Whitby Abbey was a 7th-century Christian monastery that became a Benedictine abbey. The abbey church was situated overlooking the North Sea on the East Cliff above Whitby in North Yorkshire, England, a centre of the medieval Northumbrian kingdom; the abbey and its possessions were confiscated by the crown under Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1545. Since that time, the ruins of the abbey have continued to be used by sailors as a landmark at the headland. Since the 20th century, the substantial ruins of the church have been declared a Grade I Listed building and are in the care of English Heritage; the first monastery was founded in 657 AD by the Anglo-Saxon era King of Northumbria, Oswy as Streoneshalh. He appointed Lady Hilda, abbess of Hartlepool Abbey and grand-niece of Edwin, the first Christian king of Northumbria, as founding abbess; the name Streoneshalh is thought to signify Fort Bay or Tower Bay, in reference to a supposed Roman settlement that existed on the site.
This contention has never been proven and alternative theories have been proposed, such as the name meaning Streona's settlement. Some believe that the name referred to Eadric Streona, but this is unlikely for chronological reasons. Streona died in 1017 so the naming of Streoneshalh would have preceded his birth by several hundred years; the double monastery of Celtic monks and nuns was home to the great Northumbrian poet Cædmon. In 664 the Synod of Whitby took place at the monastery to resolve the question of whether the Northumbrian church would adopt and follow Celtic Christian traditions or adopt Roman practice, including the manner of calculating the date of Easter and form of the monastic tonsure; the decision, with the support of King Oswy, was for adopting Roman practices and the date of Easter was set. Streoneshalch monastery was laid waste by Danes in successive raids between 867 and 870 under Ingwar and Ubba and remained desolate for more than 200 years. A locality named'Prestebi' was recorded in the Domesday Survey, which may be a sign that religious life was revived in some form after the Danish raids.
In Old Norse, this name means a habitation of priests. The old monastery given to Reinfrid comprised about 40 ruined monasteria vel oratoria, similar to Irish monastic ruins with numerous chapels and cells. Reinfrid, a soldier of William the Conqueror, became a monk and traveled to Streoneshalh, known as Prestebi or Hwitebi, he approached William de Percy for a grant of land, who gave him the ruined monastery of St. Peter with two carucates of land, to found a new monastery. Serlo de Percy, the founder's brother, joined Reinfrid at the new monastery, which followed the Benedictine rule; the Benedictine abbey was thriving for a centre of learning. This second monastery was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Though the abbey church was stripped and fell into ruin, it has remained a prominent landmark on the headland for sailors; the ruins are now maintained by English Heritage. In December 1914, Whitby Abbey was shelled by the German battlecruisers Von der Tann and Derfflinger, which crew "were aiming for the Coastguard Station on the end of the headland."
Scarborough and Hartlepool were attacked. The Abbey buildings sustained considerable damage during the ten-minute attack. Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula featured the creature, described as resembling a large dog, which came ashore at the headland climbed the 199 steps which lead up to the Whitby Abbey ruins; the original gift of William de Percy included not only the monastery of St. Peter at Streoneshalch, but the town and port of Whitby, with its parish church of St. Mary and six dependent chapels at Fyling, Sneaton, Ugglebarnby and Aislaby; the first prior, ruled for many years before being killed in an accident. He was buried at St Peter at Hackness, he was succeeded as prior by Serlo de Percy. Hilda of Whitby Bosa of York Edwin of Deira, King of Deira and Bernicia, a Saint Oswiu of Northumbria, a King of Bernicia Eahlfrith, widow of King Oswiu and Abbess of Whitby Ælfflæd of Whitby, daughter of Oswiu and Eanflæd an Abbess of Whitby Joscelin of Louvain Sir William de Percy, 1st Baron Percy, Norman baron and Crusader Sir Richard de Percy, 5th Baron Percy, signatory to Magna Carta English Heritage official site Whitby History Media related to Whitby Abbey at Wikimedia Commons Whitby Abbey - English Heritage official site G. Roger Hudleston.
