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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pope Saint Gregory the Great - September 3

Pope Saint Gregory the Great
September 3
Monk, Pope, Doctor of the Church

“…and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;…”

Today we celebrate the feast day of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, born in Rome about 540 to a religious and prominent family. He received the best in liberal education while remaining strong in moral character, due largely to his deeply pious family.

By the age of 30 he had attained the highest office in Rome, the urban prefect, something similar to a mayor. Around this time, his father died, making him one of the richest men in Rome. Moved to monastic life, Saint Gregory gave the properties he had inherited from his father to found seven monasteries. He entered one and gave up his former life of a judge and prefect to pray and do humble service for others.

Monastic life was short lived as St. Gregory was asked to serve as a deacon under Pope Benedict I (575-579) and under Pope Pelagius II (579-590) the pope’s representative at the court of the Roman Emperor in Constantinople. In 586 St. Gregory happily returned to Rome and monastic life as the abbot of the monastery he had founded.

The plague took the life of Pope Pelagius II in 590 and St. Gregory was elected his successor. In the 14 years St. Gregory served as the successor of St. Peter, he wrote more than 800 letters that were collected into 14 volumes (one for each year of his pontificate). In his writings he coined the phrase, “Servant of the Servants of God,” which since the ninth century the Popes have reserved for themselves. St. Gregory made contributions to the development of the Roman liturgy as well as church music, liturgical chant and the formation of singers for the glory of God.

Gregorian chant is named after St. Gregory who is “assigned the entire groundwork of our liturgy in both Mass and Office. This refers not to the composition, but the arrangement of the parts. Very likely St. Gregory composed eight of the hymns used in the Divine Office from his day until the post-Vatican II changes. (Rengers, Christopher O.F.M., The 33 Doctors of the Church, page 195)

St. Gregory died in 604, he is the patron Saint of musicians and singers.

Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo
de Silos  - Gregorian Chant Paster Noster (Our Father)

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

Pope St. Gregory the Great - Raffaello Sanzio
Pope St. Gregory the Great - Francisco de Zurbaran

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