Saint Gregory the Great was born in Rome around the year 540 A.D. He was once described as “a saint among saints”. His mother is venerated as Saint Sylvia and Tarsilla and Aemilians, two of his paternal aunts, have also been canonized. His father, Gordianus, was a Roman patrician. His great-great-grandfather was Pope Felix III.
Little is known about his early life except that he was extremely devoted to God. At first, he followed in his father’s footsteps and even became the prefect of Rome. However, he decided to become a monk around the year 574. He disposed of all his estates and even turned his own house into a monastery dedicated to Saint Andrew.
Gregory later described his years at Saint Andrew’s, where he strictly followed the Rule of Saint Benedict, as the happiest of his life. However, his spiritual writings and the number of devote monks his monastery housed quickly brought him to the attention of Pope Pelagius II. Against the humble monk’s will, the Holy Father ordained him one of the seven deacons of Rome and sent him on diplomatic missions throughout the world. In 579, he was sent to the Court of Byzantium where he remained for approximately six years. This mission was absolute torture for a man who wanted only to serve God through an austere life. When he was recalled to Rome in 585, he looked forward to living out his life in peace.
God had other plans, however. In 590, Pelagius II died during a plague that completely devastated the city of Rome. Almost immediately, Gregory was elected his successor. He begged the clerics to change their minds and even considered running away. However, the Emperor himself approved the monk’s election. On September 3, 590, Gregory I was consecrated pope.
During the fourteen years of his papacy, Gregory reformed the Liturgy, invented Gregorian chant, negotiated with the Lombards, dealt with the patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, and wrote volumes on the roles of priests and bishops. He also continued to follow the Rule of Saint Benedict and to live an austere life.
Saint Gregory the Great died peacefully on March 12, 604. He is the patron saint of the West Indies and Montone, Italy and also of popes and singers. He is considered a theologian and a Doctor of the Church and his feast day is September 3.
Source: Butler’s Lives of the Saints