"Abbey of Whitby". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends six weeks before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins and denial of ego; this event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Methodist, Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Some Anabaptist and evangelical churches observe the Lenten season; the last week of Lent is Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday. Following the New Testament story, Jesus' crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, at the beginning of the next week the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday recalls the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the account of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days. Many Christians add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God.
The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ's carrying the Cross and of his execution, are observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches remove flowers from their altars, while crucifixes, religious statues, other elaborate religious symbols are veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event. Throughout Christendom, some adherents mark the season with the traditional abstention from the consumption of meat, most notably among Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Anglicans. Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan. Depending on the Christian denomination and local custom, Lent ends either on the evening of Maundy Thursday, or at sundown on Holy Saturday, when the Easter Vigil is celebrated. Regardless, Lenten practices are properly maintained until the evening of Holy Saturday.
The English word Lent is a shortened form of the Old English word lencten, meaning "spring season", as its Dutch language cognate lente still does today. A dated term in German, Lenz, is related. According to the Oxford English Dictionary,'the shorter form seems to be a derivative of *laŋgo- long... and may have reference to the lengthening of the days as characterizing the season of spring'. The origin of the -en element is less clear: it may be a suffix, or lencten may have been a compound of *laŋgo-'long' and an otherwise little-attested word *-tino, meaning'day'. In languages spoken where Christianity was earlier established, such as Greek and Latin, the term signifies the period dating from the 40th day before Easter. In modern Greek the term is Σαρακοστή, derived from the earlier Τεσσαρακοστή, meaning "fortieth"; the corresponding word in Latin, quadragesima, is the origin of the term used in Latin-derived languages and in some others: for example, Croatian korizma, French carême, Irish carghas, Italian quaresima, Portuguese quaresma, Albanian kreshma, Romanian păresimi, Spanish cuaresma, Basque garizuma, Galician coresma, Welsh crawys.
In other languages, the name used refers to the activity associated with the season. Thus it is called "fasting period" in Czech and Norwegian, it is called "great fast" in Polish and Russian; the terms used in Filipino are Mahál na Araw. Various Christian denominations calculate the 40 days of Lent differently; the way they observe Lent differs. In the Roman Rite since 1970, Lent finishes on Holy Thursday Evening; this comprises a period of 44 days. The Lenten fast excludes Sundays and continues through Good Friday and Holy Saturday, totaling 40 days. In the Ambrosian Rite, Lent begins on the Sunday that follows what is celebrated as Ash Wednesday in the rest of the Latin Catholic Church, ends as in the Roman Rite, thus being of 40 days, counting the Sundays but not Holy Thursday; the day for beginning the Lenten fast is the first weekday in Lent. The special Ash Wednesday fast is transferred to the first Friday of the Ambrosian Lent; until this rite was revised by Saint Charles Borromeo the liturgy of the First Sunday of Lent was festive, celebrated in white vestments with chanting of the Gloria in Excelsis and Alleluia, in line with the recommendation in Matthew 6:16, "When you fast, do not look gloomy".
The period of Lent observed in the Eastern Catholic Churches corresponds to that in other churches of Eastern Christianity that have similar traditions. In Protestant and Western Orthodox Churches, the season of Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to the evening of Holy Saturday; this calculation makes Lent last 46 days if the 6 Sundays are included, but only 40 days if they are excluded. This definition is still that of the Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, Western Rite Orthodox Church. In the Byzantine Rite, i.e. the Eastern Orthodox Great Lent is the most important fasting season in the church year. The 40 days of Great Lent includes Sundays, begins on Clean Monday and are immediatel
In Christian theology and ecclesiology, the apostles the Twelve Apostles, were the primary disciples of Jesus. During the life and ministry of Jesus in the 1st century AD, the apostles were his closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus. In modern usage, missionaries under Pentecostal movements refer to themselves as apostles, a practice which stems from the Latin equivalent of apostle, i.e. missio, the source of the English word missionary. For example, Saint Patrick was the "Apostle of Ireland", Saint Boniface was the "Apostle to the Germans", Saint José de Anchieta was the "Apostle of Brazil" and Saint Peter of Betancur was the "Apostle of Guatemala". While Christian tradition refers to the apostles as being twelve in number, different gospel writers give different names for the same individual, apostles mentioned in one gospel are not mentioned in others; the commissioning of the Twelve Apostles during the ministry of Jesus is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels.
