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Epistle VIII.

To Cyprian, Deacon.

Gregory to Cyprian, deacon and rector of the patrimony of Sicily.

Concerning the Manicheans who are on our possessions I have frequently admonished thy Love to press them with the utmost diligence, and recall them to the Catholic faith.  If, then, the time requires it, make enquiries in person, or, if other business does not allow this, through others.  Further, it has come to my ears that there are Hebrews on our possessions 164bwho will not by any means be converted to God.  But it seems to me that thou shouldest send letters through all our possessions on which these Hebrews are known to be, promising them particularly from me that whosoever of them shall have been converted to our true Lord God Jesus Christ shall have the burdens of his holding lightened.  And this I wish to have done in such sort that, if one has a payment to make of one solidus, a third should be remitted him; if of three or four, that one solidus should be remitted; if of any more, the remission should still be made in the same proportion, or at any rate according as thy Love sees fit, so that one who is converted may have some relief of his burden, and the Church may not be put to heavy expense.  Nor shall we do this unprofitably, if by lightening the burdens of their payments we bring them to the grace of Christ, since, though they themselves came with little faith, yet those who may be born of them will now be baptized with more faith:  thus we gain either them or their children.  And whatever amount of payment we let them off for the sake of Christ is nothing serious.  Furthermore, some time ago, when John the deacon came, thy Love wrote something to me, the whole of which I read at the time, but let many days intervene before replying; and then, after such delay, replied to all particulars as I recollected them.  But now I think that one point escaped my memory, and suspect that I gave no reply about it.  For thou hadst written that loans were being advanced to peasants (rusticis) through certain undertakers for their debt15791579    Per manus quorundam debiti conductorum.  If the word debiti(absent from some mss.) is read here, the meaning may be that certain persons, called debiti conductores, undertook the recovery of the arrears of the rustici, and that through them easy loans were advanced to such as were unable to pay at the proper time.  Cf. I. 44, p. 89.  For the ordinary meaning of conductores (without debiti), in connexion with the Church estates, see I. 44, p, 89, note 5., lest in borrowing from others they should be burdened either by exactions or by the prices of things15801580    Aut in angariis aut in rerum pretio.  The word angaria is applicable to any kind of vexatious exaction, either in the way of forced labour or in other ways.  “Per angarias intelliguntur vexationes et injuriæ quælibet.”  Du Cange.  It may be used here for exorbitant interest on loans obtained from usurers.  As to rerum pretio, cf. I. 44, p. 89, about burdatio, and note 2..  This particular was to me most acceptable; and, if indeed I have already written about it, observe what I wrote.  But if, as I suspect, I gave in my reply no definite direction on the subject, thou must not hesitate to advance money for the advantage of the peasants, since the ecclesiastical property will not thus be wasted, and out of it the peasants will derive advantage.  And, if there are other things which thou considerest to be advantageous, thou must carry them out without any hesitation.

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