Saint Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome, was born in Rome in about the year 540. His grandfather was Pope Felix, and his mother Sylvia and aunts Tarsilla and Emiliana were likewise enumerated by the Roman Church to the rank of saints. Having received a most excellent secular education, he attained to high governmental positions. And leading a God-pleasing life, he yearned with all his soul for monasticism. After the death of his father, Saint Gregory used up all his inheritance on the establishing of six monasteries. At Rome he founded a monastery in the name of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, and having exchanged his capacious chambers for a narrow cell, he accepted there monastic tonsure. Afterward, on a commission entrusted to him by Pope Pelagius II, Saint Gregory lived for a long while in Byzantium. And there he wrote his “Exposition on the Book of Job”. After the demise of Pope Pelagius, Saint Gregory was chosen to the Roman cathedra-see. But reckoning himself unworthy, over the course of seven months he would not consent to accept so responsible a service, and having acceded only through the entreaties of the clergy and flock, he finally accepted the consecration.
Wisely leading the Church, Sainted Gregory worked tirelessly at propagating the Word of God. Saint Gregory compiled in the Latin language the rite of the “Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts”, which before him was known of only in the verbal tradition. Affirmed by the Sixth OEcumenical Council, this liturgical rite was accepted by all the Orthodox Church.
He zealously struggled against the Donatist heresy; he likewise converted to the True Faith the inhabitants of Brittany – pagans and Goths, adhering to the Arian heresy.
Saint Gregory left after him numerous works of writing. And after the appearance of his book, “Dialogues concerning the Life and Miracles of the Italian Fathers” (“Dialogi de vita et miraculis patrum Italiorum”), the saint became called “Dialogus”, i.e. “teaching by dialogue conversations”. Particular reknown was enjoyed by his “Pastoral Rule” (or “Concerning Pastoral Service” – “Liber regulae pastoralis”). In this work Saint Gregory describes from every side the model of the true pastor. There have likewise reached us his letters (848), comprised of moral guidances.
Sainted Gregory headed the Church over the course of 13 years, concerning himself over all the needs of his flock. He was characterised by an extraordinary love of poverty, for which he was vouchsafed a vision of the Lord Himself.
Pope Saint Gregory I the Great, as he is otherwise known, died in the year 604, and his relics rest in the cathedral of the holy Apostle Peter in the Vatican.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.