After his resurrection, Jesus sent eleven of them by the Great Commission to spread his teachings to all nations. This event is called the Dispersion of the Apostles. There is an Eastern Christian tradition derived from the Gospel of Luke of there having been as many as 70 apostles during the time of Jesus' ministry. In early Christianity, Paul, is referred to as an apostle, because he was directly taught and commissioned by a vision of Christ during his journey to Damascus; the period of early Christianity during the lifetimes of the apostles is called the Apostolic Age. During the 1st century AD, the apostles established churches throughout the territories of the Roman Empire and, according to tradition, through the Middle East and India; the word "apostle" comes from the Greek word ἀπόστολος, formed from the prefix ἀπό- and root στέλλω and meaning "messenger, envoy". It has, however, a stronger sense than the word messenger, is closer to a "delegate"; the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament argues that its Christian use translated a Jewish position known in Hebrew as the sheliach.
This ecclesiastical meaning of the word was translated into Latin as missio, the source of the English "missionary". In the New Testament, the majority of the apostles have Hebrew names, although some have Greek names. Many Jews at the time had Greek names as well as Hebrew names. Mark 6:7–13 states that Jesus sent out these twelve in pairs to towns in Galilee; the text states that their initial instructions were to drive out demons. They are instructed to "take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse, but to wear sandals, not put on two tunics", that if any town rejects them they ought to shake the dust off their feet as they leave, a gesture which some scholars think was meant as a contemptuous threat, their carrying of just a staff is sometimes given as the reason for the use by Christian bishops of a staff of office in those denominations that believe they maintain an apostolic succession. In the Gospel narratives the twelve apostles are described as having been commissioned to preach the Gospel to "all the nations", regardless of whether Jew or Gentile.
Paul emphasized the important role of the apostles in the church of God when he said that the household of God is "built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone". Although not one of the apostles commissioned during the life of Jesus, Paul, a Jew named Saul of Tarsus, claimed a special commission from the risen Jesus and is considered "the apostle of the Gentiles", for his missions to spread the gospel message after his conversion. In his writings, the epistles to Christian churches throughout the Levant, Paul did not restrict the term "apostle" to the Twelve, refers to his mentor Barnabas as an apostle; the restricted usage appears in the Revelation to John. By the 2nd century AD, association with the apostles was esteemed as an evidence of authority. Churches which are believed to have been founded by one of the apostles are known. Paul's epistles were accepted as scripture, two of the four canonical gospels were associated with apostles, as were other New Testament works.
Various Christian texts, such as the Didache and the Apostolic Constitutions, were attributed to the apostles. Bishops traced their lines of succession back to individual apostles, who were said to have dispersed from Jerusalem and established churches across great territories. Christian bishops have traditionally claimed authority deriving, by apostolic succession, from the Twelve. Early Church Fathers who came to be associated with apostles, such as Pope Clement I with St. Peter, are referred to as the Apostolic Fathers; the Apostles' Creed, popular in the West, was said to have been composed by the apostles themselves. The three Synoptic Gospels record the circumstances in which some of the disciples were recruited, Matthew only describing the recruitment of Simon, Andrew and John. All three Synoptic Gospels state that these four were recruited soon after Jesus returned from being tempted by the devil. Despite Jesus only requesting that they join him, they are all described as consenting, abandoning their nets to do so.
