Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Select Letters of Saint Gregory Nazianzen.: Letter CLII
(On his retirement from Constantinople Gregory had at the request of the Bishops of the Province, and especially of Theodore of Tyana the Metropolitan, and Bosporius Bishop of Colonia (see letters above) and at the earnest solicitation of the people, undertaken the charge of the Diocese of Nazianzus; but he very soon found that his health was not equal to so great a task, and that he could not fulfil its calls upon him. He struggled on for some time, but at length, finding himself quite unequal to it, he wrote as follows to the Metropolitan:)
It is time for me to use these words of Scripture, To whom shall I cry when I am wronged? 4769 Who will stretch out a hand to me when I am oppressed? To whom shall the burden of this Church pass, in its present evil and paralysed condition? I protest before God and the Elect Angels that the Flock of God is being unrighteously dealt with in being left without a Shepherd or a Bishop, through my being laid on the shelf. For I am a prisoner to my ill health and have been very quickly removed thereby from the Church, and made quite useless to everybody, every day breathing my last, and getting more and more crushed by my duties. If the Province had any other head, it would have been my duty to cry out and protest to it continually. But since Your Reverence is the Superior, it is to you I must look. For, to leave out everything else, you shall learn from my fellow-priests, Eulalius the Chorepiscopus 4770 and Celeusius, whom I have specially sent to Your Reverence, what these robbers 4771 who have now got the upper hand, are both doing and threatening. To repress them is not in the power of my weakness, but belongs to your skill and strength; since to you, with His other gifts God has given that of strength also for the protection of His Church. If in saying and writing this I cannot get a hearing, I shall take the only course remaining to me, that of publicly proclaiming and making known that this Church needs a Bishop, in order that it may not be injured by my feeble health. What is to follow is matter for your consideration.
Hab. ii. 1.473:4770
Chorepiscopi;—a grade of clergy called into existence in the latter part of the Third Century, first in Asia Minor, to meet the difficulty of providing Episcopal supervision in the country districts of large Dioceses. They seemed to have been allowed to confer the Minor, but not the Holy Orders, unless by special commission from the Diocesan, on the ground of their lack of original Jurisdiction. That they were originally possessed of full Episcopal Orders there can be no doubt, but eventually the position was allowed to be held by Priests, and in the West the office became practically merged in that of the Archdeacon.473:4771
Next: To Bosporius, Bishop of Colonia.
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