Collection of Letters: Detail
- Gregory VII, pope
Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God to Agnes, most Christian empress, greetings and apostolic benediction.
We rejoice and exult in the Lord that the light of your activities has spread even to us, and that the results of your labors, if not quite as great as you could wish, have yet brought praise and glory to God, happiness to us, and to yourself the crown of a perfect reward. Nor should your hope be limited or checked because the desire of Your Holiness could not be perfectly fulfilled; for he who with an unwavering will ceases not to do all in his power, brings all to perfection in the sight of God.
We know for a truth that you labor mightily for peace and harmony in the Church Universal and that you desire beyond words and strive with untiring diligence for everything that can cement Empire and Papacy together in mutual charity. The most important thing for this unity of affection you have already accomplished, namely, that your son King Henry is restored to the communion of the Church and his kingdom delivered from the general peril. While he was placed outside this communion we were prevented from dealing with him by the fear of divine vengeance, but his subjects were bound up with his offense through the necessity of daily intercourse.
With regard to other and less important matters, although we have no doubt whatever that Your Poverty [sic] will be ready to act, still we are constrained to urge upon Your Highness by our faith in Christ for the revealing of your joy that you persist in such holy endeavor. We are also notifying your son that your advice and your merits have been of the greatest value and that Your Holiness will see with satisfaction how mercifully divine grace has looked upon him.
Be it further known to Your Highness that we are just now hard pressed in the cause of St. Peter, chief of the Apostles, and that your devoted Beatrice and Matilda, daughters to us both, are laboring day and night in our behalf, following your example and imitating you as faithful pupils of their lady and mistress. Through you a new example of ancient joy comes to my memory — through you, I say, I am reminded of those women who once sought their Lord in the sepulcher. For as they first of all the disciples came to the Lord's tomb in the wondrous ardor of their affeotion, so you have visited the Church of Christ laid in the sepulcher of affliction before many others — nay, before almost all the princes of the world in pious service. You strive with all your strength that she may rise again to her state of freedom and, taught as it were by angelic answers, you call others to the support of the struggling Church.
Wherefore await without anxiety the revelation of supreme glory and eternal life which is in Christ Jesus, and in the company of those women you shall enter the presence of our Savior with the angelic host and enjoy peace forever with him as your leader. Your inquiries about your daughter Matilda we have received with joy, and we congratulate Your Holiness that you are so deeply concerned for her welfare. She, in fact, is devoted to you with heart and soul and desires your glory as the joy of her own salvation. We too pray earnestly for her, and, though our own merits can little commend our prayers to God, yet we trust that, aided by the virtues of Peter, whose servant we are, they may not be wholly worthless in the sight of God.
And so, receiving your approval with all due respect, we beg you to remember both her [Matilda] and ourself in your prayers. And may we so aid each other with mutual intercession before God that the Christian love which binds us here on earth may prepare for us seats and joy together in the kingdom and presence of our Father.
Gregorius episcopus servus servorum Dei Agneti christianissime imperatrici salutem et apostolicam benedictionem.
Gaudemus et exultamus in Domino, quod lumen vestrae operationis ad nos usque resplenduit et fructus vestrae fatigationis, etsi non ad vota vestra plene cumulatus, Deo tamen ad laudem et gloriam nobis ad laetitiam vobis ad coronam perfectae remunerationis excrevit. Neque enim vestra spes ideo coartari aut submitti debet, si desiderium vestrae sanctitatis facultatem intentionis explendae non habuit, quoniam apud Deum perfecit omnia, qui voluntatem gerens integram quantum potuit operari non desiit. Scimus equidem, quod pro pace et concordia universalis ecclesiae multum laboratis et omnia, quae pontificatum et imperium glutino caritatis astringere valeant, amplius quam dici possit concupiscitis et indefessa sollicitudine queritis. Quorum quidem quod maximum est et unitati dilectionis coniunctissimum, iam peregistis, videlicet filium vestrum Heinricum regem communioni ecclesiae restitui simulque regnum eius a communi periculo liberari. Quoniam illo extra communionem posito nos quidem timor divinae ultionis secum convenire prohibuit, subditos vero sibi cotidie eius presentia quasi necessitas quaedam in culpa ligavit. Ad caetera vero quae leviora sunt licet paupertatem vestram promptam esse non dubitemus, per fiduciam tamen quam in Christo habemus gloriam vestram, ut iugiter tam sanctis studiis instet, propter revelationem gaudii vestri quodammodo exhortari impellimur scribentes vobis et sub omni certitudine notificantes prefato filio vestro vestra consilia vestraque multum merita profuisse et, quam misericorditer eum divina respiciat clementia, vestram adhuc beatitudinem cum gratulatione visuram esse. Hoc autem unde vel qualiter nobis compertum sit, cum vestram miserante Deo presentiam viderimus, patenter indicabimus.
