In the Eye of the Storm:  A Biography of Gregory the Great

In the Eye of the Storm: A Biography of Gregory the Great

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Rome in the year A.D. 590. A plague is tearing through the city. Pope Pelagius II is dead. Outside the walls, Lombard soldiers are raising their swords. What can save the Eternal City? All eyes, and all hopes, are on the next pope.

Veteran writer Sigrid Grabner tells the dramatic story of Pope Gregory I—a poor monk known now to history as Saint Gregory the Great. Born to a noble family and trained in Roman law, Gregory had been prefect of the city of Rome as a young man, but he gave up his power and wealth to walk in the footsteps of Saint Benedict. Everything changed when he was raised, against his will, to the highest office in Christendom and found himself, as he wrote to one friend, "in the eye of a storm" at the helm of an "old and rotten ship".

Although Gregory sensed only his inadequacy, he not only steered Rome clear of a shipwreck, but laid the foundations for the future of Europe. In fourteen years as pope, he instituted sweeping financial reforms, ensured legal protection for the poor, developed a system of musical notation, wrote influential works of theology, quieted the Byzantines and the warring Lombards, and led a citywide pilgrimage to the church of Saint Mary Major that, tradition says, brought an end to the plague.

Grabner's vivid narrative of the life of Pope Gregory I reads like a novel, evoking the landscape of early medieval Italy with humanity and realism. It brings us face-to-face with a man who, for all his weakness, became an instrument in the hand of God and let himself be made great.

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