1615 HUGE FOLIO Pope Gregory I Great MIRACLES Greek Monastics Catholic Dialogues

Pope Gregory Pope Sixtus

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Pope Gregory I (c. 540 – 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was Pope from 3 September 590 to his death in 604. Gregory is well known for his writings, which were more prolific than those of any of his predecessors as pope. He is also known as St. Gregory the Dialogist in Eastern Christianity because of his Dialogues. For this reason, English translations of Eastern texts will sometimes list him as Gregory “Dialogos” or the Latinized equivalent “Dialogus”.

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1615 HUGE FOLIO Pope Gregory I Great MIRACLES Greek Monastics Catholic Dialogues

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Pope Gregory I (c. 540 – 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was Pope from 3 September 590 to his death in 604. Gregory is well known for his writings, which were more prolific than those of any of his predecessors as pope. He is also known as St. Gregory the Dialogist in Eastern Christianity because of his Dialogues. For this reason, English translations of Eastern texts will sometimes list him as Gregory “Dialogos” or the Latinized equivalent “Dialogus”.

 

Main author: Pope Gregory ; Pope Sixtus

 

Title: Sancti Gregorii Magni Papæ primi Opera : Sixti V. Pont. Max. ivssv emendata, aucta, & in tomos sex distributa. Vtpote in quibus, præter accuratam priorum mendarum repurgationem, notas etiam breuiores ad marginem additas, ac typorum quibus illustriora S. Scripturæ loca dignoscantur varietatem, accesserunt insuper pleraque alia lectu & scitu dignissima, antehac cum in Romanâ, tum in Parisiensi editione desiderata …

 

Published: Antverpiæ : Apud Ioannem Keerbergium, 1615.

 

Language: Latin

 

Notes & contents:

  • 2 tomes in 1
    • Two title pages
  • Embossed arms on cover – Antoine de Lenoncourt, Abbot of Gorze (1607 – 1636)
  • 1 engraved plate

 

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Publisher: Antverpiæ : Apud Ioannem Keerbergium, 1615.

Size: ~15in X 10in (38cm x 25cm)

 

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Pope Gregory I (Latin: Gregorius I; c. 540 – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great,[1] was Pope from 3 September 590 to his death in 604. Gregory is well known for his writings, which were more prolific than those of any of his predecessors as pope.[2] He is also known as St. Gregory the Dialogist in Eastern Christianity because of his Dialogues. For this reason, English translations of Eastern texts will sometimes list him as Gregory “Dialogos” or the Latinized equivalent “Dialogus”.

A senator’s son and himself the Prefect of Rome at 30, Gregory tried the monastery but soon returned to active public life, ending his life and the century as pope. Although he was the first pope from a monastic background, his prior political experiences may have helped him to be a talented administrator, who successfully established papal supremacy. He was stronger than the emperors of declining Rome, and challenged the power of the Patriarch of Constantinople in the battle between East and West. Gregory regained papal authority in Spain and France, and sent missionaries to England. The realignment of barbarian allegiance to Rome from their Arian Christian alliances shaped medieval Europe. Gregory saw Franks, Lombards, and Visigoths align with Rome in religion.

Throughout the Middle Ages he was known as “the Father of Christian Worship” because of his exceptional efforts in revising the Roman worship of his day.[3] His contributions to the development of the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, still in use in the Byzantine Rite, were so significant that he is generally recognized as its de facto author.

Gregory is a Doctor of the Church and one of the Latin Fathers. He is considered a saint in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, and some Lutheran churches. Immediately after his death, Gregory was canonized by popular acclaim.[4] The Protestant reformer John Calvin admired Gregory and declared in his Institutes that Gregory was the last good pope.[5] He is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.[6]

Contents  [hide]

1              Early life

2              Monastic years

3              Apocrisiariate (579–585)

4              Papacy (590–604)

5              Works

5.1          Liturgical reforms

5.1.1       Gregorian chant

5.2          Writings

5.3          Controversy with Eutychius

5.4          Identification of three figures in the Gospels

6              Iconography

7              Alms

8              Famous quotes and anecdotes

9              Memorials

9.1          Relics

9.2          Lives

9.3          Monuments

9.4          Music

9.5          Feast day

10           See also

11           References

12           Notes

13           Bibliography

13.1        Modern editions

13.2        Translations

13.3        Secondary literature

14           External links

Early life[edit]

