A severe monk

Pope St Gregory I was born around 540 in Rome to a wealthy family who owned estates in Sicily.

He was well educated and became an expert in law. Following in his father’s footsteps he was appointed prefect of Rome, aged 33.

After his father passed away, Gregory arranged for the family villa in Rome to be converted into a monastery, which stands today as the San Gregorio Magno al Celio.

Gregory became a monk known for his severity. When a dying monk confessed to him on his deathbed that he had stolen three pieces of gold, Gregory ordered that he be left to die alone and that his body be thrown on a dung heap with the gold (though he had a change of heart and instead offered 30 masses for the monk’s soul).

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