Pope Gregory I

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Sep 29, 2023

Table of Content


Gregory I, known as Pope Gregory the Great or the Great (Rome, c. 540 - Rome, March 12, 604), was the 64th bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic Church, from September 3, 590 until his death. The Catholic Church venerates him as a saint and Doctor of the Church. The Orthodox Churches also venerate him as a saint.

Family and origin

Gregory was born in Rome around 540 to a family belonging to the aristocracy consisting only of patricians. His father, Gordianus, appears to have held the position of regionarius, that is, an official in charge of public order. His mother, named Silvia, was possibly of Sicilian origin and retired to the monastery of Cella Nova following Gregory's decision to make her father's house a cenobium. The family was affluent, with estates in Rome and Sicily, and boasted illustrious ancestors: Gregory himself named Pope Felix III (483-492) as his ancestor, and kinship relations with Pope Agapitus have been suggested, but these remain uncertain. At least two brothers are mentioned in the pontiff's letters, one named Palatine, and another referred to simply as germanus, both most likely engaged in public functions.Pope Gregory the Great worked to consolidate Christianity in the Italian peninsula, promoting important initiatives in the field of liturgy.

Education and culture

The places and manner of his education are uncertain, but it is possible that Gregory attended a library established by Pontiff Agapitus on the Caelian Hill, thus close to his father's house. Further data on his education can be deduced from the pontiff's works, from which his linguistic and rhetorical skills as well as his knowledge of classical authors such as Virgil, Cicero and Seneca emerge. However, he took a condemning attitude toward classical culture, believing that it should be studied only as a tool for understanding and communicating the divine truth of the Holy Scriptures. His writings also reveal scientific and natural knowledge and, above all, a vast mastery of Roman law. Gregory is thought to have known the Greek language, reinforced, following an initial scholastic training, by his stay in Constantinople (579-584) as apocrisary to Pope Pelagius II.

Political and ecclesiastical career

Gregory undertook the cursus honorum, held the office of praefectus urbi and signed the declaration condemning the Three Chapters of the Bishop of Milan Lorenzo (573).

In 579 Pope Pelagius II ordained Gregory deacon to send him, as an apocrisary, to Constantinople for the purpose of pointing out to the emperor the aggressions suffered by the Lombards and asking for military aid. His stay in the imperial capital lasted until 586-587, and during this period he was also able to deepen his exegetical activity, orally expounding exegesis to the book of Job (Moralia in Job) at the urging of Leander, bishop of Seville. Gregory during his stay met many influential personalities and was also involved in a dispute over the nature of resurrected bodies in opposition to Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople (577-82). The debate ended before Emperor Tiberius, who accepted Gregory's thesis and condemned Eutychius'.

Between 586 and 587, Gregory left Constantinople at the request of Pelagius II, who wanted to avail himself of his cooperation in trying to resolve the tripartite schism, which had involved the dioceses of Milan and Aquileia. Apparently, Gregory, before leaving, had collected Greek material on the issue and wrote a small treatise that the pontiff sent on his behalf to Bishop Elias of Aquileia and the bishops of Istria.


After leaving the office of praefectus urbi in 573 and coming into possession of the family inheritance following the death of his father (574 or 575), Gregory built six monasteries on estates in Sicily and transformed his father's residence, located on the Caelian Hill, into a monastery in honor of St. Andrew the Apostle. Here he retired for some years, at least until 582 when he was sent as apocrisary on behalf of Pope Pelagius II to Constantinople, where he was joined by some monks and lived with them. The final departure from the monastery did not occur until 590 when Gregory was elected to the papal throne (590). He continued to practice an ascetic lifestyle during his pontificate and always felt a longing for the tranquility of monastic life as opposed to the many concerns that accompanied his tenure. Rigid asceticism led, however, to a worsening of his health, to which in time was added the gout that afflicted him until his death (604).

The monastery was a place of formation of valuable and faithful collaborators of the pontiff to whom Gregory entrusted important positions, first among them Augustine, head of the evangelizing mission in England and future bishop of Canterbury. He also paid close attention to monastic matters, especially those that concerned the condition of the Italian cenobia. Gregory promoted the founding of new monasteries, while also controlling and protecting existing ones, intervened in cases of abuse through his officials, made donations and solicited those of wealthy aristocrats to raise these structures from the penury in which they found themselves.

