Saint Gregory

Patron of the Society

Saint Gregory, the patron of our Society was the first Pope of that name. Also known as Pope Gregory the Great he was Bishop of Rome, Pope, from 590 to 604.

He was distinguished for his work in renewing the life of the Church and her liturgy. His teachings, particular on the pastoral ministry of the Bishop, his letters and his homilies, have been of continued significance to the Church leading him to be recognised as a Doctor of the Church.  Even John Calvin, who had little time for Catholicism, admired Gregory: in his Institutes he expressed the opinion that Pope Gregory was the last good Pope.

After an early life in public service, Gregory entered into monastic life but was called from that to serve as the equivalent of a Papal Nuncio to the imperial Court at Constantinople. After serving there for six years, he returned to Rome and to monastic life, only to be elected Pope some five years later.

He was responsible for promoting missionary work to the remaining non-Christian peoples of Western Europe including the mission led by St Augustine to the Anglo-Saxons of Southern England.

Gregory is recorded as being responsible for a general revision of the Roman rite Liturgy, which gave fresh impetus to a divergence of the liturgical tradition of the West from that of the East, This is apparent most notably in the way Western liturgical books contain a wide range of texts proper to particular feasts and season, whereas the texts for the celebration of the Eucharist in the East are much less variable.

The name of Gregory is perhaps most notably attached to the dominant tradition of Western Latin plainchant. The recovery of Gregorian Chant for the liturgy, and particularly its restoration as an authentic means of participation in the liturgy by the laity was a major achievement of the Liturgical Movement during the 19th and much of the 20th Century. It is for this reason Gregory was adopted as patron for the national liturgical Society for England and Wales that continues to bear his name.

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