Saint Gregory the Great also known as Pope Gregory I or Gregorius Anicius was born in 540 AD in Rome and died on March 12 604 in Rome. He is famously known for the Gregorian Mission that aimed to convert to Christianity in large-scale the then-pagan Anglo-Saxons in England. We celebrate his feast Day on September 3 every year in the Catholic Church.
|Saint Gregory the Great, Pope Biography|
|Date of Birth||540 AD|
|Place of Birth||Rome, Italy|
|Profession||Pope of the Catholic Church|
|Place of Work||Rome, Italy|
|Date of Death||March 12 604 (aged 64)|
|Place of Death||Rome, Italy|
|Feast Day||September 3|
|Patron Saint of||1. Musicians
Saint Gregory the Great Life History
Saint Gregory the Great was born in Rome by Gordianus his father and Saint Silvia his mother. His great-great-grandfather was Pope Felix III and his aunts were Saints Trasilla and Emiliana. His father was a senator and Prefect of Rome. This family was very close to the church and his father had a certain position in the Church. They lived in a villa and owned estates in Sicily and Rome.
Gregory was well educated in grammar, literature, dialectic, rhetoric, the sciences, and law. He became a government official and when he was 33 years old he became the Prefect of Rome.
When his father Gordianus died, Gregory converted the family villa into a monastery and dedicated it to Andrew the Apostle. He had much respect for the monastic life especially the life of poverty. This manifested itself well when he punished a dying monk for stealing three gold pieces.
Gregory said that as punishment, the monk would die alone and after his death, Gregory threw his body together with the three gold pieces on a manure heap to rot. However, to pray for the monk’s soul in purgatory, Gregory offered 30 masses for that course.
Gregory was ordained as a deacon by Pope Pelagius II and he started helping in healing the schism of the Three Chapters in Northern Italy. Later on, in 579 AD, the pope chose him as the high diplomatic ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople. He held this position until 586 AD.
Pope Pelagius II was constantly under threat from the invading Lombards. He requested Gregory to seek military help from the administration in Constantinople but Constantinople declined and said that their policy at the moment was to tackle their own greater threats from the Persians in the East and the Avars and Slavs to the North.
After 586 Gregory returned to Rome to his monastic life but after Pope Pelagius II died of the plague, he was elected by acclamation to succeed him in 590 AD.
Gregory mourned his removal from the undisturbed, contemplative and monastic life to the public life as a pope. However, when he started working, his heart was pulled towards missions. He organized, re-energized, and sent Church missions to preach and convert the non-Christians in northern Europe.
His most remembered mission is called the Gregorian mission, where he sent a very successful mission of monks from his own monastery, led by Saint Augustine of Canterbury, to evangelize the pagan Anglo-Saxons of England.
His quest to evangelize to England started while he was still a monk and some poor captive English boys were up for sale in Rome, and heard with sorrow that they were pagans. “And of what race are they?” he asked. “They are Angles.” “Worthy indeed to be Angels of God,” he said. “Truly must we rescue them from the wrath of God. “Alleluia must be sung in their land to God.”
In matters liturgy, Pope Gregory made many changes to the liturgy like placing the Lord’s Prayer in the celebration of mass where it remains until today. He is also renown for initializing the ‘Gregorian chant’ singing style but there still exists a dispute whether it was him or Gregory II who should take credit for its spread and development.
Pope Gregory is known for his charitable heart where he generously gave relief to the poor at Rome, paid ransom to the captives who had been captured by the Lombards and took care of the victims of plague and famine. He used to often say that the wealth of the Church belonged to the poor and the Church is only the custodian.
He instructed the clergy to move to the streets and take care of the poor and anyone who objected to this was relieved of his duties. He referred to himself as the “Servant of the Servants of God”.
When there was a famine in Rome, gave the hungry people of Rome food free of charge instead of selling it to them. The Church had very vast tracks of land which it tilled and sold the produced to the people. By this act, a large population was saved from starving to death.
These acts of love, charity, and compassion for the poor and downtrodden by Pope Gregory made the Church start being perceived as a force to reckon in Rome Italy as a whole as opposed to the nonresponsive administration in far-flung Constantinople.
Saint Gregory the Great Death
After suffering from arthritis in his last years, Pope Gregory died on March 12 604 AD. His remains were preserved at the St. Peter’s Basilica where they remain until today.
Saint Gregory the Great was canonized by popular acclamation immediately after his death.
Saint Gregory the Great Feast Day
In 1969, after the reforms to the General Roman Calendar, his feast day was moved from March 12, the date of his death to September 3. This was because feasts and obligatory memorials were forbidden from being observed during lent.
Saint Gregory the Great is the Patron Saint of
- Other popes named Gregory
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