The exact date of Gregory’s birth is uncertain, but is usually estimated to be around the year 540,[7] in the city of Rome. His parents named him Gregorius, which according to Ælfric of Abingdon in An Homily on the Birth-Day of S. Gregory, “… is a Greek Name[sic], which signifies in the Latin Tongue, Vigilantius, that is in English, Watchful….”[8] The medieval writer who provided this etymology[9] did not hesitate to apply it to the life of Gregory. Aelfric states, “He was very diligent in God’s Commandments.”[10]

Gregory was born into a wealthy patrician Roman family with close connections to the church. His father, Gordianus, who served as a senator and for a time was the Prefect of the City of Rome,[11] also held the position of Regionarius in the church, though nothing further is known about that position. Gregory’s mother, Silvia, was well-born, and had a married sister, Pateria, in Sicily. His mother and two paternal aunts are honored by Catholic and Orthodox churches as saints.[11] Gregory’s great-great-grandfather had been Pope Felix III,[12] the nominee of the Gothic king, Theodoric.[13] Gregory’s election to the throne of St Peter made his family the most distinguished clerical dynasty of the period.[14]

The family owned and resided in a villa suburbana on the Caelian Hill, fronting the same street (now the Via di San Gregorio) as the former palaces of the Roman emperors on the Palatine Hill opposite. The north of the street runs into the Colosseum; the south, the Circus Maximus. In Gregory’s day the ancient buildings were in ruins and were privately owned.[15] Villas covered the area. Gregory’s family also owned working estates in Sicily[16] and around Rome.[17] Gregory later had portraits done in fresco in their former home on the Caelian and these were described 300 years later by John the Deacon. Gordianus was tall with a long face and light eyes. He wore a beard. Silvia was tall, had a round face, blue eyes and a cheerful look. They had another son whose name and fate are unknown.[18]

Gregory was born into a period of upheaval in Italy. From 542 the so-called Plague of Justinian swept through the provinces of the empire, including Italy. The plague caused famine, panic, and sometimes rioting. In some parts of the country, over 1/3 of the population was wiped out or destroyed, with heavy spiritual and emotional effects on the people of the Empire.[19] Politically, although the Western Roman Empire had long since vanished in favour of the Gothic kings of Italy, during the 540s Italy was gradually retaken from the Goths by Justinian I, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire ruling from Constantinople. As the fighting was mainly in the north, the young Gregory probably saw little of it. Totila sacked and vacated Rome in 546, destroying most of its ancient population, but in 549 he invited those who were still alive to return to the empty and ruined streets. It has been hypothesized that young Gregory and his parents retired during that intermission to their Sicilian estates, to return in 549.[20] The war was over in Rome by 552, and a subsequent invasion of the Franks was defeated in 554. After that, there was peace in Italy, and the appearance of restoration, except that the central government now resided in Constantinople.

Like most young men of his position in Roman society, Saint Gregory was well educated, learning grammar, rhetoric, the sciences, literature, and law, and excelling in all.[11] Gregory of Tours reported that “in grammar, dialectic and rhetoric … he was second to none….”[21] He wrote correct Latin but did not read or write Greek. He knew Latin authors, natural science, history, mathematics and music and had such a “fluency with imperial law” that he may have trained in it “as a preparation for a career in public life.”[21] Indeed, he became a government official, advancing quickly in rank to become, like his father, Prefect of Rome, the highest civil office in the city, when only thirty-three years old.[11]

The monks of the Monastery of St. Andrew, established by Gregory at the ancestral home on the Caelian, had a portrait of him made after his death, which John the Deacon also saw in the 9th century. He reports the picture of a man who was “rather bald” and had a “tawny” beard like his father’s and a face that was intermediate in shape between his mother’s and father’s. The hair that he had on the sides was long and carefully curled. His nose was “thin and straight” and “slightly aquiline.” “His forehead was high.” He had thick, “subdivided” lips and a chin “of a comely prominence” and “beautiful hands.”[22]

In the modern era, Gregory is often depicted as a man at the border, poised between the Roman and Germanic worlds, between East and West, and above all, perhaps, between the ancient and medieval epochs.[23]

Monastic years[edit]

 

Jerome and Gregory.

