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Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard

Translation

124 Alas! Unfortunate mortals! How blind we are!
For we must see that we have lost our senses.
We are so burdened by our sins,
They make us completely forget the right way to live,
Through this holy man we must recover our sight.
 
620
125 My lords, let us remember this holy man,
And let us pray to him to deliver us from all evil,
That in this world he may obtain for us peace and joy,
And in the next everlasting glory!
On this note let us say: Our Father.
625
  Amen.  
 (Note: Some editors, notably G. Paris (1872), use no punctuation at the end of line 624. They take the sense to run into line 625. The translation of their reading is:
And in the next world everlasting glory
In the Word itself. And so let us say: Our Father.)
 

 

Letter of Pope Gregory, Latin version
See here the reply to holy Gregory to Secundinus the hermit who was asking for an explanation about pictures: It is one thing to worship a picture; another to learn, through the story of a picture, what is to be worshipped. For the thing that writing conveys to those who read, that is what a picture shows to the illiterate; in the picture itself those who are ignorant see what they ought to follow. In [the picture] itself those who are unacquainted with letters [are able to] read. Whence, and particularly among common folk, a picture serves in place of reading. And towards this especially you, who dwell among the peoples, ought to direct your attention, much rather than that you should inadvertently inflame trouble by your righteous zeal; and through headstrong spirits you should give rise to a stumbling block. Therefore there has been no need for the breaking down of what was not intended for worship in the churches. But it is agreed to keep in place what is purely and simply for instructing the minds of the ignorant; also because, in venerable places belonging to saints, antiquity has sanctioned, not without reason, that their stories should be depicted. If you hide your zeal with prudence, without doubt you might be able both to obtain advantageously those things which you were intent upon, and avoid scattering the collected flock. But rather you might gather them together, so that the undefiled name of shepherd may flourish, and the reproach of [being] a destroyer not weigh upon you.

Letter of Pope Gregory, Old French version
Here is the reply of holy Gregory to Secundinus the hermit when he asked for a reason for pictures.
It is one thing to worship a picture and another to learn from the story of a picture what is to be worshipped. For what writing conveys to those who can read, a picture shows to the ignorant, for in a picture the ignorant can see what they ought to follow. In a picture those who are unacquainted with letters are able to read and for that very reason a picture is like a lesson for the people. This is something that you who live among the people should have understood lest while you are heedlessly inflamed by righteous zeal you create a stumbling block through headstrong spirits. Scarcely anything should be destroyed so that nothing remains to be worshipped in churches. But rather [it is agreed to keep in place what is only] for instructing the minds of the ignorant, also because the Ancients, not without good reason, directed that stories should be depicted in the venerable places of the Saints. If you exercised your zeal discreetly without doubt you could obtain advantageously those things which you were intent upon and yet not scatter the collected flock, but rather you might gather them together so that the undefiled name of shepherd may flourish, and the guilt of [being] a destroyer should have no part therein.

