Catalog of Christian Texts

The following table lists Christian texts from church history, by author and the title of the work. Many good series exist (see below) but it can be challenging to find all the editions for a particular author. It is often even more difficult to locate English translations. This table is an attempt to consolidate that information and make it easily accessible.

The table allows you to search and filter on various metadata fields (see instructions below). It began as a project to catalog English translations that are in the public domain. Along the way, as I came to realize how few English translations exist we have. Further, most are under copyright. As I find texts or as I have time, I try to include them here with links to purchase them. Many of these links are affiliate links. I don’t use advertising on this site and maintain it at my own expense. If you purchase from an affiliate link, I may earn a small commission. This helps offset my costs, but it doesn’t cost you anything additional. Please use the Contact form to report problems, provide feedback, or let me know of texts that can be added, especially English translations.

Published series of Christian texts

English language

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS) – A canonically organized 29-volume set of key writings of the early church fathers that employs the RSV in the early commentary tradition known as the glossa ordinaria. ACCS is an ecumenical project that is intended to promote a vital link of communication between the varied Christian traditions of today and their common ancient ancestors in the faith.

Ancient Christian Texts – A series of 17 volumes, many of which are first-time English translations.

Ancient Christian Writers (ACW) – Series of approximately 70 volumes from the Catholic Paulist Press. As with other English language series listed here, many of the volumes are the only translation available.

The Fathers of the Church (TFC) – From the Catholic University of America Press, there are two main sub-series: A New Translation and Medieval Continuations. In total, there are approximately 154 volumes.

Loeb Classical Library (LCL) – An extensive collection (550+) of pocket volumes of English translations of important Christian and non-Christian Greek and Latin literature. It includes epic and lyric poetry; tragedy and comedy; history, travel, philosophy, and oratory; the great medical writers and mathematicians; and those Church fathers who made particular use of pagan culture.

Popular Patristics – A series that aims to provide readable and accurate translations of a broad range of early Christian texts for a wide audience including students of Christian history and theology, and lay Christians.

Other languages

Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (CSEL) – An academic series that publishes critical editions of Latin works by late-antique Christian authors from the late 2nd century until the beginning of the 7th century. A list of out-of-copyright editions that are accessible online is here.

Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte (GCS) – German Critical Edition Texts. The series title in English is: “The Greek Christian Writers of the First Centuries.” Many of the texts are now in the public domain.

Patrologiae Cursus Completus. Series Latina (PL or MPL) – A 19th century collection of Latin critical edition texts produced under the direction of Jacques Paul Migne, a French Roman Catholic priest. There are 230 volumes that span the years 230 – 1216 AD. All of the texts are in the public domain, readily available online, and serve as the basis for most of the English translations of the church fathers known to modern readers. It should be noted that, while the PL and it’s sister set the PG (below) are widely known and used, they often contain mistakes and do not comply with modern standards of scholarship. See here for a helpful perspective on Migne’s PL/PG and the translations derived from them.

Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca (PG or MPG) – The Greek equivalent of the PL (see above). It contains 161 volumes.

Sources Chrétiennes (SC) – A bilingual collection of patristic texts edited by the Institut des Sources Chrétiennes and published in Paris. The texts are critical editions with Greek or Latin on the left and the French translation on the facing page. The series has over 600 works by Greek, Latin and some Syriac authors.


Use the search box to search for text in the Author, Title, and Notes fields. Results can be filtered by a number of metadata fields, some of which are not displayed in the table (e.g. Authenticity and Patriarchate). The following filters are available:

  • Authenticity – The general scholarly consensus regarding the authenticity of the original document. Options are: Genuine, Dubious, and Spurious
  • Location – Whether the original author was more prominent in the East (typically Greek speaking) or West (typically Latin speaking) Empire
  • Patriarchate – The region the author was from, as represented by the “see” (political division of the Roman Empire) where a monarchical episcopate eventually emerged. Options are: Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome.
Author/TextAuthenticityWrittenPublished (lang, date)Original language:Series:Volume:Notes:AccessibilityCitation:Read online:Download/Preview:Purchase:Text:
Augustine, Saint (354-430)Confessions I: Books 1-8Genuine39701912EnglishLatinConfessions, composed ca. 397, is a spiritual autobiography of Augustine’s early life, family, personal and intellectual associations, and explorations of alternative religious and theological viewpoints as he moved toward his conversion. Cast as a prayer addressed to God, though always conscious of its readers, Confessions offers a gripping personal story and a philosophical exploration destined to have broad and lasting impact, all delivered with Augustine’s characteristic brilliance as a stylist. (source)Public DomainRouse, William Henry Denham. St. Augustine's Confessions. United Kingdom, W. Heinemann, 1912.Archive | GoogleHarvard University Press | Amazon | Abe Books (may be newer editions)Rome
Augustine, Saint (354-430)Confessions II: Books 9-13Genuine39701912EnglishLatinConfessions, composed ca. 397, is a spiritual autobiography of Augustine’s early life, family, personal and intellectual associations, and explorations of alternative religious and theological viewpoints as he moved toward his conversion. Cast as a prayer addressed to God, though always conscious of its readers, Confessions offers a gripping personal story and a philosophical exploration destined to have broad and lasting impact, all delivered with Augustine’s characteristic brilliance as a stylist. (source)Public DomainGoogle | ArchiveHarvard University Press | Amazon | Abe BooksRome
Augustine, Saint (354-430)The Confessions of Saint AugustineGenuine39701907EnglishLatinTranslated by Edward B. Pusey, D.D.Public DomainPusey, Edward Bouverie. The Confessions of St. Augustine. United States, Collier, 1909.CCELGoogle | ArchiveRomeNoN/A
Augustine, Saint (354-430)The Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)Genuine39702009EnglishLatinTranslated by Henry Chadwick.Augustine. The Confessions: With an Introduction and Contemporary Criticism. United States, Ignatius Press, 2012.AmazonRomeNo
Clement of Rome, St. (?-99)I ClementGenuine9901912EnglishGreekTranslated by: Lake, Kirsopp, 1872-1946

