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

To Januarius, Bishop.

Gregory to Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).

Theodosia, a religious lady, being desirous of carrying out the intention of her late husband Stephen by the building of a monastery15361536    See also IV. 8, and V. 2., has begged us to transmit our letters to your Fraternity, whereby, through our commendation, she may the more readily be counted worthy of your aid.  She asserts that her husband had given directions for the monastery to be constructed on the farm called Piscenas, which has come into the possession of the guest-house (Xenodochii) of the late bishop Thomas.  Now, though the possessor of the property would allow her to found it on land that is not her own, yet seeing that the Lord with reason objects15371537    The farm Piscenas appears to have been held by the tenure called Emphyteusis, according to which the possessor of the land (called also Emphyteuta) was not its real owner, though on condition of his cultivating it properly and paying certain fixed dues to the owner (dominus), he had a perpetual right of possession (jus in re), which passed to his heirs, and could be sold by him to others.  In the latter case, however, the dominus had the option of himself buying up the possessor’s right at the price offered by the proposed purchaser, and he could object to the transference of possessio to persons unable to maintain the property in good condition.  In all cases of transference, other than devolution to heirs, a fiftieth part of the purchase money, or of the value of the property, was also payable to the dominus.  (Article on Emphyteusis in Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.)  In the case before us the lord of the property seems to have refused his consent to any part of it being alienated in Mortmain to a monastery.  It may be supposed that the possession of the farm Piscenas had been in Stephen the testator himself when he directed a monastery to be founded on it, and that it had passed after his death into other hands., we have thought it right to agree to her petition; which is that she should, with the Lord’s help, construct a monastery for handmaidens of God in a house belonging to herself, which she asserts that she has at Caralis.  But, since she says that the aforesaid house is burdened by guests and visitors, we exhort thy Fraternity to take pains to assist her in all ways, and lend the aid of thy protection to her devotion, so that thy assistance and assiduity may make thee partaker of the reward of her departed husband’s earnestness and her own.  As to the relics which she requests may be placed there, we desire that they be deposited with due reverence by thy Fraternity.


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