Pope Gregory II Invests Boniface with the Pallium, 732

Pope Gregory IIGregory, the servant of the servants of God, to our most reverend and holy brother Bishop Boniface, sent by this apostolic Church of God for the enlightenment of the German people who live in the shadow of death, steeped in error.

It was a source of great satisfaction to us to learn from a repeated reading of your letter that by the grace of God many heathens have turned away from error and embraced the truth. And because we are taught in the parable that he to whom five talents was given gained also another five, we, and the whole Church with us, congratulate you on your success. Hence we have sent the sacred pallium to you as a gift, desiring with the authority of the Apostolic See that you accept it and wear it; and it is our wish that you be recognized as one of the archbishops divinely appointed. How you are to use it you will learn from the instructions of the Apostolic See, namely: you must wear it only during the celebration of Mass and when in the course of your episcopal duty you consecrate a bishop.

But since, as you say, you are unable to deal with all the matters involved in imparting the means of salvation to the multitudes of those who, by the grace of God, have been converted in those parts, we command you in virtue of our apostolic authority to consecrate bishops wherever the faithful have increased. This you must do in accordance with the sacred canons, choosing men of tried worth so that the dignity of the episcopate may not fall into disrepute.

As regards the priest whom you say came to us and was absolved from his nefarious crimes, we would like you to know that he made no confession to us, nor did he receive absolution so that he could pursue his lustful desires. If you find that he has fallen into error again we command you by the authority of the Holy See to correct and discipline him in accordance with the sacred canons, as also any other person you should meet like him. For when he came here he said, “I am a priest “, and he asked for letters of recommendation to our son Charles. We gave him no other favour. If his conduct is blameworthy we desire you to shun him, together with the rest.

Those whom you say were baptized by pagans and the case is proved should be baptized again in the name of the Trinity.

You say, among other things, that some eat wild horses and many eat tame horses. By no means allow this to happen in future, but suppress it in every possible way with the help of Christ and impose a suitable penance upon offenders. It is a filthy and abominable custom.

You ask for advice on the lawfulness of making offerings for the dead. The teaching of the Church is this-that every man should make offerings for those who died as true Christians and that the priest should make a commemoration of them [at Mass]. And although all are liable to fall into sin, it is fitting that the priest should make a commemoration and intercede for them. But he is not allowed to do so for those who die in a state of sin even if they were Christians.

It is our command that those who doubt whether they were baptized or not should be baptized again, as also those who were baptized by a priest who sacrifices to Jupiter and partakes of sacrificial offerings. We decree that each one must keep a record of his consanguinity to the seventh degree.

If you are able, forbid those whose wives have died to enter into second marriages.

We declare that no one who has slain his father, mother, brother or sister can receive the Holy Eucharist except at the point of death. He must abstain from eating meat and drinking wine as long as he lives. He must fast on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and thus with tears wash away the crime he has committed.

Among other difficulties which you face in those parts, you say that some of the faithful sell their slaves to be sacrificed by the heathen. This, above all, we urge you to forbid, for it is a crime against nature. Therefore, on those who have perpetrated such a crime you must impose a penance similar to that for culpable homicide.

As often as you consecrate a bishop, let two or three other bishops join with you so that what you do may be pleasing to God, may be done with their assistance and sanctioned by their presence.

These matters, dearest brother, we wish you carefully to observe. Pursue the work of salvation on which you have so piously embarked so that you may receive from our Lord God the eternal reward of your labours.

The privilege for which you asked is sent together with this letter. We pray God that under His protection you may achieve complete success in turning the heathens from the errors of their ways. May God protect you from harm, most reverend brother.