Slavery and Pope Gregory the Great

Adam Serfass, Kenyon College


This is the only detailed study of slavery and Pope Gregory the Great that is readily available. The first part of the study examines Gregory's theoretical writings on slavery; it focuses, in particular, on a passage in the Regula Pastoralis where Gregory teaches slaves and masters how to find God through their dependency. The second part turns to Gregory's correspondence. In his interventions in slaves' lives, Gregory is seen generally to follow Justinianic law, with occasional deviations therefrom. I argue that an abiding interest in fostering social order underlies both Gregory's views on slavery in theory and his encounters with it in practice.