15 Messina in Sicily. This Felix cannot be identified wth Felix, bishop of the same See, to whom previous letters (viz, I.66, together with two others, I.40, and II. 5, which have not been translated) had been addressed. For he had been succeeded in the see by Donus, probably in the 14th Indiction, i.e. a.d. 595-6, (see VI. 9), when Gregory's reply to Augustine's interrogatories, which is the main subject of the epistle before us, had not yet been sent. Augustine does not appear to have even arrived in Britain till a.d. 597. But there seems to be no reason against the supposition that a second Felix had succeeded Donus at Messina before the death of Gregory, the last mention of Donus being in the superscription of Ep. XVIII. in Book XIII., assigned to the 16th Indiction, i.e. a.d. 602-3.
16 See also below-"the apostles in the first place who were prelates of the Apostolic See." It would seem from these expressions that the Sicilian bishops went on the tradition of St. Paul and St. Peter having been joint founders of the Roman Church and throughout the epistle, though the supremacy of the See of Rome is acknowledged, it is not spoken of as derived especially from St. Peter.
18 The genuineness of this epistle is, to say the least, open to grave suspicion. Jaiffé (Regesta Pont. Lit. Spur.) rejects it as spurious. Its style in some parts reminds us of Gregory, and it contains passages identical with what he had written elsewhere: but its prolixity, bad composition. and repetitions are unworthy of his pen. It reads like an unskilful imitation of his style. Nor is it difficult to understand why such a letter may have been forged. If, as supposed in our note to Ep. XVI., a letter from Sicily had been addressed to Gregory not long before his death with reference to his answers to Angustine's questions, to which letter he had been unable to reply, it was not unlikely that such a letter as the one before us would afterwards be composed in his name. For anxiety might naturally be felt to vindicate from inconsistency the teaching of the Roman See on the subject of marriages of consanguinity. Such a letter, too, if forged, would be likely to attempt an imitation of Gregory's style, and to bring in (as this does) extracts from his previous writings. It may be observed that the plea set forth of the directions to Augustine having been meant only as temporary concessions is not borne out by the actual language of those directions. See XI. 64.