Transcription

Las malfeuz cum esmes avoglez · quer có veduns que tuit sumes desvez · / de noz pechez sumes si ancumbrez · la dreite vide nus funt tresoblier · / par cest saint home doussum
ralumer · Aiuns seignors cel saint home/ en memorie · si li preiuns que de toz mals nos tolget · en icest siecle nus/ acat pais e glorie · & en cel altra la plus durable glorie · en ipse v[er]be/ sin dimes · pat[er] n[oste]r · am[en] · [E missing]cce responsu[m] s[an]c[t]i gregorii secundino incluso/ Aliud est picturam adorare · aliud //ratione[m] de pict[ur]is int[er]roganti · /
per picture historia[m] quid sit adorandu[m] addiscere · Nam quod legentib[us]/
scriptura hoc ignotis prestat pictura · q[u]a in ipsa ignorantes vident quid/ sequi debeant · In ipsa legunt qui litteras nesciunt · Unde & precipue/ gentibus pro lectione pictura est · Quod magnopere tu qui inter gentes/ habitas adtendere debueras · ne dum recto zelo incaute succenderis · ferocibus/ animis scandalum generares · frangi go [ergo? er missing] non debuit quod non ad adorandum/ in eccl[es]iis · set ad instruendas solum modo mentes nescientium constat collocatu[m]/ & quia in locis venerabilib[us] s[an]c[t]orum depingi historias non sine ratione/ vetustas admisit · si zelum discrecione condisses · sine dubio & ea que intende/bas salubrit[er] obtinere & collectum gregem non disperdere · set pocius poteras/ congregare · ut pastoris intemeratum nomen excelleret non culpa disp[er]soris/ incumberet · [E missing]ste vus le respuns saint gregorie a secundin le reclus/ //cum il demandout raison des/ // paintures
Altra cóse est aurier la painture/ e altra cose est par le historie de la painture ap[re]ndre/ quela cóse seit ad aurier · kar ico que la scripture aprestet/ as lisanz · icó aprestet la painture as ignoranz · kar an icele veient/ les ignoranz quet il deivent sivre · An icele lisent icels ki letres ne sevent · / ampur laquele cóse maismement la peinture est pur leceun as genz · / Laquele cóse tu q[u]i habites entra les genz deuses antendra · que tu n’angendrasses/ scandale de crueles curages dementiers que tu esbraseras nient cuintement/ par dreit amvidie · Geres nient ne deut
aluiet [scribal interlinear correction]
estra fruissiet icó que nient ne/ parmaint ad aurier an eglises · mais ad anstruire sulement les penses/ des nient savanz · e ampur icó que l’ancienetiet nient senz raisun cuman/dat les hystories estra depaint es honurables lius des sainz · se tu feisses/ amvidie par discrecion · senz dutance poeies salvablem[en]t purtenir les cóses/ que tu attendeies e nient dep[er]dra la cuileita folc · mais maisment ase[m]blier/ que le nient fraint num de pastur excellist · e nient an i oust la culpa del/ dep[er]dethur · /

Translation

124 Alas! Unfortunate mortals! How blind we are!
For we must see that we have lost our senses.
We are so burdened by our sins,
They make us completely forget the right way to live,
Through this holy man we must recover our sight.
 
620
125 My lords, let us remember this holy man,
And let us pray to him to deliver us from all evil,
That in this world he may obtain for us peace and joy,
And in the next everlasting glory!
On this note let us say: Our Father.
625
  Amen.  
 (Note: Some editors, notably G. Paris (1872), use no punctuation at the end of line 624. They take the sense to run into line 625. The translation of their reading is:
And in the next world everlasting glory
In the Word itself. And so let us say: Our Father.)
 

 

Letter of Pope Gregory, Latin version
See here the reply to holy Gregory to Secundinus the hermit who was asking for an explanation about pictures: It is one thing to worship a picture; another to learn, through the story of a picture, what is to be worshipped. For the thing that writing conveys to those who read, that is what a picture shows to the illiterate; in the picture itself those who are ignorant see what they ought to follow. In [the picture] itself those who are unacquainted with letters [are able to] read. Whence, and particularly among common folk, a picture serves in place of reading. And towards this especially you, who dwell among the peoples, ought to direct your attention, much rather than that you should inadvertently inflame trouble by your righteous zeal; and through headstrong spirits you should give rise to a stumbling block. Therefore there has been no need for the breaking down of what was not intended for worship in the churches. But it is agreed to keep in place what is purely and simply for instructing the minds of the ignorant; also because, in venerable places belonging to saints, antiquity has sanctioned, not without reason, that their stories should be depicted. If you hide your zeal with prudence, without doubt you might be able both to obtain advantageously those things which you were intent upon, and avoid scattering the collected flock. But rather you might gather them together, so that the undefiled name of shepherd may flourish, and the reproach of [being] a destroyer not weigh upon you.

Letter of Pope Gregory, Old French version
Here is the reply of holy Gregory to Secundinus the hermit when he asked for a reason for pictures.
It is one thing to worship a picture and another to learn from the story of a picture what is to be worshipped. For what writing conveys to those who can read, a picture shows to the ignorant, for in a picture the ignorant can see what they ought to follow. In a picture those who are unacquainted with letters are able to read and for that very reason a picture is like a lesson for the people. This is something that you who live among the people should have understood lest while you are heedlessly inflamed by righteous zeal you create a stumbling block through headstrong spirits. Scarcely anything should be destroyed so that nothing remains to be worshipped in churches. But rather [it is agreed to keep in place what is only] for instructing the minds of the ignorant, also because the Ancients, not without good reason, directed that stories should be depicted in the venerable places of the Saints. If you exercised your zeal discreetly without doubt you could obtain advantageously those things which you were intent upon and yet not scatter the collected flock, but rather you might gather them together so that the undefiled name of shepherd may flourish, and the guilt of [being] a destroyer should have no part therein.

 

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