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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 XX

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Epistle XX.

To Marinianus, Bishop of Ravenna.

Gregory to Marinianus, &c.

John, the bearer of these presents, complains that his wife, flying from the molestations of one George, has long been residing within venerable precincts 1742 , and has so far met with no assistance.  Since she asserts that there is a dispute about her condition 1743 , and has asked that it should be commended to your Fraternity, we hereby exhort you that you afford your protection to this woman, and permit her not to be in any way aggrieved by any one unreasonably.  But if the question about her station still continues, let it be your care that, without any oppression, and in a legal manner, it may be submitted for judgment; so that when, after ascertainment of the truth, what is agreeable to the order of law has been determined, neither party may complain of having suffered wrong.  The month of May, first Indiction.



The woman had fled to the precincts of some church for protection from one George, who apparently claimed her as his slave.  The right of temporary asylum in sacred precincts, from which refugees could not be taken without the bishop’s assent, rested on imperial edicts.  “Vide lib. I. Cod., tit. 12, cap. 3, ubi imperatores Theodosius et Valentianus plurima de septis ecclesiasticis statuunt.…Vocantur etiam claustra dominica, et continent atria et porticus ecclesiæ, domum episcopi, xxx vel xl passus in circuitu, et domus quæ iu eis fuerint.  Tandem cessavit ista immunitas ob abusus.”  (Note to I. 37 in Migne’s Patrilogia).  Cf. X. 37, where directions are given to Januarius, bishop of Cagliari, for his course of action in such cases.


I.e. as to whether she was a free-woman or a slave.

Next: To John, Bishop of Syracuse.

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