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14. The Legacy of Gregory the Great in the Latin West

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Chapter Summary

Gregory the Great, the first monk to become pope, was such an admired figure in the Latin West that it is not easy to delineate the extent of his influence. The popularity of Gregory's writings is borne out by vernacular translations made of his writings in the Middle Ages. Gregory drew on this ascetic tradition to show how scripture could be read not just as a body of doctrine, but as a way of helping to re-shape one's life. Gregory's preaching and homilies on scripture circulated quickly in Italy, even during his life. Gregory's teaching on the didactic and devotional place of sacred images was above all shaped by pastoral concerns. Gregory's writings were particularly popular in monastic communities committed to spiritual reform, notably in the Cistercian Order. This chapter concludes that Gregory might no longer have been the object of a devotional cult, but he would never be forgotten.

Keywords: ascetic tradition; Gregory's writings; Latin West; monastic communities; scripture



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