To Vincomalus, Guardian (Defensorem) 1598 .
Gregory to Vincomalus, &c.
With a view to the advantage of the Church it is our will and pleasure, that, if thou art held bound by no condition of, or liability to, bodily service, and hast not been a cleric of any other city, and if there is no canonical objection to thee, thou take the office of guardian of the Church, that thou mayest execute incorruptly and with alacrity whatever may be enjoined thee by us for the benefit of the poor, using this privilege which after deliberation we have conferred upon thee, so as to do thy diligence faithfully in accomplishing all that may be enjoined on thee by us, as having to render an account of thy doings under the judgment of our God. This epistle we have dictated, to be committed to writing, to Paterius, notary of our Church; In the month of March, Indiction 13.
We have in this epistle the form of appointment to the office of Defensor Ecclesiæ. Cf. XI. 38. From IX. 62 it appears that the functions of the office had in some cases been usurped by persons not duly authorized, as it is there ordered that none should be recognized but such as possessed letters of appointment. The only duties of the office specified in this form of appointment have reference to the poor—“pro pauperum commodis;” but it is evident from the many epistles addressed to defensores, that they had a much wider scope. See Prolegomena, p. vii.