Registrum of Gregory the Great f.32v
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Letters from popes, archbishops and theologians were an important category of writing in the middle ages. The Registrum or letter-book of Gregory I (the Great; pope 590-604) survives in many copies made during the middle ages. Gregory's correspondence was especially important to English churchmen because he was the pope who sent Augustine on his mission to convert the Angles. This copy of Gregory's letter-book was probably at Rochester cathedral priory from the 12th-century. The church of St Andrew, Rochester, was founded in the earliest days of Augustine's mission. The letters would have been read as historical and legal records, source material for sermons and theological commentaries and probably for personal study and contemplation.
Gregory wrote many letters to Peter the subdeacon of Campania (Sicily) and steward of the papal estate there. This letter, written in September 590, concerns an uprising of slaves who committed some physical and verbal transgression against the bishop Paul, defied their owner, named Clementina, and were thought to be taking refuge in the monastery of St Severinus. Gregory urges Peter to investigate and take decisive action.