Traditionally the immediacy of their consent was viewed
Early Christianity covers the period from its origins until the First Council of Nicaea. This period is divided into the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period; the first Christians were Jewish Christians, either by conversion. Important practices were baptism, which made one a member of the Christian community, the communal meals, from which the Eucharist developed, the participation in Christ's death and resurrection; the inclusion of Gentile God-fearers lead to a departure from Jewish customs, the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. A variety of Christianities developed throughout the 2nd and 3rd century, alongside a developing proto-orthodoxy, which defined orthodoxy and heresy. Proto-orthodoxy developed in tandem with the growing number of Christians, which necessitated the devlopment of eccelsiastical structure. Early Christians used and revered the Hebrew Bible as religious text in the Greek or Aramaic translations, but developed their own Canon of the New Testament, which includes the canonical gospels, letters of the Apostles, Revelation, all written before 120.
Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as'The Way' coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord." According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD. Christianity "emerged as a sect of Judaism in Roman Palestine" in the syncretistic Hellenistic world of the first century CE, dominated by Roman law and Greek culture. During the early first century CE there were many competing Jewish sects in the Holy Land, those that became Rabbinic Judaism and Proto-orthodox Christianity were but two of these. There were Pharisees and Zealots, but other less influential sects, including the Essenes; the first century BCE and first century CE saw a growing number of charismatic religious leaders contributing to what would become the Mishnah of Rabbinic Judaism.
A central concern in 1st century Judaism was the covenant with God, the status of the Jews as the chosen people. Many Jews believed; the Law was given by God to guide them in their worship of the Lord and in their interctions with each other, "the greatest gift God had given his people."The Jewish messiah concept has its root in the apocalyptic literature of the 2nd century BC to 1st century BC, promising a future leader or king from the Davidic line, expected to be anointed with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age and world to come. The Messiah is referred to as "King Messiah" or malka meshiḥa in Aramaic. In the Synoptic Gospels Jewish eschatology stands central. After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus teaches extensively for a year, or maybe just a few months, about the Kingdom of God, in aphorisms and parables, using similes and figurs of speech. In the Gospel of John, Jesus himself is the main subject; the Kingdom is described as eschatological, becoming reality in the near future.
Jesus talks as expecting the coming of the "Son of Man" from heaven, an apocalyptic figure who would initiate "the coming judgment and the redemption of Israel." According to Davies, the Sermon on the Mount presents Jesus as the new Moses who brings a New Law, the Messianic Torah. His ministry was ended by his execution by crucifixion, his early followers believed that three days after his death, Jesus rose bodily from the dead and was exalted to Divine status. Paul's letters and the Gospels document a number of post-resurrection appearances, the resurrection of Jesus "signalled for earliest believers that the days of eschatological fulfilment were at hand." The resurrection was seen as the exaltation of Jesus to the status of divine Son and Lord. His followers expected Him to return in the near future. Since the 18th century, three scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were developed during each specific phase.
Scholars involved in the third quest for the historical Jesus have constructed a variety of portraits and profiles for Jesus, most prominently that of Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic prophet or eschatological teacher. The first part of the period, named after the lifetimes of the Twelve Apostles as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, is called the Apostolic Age; the Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples to spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. After the death of Jesus, "Christianity emerged as a sect of Judaism in Roman Palestine." The first Christians were all Jews, either by birth or conversion, who constituted a Second Temple Jewish sect with an apocalyptic eschatology. The New Testament's Acts of the Apostles and Epistle to the Galatians record the existence of a Christian community centered on Jerusalem, that its leaders included Peter, the "brother of Jesus", John the Apostle; the Jerusalem Church "held a central place among all the churches,".
