Collection of Letters: Detail
- Gerbert of Aurillac, archbishop of Reims
I was so affected by grief over the almost unbelievable and very criminal report, that I nearly lost the light of my eyes for weeping, but what you order, that I come to you and give you consolation, would be a good thing but it is impossible. For my days have passed, o sweet and glorious lady, and old age threatens me with the last day. Pleurisy invades my sides, my ears ring, my eyes water, my whole body is pricked by continuous stings. All this year saw me lying in bed from pain and now, barely rising again, recurring pains throw me down every other day. If some rest is given me from pains, I will not be able to forget your beneficence.
Notwthstanding, what the Nicaean synod defined about communion to persons deprived of it seems sufficient, that those who are expelled not be received by others, yet, we will comply with your order in this business with whatever is honorable and appropriate. But since the salvation of souls must be treated with great moderation, and no one should be removed overhastily from the body and blood of the son of God, through which mystery true life is lived and by the just deprivation of which the living dies, we hold it proper that that military man is worthy first of our admonition, in case he comes to his senses and satisfies your reverence. And we have already long since for these and other excesses removed him and certain others from the threshholds of the church after which they will be separated from the body of the Lord and thence from the communion of all the faithful, and by these steps he will be warned about his salvation and the people of God will be less infected by the contagion of one in the necessary shared dwelling of the military for the evil of this time, and he meanwhile will bear his malice, dishonor, and ruin alone.
Incredibili pene et nimium scelerata relatione tanto dolore affectus sum, ut lumen oculorum prope plorando amiserim, sed quia iubetis, ut vos adeam consolationemque inpendam, rem quidem bonam, sed impossibilem imperatis. Transierunt enim dies mei, o dulcis domina et gloriosa, senectus mea michi diem minatur ultimum. Latera pleuresis occupat, tinniunt aures, distillant oculi totumque corpus continuis depungitur stimulis. Totus hic annus me in lecto a doloribus decumbentem vidit, et nunc vix resurgentem recidivi dolores alternis praecipitant diebus. Quod si quid requiei a doloribus dabitur, vestri beneficii immemor esse non potero. Licet sufficere posse videatur, quod synodus Nicena de communione privatis definit, ut hi, qui abiciuntur, ab aliis non recipiantur, tamen iussioni vestre paremus cum in his tum in quibuslibet honestis et competentibus negotiis. Sed quia cum magno moderamine salus animarum tractanda est neque quisquam praepropere a corpore et sanguinefilii Dei summovendus, per quod misterium vera vivitur vita et quo iuste privatus vivens mortuus est, dignum ducimus militarem virum nostra primum ammonitione conveniendum, si forte resipiscat et vestre reverentie satisfaciat. Et nos quidem illum iamdudum pro his proque aliis excessibus a liminibus tantum ecclesie cum aliis quibusdam summovimus, post separaturi a corpore Domini ac deinde a fidelium omnium communione, ut his quibusdam gradibus sue salutis ammoneatur, et unius contagio, pro huius temporis male necessaria sub nomine militari cohabitatione, populus Dei minus inficiatur, solusque suam interim portet malitiam, ignominiam et ruinam.
Gerbert is distressed by something that has happened to the empress, but is unable to go to her because of his physical problems and illness; he cautiously agrees to do what is permissible about excommunicating someone.
MGH BDKz 2, ep.208 p.249-50; also HGF10 ep.80 p.411, and PL139 ep.210 c263 (same text except for mihi in second sentence in MGH).