San Gregorio El Magno
Around 574 he sold his properties, converted his Roman home into St. Andrew’s Monastery and
became a monk. He also founded six monasteries on his estates in Sicily. After several years in
seclusion at St. Andrew's, Gregory was ordained by Pope Pelagius II, and in 578 he was made one of
seven papal deacons. He served as papal nuncio to the Byzantine Court for six years, but in 1586
he resumed monastic life and became abbot of St. Andrews.
In 589 when Gregory was on his way to England to evangelize the country, a plague struck
Rome. The ailing Pope Pelagius summoned him home. When Pelagius died, Gregory was
elected Pope and consecrated on September 3, 590. He made radical changes such as
removing unworthy clerics from office, and abolishing fees for burials and ordinations. He was
prodigious in his charities and responsible for converting England to Christianity. He sent forty
monks, led by St. Augustine, who became Bishop of Canterbury. In 593 he negotiated a peace
with the Lombard king, removed the Byzantine emperor’s representatives and appointed
governors of the Italian city states, in this way broadening the temporal power of the papacy.
An eloquent preacher, Gregory also wrote treatises, notably Dialogues, Liber Regulae
Pastoralis (Duties of the Bishops), and hundreds of sermons and letters. He greatly influenced
the Roman liturgy: the Gregorian chant is named in his honor and the custom of saying thirty
successive Masses for the deceased was his idea and bears his name.
One of only two Popes to bear the title, “the Great,” Gregory was the last of the traditional
Latin Doctors of the Church and is considered the founder of the medieval papacy. He preferred
his own title, “Servant of the Servants of God.”
Gregory died in Rome on March 12, 604, and was canonized by acclamation immediately
after his death. His feast day is celebrated on September 3rd.
Courtesy Pastor Emeritus Fr. Joseph Darbouze and Joseph Peden
The Parish of St. Gregory the Great: A Profile and History 1907-1996.