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NPNF-212. Leo the Great, Gregory the Great
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Epistle LXXVIII.

To Leo, Bishop in Corsica.

Gregory to Leo, &c.

Our pastoral charge constrains us to come with anxious consideration to the succour of a church that is destitute of the control of a priest13911391    Sacerdotis.  The term includes bishops as well as presbyters, and is used in this and the two following Epistles, as usually elsewhere by Gregory, to denote the former in distinction from the latter.  The occasion of this and the two following Epistles will be seen to be as follows.  The See of Saona in Corsica had been for some time vacant.  It rested with the clergy and nobles of the island (see above, Ep. LXXX.), to elect a new bishop; but they had failed to do so; and consequently Gregory remedied their neglect by himself filling up the vacancy.  His right to do so would not be questioned there, Corsica as well as Sicily being among the Suburbicarian provinces which were under the acknowledged patriarchal jurisdiction of the See of Rome.  Meanwhile he also commissioned Leo, the bishop of a neighbouring See (to whom this letter is addressed), to make a visitation of the Church of Saona, and exercise episcopal authority there, till the new bishop should take possession.  There are several other Epistles, not included in this translation, appointing visitors of various churches..  And, inasmuch as we have learnt that the church of Saona for many years, since the death of its pontiff, has been thus entirely destitute, we have thought it needful to enjoin on thy Fraternity the work of visiting it, to the end that through thy ordering its welfare may be promoted.  In this church also and in its parishes we grant thee licence to ordain deacons and presbyters; concerning whom, however, let it be thy care to make diligent enquiry, that they be not personally in any respect such as are rejected by the sacred canons.  But whomsoever thy Fraternity has perceived to be worthy of so great a ministry, having ascertained that their manners and actions fit them for ordination, them, by permission of our authority, thou mayest freely promote to the aforesaid office.  We desire thee, therefore, to make use of all the property of the above named church as though thou wert its proper pontiff, until we write to thee again.  Be, then, so diligent and careful in all these matters that through thy ordering all things may, with the help of God, be salubriously arranged to the Church’s profit.


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