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St. Gregory I Dialogus, called the Great, Pope of Rome

VI/VII Centuries
St. Gregory Dialogos (or the Great) was the first monk to become pope. He was born c 540 into a Christian family; on his mother's side, he was related to Boethius. Gregory's grandfather was Pope Felix III, and he is supposed to have been related to Pope Agapetus I as well. In 572, Gregory was made the prefect of the city of Rome, a position he resigned in 574. He used his patrimony to establish the monastery of St. Andrew on the Caelin Hill in Rome and six monasteries in Sicily. In 578, he was ordained a deacon, and in 579, he became the papal nuncio at Constantinople, a post he kept until 585. In 590, he was elected pope. He did not want the job but kept it until his death in 604.

He gave his name to Gregorian chant, although questions exist about his contributions to it. He worked on liturgical texts, and the Orthodox attribute the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts to him. He gained repute for his Dialogues (which contain the only extant life of St. Benedict of Nursia); his missionary work; and his charity toward the poor. In addition to the Dialogues, Gregory's written works include the Moralia on Job, Pastoral Care, Homilies on the Gospel, Homilies on Ezekiel, and a commentary on I Samuel. His non-written works include laying the foundation of the papal state since he was the de facto civil ruler in Italy during and after the Lombard invasions of 592-593; and the centralization of the papacy since he reorganized papal estates to be more directly accountable to him so that they had to follow his plans for relief of the poor.

Karen Rae Keck

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