Today the church remembers Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604.At a time when it looked as though England would be lost to heathenism forever, Gregory, Bishop of Rome, observed some handsome Anglo-Saxon lads being sold in the slave market and, moved with compassion, resolved to dispatch missionaries to England (see May 26). Within fifty years England was calling herself a Christian country and, furthermore, the Celtic Christians of the British Isles had been integrated into the Roman Church. Gregory was no ordinary bishop. He was a patrician, a senator’s son, and he had served as mayor of the city for some time before he decided to enter a monastery. Even after becoming a monk he served in a semigovernmental position as representative of the Bishop of Rome in the Imperial Capital, Constantinople. It was in the year 590 that Gregory was elected Bishop of Rome. He proved to be one of the most talented and effective pontiffs of history and, fortunately, he left us an excellent book on the subject, entitled Pastoral Care. He coined the title “Servant of the Servants of God” for his office. With virtually no help from the imperial government he gained a lasting peace in war-torn Italy, and he organized the church in Western Europe to withstand the assaults of the Germanic and Viking invasions. He encouraged and contributed to a form of music which still bears his name, Gregorian Chant. As we sing your praises on earth, O God, may we glimpse the ineffable joy of heaven, so that we might be inspired to share your love with the whole world. Amen.
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Almighty and merciful God, you raised up Gregory of Rome to be a servant of the servants of God, and inspired him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in your Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that your people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.