From the intro: he writing which has always been known by this name is clearly, from internal evidence, a letter sent by the church of Rome to the church of Corinth in consequence of trouble in the latter community which had led to the deposition of certain Presbyters. The church of Rome writes protesting against this deposition, and the partizanship which has caused it.
Public DomainThe Apostolic Fathers: I. Clement. II. Clement. Ignatius. Polycarp. Didache. Barnabas. United Kingdom, Putnam, 1919..Archive | GoogleRomeNo
Clement of Rome, St. (?-99)II ClementGenuine1301601912EnglishGreekTranslated by: Lake, Kirsopp, 1872-1946

From the intro: The so-called second epistle of Clement is found in the two Greek MSS. (AC) of I. Clement, and in the Syriac version (S), but it is not in the Latin or Coptic versions (LK), and it is never quoted by Clement of Alexandria, though apparent reminiscences of its language have given rise to the view that he was acquainted with it. It is clear from the MS. tradition that at least as early as the fifth century, and probably earlier, it was in some circles closely associated with I. Clement, though this was not the case in the Coptic church, which perhaps represents early Alexandrian tradition, or in the Latin Church. Western writers do, it is true, seem to speak of a "second epistle" of Clement, but they refer not to our II. Clement, but to the pseudepigraphic epistle of Clement to James.
Public DomainThe Apostolic Fathers: I. Clement. II. Clement. Ignatius. Polycarp. Didache. Barnabas. United Kingdom, Putnam, 1919..Archive | GoogleRomeNo
Rufinus, Tyrannius (345-410)A Commentary on the Apostles' CreedGenuine40401916EnglishLatinTranslated by Ernest F. Morison.  Rufinus was a Presbyter of Aquileia. This is based on a Latin text previously prepared and published by the same author.Public DomainArchiveNo
Rufinus, Tyrannius (345-410)A Commentary on the Apostles' CreedGenuine40401955EnglishLatinAncient Christian Writers (ACW)Translated by J.N.D. Kelly.  Rufinus was a Presbyter of Aquileia. His most important work, aimed at persons under instruction for the sacraments, the Commentary offers a guide to elucidating and justifying the Creed. It offers a glimpse of popular Christian propaganda at the beginning of the fifth century.Public DomainA Commentary on the Apostles' Creed. United Kingdom, Newman Press, 1954.Archive | GoogleNo
Bernard, of Clairvaux, Saint (1090-1153)Cantica Canticorum: Eighty-six Sermons on the Song of SolomonGenuine01895EnglishLatinPublic DomainCantica Canticorum: Eighty-six Sermons on the Song of Solomon. United Kingdom, E. Stock, 1895.GoogleNo
Augustine, Saint (354-430)The Retractationes of Saint AugustineGenuine42601946EnglishLatinTranslated by Eller, Meredith FreemanPublic DomainArchiveRomeNo
Augustine, Saint (354-430)The RetractationsGenuine42601968EnglishLatinThe Fathers of the Church (TFC)Translated by Sr. Mary Inez Bogan R.S.M.CopyrightedAmazonRomeNo
Justin MartyrFirst ApologyGenuine1501601912Greek/EnglishGreekUseful discussions of the Greek and translation of numerous passages, including those about the Eucharist.Public DomainKaye, John. The First Apology of Justin Martyr. Addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius. Prefaced by Some Account of the Writings and Opinions of Justin Martyr. United Kingdom, J. Grant, 1912.1912Google BooksNo
Nicholas I, Pope (820-867)Letter to Ermentrud of Orleans (862, Nov.24)Genuine8620UnknownLatin/EnglishLatin

Historical Context:

