Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Book of Pastoral Rule, and Selected Epistles, of Gregory the Great.: Epistle XXII
To all the Bishops of Illyricum. 1409
Gregory to all the bishops, &c.
It both affords us joy for your carefulness, and makes your Fraternity safe in your own ordination, if the order of ancient custom is maintained. Since, then, we have learnt from the letters which you have sent to us through the presbyter Maximianus and the deacon Andreas that the consent of all of you and the will of the most serene Prince have concurred in the person of our brother and fellow-bishop John, we feel great exultation that, under Gods direction, such a one has been advanced to the office of priesthood 1410 as the judgment of all has approved as worthy. Wherefore, in accordance with your request, we confirm our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop by the authority of our assent in the order of priesthood wherein he has been constituted, and declare our ratification of his consecration by sending him the pallium. And since, according to custom, we have committed to him vicariate jurisdiction in our stead, we must of necessity take the precaution of exhorting your Fraternity that you in no wise hesitate to obey him in matters pertaining to ecclesiastical order and the right course of discipline, or in other things not precluded by canonical decrees; that the soundness of your judgment in electing him may be declared by the obedience which you shew.
This Epistle, as appears from the following one, was on the occasion of the election of John to the See of Justiniana Prima in Eastern Illyricum, which, though annexed by the Emperor Gratian (379) to the Eastern Empire, had remained under the spiritual control of the Roman See. Accordingly Pope Damasus had assigned to the bishop of Thessalonica vicariate jurisdiction under Rome over the new præfecture: and this arrangement had continued to the time of Pope Vigilius, when the Emperor Justinian assigned to Achrida, called by him Justiniana Prima, Metropolitan jurisdiction over the five provinces of the Dacian civil diocese with the two Pannonias in the diocese of Illyricum Occidentale (Justin. Novell. cxxxi. c. iii.). Hence Justiniana Prima became the seat thenceforth of the ecclesiastical Vicariate also. The election to the See, being a metropolitan one, appears to have been made in this instance by the suffragan bishops with the concurrence of the Emperor; after which the Bishop of Rome was applied to for confirmation. In the case before us it was readily given, the pallium sent, and the vicariate jurisdiction renewed. A case will appear below in which such confirmation was refused, but dispensed with by the Emperor, who supported the elected bishop against the Pope. See III. 47, note 1.105b:1410
Sacerdotii, meaning here episcopacy. See I. 78, note 1.
Next: To John, Bishop.
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