Christian missionary activity spread Christianity
Oswald of Northumbria
Oswald was King of Northumbria from 634 until his death, is venerated as a saint, of whom there was a particular cult in the Middle Ages. Oswald came to rule after spending a period in exile. After defeating the British ruler Cadwallon ap Cadfan, Oswald brought the two Northumbrian kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira once again under a single ruler, promoted the spread of Christianity in Northumbria, he was given a positive assessment by the historian Bede, writing a little less than a century after Oswald's death, who regarded Oswald as a saintly king. After eight years of rule, in which he was the most powerful ruler in Britain, Oswald was killed in the Battle of Maserfield. Oswald's father Æthelfrith was a successful Bernician ruler who, after some years in power in Bernicia became king of Deira, thus was the first to rule both of the kingdoms which would come to be considered the constituent kingdoms of Northumbria, it would, however, be anachronistic to refer to a "Northumbrian" people or identity at this early stage, when the Bernicians and the Deirans were still distinct peoples.
Oswald's mother, Acha of Deira, was a member of the Deiran royal line whom Æthelfrith married as part of his acquisition of Deira or consolidation of power there. Oswald was born in or around the year 604, since Bede says that he was killed at the age of 38 in 642; this defeat meant that an exiled member of the Deiran royal line, became king of Northumbria, Oswald and his brothers fled to the north. Oswald thus spent the remainder of his youth in the Scottish kingdom of Dál Riata in northern Britain, where he was converted to Christianity, he may have fought in Ireland during this period of exile. It has been considered that Oswald is one of the three Saxon princes mentioned in the Irish poem Togail Bruidne Dá Derga, being named as'Osalt' in that work. After Cadwallon ap Cadfan, the king of Gwynedd, in alliance with the pagan Penda of Mercia, killed Edwin of Deira in battle at Hatfield Chase in 633, Northumbria was split between its constituent kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira. Oswald's brother Eanfrith became king of Bernicia, but he was killed by Cadwallon in 634 after attempting to negotiate peace.
Subsequently, Oswald, at the head of a small army, met Cadwallon in battle at Heavenfield, near Hexham. Before the battle, Oswald had a wooden cross, he prayed and asked his army to join in. Adomnán in his Life of Saint Columba offers a longer account, which Abbot Ségéne had heard from Oswald himself. Oswald, he says, had a vision of Columba the night before the battle, in which he was toldBe strong and act manfully. Behold, I will be with thee; this coming night go out from your camp into battle, for the Lord has granted me that at this time your foes shall be put to flight and Cadwallon your enemy shall be delivered into your hands and you shall return victorious after battle and reign happily. Oswald described his vision to his council and all agreed that they would be baptised and accept Christianity after the battle. In the battle that followed, the British were routed despite their superior numbers. Following the victory at Heavenfield, Oswald reunited Northumbria and re-established the Bernician supremacy, interrupted by Edwin.
Bede says that Oswald held imperium for the eight years of his rule, was the most powerful king in Britain. In the 9th-century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle he is referred to as a Bretwalda. Adomnán describes Oswald as "ordained by God as Emperor of all Britain". Oswald seems to have been recognized as overlord, although the extent of his authority is uncertain. Bede makes the claim that Oswald "brought under his dominion all the nations and provinces of Britain", which, as Bede notes, was divided by language between the English, Britons and Picts. An Irish source, the Annals of Tigernach, records that the Anglo-Saxons banded together against Oswald early in his reign; the Mercians, who participated in Edwin's defeat in 633, seem to have presented an obstacle to Oswald's authority south of the Humber, although it has been thought that Oswald dominated Mercia to some degree after Heavenfield. It may have been to appease Oswald that Penda had Eadfrith, a captured son of Edwin, although it is possible that Penda had his own motives for the killing.
