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9. Gregory’s Model of Spiritual Direction in the Liber Regulae Pastoralis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter introduces the major themes and scholarly discussions related to Gregory the Great's approach to the "art" of spiritual direction, which is best represented in his Liber regulae Pastoralis. Following a cursory summary of the competing ideas about spiritual direction that circulated among Christian authors prior to Gregory's pontificate, the chapter examines the context, structure, and content of the Pastoral rule. In doing so, it argues that the Gregory's vision of spiritual direction was a sophisticated synthesis of multiple (previously competing) traditions about pastoral care that he generally, although not always, attempted to put into action during his tenure as bishop of Rome. The chapter concludes with a brief appraisal of the text's reception in later generations along with an analysis of the ways in which it inspired subsequent ideas about the relationship between leadership, responsibility and accountability, whether clerical or otherwise.

Keywords: bishop of Rome; Gregory the Great; Liber regulae Pastoralis; Pastoral rule; spiritual direction



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