Beginning of the pontificate

Upon the death of Pelagius II (Feb. 7, 590), Gregory's appointment was immediate and prompted by the need for Rome not to be left without a leader precisely at a time of greatest difficulty. Indeed, the city was threatened by military pressure from the Lombards and was also hit by various natural disasters, such as the flooding of the Tiber followed by an epidemic of plague. Gregory turned out to be the best choice for the papal throne because of his culture, spirituality, and political experience. The election had to meet with general approval, while the imperial consecration took place only a few months later (Sept. 3, 590), perhaps because of some political difficulties, overcome by Gregory's close ties with Emperor Maurice and his entourage.

The first months of his pontificate were devoted to writing the synodical epistle in which Gregory indicated the main lines of his pontificate, sent to the bishops of the patriarchal sees in February 591. His first action as pontiff was the procession called a week after the death of Pelagius to ask God to end the plague epidemic. Seven processions were organized that started from seven different churches and met at the church of St. Mary Major. There is no other record of Gregory's activity until the imperial consecration, a moment from which it is possible to reconstruct the pontiff's activity through the Registrum epistolarum, or corpus of papal correspondence. Gregory corresponded with the bishops of the dioceses of central and southern Italy, while relations with the other Churches of Italy were mediated by the metropolitan sees of Milan, Aquileia and Ravenna, as were contacts with the East through the patriarchal sees. Gregory also intervened in problems affecting the local Churches and provided for the maintenance of sacred buildings, restoring or building new churches and monasteries. The pontiff did not limit himself to material measures: he also turned his attentions to the spiritual care of the faithful, especially through preaching, as appears from the Homilies on the Gospels that he began to deliver from November 590 until September 592 during solemn mass on feast days.

Attempts at peace with the Lombards

One of the problems Gregory faced during his pontificate was the expansion of the Lombards, who had come to directly threaten Rome. He adopted a two-pronged strategy: from a political standpoint he worked to conclude a peace treaty with the Lombards, while from a religious standpoint he succeeded in getting them to convert from Arianism to Catholicism.

In 592, the duke of Spoleto Ariulphus embarked on an expansionist initiative in central Italy by occupying the cities between Ravenna and Rome, plundering the territories crossed and even going so far as to besiege the Urbe. Gregory turned to the exarch of Ravenna, Romanus, the representative of imperial authority in Italy, to urge his intervention, but he was not heard. He therefore assumed command of the defense of the capital, ordering the generals to outflank the enemy, take him from behind and sack the occupied territories. He then assigned to the tribune Constantius the task of presiding over the defense of the city and in the meantime went to meet Ariulphus, from whom he obtained an abandonment of his intention to invade Rome and a promise that he would not threaten it throughout his pontificate. Gregory's attempt to obtain a separate peace with the Duchy of Spoleto provoked a reaction from Roman, who recaptured the cities taken from Ariulphus. This military campaign by the exarch interrupted the peace negotiations that Gregory had entered into and caused the reaction of King Agilulf (590-616), who sent his army to recapture the territories and went so far as to besiege Rome in 593. Gregory was able to prevent the invasion of the Urbe by paying 500 pounds of gold to King Agilulf to lift the siege. Gregory again engaged in peace negotiations between the Lombards and Byzantines, but Roman always showed hostility and the war continued. After various efforts to reach a lasting truce with the Lombards, this was achieved only following Roman's death (596). In fact, the new exarch Callinicus (596-602) worked to resume peace negotiations, which led to a peace concluded in 598 that lasted until 601 and provided security for Rome as well.

On the religious side, the pontiff urged the bishops of Italy to engage in the conversion of the Lombards. But the decisive figure who led the Lombard people to conversion was the Catholic queen Theodolinda, wife of King Agilulf. Gregory exchanged several epistles with the sovereign between September 593 and December 603, succeeding in having a great influence on the woman, to the point of making her a key mediator in achieving peace with the Byzantines in 598 and his ally in the struggle against Arianism. In fact, Theodolinda created an anti-Arian party around her and baptized her son, Adaloald, in the basilica dedicated to St. John in Monza, thus sanctioning the conversion of the entire people.

