Registrum of Gregory the Great f.2r
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Letters from popes, archbishops and theologians were an important category of document and literature in the middle ages. The Registrum or letter-book of Gregory I (the Great; pope 590-604) survives in many copies made during the middle ages. Gregory's correspondence was especially important to English churchmen because he was the pope who sent Augustine on his mission to convert the Angles. This copy of Gregory's letter-book was probably at Rochester cathedral priory from the 12th-century. Rochester was the second church founded by the mission. The letters would have been read as historical records, source material for sermons and theological commentaries and probably for personal study and contemplation.
The Registrum opens with a copy of the Creed as given by Gregory. The large decorated letters begin the Creed (upper left) and the first letter (lower right). The letters are arranged in chronological order into books or sections, with Book I beginning September 590. In the lower margin, the inscription identifies the book as belonging to the 'cloister of Rochester [Roffensi]' and implies that it was given by 'prior Alexander', believed to mean Alexander Glanville (prior 1242-1252), although an earlier catalogue of the library seems to list the manuscript.