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)

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