Foreign church policy

At the time of Gregory, Spain was divided politically into two zones: on one side was the Visigothic Kingdom, ruled by Recaredo, and on the other side were the southeastern territories under Byzantine rule.

Gregory's relations with the Visigothic kingdom were fostered by the pope's friendship with the bishop of Seville Leander. The latter became Gregory's main correspondent in Visigothic Spain and played a leading role in the religious and political life of that territory. Thanks to him, in fact, King Recaredo (586-601) was converted in 587 and abjured Arianism at the Third Council of Toledo (589), consecrating the conversion of all his people. Gregory intervened on some internal issues within the newly formed Visigothic Catholic Church, such as for example the practice of the Arian-derived triple baptismal immersion, still in use among the Catholic Visigoths. The pope was tolerant of local customs: while recognizing the practice as legitimate, he advised that the simple immersion rite be established as the exclusive rite.

Regarding relations between Gregory and the Church of Byzantine Spain, the pontiff was obliged to intervene following the irregular deposition operated by Comentiolus, magister militum of Spain, against the two bishops Gennaro of Malaga and Stephen. He sent the defensor John to settle the matter in 603 by giving him precise instructions in three letters, which constitute a dossier of legal norms, in which, among other provisions, the criteria by which to carry out the investigation of the cases of deposition of bishops are given.

Gregory took an interest in the situation of the Gallic Church, which had already converted from Arianism to Catholicism towards the end of the fifth century, seeking to implement a moral reform of the clergy and to resolve some issues, chief among them simony.

The pontiff intervened at first around problems concerning the baptism of the Jews, urging the bishops of Arles and Marseille not to force the Jews to be baptized but to convince them through preaching. The pontiff's interest in Gaul became more intense from 595, when Gregory pushed for an administrative and ecclesiastical reorganization of the territory. In that year he sent one of his appointees, the presbyter Candidus, as rector of the Gallic patrimony and appointed Virgil bishop of Arles as his vicar, empowering him to convene councils to adjudicate matters of faith and discipline. Gregory kept up correspondence with the king of Austrasia and Burgundia Childebert (575-596) and Queen Brunichilda (543-613) and, through his dealings with the rulers and the work of trusted men like Virgil, sought to implement a plan to moralize the local church, with the aim of rooting out the two main corruptions: simony and the appointment of laymen to bishoply office. With the death of Childebertus (596), Gregory remained in contact with Brunichilda, who became regent for his grandsons, Theoderic II and Theodebertus II, and a collaborator in the papal project. Thanks to the close relations between the pontiff and the rulers, Gaul also became a key logistical support for the evangelizing missions Gregory wanted in England.

In 597 Gregory granted the pallium to Bishop Siagro, who was commissioned to assemble a council to carry out the reforming program desired by the pope, but he died only two years later and was unable to complete the project. Thereafter, the political situation in Gaul deteriorated because of the discord that arose between Brunichilda's two nephews, and Gregory tried in vain to resume his moralizing project. On the one hand the kingdom of the Franks divided into three parts no longer offered favorable conditions for the gathering of a council of all Gaul, and on the other hand the pope was assailed by other immediate problems such as the resumption in Italy of the Lombard offensives. All this caused the interruption of correspondence with Gaul (November 602).

Gregory in 596 sent a mission to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons who had settled in England. Some sources tell an anecdote, probably legendary or at any rate reconstructed after the fact, that would have been the basis of the pope's desire to convert the Angles: Gregory's encounter before becoming pontiff with some young Englishmen sold as slaves in the marketplace of Rome. Struck by their beauty he had asked who they were, to the answer that they were Angles he replied that they would soon become Angels. According to sources, as a result of this meeting, Gregory reportedly asked permission to leave for Anglia from Pope Benedict I (574-78), but after only three days he was forced to turn back because of the Roman population's uprising over his removal.