This letter and ep.7 from the pope to her husband deal with the public and personal matter of their daughter’s third marriage. Judith, who had been married first to AEthelwulf, king of Wessex, then to his son AEthelbald, both times childless and widowed, eloped with Baldwin of Flanders. When her father Charles accused Baldwin of abduction and demanded the return of his daughter, the pope interceded with both parents and the marriage stood.(1) To Charles, Nicholas wrote in political as well as personal religious terms: he reminds Charles that Baldwin is his vassal, that he has sought the aid of Peter and Paul rather than of earthly kings, that is, he has not shifted his allegiance and wants to remain loyal, that though he married Judith without Charles’s consent, she was willing and loves him over others. Nicholas was afraid that Baldwin might go over to the Normans, enemies of the church and of Charles and constitute a threat to God’s people whom Charles should be protecting, and thereby to Charles’s soul. To Ermentrude, Nicholas uses a maternal image of the church and appeals to her own maternal instinct and her compassion for repentant sinners.
Epistoae: Medieval Women's Letters

Translated letter:

Nicholas bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Ermentrud queen. The universe of faithful people from various parts of the world, of whatever rank or age, if they are perchance held back by any bonds of crime or fear of their elders, have recourse to this holy Roman church mother of all lands, that they might obtain a salutary remedy, and from her they beg with humble prayer to receive salvation not only of the soul but also of the body, as is evident to all. To the many of whom, strengthened and supported divinely by the authority and documents of the holy fathers, she administers comfort with maternal love and in compassion rarely refuses to offer the paps of consolation to be sucked. And since this Baldwin, who seized your dearest daughter against the sanctions of divine laws, recognized that he was among them [guilty people], presented himself plaintively at the threshhold of the holy apostles with tearful and sad prayers and so that he might receive apostolic help for such a crime, nonetheless weeping sought to come into the presence of our apostolacy. When we learned of his lamentable petition, full of such crime, what the Lord said through the prophet came to mind: “I wanted mercy not sacrifice” [Hosea 6:6] We were merciful and had these letters of apostolic sollicitude made for your beloved industry in Christ and sent our messengers, Radoald and John, our beloved most reverend and holy bishops, to your splendor for him, through whom we beg most strenuously that said Baldwin, as he desires to obtain from your magnificence through the intercessions of the apostles, he may be able to take grace for the love of God and resume the consolation with the announcements of our papacy from his affection, so that he who does not doubt that he departed from the norm of equity through his unhappy fault might know the healing of the apostles and might obtain with your help pardoning force from your lord. May the right hand of supernal majesty protect you and deign to guard you always from all adversities and stains.

Original letter:

Nicholaus Episcopus Servus Servorum Dei Hirmintrudae Reginae. Fidelium universitas gentium ex variis mundi partibus, cuiuscumque sint ordinis vel aetatis, si qua forte criminis nexa vel seniorum suorum formidine detinentur, ad hanc sanctam omnium terrarum matrem Romanam ecclesiam, ut salutare percipiant remedium, recurrunt et ab ea non solum animae, sed et corporis salvationem, ut omnibus patet, humili prece suscipere precantur. Quibus multis divinitus fulta auctoritatibus et sanctorum patrum roborata documentis materno amore solamina sumministrat et sugenda ubera consolationis compatiendo inferre minime recusat. Et quia hic Balduinus, qui carissimam filiam vestram contra divinarum legum sancciones rapuit, de his se esse recognovit, liminibus sanctorum apostolorum lacrimosis mestisque precibus lugubriter se obtulit et, ut pro tanto crimine apostolicam opem acciperet, nostro apostolatui nihilominus flendo se praesentari quaesivit. Cuius cum lamentabilem et tanto scelere plenam cognovissemus petitionem, ad mentem rediit, quod per prophetam Dominus dicit: “Misericordiam volui et non sacrificium.” Miserti fuimus et hos vestrae in Christo dilectae industriae apostolicae sollicitudinis apices fieri statuimus missosque etiam Radoaldum et Iohannem reverentissimos et sanctissimos episcopos, diliciosos nostros, pro eo vestrae claritati direximus, per quos obnixius deprecamur, ut praefatus Balduinus, quam apud vestram per apostolorum intercessiones desiderat magnificentiam obtinere, pro Dei amore gratiam percipere valeat et de sui affectione nostri praesulatus oraculis consolationem resumat, quatenus ut, qui se per infelicem culpam a norma aequitatis declinare non ambigit, medelam apostolorum agnoscat et apud seniorem vestrum venialem vobis iuvantibus vigorem obtineat. Dextera vos supernae protegat maiestatis et ab omnibus semper adversitatibus maculisque cutodire dignetur.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
Nicholas I, Pope (820-867)Letter from Nicholas I, pope to Ermentrud of Orleans (863, Oct.)Genuine8630Latin/EnglishLatin

Historical context:

Ermentrud apparently sent the pope two letters asking him to hear her husband in the case of bishop Rothad to which he replies that he is unable to postpone action unless the man is first restored to his position. From his indignant response to her assurance that no harm, but only increase of privilege would come to the church, one assumes he took it as a combined threat and attempted bribe.
Copyrighted (shareable)Epistoae: Medieval Women's Letters

