Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/46

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fectly understood without examination, we wish to have some men well skilled in literature to confer with; and that, as becomes a devout champion of Holy Mother Church, you do not fail to show your obedient devotion to this our exhortation, but without delay send God's religious servant [Bede, priest] of your venerable monastery, to the hallowed threshold of the chief of the Apostles, our Lords Peter and Paul, our friends and protectors, that he may come and visit my nothingness. Whom, if God and the Holy Saints so please, you need not fear of receiving safe home again, when he shall, with the help of God and in all due solemnity, have finished the aforesaid matters. For it will, I trust, also be profitable to all who are under your care, if any thing shall through his excellency become known to the church in general."

Such is the letter of Pope Sergius, which has been preserved by William of Malmesbury; and some modern critics have not hesitated, from the difficulties before mentioned which it involves, to pronounce it altogether spurious.[1] It is argued that Bede did not take priest's orders till the year 672, whereas this letter was written in 670, and Pope Sergius died in 671.

  1. Pagi Breviar. Hist. Chr. Crit. &c. &c. 1717. Henschenius ad Mai. 27. Mabill. Ac. Ben. Sec. III. elog. Bedæ, No. 4, Baron.