When the hearts of catholic kings, &c. 208
For the rest of this epistle see preceding Epistle IX., with which, mutatis mutandis, it is identical, as was Epistle VIII., save for an additional paragraph given under Epistle VIII. See what has been said with regard to that Epistle. The genuineness, or at any rate the freedom from interpolation, of all these three Epistles is disputed. The Benedictine Editors of Gregorys works defend their authenticity. See their note (b) to Ep. VIII (Patrologiæ Tomus LXVII. Sancti Gregorii Magni tomus tertius). The purport of all three letters is to confer privileges on, and provide for the future security and regulation of, three recent foundations of Queen Brunechild at Augustodunum (Autun); viz. 1. A hospital, or guest-house (xenodochium) in Autun, over which a Senator, described as “presbyter and abbot,” had been appointed to preside; 2. A monastery for women, of which Thalassia had been appointed Abbess; 3. The Church of St. Martin in the suburbs, over which Lupo, “presbyter and abbot,” presided. These foundations are referred to, though not described, in Epistle VI. to Brunechild herself, where Gregory speaks of having issued decrees for their protection in the future, which he desires should be kept among the royal archives. In those times of continual conflict among the Frank potentates royal founders might naturally wish to protect their foundations from disturbance by means of spiritual fulminations; and the queens desire in this respect might account for the anathemas in these epistles, which have been said to be characteristic of a later age than that of Gregory. It may be observed further that the appointment of the heads of these religious institutions is, in the letters before us, reserved to “the kings of the province” instead of free election, subject to episcopal approval, being left to the inmates, as was usual in other cases. This might be due, if the letters are genuine, to the request of Brunechild, whom, as a staunch Catholic and a supporter of the Church, Gregory ever shews himself anxious to conciliate. With regard to his politic flattery of her, or of others similarly situated, cf. VI. 5, note 4.
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