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Saint Gregory the Great,
Pope & Doctor of the Church
September 3rd

Saint Gregory the Great
Carlo Saraceni - c. 1610
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Saint Gregory the Great, one of the most prominent figures in Church history, was born at Rome in 540 and died March 12, 604. The son of a patrician family, Gregory studied law, and became Prefect of Rome when he was in his early thirties. He entered a monastery in Rome (ca 574) where he spent about three years before he was sent as papal legate to Constantinople. After six years in this post, he returned to his monastery (which apparently followed the Benedictine rule) where he soon became abbot. He was elected pope September 3, 590, the first monk to hold this office.

One of Pope Gregory's most significant actions (especially in the view of English-speaking people) was to send missionaries to Great Britain -- notably Augustine (of Canterbury). His interest, it is said, was prompted by seeing young Anglo-Saxon captives for sale in a Roman slave market. According to the story, the pope asked who these fair-haired slaves were, and was told they were Angles. The pope exclaimed in response, "They are not 'Angles' -- they are angels!"

Pope Gregory is traditionally credited with unifying the Roman Liturgy and compiling the Church's traditional chant tones, known as Gregorian Chant (also "plain chant").


O God, who care for your people with gentleness
and rule them in love,
through the intercession of Pope Saint Gregory,
endow, we pray, with a spirit of wisdom
those to whom you have given authority to govern,
that the flourishing of a holy flock
may become the eternal joy of the shepherds.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

First Reading: II Cor 4:1-2,5-7
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.

Gospel Reading: Luke 22:24-30
A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.

"You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Related Links on the Vatican Website:

IUCUNDA SANE, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS X ON POPE GREGORY THE GREAT, Given at Rome at St. Peter's on March 12, of the year 1904, on the feast of St. Gregory I. Pope and Doctor of the Church, in the first year of Our Pontificate

Benedict XVI, General Audience, Wednesday, May 28, 2008, Saint Gregory the Great (part 1)

Benedict XVI, General Audience, Wednesday, June 4, 2008, Saint Gregory the Great (part 2)

Related Links on New Advent Website:

St. Gregory the Great writings:

- Pastoral Rule
- Register of Letters: Epistles of St. Gregory the Great

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