On his father’s death, Gregory converted his family villa into a monastery dedicated to the apostle Saint Andrew (after his death it was rededicated as San Gregorio Magno al Celio). In his life of contemplation, Gregory concluded that “in that silence of the heart, while we keep watch within through contemplation, we are as if asleep to all things that are without.”.[24]

It seems to some that Gregory was not always forgiving, or pleasant for that matter, even in his monastic years. For example, a monk lying on his death bed confessed to stealing three gold pieces. Gregory forced the monk to die friendless and alone, then threw his body and coins on a manure heap to rot with a curse, “Take your money with you to perdition”. Gregory believed that punishment of sins can begin, even on one’s deathbed.[25] However, at the monk’s death Gregory offered 30 Masses in his remembrance to assist his soul before the final judgment. Eventually, Pope Pelagius II ordained Gregory a deacon and solicited his help in trying to heal the schism of the Three Chapters in northern Italy. However, this schism was not healed until well after Gregory was gone.[26]

Gregory had a deep respect for the monastic life. He viewed being a monk as the ‘ardent quest for the vision of our Creator.'[27] His three paternal aunts were nuns renowned for their sanctity. However, after the two eldest died after seeing a vision of their ancestor Pope Felix, the youngest soon abandoned the religious life and married the steward of her estate. Gregory’s response to this family scandal was “many are called but few are chosen.”[28] Gregory’s mother Silvia herself is a saint.

Apocrisiariate (579–585)[edit]

 

Illumination in a 12th-century manuscript of a letter of Gregory’s to Saint Leander, bishop of Seville (Bibl. Municipale, MS 2, Dijon).

In 579, Pelagius II chose Gregory as his apocrisiarius (ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople), a post Gregory would hold until 586.[29] Gregory was part of the Roman delegation (both lay and clerical) that arrived in Constantinople in 578 to ask the emperor for military aid against the Lombards.[30] With the Byzantine military focused on the East, these entreaties proved unsuccessful; in 584, Pelagius II wrote to Gregory as apocrisiarius, detailing the hardships that Rome was experiencing under the Lombards and asking him to ask Emperor Maurice to send a relief force.[30] Maurice, however, had long ago determined to limit his efforts against the Lombards to intrigue and diplomacy, pitting the Franks against them.[30] It soon became obvious to Gregory that the Byzantine emperors were unlikely to send such a force, given their more immediate difficulties with the Persians in the East and the Avars and Slavs to the North.[31]

According to Ekonomou, “if Gregory’s principal task was to plead Rome’s cause before the emperor, there seems to have been little left for him to do once imperial policy toward Italy became evident. Papal representatives who pressed their claims with excessive vigor could quickly become a nuisance and find themselves excluded from the imperial presence altogether”.[31] Gregory had already drawn an imperial rebuke for his lengthy canonical writings on the subject of the legitimacy of John III Scholasticus, who had occupied the Patriarchate of Constantinople for twelve years prior to the return of Eutychius (who had been driven out by Justinian).[31] Gregory turned himself to cultivating connections with the Byzantine elite of the city, where he became extremely popular with the city’s upper class, “especially aristocratic women”.[31] Ekonomou surmises that “while Gregory may have become spiritual father to a large and important segment of Constantinople’s aristocracy, this relationship did not significantly advance the interests of Rome before the emperor”.[31] Although the writings of John the Deacon claim that Gregory “labored diligently for the relief of Italy”, there is no evidence that his tenure accomplished much towards any of the objectives of Pelagius II.[32]

