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resolved to return to Rome. These two letters suggest that perhaps others of the group were given to Augustine at his second departure, but there is nothing by which we can discriminate them; and it is not of much importance, since all the letters are mere letters of introduction commending “the bearers of these presents, Augustine, the servant of God, whose zeal and piety are well known to us, and the other servants of God with him," to the good offices of the person addressed, and referring to Augustine himself for further information; they all also commend “ Candidus, a priest, to whom we have committed the care of a small patrimony of our Church.” The fact that Candidus, the Rector of the Patrimony at Marseilles, is mentioned in all the letters to be delivered along the route, seems to imply that Gregory had directed him to accompany the party and give them the advantage of his local knowledge of Gaul and its affairs. Some of the letters, however, demand a note.
In the letter to the Kings Theodoric and Theodebert, and that to their grandmother, the Regent Queen Brunhilda, Gregory addresses them by the title of Your Excellency; he pays them the rather far-fetched compliment of speaking of the Angles as their subjects; he announces as a reason for his mission that it has come to his knowledge that the nation of the Angles greatly desire to become Christian, but that the neighbouring bishops have no pastoral solicitude for them, and neglect them; therefore he has sent Augustine and others to go thither; also, he says he has directed Augustine to take with him some priests of the neighbourhood. What he means by saying that the Angles greatly desired to become
Christians it is difficult to understand; there is no known fact which justifies the statement except that the King of Kent had sought a Christian wife among the Franks. The neighbouring bishops, with whose want of pastoral zeal he finds fault, are of course the British bishops; Bede elaborates the same charge against them; there will be a better opportunity, in the sequel of the history, for considering the truth of the accusation. The priests of the neighbourhood whom Augustine is to take with him are probably Frank priests, to act as interpreters.
The importance of securing the permission and protection of the rulers of Gaul for the company of Italians passing through their territory is shown in the fact that a century later, when Archbishop Theodore and Abbot Hadrian passed through on their way to England, the abbot was stopped and detained for some time by Ebroin, the mayor of the palace, on the suspicion that he was a political emissary of the Eastern Emperor.
Augustine's mission party would, however, be tolerably sure of a good reception at court. However fierce and unscrupulous Queen Brunhilda may have been in pursuit of revenge against her enemy Fredegonda, she was a zealous supporter of religion ; she had before this been in friendly communication with the great Bishop of Rome, and would willingly forward his wishes; besides, she would have a personal interest in the enterprise. Bertha, daughter of Charibert, who had gone to Kent as the wife of its King, was her niece, and Brunhilda would therefore take a natural interest in the missionaries who were going to the court of Kent, partly trusting to the influence of Bertha for a good reception, and for the purpose of converting the Kentish men to the faith.
Then comes the letter to the Patrician Arigius. The title of Patrician, with which Eastern Emperors had graced the Barbarian Kings, whom they desired to conciliate, had by this time come down to their great officials. At this time Duke and Patrician seem to have been different titles of the same office, viz. that of commander of the armies and administrator of the royal affairs in a large territory; the latter title seems to be especially in use in the Burgundian kingdom. Arigius the Patrician was already in friendly relations with Gregory. For some years previously, when a vacancy occurred in the agency of the patrimony, Arigius, at Gregory's request, had received its income, and looked after its interests. This indicates that Arigius must have been stationed not far from Marseilles. Very probably he was the Frank official in authority in the south of France, and stationed perhaps at Arles, the chief city.
Just as the group of letters to the Bishops of Marseilles, Arles, and Aix indicate some stay in the south of France, so the two letters to the Bishops of Vienne and Lyons indicate the route of the travellers through Gaul. There was a Roman road along the left bank of the Rhone; but we think it most likely that our travellers saved themselves the toilsome march in the heat of summer by taking boat up the river; and we resume the journey with them.
At Vienne, the Roman character of the city would make them almost fancy themselves still in Italy; a portion of the portico of the ancient Forum still exists; and a temple supposed to have been dedicated to Augustus, and the remains of the theatre on the hillside, still remain. Here Augustine would present his letter of introduction to the Bishop Desiderius, and would hardly fail to be reminded that the Church of Vienne was the beginning of the Christianity of Gaul, when Pothinus and Irenæus came from the neighbourhood of Ephesus and planted the Church there. But it seems likely that the travellers would make no long stay here, since the great commercial emporium of the centre of France, Lyons, to which their ship would naturally be chartered, was only a few miles further up the river, and there they would have to halt and make arrangements for their further journey.
At Lyons they would therefore make some stay, and their letter to Bishop Ætherius would secure for them hospitality and assistance in their further arrangements. They would still, we think, prefer the convenience of water carriage; and another voyage of about one hundred miles up the Saône would bring them to Chalons, the usual residence of Queen Brunhilda and her royal grandson, Theodoric. Here again, therefore, they would halt and present their letters of introduction, and meet with a friendly reception, for, as we have seen, the able Queen was in friendly correspondence with the Bishop of Rome.
The next letter of introduction is addressed to Autun, which indicates that from Chalons the travellers would take a new departure, and would strike off north-westward. Here, therefore, the real hardships of the journey would begin, for water carriage would no longer be available, and weary marches for many days lay between them and the northern coasts of Gaul. At Autun they would
halt and deliver their introduction to Syagrius, its bishop.
Autun had been a strong fortress and a great city from the early times of the Roman occupation of Gaul ; the Roman gates, through which our travellers would pass, are fine works, and in very perfect preservation; and portions of the Roman wall and ruins of Roman buildings still remain to bear witness to its former greatness. Bishop Syagrius was a great man, a favourite of the all-powerful Queen, in correspondence with Gregory, and under recent obligations to him for the gift of the pall. Here, then, they would be certain of a welcome, and of all the aid of which they might be in need.
Two letters of introduction remain unaccounted for, first, that to Pelagius, Bishop of “Turnis."
It is an unusual way of spelling Turonensis, but there was no other Gallic See of similar name, and Pelagius was Bishop of Tours at that time; he succeeded Gregory, the famous historian of Gaul, in the previous year; so that we cannot doubt that the letter is to the new Bishop of Tours, But that city was hundreds of miles to the westward of the route which Augustine must have taken.
The remaining letter is to Arigius, Bishop of Vapincum, i.e. Gap. But Gap was a little town, 2500 feet above the sea-level, among the Alps, a couple of hundred miles to the east of their route. Arigius was a very saintly person, and a great friend of Gregory, whom he had visited in Rome; the letter may have been intended to be forwarded by messenger, by way of friendly greeting, and to inform Arigius of the interesting work in hand,