Pope Gregory I

Pope from 590 to 603
(Redirected from Gregory the Great)

Gregory I (Latin: Gregorius I; c. 540 – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was the bishop of Rome from 3 September 590 to his death. He is known for instigating the first recorded large-scale mission from Rome, the Gregorian Mission, to convert the then-pagan Anglo-Saxons in England to Christianity. Gregory is also well known for his writings, which were more prolific than those of any of his predecessors as pope. The epithet Saint Gregory the Dialogist has been attached to him in Eastern Christianity because of his Dialogues.

Holy Scripture presents a kind of mirror to the eyes of the mind, so that our inner face may be seen in it. There we learn our own ugliness, there our own beauty.


  • Scriptura sacra mentis oculis quasi quoddam speculum opponitur, ut interna nostra facies in ipsa videatur. Ibi etenim foeda, ibi pulchra nostra cognoscimus.
    • Holy Scripture presents a kind of mirror to the eyes of the mind, so that our inner face may be seen in it. There we learn our own ugliness, there our own beauty.
    • Morals in the Book of Job, 553d, as translated in Cultural Performances in Medieval France (2007), p. 129
  • There are some so restless that when they are free from labour they labour all the more, because the more leisure they they have for thought, the worse interior turmoil they have to bear.
    • As quoted in Summa Theologica Part II of Second Part Q. 182, Art 4
  • The bliss of the elect in heaven would not be perfect unless they were able to look across the abyss and enjoy the agonies of their brethren in eternal fire.
    • Homily of St. Gregory as quoted in A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, Volume 1 by Henry Charles Lea page 241
  • In vain do they think themselves innocent who appropriate to their own use alone those goods which God gave in common; by not giving to others that which they themselves receive, they become homicides and murderers, inasmuch as in keeping for themselves those things which would alleviate the sufferings of the poor, we may say that every day they cause the death of as many persons as they might have fed and did not. When, therefore, we offer the means of living to the indigent, we do not give them anything of ours, but that which of right belongs to them. It is less a work of mercy which we perform than the payment of a debt.
  • Non Angli, sed angeli.
  • They are not Angles, but angels.
    • Aphorism, summarising words reported to have been spoken by Gregory when he first encountered pale-skinned English boys at a slave market, sparking his dispatch of St. Augustine of Canterbury to England to convert the English, according to Bede. He said: "Well named, for they have angelic faces and ought to be co-heirs with the angels in heaven." Discovering that their province was Deira, he went on to add that they would be rescued de ira, "from the wrath", and that their king was named Aella, Alleluia, he said.
      • William Hunt; Reginald Lane Poole, The Political History of England, Vol. 2 (Longmans, Green & Co., 1905), p. 115

The Book of Pastoral Rule

  • No one does more harm in the Church than he who has the title or rank of holiness and acts perversely.
    • p.32
  • And let the fear and dread of you be upon all of the animals of the earth.” Clearly, fear and dread were prescribed for the animals, but evidently it was forbidden among humans. By nature a human is superior to a brute animal, but not other humans.
    • p.62
  • Moreover, because the slothful mind is typically brought to its downfall gradually, when we fail to control our speech, we move on to more harsh words. Thus, at first, we are happy to speak of others kindly; afterwards, we begin to pick at the lives of those of whom we speak, and finally our tongues break into open slander against them.
    • p.124
  • Those who do not speak the words of God with humility must be advised that when they apply medicine to the sick, they must first inspect the poison of their own infection, or else by attempting to heal others, they kill themselves.
    • p.159

Quotes about Gregory

  • The early Christians also extolled torture as just deserts for the sinful. Most people have heard of the seven deadly sins, standardized by Pope Gregory I in 590 CE. Fewer people know about the punishment in hell that was reserved for those who commit them: "Pride: Broken on the wheel. Envy: Put in freezing water. Gluttony: Force-fed rats, toads, and snakes. Lust: Smothered in fire and brimstone. Anger: Dismembered alive. Greed: Put in cauldrons of boiling oil. Sloth: Thrown in snake pits." The duration of these sentences, of course, was infinite. By sanctifying cruelty, early Christianity set a precedent for more than a millennium of systematic torture in Christian Europe. If you understand the expressions to burn at the stake, to hold his feet to the fire, to break a butterfly on the wheel, to be racked with pain, to be drawn and quartered, to disembowel, to flay, to press, the thumbscrew, the garrote, a slow burn, and the iron maiden (a hollow hinged statue lined with nails, later taken as the name of a heavy-metal rock band), you are familiar with a fraction of the ways that heretics were brutalized during the Middle Ages and early modern period.
  • Gregory's letters are extraordinarily interesting, not only as showing his character, but as giving a picture of his age. His tone, except to the emperor and the ladies of the Byzantine court, is that of a head master-sometimes commending, often reproving, never showing the faintest hesitation as to his right to give orders.
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original text related to: