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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XII:
The Book of Pastoral Rule, and Selected Epistles, of Gregory the Great.: Epistle IX

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Epistle IX.

To the Neapolitans.

Gregory to the gentry and commonalty (ordini et plebi) residing at Naples.

The communication you have addressed to us has made manifest what your opinion is of our brother and fellow-bishop Paulus 1400 :  and we congratulate you in that your experience of him for a few days has been such that you desire to have him as your cardinal bishop 1401 .  But, since in matters of supreme importance there ought to be no hasty decision, so we, Christ helping us, will arrange after mature deliberation what is to be done hereafter, his character meanwhile, in course of time, having become better known to you.

Wherefore, most beloved sons, obey ye the aforesaid man, if you truly love him, and with devoted minds meet his wishes in peaceful concurrence, to the end that the affection of your mutual charity may so bind you to each other, that the enemy who flies about you raging may find no way through any of you for creeping in to break up your unanimity.  Further, when we shall have perceived the aforesaid bishop offering to God the fruit of souls which we long for, God Himself also approving, we will do afterwards whatever divine inspiration may suggest to our heart, with regard to his person and to your desire.



He was bishop of Nepe, which as well as Naples, was in the urbicarian province of Rome.  The filling up of the See of Naples appears to have been a cause of great anxiety to Gregory, probably because of the party feeling prevailing in the city.  In his first letter to the Neapolitans (supra, Ep. 6), he had contemplated the speedy election of a new bishop in the usual way; but it appears from this Epistle that he had seen reason to defer such election, sending meanwhile Paulus of Nepe to administer the See.  Some at least in Naples appear to have wished this Paulus to be elected soon after his arrival among them; but this Gregory would not allow till he could see better how things were going.  Such provisional arrangement continued, it seems, for more than a year, another bishop having been commissioned to supply Paul’s place in his own Church of Nepe against the Easter festival (II. 26).  That Gregory’s fear of opposition to Paul were justified appears from the subsequent mention of a violent attack made on him by a party opposed to him at Naples (III. 1).  He meanwhile, not liking his position, had already been anxious to return to his own see (II. 15), but had not been allowed.  When he went at last, it seems that an election had taken place, but had proved futile from the person chosen having refused to be ordained (III. 15).  Eventually the election had taken place, by Gregory’s direction, not at Naples, but at Rome (III. 35), one Fortunatus being chosen (III. 61).  The whole history of the case illustrates the troubles incident to popular election of bishops at that time, especially in great cities.


See I. 79, note 5.

Next: To Paulus, Bishop of Naples.

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