St Gregory the Great
St Gregory the Great was a Pope and a Doctor of the Church. At first he was a Praetor at Rome, a high ranking position in the Roman civil service. However, after his father’s death, he exchanged his toga for a monk’s habit, and being a wealthy man, he built six monasteries.
One day, he saw some Britons being auctioned as slaves, and this inspired him to make a mission to Britain, in order to convert it to Christianity. However, the people of Rome were extremely upset at the thought of his leaving Rome, and persuaded the Pope to forbid Gregory from departing. Later the Pope died, and Gregory was made his successor. Gregory was unwilling to accept the Pontificacy, and fled from Rome to hide himself from public eye. He was a great scholar and patron of the arts. He founded a school for plainchant; Gregorian plainchant is still used in our churches today. His writings were embodied into the Canon law; he instituted the Canon (or Consecration) Prayer at the Mass, and the custom of reciting the Lord’s Prayer over the Host at the Canon – a custom continued even in the most recent forms of the Eucharist. He was a modest man, calling his writings “bran” in comparison to those of his disciple, St.Augustine. When Gregory sent Augustine to Britain, to make the mission he himself was prevented from making, he gave Augustine free rein to use whatever form of service he thought best, and showed no sign of jealousy. St. Gregory died in 604, after a glorious Pontificacy of thirteen years.