Oswald controlled the Kingdom of Lindsey, given the evidence of a story told by Bede regarding the moving of Oswald's bones to a monastery there
Bede known as Saint Bede, Venerable Bede, Bede the Venerable, was an English Benedictine monk at the monastery of St. Peter and its companion monastery of St. Paul in the Kingdom of Northumbria of the Angles. Born on lands belonging to the Monkwearmouth monastery in present-day Sunderland, Bede was sent there at the age of seven and joined Abbot Ceolfrith at the Jarrow monastery, both of whom survived a plague that struck in 686, an outbreak that killed a majority of the population there. While he spent most of his life in the monastery, Bede travelled to several abbeys and monasteries across the British Isles visiting the archbishop of York and King Ceolwulf of Northumbria, he is well known as an author and scholar, his most famous work, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, gained him the title "The Father of English History". His ecumenical writings were extensive and included a number of Biblical commentaries and other theological works of exegetical erudition. Another important area of study for Bede was the academic discipline of computus, otherwise known to his contemporaries as the science of calculating calendar dates.
One of the more important dates Bede tried to compute was Easter, an effort, mired with controversy. He helped establish the practice of dating forward from the birth of Christ, a practice which became commonplace in medieval Europe. Bede was one of the greatest teachers and writers of the Early Middle Ages and is considered by many historians to be the single most important scholar of antiquity for the period between the death of Pope Gregory I in 604 and the coronation of Charlemagne in 800. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church, he is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation. Bede was moreover a skilled linguist and translator, his work made the Latin and Greek writings of the early Church Fathers much more accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons, which contributed to English Christianity. Bede's monastery had access to an impressive library which included works by Eusebius and many others. Everything, known of Bede's life is contained in the last chapter of his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, a history of the church in England.
It was completed in about 731, Bede implies that he was in his fifty-ninth year, which would give a birth date in 672 or 673. A minor source of information is the letter by his disciple Cuthbert. Bede, in the Historia, gives his birthplace as "on the lands of this monastery", he is referring to the twinned monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, in modern-day Wearside and Tyneside respectively. Bede says nothing of his origins, but his connections with men of noble ancestry suggest that his own family was well-to-do. Bede's first abbot was Benedict Biscop, the names "Biscop" and "Beda" both appear in a king list of the kings of Lindsey from around 800, further suggesting that Bede came from a noble family. Bede's name reflects West Saxon Bīeda, it is an Anglo-Saxon short name formed on the root of bēodan "to bid, command". The name occurs in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, s.a. 501, as Bieda, one of the sons of the Saxon founder of Portsmouth. The Liber Vitae of Durham Cathedral names two priests with this name, one of whom is Bede himself.
Some manuscripts of the Life of Cuthbert, one of Bede's works, mention that Cuthbert's own priest was named Bede. At the age of seven, Bede was sent, as a puer oblatus, to the monastery of Monkwearmouth by his family to be educated by Benedict Biscop and by Ceolfrith. Bede does not say whether it was intended at that point that he would be a monk, it was common in Ireland at this time for young boys those of noble birth, to be fostered out as an oblate. Monkwearmouth's sister monastery at Jarrow was founded by Ceolfrith in 682, Bede transferred to Jarrow with Ceolfrith that year; the dedication stone for the church has survived to the present day. In 686, plague broke out at Jarrow; the Life of Ceolfrith, written in about 710, records that only two surviving monks were capable of singing the full offices. The two managed to do the entire service of the liturgy; the young boy was certainly Bede, who would have been about 14. When Bede was about 17 years old, Adomnán, the abbot of Iona Abbey, visited Monkwearmouth and Jarrow.
Bede would have met the abbot during this visit, it may be that Adomnan sparked Bede's interest in the Easter dating controversy. In about 692, in Bede's nineteenth year, Bede was ordained a deacon by his diocesan bishop, bishop of Hexham; the canonical age for the ordination of a deacon was 25.
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I known as Saint Gregory the Great, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 3 September 590 to 12 March 604 AD. He is famous for instigating the first recorded large-scale mission from Rome, the Gregorian Mission, to convert the then-pagan Anglo-Saxons in England to Christianity. Gregory is well known for his writings, which were more prolific than those of any of his predecessors as Pope; the epithet Saint Gregory the Dialogist has been attached to him in Eastern Christianity because of his Dialogues. English translations of Eastern texts sometimes list him as Gregory "Dialogos", or the Anglo-Latinate equivalent "Dialogus". A Roman senator's son and himself the Prefect of Rome at 30, Gregory tried the monastery but soon returned to active public life, ending his life and the century as pope. Although he was the first pope from a monastic background, his prior political experiences may have helped him to be a talented administrator, who established papal supremacy. During his papacy, he surpassed with his administration the emperors in improving the welfare of the people of Rome, he challenged the theological views of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople before the emperor Tiberius II.
