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Epistle IX.

To Antoninus, Subdeacon 1479 .

Gregory to Antoninus, &c.

It has come to our ears that Florentius, bishop of the city of Epidaurus, his property having first been seized, has been condemned, for certain crimes not proved, without a sacerdotal council.  And, inasmuch as he ought not to suffer canonical punishment, no canonical sentence having been pronounced for his condemnation, we enjoin thy Experience to urge upon our brother and fellow-bishop Natalis that he should cause the aforesaid man to be recalled from the banishment into which he is said to have been driven.  And a council of bishops having been assembled, if the charges brought against him should be canonically proved, we will that the sentence of our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop Natalis shall take effect against him.  But, should he be absolved by a general judgment, thou must not permit him to be subject to prejudice on the part of any one, and must carefully and rigorously insist on his aforesaid property being restored to him.  It is therefore needful that the heavier thou feelest the burden of such negotiations to be, with the maturer and more vigilant execution thou take pains to fulfil them.



I.e. of Dalmatia.  The case referred to in this and the preceding letter is interesting as illustrating canonical procedure against incriminated bishops.  Natalis as Metropolitan, had entertained a charge against one of his suffragans and pronounced judgment against him on his own authority.  Gregory insists that he had no right to do so except in a synod of bishops.  It appears that Natalis (as to whose character and relations to Gregory, see II. 18, and reff. in note), paid no regard in this instance to the pope’s remonstrances, and the latter found no means of enforcing his orders.  For, in a letter written five years later (a.d. 597), long after the death of Natalis, we find Gregory writing, “The inhabitants of the city of Epidaurus have most urgently demanded that Florentius, who they say is their bishop, should be restored to them by us, asserting that he had been driven into exile invalidly by the mere will of the bishop Natalis.”  (Lib. viii. Indict. i. Ep. 11).

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