De caetero sciat eminentia vestra nos his temporibus pro causa beati Petri apostolorum principis in labore non parvo positos et vestram in omnibus Beatricem nee non et communem filiam nostram Mathildim die noctuque in nostro multum adiutorio desudare, utpote vos sequentes vos sicut dominam et magistram discipule fideliter imitantes. Per vos itaque novum exemplum antique letitiae, per vos, inquam, ille mulieres olim querentes Dominum in monumento saepe nobis ad memoriam redeunt. Nam sicut ille pre cunctis discipulis ad sepulchrum Domini miro caritatis ardore venerunt, ita vos ecclesiam Christi quasi in sepulchro, afflictionis positam pre multis immo pene pre omnibus terrarum principibus pio amore visitatis et, ut ad statum libertatis sue resurgat, totis viribus annitentes quasi angelicis instructae responsis caeteros ad suffragium laborantis ecclesiae provocatis. Unde et revelationem supernae gloriae et aeterne vitae, quae est in Christo Iesu, non dubie expectabitis et consortes mulierum illarum presentiam Salvatoris nostri inter angelorum agmina pace perpetua fruentes ipso prestante invenietis. Quod autem de filia vestra Mathildi nos rogastis, gratanter accepimus collaudantes sanctitatem vestram, quod tanta vobis de salute illius cura est, quae quidem in vos omni desiderio et fide litatis affectu cor et animam suam effundit, gloriam vestram quasi gaudia propriae salutis exposcit. Ac nos quidem pro ea libenter oramus et, licet orationes nostras nostra Deo parum commendent merita, suffragante tamen pietate Petri, cuius servi sumus, eas in conspectu Domini non omnino vacuas esse confidimus. Vestram igitur commendationem digna veneratione suscipientes itidem vos ut illius et nostri memoriam in vestris rogamus orationibus faciatis. Et mutuis nos apud Deum iuvemus intercessionibus, quatenus hic in Christo conexa caritas unam et communem nobis in regno patris nostri ipso prestante sedem pariat et laetitiam.
Data in expeditione ad Sanctum Flabianum XVII. Kalendas Iulii, Indictione XII.
Gregory sent Agnes with two cardinals as a papal legation to her excommunicated son, emperor Henry IV, and wrote to her while she was there, recognizing her labor and sollicitude for the church and congratulating her on what she had accomplished. The Matilda he speaks of is Matilda of Tuscany who, like her mother Beatrice, was a staunch supporter of the reform papacy. This is the only letter I have seen from Gregory to Agnes, who spent so much of her time in Rome. There is one to her daughter Judith, queen of the Hungarians, in which Gregory speaks of the comfort Agnes has given him for his troubles with the world. He sorrows and prays for Judith in her current anguish, praises her for not giving in to adversity, and assures her he has discussed her situation with her mother as she asked (ep.2.44, 1075).
(1) Translation from The Correspondence of Pope Gregory VII, Selected Letters from the Registrum, trans. Ephraim Emerton, Records of Civilization (New York: Columbia University Press, 1932, repr. 1990). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
MGH, Epistolae Selectae, Das Register Gregors VII, ed. Erich Caspar, ep.1.85, p.121-23; translation from The Correspondences of Pope Gregory VII, Selected Letters from the Registrum, trans. Ephraim Emerton, pp.36-37(1)