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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Epistle XXXVIII.

To Libertinus, Præfect 1491 .

Gregory to Libertinus, Præfect of Sicily.

From the very beginning of your administration God has willed you to go forth to vindicate His cause, and of His mercy has reserved for you this reward, with praise attending it.  For it is reported that one Nasas, a most wicked Jew, has with a temerity that calls for punishment erected an altar under the name of the blessed Elias, and by sacrilegious seduction has enticed many Christians to worship there; nay, has also, it is said, acquired Christian slaves, and devoted them to his own service and profit.  Whilst, then, he ought to have been most severely punished for such great crimes, the glorious Justinus 1492 , soothed (as has been written to us) by the charm of avarice, put off avenging the injury done to God.  But let your Glory institute a strict examination into all these things, and, if it should be found manifest that such things have been done, make haste to visit p. 132b them most strictly and corporally on this wicked Jew, in such sort that you may thereby both conciliate the favour of God to yourself, and shew yourself by this example, to your own reward, a model to posterity.  Moreover, set at liberty, without any equivocation, according to the injunctions of the laws 1493 , whatever Christian slaves it shall appear that he has acquired; lest (which God forbid) the Christian religion should be polluted by being subjected to Jews.  Do you therefore with all speed correct these things most strictly, that not only may we give thanks to you for this discipline, but also bear testimony to your goodness in case of need.



In some mss. prætori, in others exprætori.  It seems probable from the contents of this letter that Libertinus had succeeded Justinus (see I. 2) as prætor of Sicily.


See I. 2.


In Cod. lib. 1, tit. 10; “Judæus servum Christianum nec comparare debebit, nec largitatis aut alioquocunque titulo consequetur.  Quod si aliquis Judæorum…, non solum mancipii damno multetur, verum etiam capitali sententia puniatur.”  Eusebius also (De Vita Constantini, lib. iv. c. 27) speaks of a law passed by Constantine forbidding Jews to have Christian slaves, and ordering any that might be found to be set at liberty, and the Jew to be fined.  Cf. II. 21.

Next: Epistle XLV