Dialogues of St Gregory the Great
Peter, Gregory's interlocutor, laments that he has never heard of in Italy who has lived a life of intimate communion with God. The world seems far too busy for that. To the contrary, Gregory offers a litany of stories of Italian saints--from Honoratus of Funda who pinned a great rock to a mountainside to prevent it from crushing an abbey, to the holy virgin Tarsilla who received a vision of Pope Felix immediately before her death. Several of these stories are well known even to this day, while others, like the story of Florentius and his ill-fated bear, are merely strange and picturesque.
Perhaps most importantly, Gregory's Dialogues contain an entire book dedicated to the life of Saint Benedict of Nursia. This portion of the Dialogues represents the most detailed and lengthy biography of Benedict from a near contemporary and is the source of many of the stories told about this important saint.
The Dialogues served a higher function than simple folk-history--they were a spiritual exhortation to Gregory's worn and weary countrymen. To modern readers, these tales of visions, miracles and extraordinary Christian virtue paint a vivid portrait of daily life amid the wreckage of once-prosperous Roman Italy. In addition, the Dialogues offer a glimpse into the theology of one of the great minds of the Church during the time when Roman authority ebbed forever in the West and ecclesiastical authority emerged to fill the void.
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