Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pope Gregory the Great

St Gregory the Great
From Gregory the Great, Registrum epistularum
c. 1170
Illuminated manuscript
Latin 2287, folio 1v
Département des Manuscrits, Division occidentale, Bibliothèque nationale de France

St Gregory the Great inspired by the Holy Spirit
From Sacramentarium
9th century (c 870)
Illuminated manuscript
Latin 1141, folio 3
Département des Manuscrits, Division occidentale, Bibliothèque nationale de France

St Gregory writing inspired by the Holy Spirit with two copyists acting under the dictation of the Pope
From St Gregory, Epistulae
Early 12th century
Dijon - BM - ms. 0180, folio 001
Abbaye Notre-Dame, Cîteaux

Mass of St Gregory
From Missel de Philippe de Luxembourg
1495 - 1503
Mans (Le) - BM - ms. 0254, folio 057

Mass of St Gregory
From Heures à l'usage de Paris
c. 1490
Moulins - BM - ms. 0079, folio 098

Giacomo Cavedone 1577-1660
St Gregory the Great
about 1640
Oil on canvas
114.3 x 95.3 cm
English Heritage, Chiswick House, Chiswick, London

John Rogers Herbert 1810–1890
Saint Gregory Teaching His Chant
Oil on canvas
83.5 x 119 cm
The Royal Academy of Arts, London 

"Rather than Augustine, the true father of medieval European eschatology was Pope Gregory the Great, the second most-quoted author in Julian’s Prognosticon.  
Gregory set the eschatological tone for the entire period, through his Dialogues, homilies, and biblical exegesis. Presented in an accessible question-and-answer format, enriched with homely anecdotes, his Dialogues were especially popular.  
They were translated into Greek in the eighth century and Old English in the late ninth century, with a personal preface written by King Alfred himself. Book 4 of the Dialogues, which provided a summa on the afterlife and the end times, was particularly influential.  
Its imagery and doctrine permeate the Merovingian Vision of Barontus. When Wetti, a monk at Reichenau in the early ninth century, sensed the approach of death, he asked his fellow monks to read to him from the Dialogues.  
Gregory also guided Byzantine contemplation of the Last Things, especially as the seventh most frequently cited author in the Synagoge of Paul of Evergetis (d. 1054),a widely-influential florilegium on the ascetic life which has shaped the consciousness of many generations of Orthodox Christians. 
Part of the appeal of Gregory’s Dialogues lay in its transmission of “tales useful for the soul.” Such edifying tales originated in ascetic circles, but circulated broadly, and tales in early medieval collections began to reflect the everyday concerns of lay Christians living in the world, as well as those of monastic men and women.  
The stories run the gamut of eschatological anxieties, including the efficacy of almsgiving and prayers for the dead, resuscitation of the dead, the particular judgment of the soul, the struggle for the soul between angels and demons, interim afterlife zones, and the particulars of otherworld punishment and reward. 
Written in simple language, they impressed their teachings on sin, repentance, judgment, and the afterlife on the minds of hearers in concrete, unforgettable terms. 
Like the monk Wetti on his deathbed, Christians throughout the ages have derived both compunction and consolation from these short, homely tales of the death and afterlife fate of both ordinary and extraordinary people." 
Jane Baun, Last Things in The Cambridge History of Christianity; volume 3, Early medieval Christianities, c. 600–c. 1100,  pages 610 - 611

As well as theology the contribution of St Gregory to liturgy especially  the proper celebration of the Eucharist. was also immense

Of Music and Chant he wrote:
"For the voice of melody, whenever it is moved by the intention of the heart, is made thereby to return again to the heart by the agency of Almighty God, so that it pours the mysteries of prophecy or the grace of compunction into the intent mind. Whence it is written:
“The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me: and there is the way by which I will show him the salvation of God” (Ps 49:23). 
As in the Latin salutare, so in Hebrew Jesus is meant. 
Furthermore, the way of revelation of Christ is in the sacrifice of praise, because while compunction is poured out through the melody, a way is opened in our hearts whereby we can finally approach Christ, as He speaks of the revelation of Himself." (In Ez. hom. I, 15)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The wisdom of Saint Gregory the Great

St Gregory in the Initial "U"
From The Letters of St Gregory the Great
Avranches - BM - ms. 0102, f. 001
Abbey Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy

St Gregory writing while inspired by the Holy Spirit
From St Gregory the Great Homiliae in Evangelia
Before 1072
Avranches - BM - ms. 0103, f. 004v
Abbey Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy

Gregory the Great in Initial "A" of Gregory`s Homily on "Luke 15"
From Lectionary F of the Chapter of Reims
Before 1096
Reims - BM - ms. 0294, f 252
Manassès de Châtillon, Reims

In these illustrations St Gregory the Great is shown blessed by the Hand of God and inspired by the Holy Spirit

Gregory (540-604) was the 64th Pope of the Latin Church, the first to take the title "servus servorum Dei" 

During the Middle Ages he was one of the most read and copied authors

It was during this time he was one of the four Doctors of the Latin Church

Pope Gregory the Great inspired by the Holy Spirit dictating to his secretary, the deacon Peter
From the Hartker-Antiphonar
Cod. Sang. 390, f 13
Stiftsbibliothek, St. Gallen

Saint Gregory the Great and his Deacon Peter
From Jean Mansel Fleur des histoires
c 1470
Illuminated manuscript
Paris - Bibl. Mazarine - ms. 1560, f. 219

"When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice" (Saint Gregory the Great, Pastoral Rule, 3:21)

 "Holy Church has two lives: one that she lives in time, the other that she receives eternally; one with which she struggles on earth, the other that is rewarded in heaven; one with which she accumulates merits, the other that henceforth enjoys the merits earned. And in both these lives she offers a sacrifice: here below, the sacrifice of compunction, and in heaven above, the sacrifice of praise. Of the former sacrifice it is said: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit' (Ps 51[50]: 19); of the latter it is written:  "Then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and in whole burnt offerings' (Ps 51[50]: 21).... In both, flesh is offered, since the sacrifice of the flesh is the mortification of the body, up above; the sacrifice of the flesh is the glory of the resurrection in praise to God. In heaven, flesh will be offered as a burnt holocaust when it is transformed into eternal incorruptibility, and there will be no more conflict for us and nothing that is mortal, for our flesh will endure in everlasting praise, all on fire with love for him" 
(Saint Gregory the Great, Homilies on Ezechiel, 2, Rome 1993, p. 271)

“The supreme art is the direction of souls” (Saint Gregory the Great, Regula Pastoralis, I, 1: PL 77, 14)

"[T]he faithlessness of Thomas was far more useful to us, as regards faith, than the faith of the other disciples. While, in fact, Thomas is brought back to faith through touch, our mind is consolidated in faith with the overcoming of all doubt, Thus the disciple, who doubted and touched, became a witness to the reality of the Resurrection" (Saint Gregory the Great, XL Homiliarum in Evangelia lib. III, Homil. 26, 7: P.L. 76, 1201)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Arbor augustiniana

Oliviero Gatti of Bologna (1579-ca. 1648)
Mysticae Augustinensis Eremi sacrum gloriae decorisq. Theatrum , or otherwise known as Arbor augustiniana
145 x 160 cm
Wellcome Library, London

The Wellcome Library blog in its article Hermitage and heritage: Augustinians in history displays a gigantic etching (approx 145 x 160 cm.) produced on twelve plates in 1614 by the Italian engraver Oliviero Gatti

It is entitled Mysticae Augustinensis Eremi sacrum gloriae decorisq. Theatrum (“Sacred display of the mystic glory and distinction of the Augustinian hermitage”). It is also called Arbor augustiniana (“The Augustinian tree”).

It was commissioned by two Augustinian friars, P. Abbate Marc'Antonio Viani (from Bologna) and Paulus Vois Wadowita (from Wadowice in Poland) (d. 1616), historian and theologian

In the work Saint of Augustine of Hippo sits holding the Rule of his Order. Around him are representatives of the sacred and knightly orders associated with him, saints and martyrs, and eminent Augustinian friars and nuns, as well as  his mother, Saint Monica

Shortly after this time in 1624 Schelte Adamsz. Bolswert produced his  series of 28 engravings entitled Iconographia magni patris Aurelli Augustini : Hipponensis episcopi, et ecclesiae doctoris excellenti... 

They depicted scenes of the life of St Augustine.  Each plate  had verses below the image

Bolswert was among the second generation of engravers working for the painter Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp. He received his first artistic training in the workshop of his brother Boetius (1580–1633).

Some of the Baroque iconography depicted below set a standard and was used as a template in future lives of the saint