Translated letter:

Nicholas bishop, servant of the servants of God to his beloved Ermentrud, glorious queen. The letters of your love, dearest daughter, exhorting us that we should hear the glorious king Charles, your husband, also our beloved son, the case of bishop Rothad, we have received now a second time. For which, believe me, we are much anguished and pressured on all sides, since we can not persuade you to feel one with us in what you wish, nor again is the case such that we can postpone in any way without offence to God. Truly, daughter, as I may say with your charity, judge yourself rather if it is more fitting to obey God than men. Yet we do not suffer the case of Rothad to be left undiscussed, with life obliging, in the power of God unless the venerable man shall have been first restored to honor and rank, before his case is presented to be decided in our special presence. To whom, I ask, in the whole world of your kingdom, if he ever claimed damage or harm to your sublimity would you postpone his call and not rather avenge the injuries with strict punishment? And should we, as you seem to exhort, not listen to the call of blood of our brother? How shall we stop our ears to his complaints, when we are vehemently terrified that our prayer may be execrable because of this and we call out, as it is written, and are not heard? Certainly out of the sollicitude which we have for the universal church of God, and for the special care which we have to all our brothers principally, even if none complained or called on us, we should have the highest diligence to seek and help with studious zeal. What you wrote, however, that if we listened to our son, there would be no harm but advantage to our church in privileges: we most certainly believe that the privileges of the holy Roman church can sustain no harm, nor can the planting which the heavenly father planted be uprooted, nor can the foundations which the highest architect put in place be moved no matter who or what floods attempt it. Nevertheless, dearest daughter, a great danger remains as much for those who allow their disagreements to diminish her in any way, as for those who strive to violate her by their presumption. About hearing or not hearing our son Charles, your husband, we have sent through our venerable deacon Liudo an explanation we think suitable to you. Truly we, whatever we send to him admonishing or exhorting or even reproving, we do not doubt his salvation or that of his loved ones nor that he will succeed in the keeping his kingdom safe, rather we entrust it altogether to God as author. May divine majesty keep your serenity unharmed, dearest daughter.

Original letter:

Nicholaus episcopus servus servorum dei dilectae Hirmintrudi gloriosae reginae.

Litteras dilectionis vestrae, filia karissima, ut gloriosum regem Karolum, virum vestrum, nostrum autem dilectum filium, in causa Rothadi episcopi exaudiamus, nos ortantes ecce nunc secundo suscepimus. Pro que re, mihi credite, multum anxiamur multumque undique coartamur, quoniam nec nos possumus vobis, ut nobiscum de illo unum sentiatis id ipsumque velitis, suadere, nec rursus causa talis est, quam sine offensione Dei nos valeamus utcumque postponere. Verum, filia, ut cum caritate vestra dicam, si oporteat oboedire Deo magis quam hominibus, ipsa potius iudica. Nos autem causam Rothadi in virtute Dei non patiemur vita comite indiscussam relinqui, praeter si ante idem venerabilis vir pristino fuerit honori ac dignitati redditus, quam coram nostra speciali praesentia decernenda causa ipsius extiterit praesentata. Quis, rogo, in toto orbe regni vestri Iesus aut ledendus clamaret umquam ad sublimitatem vestram, cuius vos vocem postponeretis et non magis ultione districta ipsius iniurias vindicaretis? Et nos, quo modo ortari videmini, ut vocem sanguinis fratris nostri non exaudiamus? Aut quomodo obturabimus aures ad clamores illius, cum vehementer paveamus, ne nostra ob hoc fiat oratio execrabilis clamemusque, sicut scriptum est, et non exaudiamur? Certe pro sollicitudine, quam circa universam Dei ecclesiam retinemus, et pro speciali cura, quam circa cunctos fratres nostros principaliter habemus, etiamsi numquam clamasset, numquam vocasset, a nobis summa diligentia quaeri et competenti debuerat studio adiuvari.

Quod autem scripsistis, quia, si exaudiamus filium nostrum, non detrimentum, sed augmentum ecclesiae nostrae privilegiis generetur: nos certissime credimus, quia privilegia sanctae Romanae ecclesiae nullum possunt sustinere detrimentum nec plantatio, quam caelestis pater plantavit, eradicari nec fundamenta, quae summus posuit architectus, queant quibuslibet et quantislibet fluctuationibus amoveri. Verumtamen, filia karissima, magnum manet periculum tam illis, qui sua desidia ea minui aliquo modo sinunt, quam eis, qui sua praesumptione illa violare contendunt. De exaudiendo vero vel non exaudiendo filio nostro Karolo, coniuge vestro, per Liudonem venerabilem diaconum idoneam vobis, ut remur, misimus rationem. Verum nos, quicquid illi ammonendo vel ortando vel etiam increpando mittimus, ad eius et dilectorum illius salutem atque ad regni ipsius incolomitatem proficere non dubitamus, immo Deo auctore omnino confidimus. Incolumem serenitatem vestram divina conservet maiestas, karissima filia.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Nicholas I, Pope (820-867)Letter from Nicholas I, pope to Ermentrud of Orleans (864)Genuine8640EnglishLatin

Historical context:

Nicholas sends abundant thanks to Ermentrude for the gifts she sent him, comparing her favorably to the Queen of Sheba.

