Carolinne White is Research Fellow in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford and Assistant Editor of the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources.
Gregory, who became pope in 590, oversaw great changes in the church. He was an able pastor and theologian, a promoter of monasticism, and, most significantly, a reformer of the Western church who expanded the prestige and the authority of the papacy. Most of his activities were concerned with the practical shape of the Christian life. He made important changes in the liturgy; wrote an influential treatise, "Pastoral Rule," that set out directives for the pastoral life of a bishop; developed a doctrine of purgatory; wrote treatises, such as his Morals on the Book of Job, that contributed to monastic spirituality. He also promoted the conversion of the Arian Visogoths to Catholicism, initiated the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons in England, and reformed the administration and expenditure of the revenues of the landed estates that supported orphanages, schools, and hospitals. Notwithstanding the great influence that Gregory had on the church as it entered into the Middle Ages, he is remembered for his humility. He rejected the suggestion of the patriarch of Constantinople to style himself the "Universal Patriarch"; rather, he referred to himself as "the servant of the servants of God."
Jerome was the greatest scholar of the ancient church. Most of his mature life was spent in study in various parts of the Eastern Mediterranean. In approximately 372, he set out for the East and stayed in Antioch for a short period, eventually settling as a hermit in the Syrian desert for four or five years. He then spent some time in Constantinople and in 382 returned to Rome, where he became secretary to Pope Damasus. During his brief residence in Rome, he began his revision of the Bible into Latin translated from the original languages. The culmination of his work, which took over two decades, was known as the Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible. He returned to the East in 385 and eventually settled in Bethlehem, where he ruled a newly founded monastery and devoted the rest of his life to study and writing. In addition to the Vulgate, his writings include biblical commentaries and treatises concerning linguistic and topographical material written in order to help in the interpretation of Scripture.