« Gnosticism Gordianus, father of Pope Gregory the Great Gratianus, emperor »

Gordianus, father of Pope Gregory the Great

Gordianus (7), father of pope Gregory the Great, was a noble Roman of senatorial rank; and descended from a pope Felix (Joann. Diac. in Vit. S. Gregorii; Greg. Dialog. l. 4, c. 16). John the Deacon says that Felix IV. (acc. 523) was his ancestor; but this pope being described as a Samnite, whereas Gregory is always spoken of as of Roman descent, Felix III. (acc. 467) is more probable. A large property accrued to Gregory on his father's death. Gordianus is described as a religious man, and thus contributing to the eminently religious training of his son, though not canonized after death, as were his wife Silvia, and his two sisters, Tarsilla and 399Aemiliana. John the deacon (op. cit. l. 4, c. 83) describes two pictures of him and his wife Silvia remaining to the writer's time (9th cent.) in the Atrium of St. Andrew's monastery, where they had been placed by St. Gregory himself, the founder of the monastery. Gordianus is represented as standing before a seated figure of St. Peter (who holds his right hand) and as clothed in a chestnut-coloured planeta over a dalmatic, and with caligae on his feet. Gordianus is designated "Regionarius," from which, as well as from his dress, Baronius supposes that he was one of the seven cardinal deacons of Rome, it having been not uncommon, he says, for married men, with the consent of their wives, to embrace clerical or monastic life. As to the dress, he adduces two of St. Gregory's epistles (Ep. 113, l. i. ind. 2, and Ep. 28, l. 7, ind. 1) to shew that the dalmatic and caligae were then part of the costume of Roman deacons. But the meaning of the title "regionarius" is uncertain. It occurs in St. Gregory's Ep. 5, l. 7, ind. 1, in Ep. 2 of pope Honorius I. (regionarius nostrae sedis); in Aimoinus, de Gestis Francorum, pt. 2, p. 247 (regionarius primae sedis); in Vit. Ludovici Pii, ann. 835 (regionarius Romanae urbis); and in Anastasius, On Constantine (Theophanes regionarius). In two of these instances, those from Honorius and Aimoinus, the persons so designated are expressly said to be subdeacons. It seems to have denoted an office connected with the city of Rome and the apostolic see, but certainly not one confined to deacons. As to the dress, it is merely originally ordinary lay costume, the planeta, rather than the casula, having been worn by persons of rank. St. Gregory himself, in his portrait in the same monastery described by John the deacon, wears precisely the same dress, even to the colour of the planeta, only having the pallium over it, to mark his ecclesiastical rank.


« Gnosticism Gordianus, father of Pope Gregory the Great Gratianus, emperor »
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