Friday, March 12, 2010

St Gregory Dialogos, the Pope of Rome

St Gregory Dialogos, the Pope of Rome - Commemorated on March 12th (

Life of the Saint
"Saint Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome, was born in Rome around the year 540. His grandfather was Pope Felix, and his mother Sylvia (November 4) and aunts Tarsilla and Emiliana were also numbered among the saints by the Roman Church. Having received a most excellent secular education, he attained high government positions.

Leading a God-pleasing life, he yearned for monasticism with all his soul. After the death of his father, St Gregory used his inheritance to establish six monasteries. At Rome he founded a monastery dedicated to the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, where he received monastic tonsure. Later, on a commission of Pope Pelagius II, St Gregory lived for a while in Constantinople. There he wrote his Commentary on the Book of Job.
After the death of Pope Pelagius, St Gregory was chosen to the Roman See. For seven months he would not consent to accept this service, considering himself unworthy. He finally accepted consecration only after the persistent entreaties of the clergy and flock.

Wisely leading the Church, St Gregory worked tirelessly in propagating the Word of God. St Gregory compiled the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in the Latin language, which before him was known only in the verbal tradition. Affirmed by the Sixth Ecumenical Council, this liturgical service was accepted by all the Orthodox Church.

He zealously struggled against the Donatist heresy; he also converted the inhabitants of Brittany pagans and Goths, adhering to the Arian heresy to the True Faith.

St Gregory has left behind numerous written works. After the appearance of his book, DIALOGUES CONCERNING THE LIFE AND MIRACLES OF THE ITALIAN FATHERS (DIALOGI DE VITA ET MIRACULIS PATRUM ITALIORUM), the saint was called "Dialogus." His PASTORAL RULE (or LIBER REGULAE PASTORALIS) was well-known. In this work, St Gregory describes the model of the true pastor. His letters (848), dealing with moral guidance, have also survived.

["He is renowned especially for his writings and great almsgiving, and also because, on his initiative, missionary work began among the Anglo-Saxon people. It is also from him that Gregorian Chant takes its name; the chanting he had heard at Constantinople had deeply impressed him, and he imported many elements of it into the ecclesiastical chant of Rome." (]

St Gregory headed the Church for thirteen years, ministering to all the needs of his flock. He was characterized by an extraordinary love of poverty, for which he was granted a vision of the Lord Himself.

Pope St Gregory the Great, as he is known, died in the year 604, and his relics rest in the cathedral of the holy Apostle Peter in the Vatican."

Works by the Saint
-The Presanctified Divine Liturgy (
-Dialogue II: The Life of St. Benedict of Nursia (
-Pastoral Rule (***
-Register of Letters (***
-Morals on the Book of Job (***
***Note: The links to definitions and the footnotes within these pages may present non-Orthodox information.

Selected Quotes from the Saint
"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."

"For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying: 'If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new' (2 Cor. 5:17)."

"We truly love God and keep His commandments if we restrain ourselves from our pleasures. For he who still abandons himself to unlawful desires certainly does not love God, since he contradicts Him in his own intentions.... Therefore, he loves God truly, whose mind is not conquered by consent to evil delight. For the more one takes pleasure in lower things, the more he is separated from heavenly love."

"I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, the precursor of Antichrist, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalteth himself above others....You know it, my brother; hath not the venerable Council of Chalcedon conferred the honorary title of 'universal' upon the bishops of this Apostolic See [Rome], whereof I am, by God's will, the servant? And yet none of us hath permitted this title to be given to him; none hath assumed this bold title, lest by assuming a special distinction in the dignity of the episcopate, we should seem to refuse it to all the brethren."

Excerpt from The Morals on the Book of Job - Commentary on Job 18:25:
"Ver. 25. For I know that my Redeemer liveth.
For he who does not say, ‘Creator,’ but ‘Redeemer,’ expressly tells of Him, Who after He created all things, appeared Incarnate amongst us, that He might redeem us from a state of bondage, and by His Passion set us free from death everlasting; and mark with what sure faith he makes himself secure in the power of His Divine Nature, of Whom it is said by Paul, For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. [2 Cor. 13, 4] For he says, For I know that my Redeemer liveth. As if he said in express terms; ‘The unbelievers may know that He was scourged, mocked, struck with the palms of the hand, covered with a crown of thorns, besmeared with spittings, crucified, dead: I, with sure faith, believe Him to live after death; I confess with unreserved voice, ‘that my Redeemer liveth,’ Who died by the hands of wicked men.’ And how, O blessed Job, through His Resurrection, thou trustest to the resurrection of thine own flesh, declare, I pray, in open speech. It goes on; And that I shall rise at the last day from the earth."

Icon of Sts. Theophanes the Confessor, Gregory Dialogos, and Symeon the New Theologian, commemorated on March 12th (

Troparion - Tone 4
Receiving divine grace from God on high, glorious Gregory, and strengthened with its power, you willed to walk in the path of the Gospel, most blessed one. Therefore you have received from Christ the reward of your labors. Entreat Him that He may save our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 3
Father Gregory, you showed yourself to be an imitator of Christ, the chief Shepherd, guiding the orders of monks to the fold of heaven. You taught the flock of Christ His commandments. Now you rejoice and dance with them in the mansions of heaven.

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


Theresa Tate said...

Excellent post - thank you! I would love it if you could post about his mother, St. Sylvia, my patron saint.

Agioi_Anargyroi said...

Here is what I found so far about St. Sylvia (Silvia) from Orthodox sources:

"St. Gregory the Great was born in Rome to a wealthy senatorial family. His father, Gordianus was an important senator and a pious Christian who was known for his charity and care for the poor and needy. His mother Silvia was also of an important Roman family. She is honored as a saint, her feast being kept on 3 November. Besides his mother, St. Silvia, two of Gregory’s aunts were also canonized, Gordianus's two sisters, St. Tarsilla and St. Emiliana."

And though it's not related to your query, I found some interesting information about a St. Musa, who was mentioned by St. Gregory:

"Saint Musa [Commemorated on May 16] lived during the fifth century. She was distinguished for her pure life. St Gregory Dialogus included her story in his DIALOGUES, saying that he had heard these things from Musa's brother Probus.

The Most Holy Theotokos once appeared to Musa in a dream, surrounded by girls dressed in white. She asked her, "Do you wish to live together with these maidens in my court?"

"Yes, I do," the girl replied.

"Do not do anything silly, as little girls often do. Avoid frivolity and joking. In thirty days I shall come for you and you will be with us."

From that moment, Musa's character was changed. She began to pray earnestly and lived a strict life. In answer to the questions of her astonished parents, St Musa told them about the vision.

On the twenty-fifth day the maiden developed a fever, and on the thirtieth day she again saw the Mother of God coming to her with the same girls as before. The blessed child reposed with the words, "I am coming, I am coming to you, my Lady!"

St Musa departed this earthly life and was gathered into the heavenly Kingdom, where she glorifies the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit unto ages of ages."

Theresa Tate said...

Thank you Agioi,
I have also heard that St. Silvia was very generous toward the poor and that she went to the gates of the city every day to take food for the beggars. Not much is known about her, and I couldn't find any icons of her. My husband, an Orthodox priest, found a nun in Jerusalem who had the bishop's blessing to write an icon when there is no preceeding one - so I have had her icon for about 20 years, a great blessing.

Thanks for the story of St. Musa - I had not heard of her before. Thanks also for your beautiful blog.

In Christ,