Saint Gregory the Great 1

Saint Gregory the Great

Until now, in the history of the Church, 16 popes have been named Gregory. To the first among them, history has given the honorary title of the Great. It is a sign that he is an extraordinary person, whose influence is of lasting value through all times.

Gregory I lived and worked in very difficult and complex circumstances. Yet his work was remarkable, all thanks to his tireless zeal, the reputation that flowed from his holiness and rich personality, his extraordinary talent for administration. The results of his 14-year pontificate were extremely great, not only for those but also for later times.

He gained a strong reputation for Peter’s See, both in the West and in the East. It laid the foundation for relations with the imperial authorities in Byzantium, on the basis of greater dignity and greater freedom, especially in the spiritual realm. He worked on the conversion of the Lombards (Langobards) in Italy, and the Angles in Britain by sending Augustinus of Canterbury with 39 other monks to England. In life, he was a teacher to the people, monks, clergy, and bishops, and after his death, he did so with his numerous written works.

Gregory was born around 540, in Rome, in an old and respectable Roman senatorial family, which distinguished itself by its involvement in religious and ecclesiastical life. Although deeply attached to the Roman Empire, his cleverness found a way to annex and baptize Germanic tribes invading from the west and south. Thus Rome under his rule became the missionary center of the West.

In Rome in his native house, he founded a monastery dedicated to St. Andrew, and on the estate in Sicily, which he inherited from his father a total of six Benedictine monasteries.

He began his career in the city administration and eventually became a senior government official, a Roman prefect, and then in the 575 a monk. In his monastery of St. Andrew, known today as part of the church San Gregorio Magno, he immersed himself in prayer, calmness, and study.

Saint Gregory the Great

Saint Gregory the Great in Santa Maria del Popolo (Rome)