The Earliest Life of Gregory the Great
In his role of apostle of the English and promoter of Augustine's mission, Gregory the Great became the subject of what is one of the earliest pieces of literature surviving from the Anglo-Saxon period: a Life written by an unknown author at Whitby around 680-704. Although crude in its latinity and idiosyncratic in its presentation, this work is a fascinating source of early traditions about the conversion of the English - including the famous story of Gregory's encounter with the Anglian slave boys - and an important witness to the veneration felt for the saint himself. It casts valuable light on English history in the seventh century, particularly on the career of Edwin of Northumbria, and is the source of two of the most famous legends of the Middle Ages, the Mass of St Gregory and the story of Trajan's rescue from hell. The Life of Gregory seems to be the earliest of the Saints' lives of this period and it is in many ways the most remarkable.
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