Gregory sent missionaries to England. The realignment of barbarian allegiance to Rome from their Arian Christian alliances shaped medieval Europe. Gregory saw Franks and Visigoths align with Rome in religion, he combated against the Donatist heresy, popular in North Africa at the time. Throughout the Middle Ages, he was known as "the Father of Christian Worship" because of his exceptional efforts in revising the Roman worship of his day, his contributions to the development of the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, still in use in the Byzantine Rite, were so significant that he is recognized as its de facto author. Gregory is one of the Latin Fathers, he is considered a saint in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, some Lutheran denominations. After his death, Gregory was canonized by popular acclaim; the Protestant reformer John Calvin admired Gregory and declared in his Institutes that Gregory was the last good Pope. He is the patron saint of musicians, singers and teachers.
The exact date of Gregory's birth is uncertain, but is estimated to be around the year 540, in the city of Rome. His parents named him Gregorius, which according to Ælfric of Abingdon in An Homily on the Birth-Day of S. Gregory, "... is a Greek Name, which signifies in the Latin Tongue, in English, Watchful...." The medieval writer who provided this etymology did not hesitate to apply it to the life of Gregory. Ælfric states, "He was diligent in God's Commandments."Gregory was born into a wealthy patrician Roman family with close connections to the church. His father, who served as a senator and for a time was the Prefect of the City of Rome held the position of Regionarius in the church, though nothing further is known about that position. Gregory's mother, was well-born, had a married sister, Pateria, in Sicily, his mother and two paternal aunts are honored by Orthodox churches as saints. Gregory's great-great-grandfather had been Pope Felix III, the nominee of the Gothic king, Theodoric. Gregory's election to the throne of St Peter made his family the most distinguished clerical dynasty of the period.
The family owned and resided in a villa suburbana on the Caelian Hill, fronting the same street as the former palaces of the Roman emperors on the Palatine Hill opposite. The north of the street runs into the Colosseum. In Gregory's day the ancient buildings were in ruins and were owned. Villas covered the area. Gregory's family owned working estates in Sicily and around Rome. Gregory had portraits done in fresco in their former home on the Caelian and these were described 300 years by John the Deacon. Gordianus was tall with light eyes, he wore a beard. Silvia was tall, had a round face, blue eyes and a cheerful look, they had another son whose fate are unknown. Gregory was born into a period of upheaval in Italy. From 542 the so-called Plague of Justinian swept through the provinces of the empire, including Italy; the plague caused famine and sometimes rioting. In some parts of the country, over 1/3 of the population was wiped out or destroyed, with heavy spiritual and emotional effects on the people of the Empire.
Politically, although the Western Roman Empire had long since vanished in favour of the Gothic kings of Italy, during the 540s Italy was retaken from the Goths by Justinian I, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire ruling from Constantinople. As the fighting was in the north, the young Gregory saw little of it. Totila sacked and vacated Rome in 546, destroying most of its population, but in 549 he invited those who were still alive to return to the empty and ruined streets, it has been hypothesized that young Gregory and his parents retired during that intermission to their Sicilian estates, to return in 549. The war was over in Rome by 552, a subsequent invasion of the Franks was defeated in 554. After that, there was peace in Italy, the appearance of restoration, except that the central government now resided in Constantinople. Like most young men of his position in Roman society, Saint Gregory was well educated, learning grammar, the sciences and law, excelling in all. Gregory of Tours reported that "in grammar and rhetoric... he was second to none...."