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LETTER XXXVII (circa A.D. 1131)

To Magister Geoffrey, of Loretto. 5757    Geoffrey of Loretto, a most renowned doctor, afterwards Archbishop of Bordeaux. He took his name from Loretto, a place in the Diocese of Tours, close to Poitou. It was once famous for a Priory, subject to Marmoutiers. This is why Gerard of Angoulême is spoken of to Geoffrey in this Letter as “the wild beast near you.” Another derivation is “L’oratoire,” a monastery of the Cistercians in the Diocese of Angers.

1. We look for scent in flowers and for savour in fruits; and so, most dearly beloved brother, attracted by the scent of your name which is as perfume poured forth, I long to know you also in the fruit of your work. For it is not I alone, but even God Himself, who has need of no man, yet who, at this crisis, needs your co-operation, if you do not act falsely towards us. It is a glorious thing to be able to be a fellow-worker with God; but perilous to be able and not to be so. Moreover, you have favour with God and man; you have knowledge, a spirit of freedom, a speech both lively and effectual, seasoned with salt; and it is not right that with all these great gifts you should fail the bride of Christ in such danger, for you are the friend of the Bridegroom. A friend is best tried in times of need. What then? Can you continue at rest while your Mother the Church is grievously distressed? Rest has had its proper time, and holy peace has till now freely and duly 139done its own work. It is now the time for action, because they have destroyed the law. That beast of the Apocalypse (Apoc. xiii. 5–7), to whom is given a mouth speaking blasphemies, and to make war with the saints, is sitting on the throne of Peter, like a lion ready for his prey. Another5858    Gerard of Angoulême. beast also stands hissing at your side, like a whelp lurking in secret places. The fiercer here and the craftier there are met together in one against the Lord and his annointed. Let us, then, make haste to burst their bonds and cast away their cords from us.

2. I, for my part, together with other servants of God who are set on fire with the Divine flame, have laboured, with the help of God, to unite the nations and kings in one, in order to break down the conspiracy of evil men, and to destroy every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Nor have I laboured in vain. The Kings of Germany, France, England, Scotland, Spain, and Jerusalem, with all the clergy and people, side with and adhere to the Lord Innocent, like sons to a father, like the members to their head, being anxious to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. And the Church is right in acknowledging him, whose reputation is discovered to be the more honourable and whose election is found to be the more sound and regular, having the advantage as well by the merit as well as by the number of the electors. And now, brother, why do you hold back? How long will the serpent by your side lull your careless energies to repose? I know that you are a son of peace, and can by no reason be led 140to desert unity. But, of course, that alone is not enough, unless you study both to maintain it and to make war with all your might upon the disturbers thereof. And do not fear the loss of peace, for you shall be rewarded by no small increase of glory if your efforts succeed in quieting, or even silencing, that wild beast near you; and if the goodness of God, through your means, rescue from the mouth of the lion so great a prize for the Church as William, Count of Poitiers.


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