Printed source:

MGH, Ep Kar Aevi 4, ep. 28, p.294-95

Copyrighted (shareable)Epistoae: Medieval Women's Letters

Translated letter:

Nicholas, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Ermentrud, glorious queen. Your devotion and faith, which we perceive your sublimity has in reverence for the blessed apostles, we give worthy thanks to the lord Jesus Christ in recognition. For we prefer your gifts offered with different semblance to the industry of the queen of the South, considering not so much wealth as pious affection. Indeed your gifts were received so much more gratefully by us than those of that queen in that she to a mortal, you rather, dearest daughter to an immortal king and the princes of his church, who happily reign with him and confer the solaces of their intercessions on you, offered gifts not so much corruptible as will remain always and flourishing continually before God. And think if the gifts of that one, who sent two such small ones into the treasury, would be as pleasing a gift accepted before God, as you think yours would be, when you conferred so much, rather what is greater, you show yourself in devotion and faith to the Lord and his servants with all affection? May omnipotent God keep you safe, most beloved daughter.

Original letter:

Nicolaus episcopus servus servorum dei Hyrmintrudi gloriosae reginae. Devotionem tuam et fidem, quam sublimitatem tuam circa beatorum apostolorum reverentiam habere perspicimus, agnoscentes dignas domino Iesu Christo referimus gratias. Nam et munerum vestrorum diversis speciebus oblatis non tam censum quam pium considerantes affectum reginae Austri industriam tuam praetulimus. Siquidem tanto coram nobis gratius quam praefatae reginae vestra munera suscepta sunt, quanto illa mortali, tu vero, filia karissima, immortali regi et ecclesiae eius principibus, qui cum eo feliciter regnant et vobis intercessionum suorum solatia conferunt, dona non tam corruptibilia quam semper mansura et ante Deum iugiter florentia obtulistis. Et revera, si illius, quae duo tantum minuta in gazofilacium misit, tanto est munus coram Deo acceptum, quantum putas vestra fore grata, quae plurima contulistis, immo, quod est maius, temetipsam devotione et fide Domino eiusque servis totis affectibus exhibetis? Omnipotens Deus te incolomem custodiat, dilectissima filia.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
Nicholas I, Pope (820-867)Letter from Nicholas I, pope to Theutberga of Lotharingia (867, January 24)Genuine8670Latin/EnglishLatin

Historical context:

Lothar II had married Theutberg to gain the support of her powerful brother, but he had had a long affair with Waldrada which produced children including a son. When he and Theutberg had no children, Lothar wanted to divorce her and marry Waldrada in order to legitimize that son as his heir. Theutberg fought the divorce, with the support of the pope, Nicholas I, but after years of struggle during which Lothar rejected her and was forced to take her back, she was apparently coerced by her husband to ask him to release her from the marriage to enter a monastery. The pope knows she has been coerced and refuses her request in this letter, in which he pleads with her not to give in to violence, insists that the marriage can not be dissolved unless Lothar also takes a vow of chastity, blames her sterility on her husband’s vice, and urges her to great fortitude, even against the threat of death, so husbands will not be encouraged to abuse their wives. He tries to protect her from any attempt on her life, insisting that not even her death would enable Lothar to marry Waldrada. Nicholas made some of the same points in a letter to Lothar, ep.46, giving examples of biblical women who had been impregnated in old age, implying that if Lothar reformed he might yet have a child with Theutberg.

Scholarly notes:

(1)Sortiti is the verb. Does it imply assigned by destiny/by lot?

Printed source:

MGH, Ep.Kar Aevi, 4.319-22, Epistolae Nicolai I Papae, ep.45; HGF 7.417-19.

Copyrighted (shareable)Epistoae: Medieval Women's Letters

Translated letter:

Nicholas, Bishop servant of the servants of God, to his beloved daughter Theutberga most glorious Queen. We have received the letter of your suggestion sent to our bishopric,brought by your legates; and we learned nothing from the letters than what they indicated clearly in their words. Truly in both we were equally astonished and amazed, and considering the words suddenly changed in style and request, we recalled that you had intimated no such thing to us at any time. But why do you write and suggest such things to us, when we knew long before that you would write and suggest them to us? Truly, when we bend the eyes of the mind to the report of almost all prominent people in the regions of Gaul and Germany, we see that there is a great difference between what you yourself now signify in this matter and what they hint at daily in works and letters in like manner. They all testify that you have suffered unremitting affliction, intolerable oppression, and excessive violence. You, however, suggesting things contrary to these, claim that you wish and desire to depart from the Royal rank freely and willingly with no one forcing you, and other things which they know happened in one way, you in another; so you are said by the assertions of all to have been taken[admissa] legitimately by King Lothar, then unfairly accused, after that purged/absolved, then again repulsed, finally by our decree legally taken back. You however now claim I do not know what frivolous things done contrary to all these and forgetful of your declaration, which we do not want to exaggerate since we do not want to labor uselessly. We have understood also that he who did harm to the holy church of God, does harm still, and who was in filth is still in filth. We have understood, I say, that cattle were put to rot in their own excrement, and it did not suffice to have committed adultery alone and to have collected inventions of iniquity in a rope of vanity; he added that he would also thrust the souls of men caught in the snares of perjury into ultimate ruin. But what wonder if he achieved the burial of a few for their souls by perjury when, placed on high through his example of adultery he plunged so many thousands of men into the chaos of perdition? Finally what testimony you offer of Waldrada, saying she was the legitimate wife of Lothar, you attempt in vain to add; since indeed one needs no testimony of yours certainly, if we feel more that it is just, and understand that it is fair, that even if you are condemned, even dead, Lothar will by no laws, by no rules without criminal act, ever be allowed to assume the adulterous Waldrada as wife. Therefore whether Waldrada may once have been the legitimate spouse of Lothar, the church of God does not need your explanation. Know one thing more, since not we, not even the holy church, which will judge adulterers with God’s authority, will discharge Lothar unpunished in every way if he ever takes Waldrada back even if you, as we said have died. Indeed what you say, that you wish to come to Rome to open to us passions and whatever secrets of your breast, is not suitable to be done: since there is no security in the journey you propose, and as long as Waldrada is set near Lothar, we do not permit you to go anywhere away from him. For while you were away, without doubt she is believed to be taken back and with you distant, she is immediately allowed in. That you know, as you assert, that you remain sterile, it is not the infertility of the body but the iniquity of the husband/man [viri] that does this, although that God may make fertile we may read since the sterile one brought forth many, and she who had many sons became ill [1.Reg.2:5]. You assert also that the matrimony between you was not divinely ordained and therefore can not endure: since every planting which the heavenly father did not plant will be uprooted [Matth.15:13]. But remember that God planted a vine which he expected, according to Isaiah, would produce grapes, but it produced wild grapes [Isai.5:2,4]; and which, according to Jeremiah, foreign vine turned into bitterness [Jerem.2:21]. God therefore planted your marriage; but it was turned into bitterness by the vice of your husband; and while it was expected that it would produce grapes, it produced, alas, wild grapes or even thorns. But these things only from the innumerable in your letter I am disposed to remember. For the rest, who does not know that you bring these forth forced by many pressures, and worn down by many evils? since also, as we have said, all the religious and the illustrious men of Gaul and Germany testify to these things with frequent report, so that we knew that you would have written these things to us before long. But leaving these out, we exhort you and vehemently admonish that you not furnish your own hand to it, nor create the tinder of death. Better for you indeed that speaking the truth someone else kill you than that you destroy yourself telling a lie. Be therefore intrepid and constant, and do not fear to suffer suddenly for truth the death that you must sometime in some way experience. For since Christ is truth, whoever dies for truth, without doubt dies for Christ: for which, namely, John the Baptist was killed, and is known to have accepted martyrdom. For if he was killed speaking the justice of his neighbor; how much more you, speaking the justice of God and bearing witness to your truth, ought not fear the destruction of any death? For blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice [Matth.5:10], not only of another, but one’s own. Truly we in no way accept this confession of yours, extorted not by will but by force, as a confession; we do not permit the roots of such vices to spread, which unless they were torn out from within, could grow to the harm of many. Indeed if this is permitted, all men can torment the women they have been assigned(1) by law if they hate them with various afflictions and compel them to claim they have not been taken legitimately: why not also compel them with intolerable pains to accuse themselves of a mortal crime. For who can do more harm than a local enemy; or who could inflict more injury than a husband on his wife? But we ought to prevent/guard against such frauds: lest they succeed to cut them off in the beginning of their new attempt. Nor yet do we think that Lothar, namely your husband, has descended into such ruin that he would consent to plot against your life in whatever way; since if he were to lapse into such huge guilt, he would utterly acquire a cost to himself or his kingdom no less than to you. As indeed you as much as human intellect can find, are often proved not only innocent; truly you are also known to have always called forth the help of the church; moreover you have sought the protection and refuge of the holy prince of apostles Peter. Whence the apostolic see has begun to discuss your case and proposed to reserve to its special judgment whatever question emerged. Wherfor whoever acts against you, not only gravely harms the church of God, truly also the apostolic see, from whose judgment it is not permitted to withdraw, and is convicted to have acted vehemently against himself. Indeed if you dispose to come to Rome and wish to obtain permission from your husband to set out, we exhort much more on the contrary that you take care to persuade your husband with all means to give you first the most certain security relying on which you need not fear to incur any harm from a man: which could not happen at all unless Waldrada were first sent to Rome and what was suitable for her were determined; and not until there were such certainty of immunity that you would not suffer anything untoward coming, remaining, or returning. If he refused to reject such sinister suspicion from himself, cease; do not acquiesce in such deceptive plots, beware altogether. Skilfully, indeed, he as well as his satellites labor to deceive you and contrive to overthrow [you] by the snares of their adroit subterfuge. Furthermore if, as you assert, you seek the dissolution of the marriage for love of chastity, you should know that it can be offered to you by no pact unless your husband undertook the same chastity, truly. Finally, as blessed pope Gregory said, if the wife does not follow the continence which the husband desires, or the husband refuses what the wife desires, it is not permitted for the marriage to be divided: since it is written a wife does not have power over her body, but her husband: and a husband does not have power over his body, but his wife [1Cor.7:4]. We desire that your glory thrive in Christ now and always, most beloved daughter. Dated 9 Kalends of Febuary, 15th Indiction.

