This Sunday, March 12 (on the Gregorian calendar named after a later Pope Gregory) Christians in both East and West celebrate the memory of Pope St. Gregory I. Though both sides honor this Pope as a great saint, I imagine that some in the Eastern church would think him somewhat controversial as the father of a major doctrine that would eventually divide East and West from each other. Here's some information on this saint from both traditions.From the Eastern Orthodox Church
(source: the OCA web site: www.oca.org
Saint Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome, was born in Rome around the year 540. His grandfather was Pope Felix, and his mother Sylvia (November 4) and aunts Tarsilla and Emiliana were also numbered among the saints by the Roman Church. Having received a most excellent secular education, he attained high government positions.
Leading a God-pleasing life, he yearned for monasticism with all his soul. After the death of his father, St Gregory used his inheritance to establish six monasteries. At Rome he founded a monastery dedicated to the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, where he received monastic tonsure. Later, on a commission of Pope Pelagius II, St Gregory lived for a while in Constantinople. There he wrote his Commentary on the Book of Job.
After the death of Pope Pelagius, St Gregory was chosen to the Roman See. For seven months he would not consent to accept this service, considering himself unworthy. He finally accepted consecration only after the persistent entreaties of the clergy and flock.
Wisely leading the Church, St Gregory worked tirelessly in propagating the Word of God. St Gregory compiled the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in the Latin language, which before him was known only in the verbal tradition. Affirmed by the Sixth Ecumenical Council, this liturgical service was accepted by all the Orthodox Church.
He zealously struggled against the Donatist heresy; he also converted the inhabitants of Brittany pagans and Goths, adhering to the Arian heresy to the True Faith.
St Gregory has left behind numerous written works. After the appearance of his book, DIALOGUES CONCERNING THE LIFE AND MIRACLES OF THE ITALIAN FATHERS (DIALOGI DE VITA ET MIRACULIS PATRUM ITALIORUM), the saint was called "Dialogus." His PASTORAL RULE (or LIBER REGULAE PASTORALIS) was well-known. In this work, St Gregory describes the model of the true pastor. His letters (848), dealing with moral guidance, have also survived.
St Gregory headed the Church for thirteen years, ministering to all the needs of his flock. He was characterized by an extraordinary love of poverty, for which he was granted a vision of the Lord Himself.
Pope St Gregory the Great, as he is known, died in the year 604, and his relics rest in the cathedral of the holy Apostle Peter in the Vatican.From the Roman Catholic Church
"In his dealings with the Churches of the West, Gregory acted invariably on the assumption that all were subject to the jurisdiction of the Roman See. Of the rights claimed or exercised by his predecessors he would not abate one tittle; on the contrary, he did everything in his power to maintain, strengthen, and extend what he regarded as the just prerogatives of the papacy. It is true that he respected the privileges of the Western metropolitans, and disapproved of unnecessary interference within the sphere of their jurisdiction canonically exercised. . . . But of his general principle there can be no doubt whatever." (Dudden, I, 475).
There cannot be the smallest doubt that Gregory claimed for the Apostolic See, and for himself as pope, a primacy not of honor, but of supreme authority over the Church Universal. This position naturally made it impossible for him to permit the use of the title Ecumenical Bishop assumed by the Patriarch of Constantinople, John the Faster, at a synod held in 588. "As regards the Church of Constantinople," he writes in Epp., IX, xxvi, "who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See? Why, both our most religious lord the emperor, and our brother the Bishop of Constantinople continually acknowledge it."
His great claim to remembrance lies in the fact that he is the real father of the medieval papacy (Milman). With regard to things spiritual, he impressed upon men's minds to a degree unprecedented the fact that the See of Peter was the one supreme, decisive authority in the Catholic Church. In the Eastern Churches, too, the papal authority was exercised with a frequency unusual before his time, and we find no less an authority than the Patriarch of Alexandria submitting himself humbly to the pope's "commands". The system of appeals to Rome was firmly established, and the pope is found to veto or confirm the decrees of synods, to annul the decisions of patriarchs, and inflict punishment on ecclesiastical dignitaries precisely as he thinks right. Nor is his work less noteworthy in its effect on the temporal position of the papacy. Seizing the opportunity which circumstances offered, he made himself in Italy a power stronger than emperor or exarch, and established a political influence which dominated the peninsula for centuries. From this time forth the varied populations of Italy looked to the pope for guidance, and Rome as the papal capital continued to be the centre of the Christian world. Gregory's work as a theologian and Doctor of the Church is less notable. In the history of dogmatic development he is important as summing up the teaching of the earlier Fathers and consolidating it into a harmonious whole, rather than as introducing new developments, new methods, new solutions of difficult questions. It was precisely because of this that his writings became to a great extent the compendium theologiae or textbook of the Middle Ages, a position for which his work in popularizing his great predecessors fitted him well. Achievements so varied have won for Gregory the title of "the Great", but perhaps, among our English-speaking races, he is honoured most of all as the pope who loved the bright-faced Angles, and taught them first to sing the Angels' song.