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Gregory The Great (540-604)
Pope Gregory The Great (540-604) was born at Rome in a wealthy and distinguished family. He was possibly the great grandson of either Pope Felix II. or III. and his mother, Silvia, was canonized. He was educated in grammar, rhetoric, and logic and he became a member of the Senate in his early thirties. When his father died, Gregory devoted his inherited fortune to religious causes, founding six monasteries in Sicily, and one at his house in Rome, where is lived as a Benedictine Monk. Pope, Benedict I, made him one of the seven Cardinal Deacons who presided over the seven principal divisions of Rome.
After six years as papal ambassador to emperor Tiberius, in Constantinople he returned to Rome. During this period he became interested in the evangelization of Britain after seeing some beautiful Angle children for sale in the slave-market there. He is famous for the quote “non Angli, sed Angeli”, “Not Angles but Angels). Originally volunteering himself to head a mission to convert the British, with permission of Pope Pelagius, he was only got three days into his journey when he recalled by Pelagius, at the behest of the Roman people.
He was elected pope in 590 as is well known for sending to Britain St Augustine, 596, who became the first Archbishop Of Canterbury, head of the English church.
Gregory’s Pontificate was distinguished a distinguished one, hence the appellation of The Great, both because of his administrative abilities and his fight against major heresies at the time. From a musical perspective he is most remembered for the establishment of Gregorian Chants, many of which are still sung today, especially in Benedictine Monasteries.
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