Original letter:

Nicolaus Episcopus servus servorum Dei, dilectae filiae Theutbergae gloriosissimae Reginae. Epistolam suggestionis tuae Praesulatui nostro, deferentibus Legatis tuis, missam suscepimus; et quod nihil ipsa Litteris quam quod illi verbis indicaverint, evidenter agnovimus. Verum in utroque obstupefacti pariter et mirati sumus, atque tam repente styli et petitionis mutata verba considerantes, nihil tale te nobis intimasse quoquo tempore recoluimus. Sed quid nobis talia scribis et suggeris, cum nos te nobis haec et scripturam et suggesturam longe ante praescierimus? Verum cum ad relationem omnium pene insignium personarum, quae in Gallicanis et Germanicis regionibus consistunt, mentis inflectimus oculos, multum inter se distare conspicimus, quod ipsa nunc dumtaxat significas, et quod illi quotidie propemodum verbis et apicibus innuunt. Omnes enim te irremotam afflictionem, intolerabilem oppressionem, nimiamque violentiam pati testantur. Tu autem his contraria suggerens, nullo cogente, sponte ac libenter a Regia dignitate exui te velle ac optare fateris, et caetera, quae illi quidem aliter, tu vero aliter prosecuta esse dignosceris; ita ut omnium assertionibus legitime a Hlothario Rege admissa, inique deinde accusata, post haec purgata, deinceps denuo repulsa, postremo decreto nostro jure recepta dicaris. Tu autem his omnibus contraria nunc effecta, et tuae ipsius oblita professionis, nescio quae frivola fatearis, quae videlicet nolumus exaggerare, quia nolumus supervacue laborare. Intelleximus tamen eum, qui nocuit sanctae Dei Ecclesiae, nocere adhuc, et qui in sordibus erat, sordescere adhuc. Intelleximus, inquam, jumenta in stercore suo proposuisse putrescere, et cui non sufficit solum adulterium perpetrasse, et falsitatis praestigia ac iniquitatis adinventiones in funiculo vanitatis contraxisse; apposuit ut etiam animas hominum perjurii laqueis irretitas in extremum praecipitaret exitium. Sed quid mirum si paucorum animabus per perjurium acquisierit interitum, quando in sublimi positus per exemplum suae moechiae tot hominum millia in perditionis chaos demersit? Illud tamen quod Waldradae perhibes testimonium, dicens eam fuisse legitimam uxorem Hlotharii, frustra conaris astruere; quandoquidem tuo nullo prorsus hinc testimonio quis indigeat, cum magis nos ita sentiamus quod justum est, et ita intelligamus quod aequum existit, ut te etiam reprobata, etiam mortua, Hlotharius nullis legibus, nullis sine sui discrimine regulis Waldradam moecham in uxorem unquam permitteretur assumere. Utrum ergo Waldrada legitima fuerit aliquando Hlotharii conjux, Ecclesia Dei satisfactione tua non eget. Unum tamen scito, quoniam nec nos, nec eadem sancta Ecclesia, Deo auctore qui adulteros judicabit, Hlotharium, si Waldradam quandocumque resumpserit, etiam te (ut praetulimus) decedente, dimittet omnibus modis impunitum. Illud vero quod dicis, Romam te velle venire, nobisque passiones et quaedam secreta tui pectoris reserare, fieri non convenit: quoniam et securitas itineris, quam praetendis, nulla est, et quamdiu Waldradata Hlothario juxta posita est, ab illo te quoquam discedere non permittimus. Dum enim tu discesseris, illa recipi procul dubio creditur, et in longinquitate tua ipsa confestim admittitur. Quod autem sterilis, ut asseris, permanere dignosceris, non hoc corporis infecunditas, sed viri facit iniquitas, quamvis Deo fecundante legamus, quoniam sterilis perperit plurimos, et quae multos habebat filios, infirmata est. Perhibes etiam quod matrimonium inter vos non divinitus fuerit ordinatum, et idcirco permanere non possit: quoniam omnis plantatio, quam non plantavit pater coelestis, eradicabitur. Sed recole quod Deus vineam plantavit, quam expectavit, juxta Isaiam, ut faceret uvas, fecit autem labruscas; et quae, secundum Hieremiam, conversa est in amaritudinem vitis aliena. Deus ergo plantavit matrimonium vestrum; sed conjugis tui vitio conversum est in amaritudinem; et dum exspectatum est ut faceret uvas, fecit heu! labruscas, vel etiam spinas. Sed haec quidem ex innumeris Epistolae tuae sola