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Pope Gregory I

Pope from 590 to 604
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.

Gregory I (or Gregory the Great; ca. 540March 12, 604) was Pope from September 3, 590 until his death.


  • Non Angli, sed angeli.
    • Not Angles, but angels.
    • On seeing some beautiful boys in a slave-market and being told they were Angles. Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, II.i
  • They are rightly named, for their faces are angelic; and such should be the co-heirs of the angels in heaven.
    • As quoted in Sir Edward Creasy History of England from the earliest to the present time, Vol. 1 (1869), p. 102
    • According to the same source, the original dialogue, as recorded in Bede, is as follows: Interrogavit utrum iidem insulani Christiani, aut paganis adhuc erroribus essent implicati. Dictum est quod essent pagani. At ille intimo ex corde longa trahens suspiria; 'Heu, proh dolor!' inquit, 'quod tarn lucidi vultus homines tenebrarum auctor possidet, tantaque gratia frontispicii mentem ab interna gratia vacuam gestat.' Rursus ergo interrogavit, 'quod esset vocabulum gentis illius? 'Responsum est, quod Angli vocarentur. At ille, 1 Bene,' inquit; 'nam et Angelicam habent f aciem, et tales Angelorum in caelis decet esse coheredes. Quod habet nomen ipsa provincia de qua isti sunt adlati 1' Responsum est, quod Deiri vocarentur iidem provinciales. At ille: 'Bene,' inquit, 'Deiri, de ira eruti, et ad misericordiam Christi vocati. Rex provinciae illius quomodo appellatur ?' Responsum est, quod Aelle dicaretur. At ille alludens ad nomen ait: 'Alleluia, laudem Dei Creatoris illis in partibus oportet cantari.'
  • Scriptura sacra mentis oculis quasi quoddam speculum opponitur, ut interna nostra facies in ipsa videatur. Ibi etenim foeda, ibi pulehra 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.
    • As quoted 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
  • No one does more harm in the Church than he who has the title or rank of holiness and acts perversely.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Quotes about GregoryEdit

  • 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.
  • Gregory is in a very real sense the last of the Romans. His tone of command, while justified by his office, has its instinctive basis in Roman aristocratic pride.

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