The evangelization project was therefore realized in 596 with the expedition of forty monks following Augustine, prior of the monastery of St. Andrew of Caelian. In the meantime, Gregory wrote a series of missives to the bishops of Gaul to involve them in the project so as to ensure protection for the traveling monks. Gregory also shrewdly set the destination: the missionaries were in fact headed for the kingdom of Kent, where the pontiff knew they would receive the necessary support and a favorable reception because King Aethelbert had taken a Frankish Catholic queen, Bertha, as his wife.

Augustine and his people, after some difficulties encountered along the journey, arrived at their destination in 597 and, welcomed with goodwill, proclaimed the Gospel to the king and his retinue. The king immediately granted generous hospitality to the monks, allowing them to live in the royal city of Canterbury, providing food and ensuring freedom of action. Missionary activity was highly successful, and by Christmas 597 ten thousand Saxons were baptized. Such successes earned Augustine his appointment as bishop of Canterbury (598), the place where he built a cathedral and a monastery.

In 601 a second mission was sent by the pontiff under the leadership of Mellitus. Gregory once again entrusted the monks to the bishops of Gaul through a series of missives, also thanking the recipients for their previous help. These letters testify to how the Frankish bishops and kings, considered helpless only five years earlier, had instead taken a cooperative attitude. In an epistle addressed to Augustine, the pontiff describes the plan for the ecclesiastical organization to be assumed by the English Church: it was to be structured into two metropolitan sees, London and York, where two bishops were to reside, who were also to exercise jurisdiction over the pre-existing Celtic Churches. However, this plan proved difficult to implement because of the internal division of the tribes of the Anglo-Saxons and because of the resentment of the Britons against the invaders.

Among Gregory's letters accompanying Mellitus' mission is the Libellus responsionum, that is, an epistle containing Gregory's answers to a series of ecclesiastical and moral questions posed by Augustine. Gregory's attitude toward pagan customs, long ingrained in that population, was always oriented toward compromise, rather than toward a drastic and violent imposition of the new cult.

Gregory and Augustine died in 604, and the English mission, following great initial success, then proved fragile and too dependent on the king's authority. In fact, upon Aethelbert's death (616), his son, Eadbald, was not baptized and made Kent pagan again.

Donatism and the tripartite schism

In the early years of his pontificate Gregory was concerned with the Churches of North Africa: for he feared a revival of the Donatist heresy, which constituted, in the eyes of the pontiff, a dangerous element of rebellion and hostility toward the Church of Rome. Gregory urged several times between 591 and 596 the exarch of Africa Gennadius, imperial officials, Emperor Maurice and the African bishop closest to the pope, Dominic of Carthage, to take action against the heresy. The pontiff also oversaw the reorganization of the papal patrimony in Numidia by sending a trusted man, Ilaro, formerly rector of the patrimony of Africa under Pope Pelagius II. Gregory's aim was to impose direct control over the African Church by eradicating the Donatist heresy and ousting heretical priests from ecclesiastical offices, plans he failed to realize, however. Recent studies reject the idea of a revival of Donatism and believe that Gregory misinterpreted the information coming to him from Africa. The African Church of the time was in fact characterized by peculiar elements, including the fusion of different traditions, including Donatism. In Gregory's time, therefore, there were not two rival churches or two separate hierarchies, but a single Church constituted by the peculiar union of Donatist reminiscences and Catholic belief, perfectly integrated. A Church, and a province, such as that of Africa because of their particularism were completely insensitive to external interventions, whether by the pontiff or the emperor. Gregory seemed to understand the impossibility of concrete intervention in the African question, and from 596 he no longer mentioned the Donatists in his missives.

Gregory also had to deal with the problem of the tripartite schism that characterized northern Italy. He was confronted with the issue even before he became pontiff: in 573 as praefectus urbi he witnessed the accession to the condemnation of the Three Chapters by the bishop of Milan Lorenzo and the consequent reconciliation with the Roman See; moreover, Gregory had been the author, as apocrisary of Pope Pelagius II, of the third letter addressed by the pontiff to the patriarch of Aquileia Elias and the bishops of Istria to persuade them to put an end to the schism. The situation, however, did not improve and, in the early years of Gregory's pontificate, the patriarch of Aquileia Severus and the bishops of Istria gathered in a synod (590 or 591) and wrote a letter to Emperor Maurice asking him to end the persecution of them. Gregory summoned the schismatics to Rome in 591 to try to end the dispute with a council, but the ambassadorship sent by the pontiff was considered intimidating and the Istrian bishops appealed to the emperor, recalling his previous pledge not to force them into a forced union. The emperor therefore wrote to Gregory, enjoining him not to use force for conversion, and Gregory was forced to accept the imperial decision. Following Maurice's intervention, Gregory abandoned plans to recompose the schism, limiting himself to supporting the schismatics' opponents.

Relations with Constantinople

Gregory always tried to maintain good relations with the Byzantine empire, mainly because of concerns for the defense of Rome from external threats. Despite this, there were deep misunderstandings with Constantinople's policies, mainly due to the pontiff's military interventions and entering into truces with the Lombards, acts that were neither understood nor appreciated by the empire.

Relations with Emperor Maurice (582-602), were characterized by light and shadow: in 593 Gregory opposed an edict promulgated by the emperor the previous year that forbade anyone holding public office from pursuing an ecclesiastical career or retiring to a monastery. While the pope supported the first part of the measure, he was against the prohibition on public officials and military personnel from retiring to a monastery before the expiration of their administrative term or term of service, Gregory expressed his resentment toward the emperor for being called naive by him for believing the peace offers of the Duke of Spoleto Ariulfo. The pontiff responded by listing the scourges to which Rome had been subjected because of Constantinople's immobility and recalled the emperor's duties in defending the city. When Mauritius was killed in 602, Gregory pledged from the outset to establish good relations with his successor, Phocas. In his correspondence exchanges with the new emperor, Gregory's relief at the end of Maurice's hostile rule and his hope for the beginning of a new era characterized by greater cooperation shines through.

Relations with the patriarch of Constantinople, John the Digger (582-595), were also problematic. He, in fact, assumed the title of ecumenical patriarch, a gesture considered by Gregory as an act of pride and an attack on the primacy of the Church of Rome, since the title had been entrusted to the Roman pontiff, who nonetheless had never held it. This dispute was also one of the causes of the deterioration of relations between Gregory and Emperor Maurice, who never acted decisively in Gregory's favor and did not punish John. Gregory then assumed the title of servus servorum Dei to contrast his own modesty with the patriarch's pride. The conflict also extended to John's successor, Cyriacus. Gregory urged the new patriarch several times to lay down the title, but to no avail.

Internal Administration

From the point of view of internal administration, Gregory first addressed the problem of supplying Rome. The city, in fact, already impoverished by the Greco-Gothic War (535-555), and by continuous raids due to the arrival of the Lombards in the peninsula (568), had also been hit by famine and floods. The Urbe was not protected and safeguarded even by the Eastern Empire, and Gregory found himself having to intervene himself. To raise the city from ruin, the pontiff sent many letters to the administrators of the patrimony of Sicily asking them to send stocks of grain to Rome and also tried to regulate its fair distribution. He also expanded the legal powers of the defensores, the pope's representatives in the regions, taking care also to provide them with adequate training in administrative and civil, as well as ecclesiastical, law through the establishment of a schola defensorum. In addition to such a schola, the papal chancery also boasted its own schola notariorum, which managed the recording of the pontiff's activities. Within the latter, those who held the highest offices had the task of shorthand for the letters dictated by the pontiff, recopying and resubmitting them for signatures, and also producing some missives and administrative letters. They were thus true secretaries of the pope, also involved in transcribing, revising and reproducing the pontiff's literary works.

With regard to the administration of church property, namely the so-called Patrimony of St. Peter, Gregory attempted to combat the corruption and abuses of ecclesiastical administrators located in these territories, with a particular focus on southern Italy. The main directives were directed against the rectores, i.e., ecclesiastical officials who administered church property locally and who profited from the resale of wheat. Gregory established the fixed price of wheat and condemned the surcharges applied by such officials. The pontiff also made these provisions public so that the peasants living there could defend themselves against the abuse perpetrated against them. To deal with the misrule of officials, Gregory installed trusted collaborators and bishops, often trained in his own monastery of St. Andrew and in the schola defensorum, in the most strategically important offices.

The Church's land holdings in southern Italy, particularly Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Campania, and Calabria, were of paramount importance for the supply and very survival of Rome. However, the mainland territories had been partly conquered by the Lombards, consequently Gregory paid special attention to the islands, which were harassed by the abuses of ecclesiastical and imperial officials, and implemented an ecclesiastical and administrative reorganization.

In Corsica, the pontiff urged officials to build monastic structures (which were in fact never built), as the territory lacked them altogether. The island lacked credible and efficient spiritual leaders; in addition, the constant fiscal pressures imposed by imperial officials had forced the island's landowners to sell their sons so as not to remain in debt. In 591 the pontiff appointed trusted people as bishops with the intention of reorganizing the local clergy and countering the island's misrule, which nevertheless persisted. The absence of letters in the last three years of Gregory's pontificate seem to suggest that the church and society on the island escaped papal control. In Sardinia, the pope intervened not only in the religious and ecclesiastical spheres, but also in political-military, administrative and fiscal matters. The island had entire areas, especially inland, without bishoprics, where a form of rural paganism was widespread, professed by peasants in the countryside, alongside entire populations that were still pagan. The Sardinian Church never concerned itself with the conversion of the pagan populations living on the island, and it was Gregory himself who organized its evangelization, sending Bishop Felix and Abbot Ciriaco in 594, who successfully carried out the enterprise.

Sicily represented Rome's closest and safest reserve for supplies of agricultural and mineral products, which were essential for the very survival of the city. Gregory dealt with the Roman Church's holdings on the island from both an administrative and ecclesiastical point of view. First and foremost, the pontiff sought to counter the presence of pre-Christian cults and magical practices that had taken root even within the Sicilian clergy. He also sent to the island men loyal to him, such as Peter Subdeacon and Maximian, entrusting them with important positions in the management of the papal patrimony with the aim of reforming its administration. The patrimony of Sicily was divided into two, one headed by Palermo and the other by Syracuse, and Gregory succeeded in imposing as bishops in these sees personalities loyal to him, despite the opposition of the local Church, in order to better control the territory and to be certain of their religious integrity and administrative ability. In this way Gregory was able to take control of the Sicilian Church, although the situation always remained delicate, especially when appointing new bishops.

Gregorian chant

Pope Gregory thoroughly reorganized the Roman liturgy, ordering earlier sources and composing new texts. His epistolary (848 letters have come down to us) and homilies to the people document extensively on his manifold activities and demonstrate his great familiarity with the Sacred Texts.

He promoted the typically liturgical mode of chant that he named "Gregorian": the ritual chant in Latin adopted by the Catholic Church, which entailed, as a consequence, the expansion of the Schola cantorum. Paul the Deacon (writing c. 780), while recalling many traditions that have come down to him, has not a word about chant or the Schola.

Some illustrations of manuscripts from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries hand down a legend that Gregory dictated his chants to a monk, alternating his dictation with long pauses; the monk, intrigued, allegedly lifted a flap of the cloth screen that separated him from the pontiff to see what he was doing during the long silences, thus witnessing the miracle of a dove (representing, of course, the Holy Spirit) resting on one of the pope's shoulders, which in turn dictated the chants into his ear.

In fact, the oldest manuscripts containing chants from the Gregorian repertory date back to the 9th century, so it is not known whether he composed any of them himself.


Gregory died on March 12, 604, of gout, a disease from which he had suffered for several years. March 12 is the date of the liturgical feast in the Tridentine Mass (dies natalis), while in the calendar made following the Second Vatican Council it was moved to September 3, the day of his episcopal consecration. The pontiff was buried in St. Peter's Basilica, and his relics, including his pallium and girdle, were placed near the tomb in an altar built by Gregory IV (795-844). These were moved several times and finally placed in 1606 in the Clementine Chapel in a sarcophagus located under the altar topped by a mosaic with his image.

