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Sayer, Robert Gregory (Seare)


Benedictine moral theologian; b. Redgrave (Suffolk), 1560; d. Venice, October 30, 1602. Other variant forms of his family name occur; he is sometimes called Sayr or Saire, or in Latin Sarius or Sayrus, and in Italian Sario or Sairo. Robert was his baptismal name, Gregory his name in religion. He studied at Caius College, Cambridge, but was denied his degree because of his papist tendencies. Leaving Cambridge in 1582 he went to the English College of Douai, then located at Reims, and later the same year went on to the English College in Rome. He was ordained in 1585 and became a Benedictine at Monte Cassino in 1588. He taught moral theology at Monte Cassino until 1595, when he was sent to the Monastery of St. George in Venice where he remained until his death. In spite of the relatively short span of his teaching career he produced a number of important theological works that enjoyed a considerable success and earned him a place among the leading moralists of his time. Among them were: De sacramentis in communi (Venice 1599), Thesaurus casuum conscientiae (Venice 1601); Clavis regia sacerdotum casuum conscientiae sive theologiae moralis thesauri, etc. (Venice 1605). He was a probabilist, though he cannot be classified as such without some qualification. His works show the influence of Bartolomé de medina and Martin aspilcueta. It would be inaccurate to infer from the titles of some of his works that he was chiefly a casuist, for he used casuistry simply as a means of clarifying and expounding moral principles.

Bibliography: j. mercier Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 14.1:124142. j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time, 5 v. (London-New York 18851902; repr. New York 1961) 5:481482. e. j. mahoney, The Theological Position of Gregory Sayrus, O.S.B. (doctoral diss. Fribourg 1922); "Gregory Sayers, O.S.B.: A Forgotten English Moral Theologian," American Catholic Historical Review 5 (1925) 2937.

[p. k. meagher]

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