Gregory’s theological disputes with Patriarch Eutychius would leave a “bitter taste for the theological speculation of the East” with Gregory that continued to influence him well into his own papacy.[33] According to Western sources, Gregory’s very public debate with Eutychius culminated in an exchange before Tiberius II where Gregory cited a biblical passage (“Palpate et videte, quia spiritus carnem et ossa non habet, sicut me videtis habere”[34]) in support of the view that Christ was corporeal and palpable after his Resurrection; allegedly as a result of this exchange, Tiberius II ordered Eutychius’s writings burned.[33] Ekonomou views this argument, though exaggerated in Western sources, as Gregory’s “one achievement of an otherwise fruitless apokrisiariat”.[35] In reality, Gregory was forced to rely on Scripture because he could not read the untranslated Greek authoritative works.[35] Gregory left Constantinople for Rome in 585, returning to his monastery on the Caelian Hill.[36] Gregory was elected by acclamation to succeed Pelagius II in 590, when the latter died of the plague spreading through the city.[36] Gregory was approved by an Imperial iussio from Constantinople the following September (as was the norm during the Byzantine Papacy).[36]

Papacy (590–604)[edit]

Saint Gregory the Great

Registrum gregorii, san gregorio magno ispirato dalla colomba, 983 miniatura, treviri stadtbiblithek, 19,8×27 cm.jpg

Pope, Dialogist, Church Father, Monk and Doctor of the Church

Born       c. AD 540

Rome

Died        c. AD 604

Rome

Venerated in         Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism

Major shrine         St. Peter’s Basilica

Feast      3 September, 12 March

Major works         Dialogues of Gregory I

Papal styles of

Pope Gregory I

Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg

Reference style     His Holiness

Spoken style         Your Holiness

Religious style     Holy Father

Posthumous style Saint

Although Gregory was resolved to retire into the monastic lifestyle of contemplation, he was unwillingly forced back into a world that, although he loved, he no longer wanted to be a part of.[37] In texts of all genres, especially those produced in his first year as pope, Gregory bemoaned the burden of office and mourned the loss of the undisturbed life of prayer he had once enjoyed as a monk.[38] When he became Pope in 590, among his first acts was writing a series of letters disavowing any ambition to the throne of Peter and praising the contemplative life of the monks. At that time, for various reasons, the Holy See had not exerted effective leadership in the West since the pontificate of Gelasius I. The episcopacy in Gaul was drawn from the great territorial families, and identified with them: the parochial horizon of Gregory’s contemporary, Gregory of Tours, may be considered typical; in Visigothic Spain the bishops had little contact with Rome; in Italy the territories which had de facto fallen under the administration of the papacy were beset by the violent Lombard dukes and the rivalry of the Byzantines in the Exarchate of Ravenna and in the south.

Pope Gregory had strong convictions on missions: “Almighty God places good men in authority that He may impart through them the gifts of His mercy to their subjects. And this we find to be the case with the British over whom you have been appointed to rule, that through the blessings bestowed on you the blessings of heaven might be bestowed on your people also.”[39] He is credited with re-energizing the Church’s missionary work among the non-Christian peoples of northern Europe. He is most famous for sending a mission, often called the Gregorian mission, under Augustine of Canterbury, prior of Saint Andrew’s, where he had perhaps succeeded Gregory, to evangelize the pagan Anglo-Saxons of England. It seems that the Pope had never forgotten the English slaves whom he had once seen in the Roman Forum.[40] The mission was successful, and it was from England that missionaries later set out for the Netherlands and Germany. The preaching of the Catholic faith and the elimination of all deviations from it was a key element in Gregory’s worldview, and it constituted one of the major continuing policies of his pontificate.[41]

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, he was declared a saint immediately after his death by “popular acclamation”.[1]

In his official documents, Gregory was the first to make extensive use of the term “Servant of the Servants of God” (servus servorum Dei) as a papal title, thus initiating a practice that was to be followed by most subsequent popes.[42]

Works[edit]

Liturgical reforms[edit]

John the Deacon wrote that Pope Gregory I made a general revision of the liturgy of the Pre-Tridentine Mass, “removing many things, changing a few, adding some”. In letters, Gregory remarks that he moved the Pater Noster (Our Father) to immediately after the Roman Canon and immediately before the Fraction. This position is still maintained today in the Roman Liturgy. The pre-Gregorian position is evident in the Ambrosian Rite. Gregory added material to the Hanc Igitur of the Roman Canon and established the nine Kyries (a vestigial remnant of the litany which was originally at that place) at the beginning of Mass. He also reduced the role of deacons in the Roman Liturgy.

Sacramentaries directly influenced by Gregorian reforms are referred to as Sacrementaria Gregoriana. Roman and other Western liturgies since this era have a number of prayers that change to reflect the feast or liturgical season; these variations are visible in the collects and prefaces as well as in the Roman Canon itself.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches, Gregory is credited as the primary influence in constructing the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, a fully separate form of the Liturgy adapted to the needs of the season of Great Lent.

Gregorian chant[edit]

Main article: Gregorian chant

The mainstream form of Western plainchant, standardized in the late 9th century,[43] was attributed to Pope Gregory I and so took the name of Gregorian chant. The earliest such attribution is in John the Deacon’s 873 biography of Gregory, almost three centuries after the Pope’s death, and the chant that bears his name “is the result of the fusion of Roman and Frankish elements which took place in the Franco-German empire under Pepin, Charlemagne and their successors”.[44]

Writings[edit]

 

Saint Gregory the Great by José de Ribera

Gregory is commonly credited with founding the medieval papacy and so many attribute the beginning of medieval spirituality to him.[45] Gregory is the only Pope between the fifth and the eleventh centuries whose correspondence and writings have survived enough to form a comprehensive corpus. Some of his writings are:

Commentary on Job, frequently known in English-language histories by its Latin title, Magna Moralia, or as Moralia on Job. This is one of the longest patristic works. It was possibly finished as early as 591. It is based on talks Gregory gave on the Book of Job to his ‘brethren’ who accompanied him to Constantinople. The work as we have it is the result of Gregory’s revision and completion of it soon after his accession to the papal office.[46]

Liber regulae pastoralis (Book of Pastoral Rule / The Rule for Pastors), in which he contrasted the role of bishops as pastors of their flock with their position as nobles of the church: the definitive statement of the nature of the episcopal office. This was probably begun before his election as pope and finished in 591.

Dialogues, a collection of four books of miracles, signs, wonders, and healings done by the holy men, mostly monastic, of sixth-century Italy, with the second book entirely devoted to a popular life of Saint Benedict[47]

Sermons, including:

The sermons include the 22 Homilae in Hiezechielem (Homilies on Ezekiel), dealing with Ezekiel 1.1-4.3 in Book One, and Ezekiel 40 in Book 2. These were preached during 592-3, the years that the Lombards besieged Rome, and contain some of Gregory’s most profound mystical teachings. They were revised eight years later.

The Homilae xl in Evangelia (Forty Homilies on the Gospels) for the liturgical year, delivered during 591 and 592, which were seemingly finished by 593. A papyrus fragment from this codex survives in the British Museum, London, UK.[48]

Expositio in Canticis Canticorum. Only 2 of these sermons on the Song of Songs survive, discussing the text up to Song 1.9.

In Librum primum regum expositio (Commentary on 1 Kings)

Copies of some 854 letters have survived. During Gregory’s time, copies of papal letters were made by scribes into a Registrum (Register), which was then kept in the scrinium. It is known that in the 9th century, when John the Deacon composed his Life of Gregory, the Registrum of Gregory’s letters was formed of 14 papyrus rolls (though it is difficult to estimate how many letters this may have represented). Though these original rolls are now lost, the 854 letters have survived in copies made at various later times, the largest single batch of 686 letters being made by order of Adrian I (772-95).[46] The majority of the copies, dating from the 10th to the 15th century, are stored in the Vatican Library.[49]

Opinions of the writings of Gregory vary. “His character strikes us as an ambiguous and enigmatic one,” Cantor observed. “On the one hand he was an able and determined administrator, a skilled and clever diplomat, a leader of the greatest sophistication and vision; but on the other hand, he appears in his writings as a superstitious and credulous monk, hostile to learning, crudely limited as a theologian, and excessively devoted to saints, miracles, and relics”.[50]

Gregory wrote over 850 letters in the last 13 years of his life (590–604) that give us an accurate picture of his work.[51] A truly autobiographical presentation is nearly impossible for Gregory. The development of his mind and personality remains purely speculative in nature.

Category

Religion

Authors

Pope Gregory Pope Sixtus

Printing Date

17th Century

Language

Latin

Binding

Leather

Book Condition

Good

Collation

Complete