Pope speaks on legacy of St. Gregory the Great

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Vatican, May. 28, 2008 (CWNews.com) - At his weekly public audience on Wednesday, May 28, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) spoke about the record of St. Gregory the Great, the Roman Pontiff from 590 to 604. The Holy Father told an estimated crowd of 17,000 in St. Peter's Square that St. Gregory had embarked on a career as a public official, but that work "cannot have satisfied him," because he entered monastic life.

In his solitary study, Pope Benedict said, St. Gregory "acquired a profound knowledge of Holy Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church, which he later used in his own works." Pope Pelagius II made him a trusted adviser, and when that Pontiff died, Gregory was elected as his successor.

A substantial number of documents from St. Gregory's pontificate remain intact at the Vatican, and the Pope said these documents testify to the early Pontiff's skill in dealing with neighboring powers, particularly the Lombards. He was equally active in social work, using the wealth of the Holy See to provide for impoverished priests and religious, ransoming hostages, and arranging truces.

All this, Pope Benedict reminded his audience, St. Gregory accomplished while suffering from frail health. "Notwithstanding the difficult conditions in which he had to work, he managed, thanks to the holiness of his life and his abundant humanity, to conquer the trust of the faithful, achieving what, for his own time and for the future, were truly grand results."

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