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Epistle XXVIII.

To Theodore, Physician.

Gregory to Theodore, Physician at Constantinople.

My most beloved son the deacon Sabinianus17091709    Gregory’s apocrisiarius at Constantinople, and eventually his successor in the See of Rome.  See III. 53., on his return to me, brought me no letter from your Glory; but he conveyed hither what had been sent for the poor and captives; whence I understood the reason.  It was that you would not speak by letters to a man, having by a good deed made your address to Almighty God.  For this same deed of yours has a voice of its own, which calls to the secret ears of God, as it is written, Hide thy alms in the bosom of the poor, and it shall entreat for thee (Ecclus. xxix. 15).  And indeed to me, I confess, it is sad to expend what is not my own, and to add to the accounts which I keep of the substance of the Church those also of the property of my most sweet son the lord Theodore.  And yet I rejoice with your benignity that you carefully attend to and observe what the Truth says; Give alms, and behold, all things are clean unto you (Luke xi. 41); and this which is written, Even as water quencheth fire, so alms quench sin (Ecclus. iii. 33).  Paul the apostle also says, Let your abundance supply their want, that their abundance also may be a supply to your want (2 Cor. viii. 14).  Tobias admonishes his son, saying, If thou hast much, give abundantly; but if thou hast little, of that little impart willingly (Tob. iv. 9).  You therefore observe all these precepts:  but we beg you to pray for us, lest we should dispense the fruits of your labours indiscreetly, and not as need requires; lest from that whereby you diminish sins we should heap up sins.  Now may Almighty God keep you under His protection, and so grant you human favour in an earthly court as to bring you after a long life to the eternal joys of a heavenly court.

We send you as the benediction of Saint Peter, Prince of the apostles, whom you greatly love, a key from his most sacred body, in which is enclosed iron from his chains, that what bound his neck for martyrdom, may loose yours from all sins.

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