St. Gregory was born in Rome around 540 into a wealthy family known for their adherence to the Christian faith. Gregory entered early into an administrative career which reached its climax in 572, when, during chaotic times, he became Prefect of the city. Yet this life could not satisfy him. He decided to leave every civil assignment in order to withdraw into monastic life and spend his time in dialogue with the Lord and listening to his Word.
Cloistered withdrawal did not last long, however. Gregory was universally respected for his civil administration, and his good reputation induced Pope Pelagius to ordain him and send him to Constantinople in order to help bring about a solution to the Lombard invasions. When the plague took the life of Pope Pelagius in 590, Gregory was the unanimous selection as his successor. He tried to resist, even attempting to flee, but to no avail. Recognizing the will of God, the new Pope immediately set to work, especially in regards to the Lombard invaders, dedicating all his energy to peaceful resolution. He saw the Lombard people with the eyes of a good pastor and was concerned with proclaiming the Word of salvation to them and establishing fraternal relationships based on mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.
St. Gregory’s desire for God was always alive in the depths of his soul, and precisely because of this he was always close to his neighbor, to the needy people of his time. Indeed, during a desperate period of havoc, he was able to create peace and give hope. This man of God shows us the true source of peace from which true hope comes. Thus, he becomes a guide also for us today.
From: Pope Benedict XVI General Audience on Wednesday, 28 May 2008