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Gregory I, ‘the Great’, St

Gregory I, ‘the Great’, St (c.540–604). Pope from 590 and founder of the medieval papacy. As pope at a time of great unrest, Gregory had to deal with the invasion of Italy by the Lombards, and with threats to the position of the Church from the claims of the Byzantine Empire. He maintained the supremacy of the see of Rome, refusing to accept or recognize the title of ecumenical patriarch, which the patriarch of Constantinople claimed. He made important changes in the liturgy (though the ‘Gregorian’ Sacramentary ia a later compilation) and promoted liturgical music (hence the name ‘Gregorian chant’ for plainsong). His many writings were mostly practical, including Pastoral Care, a Commentary on Job (expounding the literal, mystical and especially moral senses of the text), Homilies on the Gospels, and a collection of 854 letters. He was canonized by popular acclamation when he died, and is one of the Doctors of the Church Feast day, 12 Mar.

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