history and description.

b SS. Pietro e Marcellino; see Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, P27, with further citations and links, including a link to Armellini's history and description.

c SS. Giovanni e Paolo sul Celio (there have been two other churches of SS. John and Paul in the City); see Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, I30, with further citations and links, including links to Lanciani's atmospheric sketch of the church and Armellini's detailed history and description.

d Christian Huelsen lists 29 churches in Rome dedicated to the protomartyr St. Stephen: the one meant here is S. Stefano Rotondo (known in Pope St. Gregory's time as S. Stephanus in Caelio, and not to be confused with the church that was called at that time S. Stephanus Rotundus). See my photoillustrated page, with a further chain of links to Hülsen's Chiese (S72), Armellini's good text, etc.

e S. Clemente; see Hülsen, Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, C19, with further citations and links, including to Armellini's very thorough history and description.

f The text as given by John Deacon ("Vivit anima mea et laudabit te, et iudicia tua adiuvabunt me") is from Ps. 118:175 with one slight change, Vivit, "liveth" for Vivet, "shall live".


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