They are not Angles but Angels


St Gregory the Great

Celebrated on September 3rd

The icon above is in three parts - the centre panel shows Gregory as Pope, with the Holy Spirit in the form of the dove, guiding him as he guides the Church. The name “Gregory” means “One who watches the flock”. The right-hand panel shows Gregory in the Roman Forum, seeing the slaves from England , and saying ,“They are not Angles but angels.” an event which prompted him to seek to bring about the evangelisation of the people of England . The left-hand panel shows Saint Augustine and his companions crossing the English Channel, following the directions of Pope Gregory the Great. We give thanks for Saint Gregory the Great, and thank God for all that has happened as a result of his mission to England.

A pope and doctor , born in Rome in 540, St Gregory came from a patrician family and was for a time the chief civil magistrate of Rome. He became a monk when he was about 35, having given his wealth away to establish several monasteries.

From 579 to 585 he was the Pope’s agent at Constantinople. Five years after his return to his monastery he was elected Pope - the first monk chosen for the office.

His papacy lasted fourteen years, during which time, Gregory was tireless, energetic and charitable. He abolished fees for burials. He looked after those suffering from famine. He would not allow injustice to Jews. He wrote hymns. He also reformed church worship and introduced what is now called ‘Gregorian chant’.

Disregarding the right of the Byzantine emperor he made his own peace with the marauding Lombards and ransomed their prisoners.

St Gregory’s writings influenced the church for many centuries. More than 800 of his letters and sermons survive - among them a book on the office and duties of a bishop, which came to be used throughout Christendom, and was translated into English by King Alfred and a long commentary on the Book of Job.

St Gregory the Great has been called the father of mediaeval papacy, without which the early middle ages would have taken much longer to emerge from the chaos which followed the collapse of the Roman Empire.

He called himself: ‘The servant of the servants of God’ - a name that the Popes have used ever since.

(from ICN)


I like hearing about early church history, since I know so little.


I honestly thought this thread was going to be a rant about how often people misspell the word ‘angels’. Inspiring nonetheless.


I on the other hand knew this quote from Pope Gregory! :star_struck:
But we can play with angels/angles if you like and what it results in a poetic way - are angels angles for our souls when we navigate the sea of life?


Mary - I too enjoy and agree with both Pope Gregory’s Latin play on words, and the underlying reference and meaning. I also like the timely reminder given to those Roman generals indulging their post-victory public ‘Triumphs’ - those words spoken usually by a young slave lad at the side of the triumphal chariot - “memento mori”/remember you are mortal.


When Pope Gregory called himself ‘the servant of the servant of God’, I suspect he was very mindful of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles, before the Last Supper.


Fun fact: Pope Gregory I was not the only Catholic planning a mission to the U.K. at this time. Quite independently, an Irish missionary school called Clonard Abbey, in about the same period, planned a number of missions to various countries, including one to the U.K. St. Columba of Ireland led this mission, and took a band of missionaries with him from Ireland to Scotland in 563 A.D. Once there, they set up a missionary headquarters from which they evangelized the rest of the U.K. Eventually these missionaries from Ireland met up with the missionaries from Rome, and there was some initial friction because of different customs followed by Celtic Catholics and Roman Catholics. But they had mostly good relations and eventually those smaller matters were dealt with. You can read the stories of both sets of missionaries, if you want, in St. Bede the Venerable’s fantastic book, Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.




‘Be not anxious about what you have, but about what you are.’ - St Gregory the Great


“Study, I beg you, and each day meditate on the words of your Creator. Learn the heart of God in the words of God, so that you long more ardently for eternity.” St. Gregory the Great. :heart:


I’m lost … thought I was in the prayer forum.


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