From a letter to Pope Zacharias
"I have further to seek your advice, Holy Father, in connection with a perplexing and scandalous report that has lately reached our ears. It has greatly disturbed us and filled the bishops of the Church with shame. A certain layman of high rank came to us and asserted that Gregory, of blessed memory, Pontiff of the Apostolic See, had granted him permission to marry his uncle's widow. This woman had previously married her own cousin and deserted him during his lifetime. She is known to be related in the third degree to the man who wishes to marry her and who now declares that the necessary permission has been granted. Furthermore, before her first marriage she had made a solemn vow of chastity and, after taking the veil, threw it aside.
For this marriage the man states that he has permission from the Holy See. This we cannot accept as true. For, at a Synod of the Church beyond the sea, where I was born and bred, namely, the Synod of London, convoked by the disciples of St. Gregory, the archbishops, Augustine, Laurence, Justus and Mellitus, such a marriage was declared on the authority of Holy Scripture to be a heinous crime, an incestuous and execrable union and a damnable sm. For this reason, I beg you, Holy Father, to state the truth of the matter, so that it may not give rise to scandals, dissensions and new errors among the clergy and the faithful.
Because the sensual and ignorant Allemanians, Bavarians and Franks see that some of these abuses which we condemn are rife in Rome, they think that the priests there allow them, and on that account they reproach us and take bad example. They say that in Rome, near the church of St. Peter, they have seen throngs of people parading the streets at the beginning of January of each year, shouting and singing songs in pagan fashion, loading tables with food and drink from morning tin night, and that during that time no man is willing to lend his neighbour fire or tools or anything useful from his own house. They recount also that they have seen women wearing pagan amulets and bracelets on their arms and legs and offering them for sale. All such abuses witnessed by sensual and ignorant people bring reproach upon us here and frustrate our work of preaching and teaching. Of such matters the Apostle says reprovingly: " You have begun to observe special days and months, special seasons and years. I am anxious over you: has all the labour I have spent on you been useless? "
And St. Augustine says: " The man who puts his faith in such nonsense as incantations, fortune-tellers, soothsayers, amulets or prophecies of any sort, even though he fasts and prays and runs continually to church, giving alms and doing all kinds of penances, gains nothing as long as he clings to such sacrilegious practices."
If Your Holiness would put an end to these heathen customs in Rome it would redound to your credit besides promoting the success of our teaching of the faith.
Frankish bishops and priests, whose reputation as adulterers and fornicators was notorious, whose children, born during their episcopate or priesthood, are living witnesses to their guilt, now declare on their return from Rome that the Roman Pontiff has granted them full permission to exercise their offices in the Church. Our answer to them is that we have never heard of the Apostolic See giving judgment contrary to the canonical decrees.
All these matters, beloved master, we bring to in order that we may give these men an authoritative r we, under your guidance and instruction, overcome an these ravening wolves and prevent the sheep from being astray.
Finally, we are sending you some small gifts, a warm rug and little silver and gold. Though they are too trifling to be offered to Your Holiness, they come as a token of our affection and our devoted obedience.
May God protect Your Holiness and may you enjoy health and long life in Christ.