The earliest traces of the cult of Gregory the Great date from the second half of the 7th century and are found in the church of St. Peter and Paul in Canterbury and York Cathedral, where an altar and a chapel were dedicated to the pontiff, respectively. In 668 relics were also sent to Northumbria, the place where the earliest Life of Gregory (704-714) was composed. In the 8th century the cult of Gregory, already widely developed in England and Ireland, spread to the continent as well, initially to Alsace, where the abbey of Munster in 747 was dedicated to St. Gregory, to Burgundy, and then throughout Europe. Meanwhile, in Rome Pope Sergius I (687-706) introduced the saint's feast into the Gregorian Sacramentary, the next two pontiffs chose the name Gregory, and in 976 the monastery of St. Andrew was also named after him. The cult also spread to the Eastern Church, and his feast day, March 12, was included in the Synaxarium of Constantinople.

From the 8th century onward he was considered, along with Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome, to be one of the four fathers of the Church, and in 1298 Boniface VIII proclaimed him a doctor of the Church. The saint is invoked against gout, from which he himself suffered, and the plague, since he succeeded in bringing the epidemic to an end in Rome in 590, and he is also the patron saint of singers, schoolchildren and students, teachers, wise men, and builders.

St. Gregory the Great is the main patron of:

The last movement of Ottorino Respighi's Church Windows is dedicated to Pope Gregory.

Exegetical writings

For the Libellus synodicus:

For the Oratio de mortalitate:

Form a. 590:

Form a. 602:

See the entry Bibliography


For the Libellus synodicus:

For the Oratio de mortalitate:

see the Bibliography entry in the dedicated pages (Expositio in Canticum Cantocorum, Homiliae in Ezechielem, Homiliae in Evangelia, Moralia in Iob, Dialogi, Registrum epistolarum, Regula pastoralis, In librum Primum Regum, Libellus responsionum).


  1. Pope Gregory I
  2. Papa Gregorio I
  3. ^ Joannis Diaconi Vita sancti Gregorii Magni, IV 83. L’edizione di riferimento è Joannis Diaconi Sancti Gregorii Magni Vita, PL LXXV coll. 59-242.
  4. ^ S. Boesch Gajano, Gregorio I, santo, in Enciclopedia dei papi, 3 voll., Roma 2000, I, p. 546.
  5. ^ Gregory had come to be known as 'the Great' by the late ninth century, a title which is still applied to him. See Moorhead 2005, p. 1
  6. ^ Gregory mentions in Dialogue 3.2 that he was alive when Totila attempted to murder Carbonius, Bishop of Populonia, probably in 546. In a letter of 598 (Register, Book 9, Letter 1) he rebukes Bishop Januarius of Cagliari, Sardinia, excusing himself for not observing 1 Timothy 5.1, which cautions against rebuking elders. Timothy 5.9 defines elderly women to be 60 and over, which would probably apply to all. Gregory appears not to consider himself an elder, limiting his birth to no earlier than 539, but 540 is the typical selection. See Dudden 1905, pp. 3, notes 1–3 The presumption of 540 has continued in modern times – see for example Richards 1980
  7. ^ The translator goes on to state that "Paulus Diaconus, who first writ the life of St. Gregory, and is followed by all the after Writers on that subject, observes that ex Greco eloquio in nostra lingua ... invigilator, seu vigilant sonnet." However, Paul the deacon is too late for the first vita, or life.
  8. ^ The name is biblical, derived from New Testament contexts: grēgorein is a present, continuous aspect, meaning to be watchful of forsaking Christ. It is derived from a more ancient perfect, egrēgora, "roused from sleep", of egeirein, "to awaken someone." see Thayer 1962
  9. a b  Huddleston, Gilbert (1909). «Pope St. Gregory I ("the Great")». In: Herbermann, Charles. Enciclopédia Católica (em inglês). 6. Nova Iorque: Robert Appleton Company  – Gregório passou a ser chamado de "Grande" a partir do final do século IX, um título ainda hoje utilizado. (em inglês) John Moorhead, Gregory the Great [Gregório Magno] (Routledge, 2005), p. 1.
  10. A kereszténység krónikája, Officina Nova Könyvek, Magyar Könyvklub, Budapest, 1998 ISBN 963-548-817-3, 95. oldal

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