The feast day of St. Gregory the Great is celebrated on September 3.
St. Gregory the Great was born in Rome, Italy around the year 550. He was born into a wealthy family. By the age of 23, he had become the prefect of Rome. The following year his father died. He decided to leave office and to become a monk.
St. Gregory turned his family home into a monastery which he dedicated to St. Andrew. He built six other monasteries on family land in Sicily and gave the remainder of his inheritance to the poor. As a monk he devoted time to prayer, study and meditation. He studied the writings of the Latin fathers.
After four years of prayer as a monk, Pope Pelagius II ordained Gregory a deacon and sent him to Constantinople. He returned to Rome in 586 to serve Pope Pelagius until his death four years later.
Although Gregory was only a deacon he was elected Pope by popular acclaim. His first act was to organize a three day penitential procession asking God to end the plague. The plague ended after the procession reached the church of St. Mary Major.
As pope, Gregory negotiated for peace when the Lombards threatened Rome.
Over sixty of Pope Gregory’s sermons have survived, as well as over 80 letters he wrote. He organized the liturgy and is given credit for the Gregorian Chant becoming popular.
Pope Gregory was well known for his compassion. During a famine Pope Gregory ordered the church to use its assets to feed the poor. He also ordered the clergy to go into the streets to help the poor. If they did not they were replaced.
While Pope Gregory considered the Bishop of Rome to be the first among the bishops he also considered bishops to be equal. Pope Gregory considered the Bishop of Rome to be likened to a final court of appeal. He referred to himself as “the servant of the servants of God.”
Pope Gregory suffered from arthritis in his later years. Pope Gregory was acclaimed a saint by popular decree. He died on March 12, 604. He is the patron saint of musicians, students, singer and teachers.
For it was not poverty that led Lazarus to heaven, but humility; nor was it wealth that prevented the rich man from attaining eternal rest, but rather his egoism and his infidelity.
Quote of St. Gregory the Great
September is the Month of Our Lady of Sorrows