Friday, 3 April 2015

Pere Maymó: Chants, Icons, and Relics in the Evangelization Doctrine of Gregory the Great: The Case of Kent

When Gregory I (590-604) was elected bishop of Rome, nothing seemed to foresee that a pope could undertake any pastoral deed. Nevertheless, Gregory managed to attend his primary vocation: to spread Christianism to the pagans. There was a kind of "method" to evangelize them, but Gregory adopted "conventional" missionary procedures and added his own pragmatic vision to achieve his major goal, emphasizing a powerful way to reach their hearts: music, image, and relics. 
We have slight evidences of Gregory'sRegistrum and of his Moralia, but we must rely on Bede's Historia ecclesiastica if we want to restore what role may these complementary evangelization methods have played in the conversion of heathen Jutes in the kingdom of Kent. The pope sent two retinues to Canterbury and the missionaries seem to have used icons and chants in their first encounter with king Ethelbert on the island of Thanet in 597. Also, we find a reference to the true relics of Sixtus in the controverted Libellus responsionum addressed to Augustine, and another in a letter sent to Mellitus on his way to Kent in which Gregory presents an accommodating spirit concerning cultual substitution of the pagan shrines.
In our contribution, we will focus on the actions undertaken in comparison with other Gregorian endeavours in imperial Italy or the Frankish kingdoms, also considering his influence in Anglo-Saxon England, especially evidenced in the concile of Cloveshoe of 747, which reveals the importance of Gregory's moral authority of the pontiff as apostle of the English.

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