Pope Gregory I, otherwise known as St. Gregory the Great, was elected Pope in 590 AD and served until 604 AD. Son of a prominent Roman family, Gregory was raised during a difficult time in Roman history. In the Fourth century, Rome had been abandoned for the wealth of eastern Byzantium, leaving Rome without an Emperor. In 476 AD, Rome finally fell to the Gothic invasions that had been plaguing the borders steadily for a century. It was during this time of wars and plague that Gregory grew up on the Caelian Hill, eventually become urban prefect when he was thirty-two.
In 574, Gregory chose to lead a life of contemplation and prayer, and promptly entered the Monastery of St. Andrew. His devoutness earned him the notice of the Pope, who appointed Gregory Deacon of Rome, and sent him as a delegate to Constantinople.
In 590, Gregory was brought back to the secular world as Pope Gregory I. He was to a great extent a civic protector of the abandoned city, and negotiated a series of peace treaties with the invading barbarians and Lombards. In religious matters, Gregory is credited with rejuvenating the Church’s missionary work, send Augustine to convert Britain. He revised the liturgy and the sacraments, harnessed the Churches resources towards helping the poor, and continued a monastic lifestyle. He is the patron Saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.
Where you can find Gregory today:
Gregory I is interred in St. Peter’s Basilica but walking around Rome you can still find allusions to his life. During Gregory’s time as Pope, Rome was hit by a terrible plague. In an effort to end it, Gregory led a march through the city. At Hadrian’s Tomb legend has it Gregory had a vision of the Archangel Michael on top of the tomb, sheathing his sword, signifying that Rome would be spared. The 18th century version can be seen atop the Castel St. Angelo today.