FALL OF ROME 71
policy against the rude, soldierly Emperor Mauritius and against Pho- <a$, Mauritius' assassin, whom he conciliated with an official message -of recognition. The Pope had called Italy "my country" in a letter written to Mauritius, and the future was to prove him right. It was not merely his industrial skill, but also his activity in behalf of the Roman See and above all his efforts to conciliate the ever-threatening Lombards which saved Rome and the provinces and, outside their boundaries, the idea of Rome, In the famous "funeral oration 51 which he delivered during the siege of 593 he could repeat the Vision of Ezekiel: the meat in the vessel is eaten, even the bone has been boiled, and now the empty vessel (the city) is burning and melting away over the fire. For 300 years the Church had paid day after day some tribute to the barbarians in order to stave off the worst and now, too, a peace with Agilulf was purchased with the treasure of Peter. The Papal patriot described in his sermon the sad remnant of ancient Rome now visited by famine and the pest, war and floods. It was a de- scription of a bald, featherless eagle, but to this eagle he was mean- while giving the strength of the Phoenix.
Gregory had never lost sight of the trailing thread which bound Rome to the East, but perhaps it was a feeling that better times were approaching which led him to formulate a West-European policy of his own. Now the successor to the Fisher of Men threw his net into the sea of the Germanic peoples in order to assemble them as peaceful conquerors in the unity of a spiritual order under the primacy of the Roman See. The viceroy of Christ raised the staff of the shepherd of the peoples which was to become both sceptre and lance in the hands of later Popes. Blessing, pacifying, building up, he based the paternal authority of the Papacy upon the rising kingdoms and na- tions which would eventually call themselves France, Spain and Eng- land. He petitioned Theodelinda, the Catholic princess of the Lom- bards, to induce her Arian husband to enter "the community of the res publicana Christiana" Against the will of the imperial govern- ment, he tried to persuade those who threatened Rome to accept spirit- ual membership in a Catholic confederation of peoples. "If," he said, "my object had been to destroy the Lombards, this people would to- day have neither king nor duke, nor count, and would have become a prey of hopeless disunity. But because I feared God, I did not wish