commemorare libuit. Caeterum quis ignorat haec te multis pressuris subactam depromere, ac innumeris malis attritam proferre? cum etiam, ut praediximus, omnes religiosi et clari Galliarum et Germaniae viri haec ita se habere frequenti relatione testentur, adeo ut haec te nobis scripturam fore ante multum temporis agnoverimus. Sed his omissis, hortatmur te ac vehementer admonemus ut ipsa tibimet manum non inferas, nec mortis fomitem generes. Melius quippe tibi est ut veritatem loquentem alius te occidat, quam tu te ipsum mendacium dicens interimas. Sta igitur intrepida atque constans, et mortem, quam quoquomodo semel experiri debes, praecipue pro veritate sustinere ne paveas. Quoniam cum Christus sit veritas, quisquis pro veritate moritur, pro Christo proculdubio moritur: pro qua videlicet et Johannes occisus Baptista, martyrium sumpsisse dignoscitur. Quod si ille proximi justitiam loquens interficitur; quanto potius tu Dei justitiam loquens, et de veritate tua testificans, nullius mortis formidare debes exitium? Beati enim qui persecutionem patiuntur propter justitiam, non solum alterius, sed et suam. Verum nos hanc confessionem tuam quam non voluntas, sed vis extorsit, nequaquam pro confessione recipimus; nec permittimus tantum vitium radices extendere, quod nisi evulsum intime fuerit, ad multorum perniciem potest accrescere. Denique si hoc licet, omnes viri possunt, quas jure sortiti sunt feminas, si has odio habuerint, diversis afflictionibus macerare, et quod legitime non fuerint assumptae, fateri cogere: quin etiam, ut mortale crimine contra se dicant, illatis intolerabilibus poenis compellere. Quis enim magis nocere valet, quam civilis hostis; vel quis amplius laedere poterit, quam uxorem maritus? Sed nos tales fraudes praecavere debemus: et ne proficiant, in ipso novitatis earum principio detruncare. Nec tamen putamus Hlotharium, virum videlicet tuum, in tantam sui perniciem devolvendum, ut vitae tuae insidiari quocumque modo consentiat; cum non sibi vel regno suo minus quam tibi, si ad hoc tam immane piaculum dilapsus esset, acquireret omnino dispendium. Si quidem tu (quantum humanus intellectus sufficit invenire) non solum innoxia saepe comprobata est; verum etiam Ecclesiae semper auxilium provocasse dignosceris: insuper et sancti Apostolorum Principis Petri praesidium refugiumque petisti. Unde Sedes Apostolica tuam causam coepit discutere, et speciali, quicquid quaestionis emersisset, judicio suo reservare proposuit. Quamobrem quisquis contra te agit, non solum Ecclesiam Dei graviter laedit, verum etiam Sedem Apostolicam, de cujus judicio non licet retractare, vehementer adversus se commovere convincitur. Sane si tu Romam venire disponis, et licentiam proficiscendi a conjuge tuo adispisci vis; nos econtra multo magis exhortamur ut suadere modis omnibus eidem viro tuo procures, quatenus prius securitatem tibi certissimam tribuat, qua freta nusquam metuas te per hominem aliquid incidere laesionis: quod omnino non provenire poterit, nisi Waldrada prius Romam mittatur, et de ea quod conveniens sit diffiniatur; et ita demum talis immunitatis certitudo subsequatur, ut tu nec veniens, nec commorans, nec hinc rediens, aliquod patiaris incommodum. Quod si renuit ad repellendam a se sinistram suspicionem agere, cessa; et ne talibus fraudis insidiis acquiescas, omnino praecave. Callide quippe tam ille quam satellites ejus te decipere moliuntur, et versutae suae tergiversationis pedicis supplantare proculdubio machinantur. Porro si amore pudicitiae, ut asseris, solutionem matrimonii quaeris, hanc tibi nullo pacto noveris tribuendam, nisi vir tuus eamdem pudicitiam non ficte sectatus extiterit. Denique (ut cum beato Gregorio Papa dicatur) si continentiam, quam vir apetit, uxor non sequitur, aut quam uxor appetit, vir recusat, dividi conjugium non licet: quia scriptum est; Mulier sui corporis potestatem non habet, sed vir: et vir sui corporis potestatem non habet, sed mulier. Optamus tuam Gloriam in Christo nunc et semper bene valere, dilectissima filia. Data IX Calend. Feb. Ind. XV.

Version history:

Scroll to Top