Spirituality for Today – January 2014 – Volume 18, Issue 6

The 89th Pope
Saint Gregory II

An image of Saint Gregory II, the 89th PopeSaint Gregory II, the 89th Pope

Saint Gregory II (715-731) – Tensions between Church and State arose over the issue of sacred images. Emperor Leo III favored iconoclasm (cessation of veneration of holy images) as a way of removing what he considered a stumbling block in efforts to convert Jews and Muslims. Although the Patriarch of Constantinople affirmed this initiative, Pope Gregory unflappably opposed such a stance personally and officially through a synod in 727. The great popularity of the pope among the people dissuaded the emperor from attempting to assassinate the uncooperative pope – dirty politics, eighth century style. Closer to home, Pope Gregory had to stop the aggressive Lombards from laying siege to the city of Rome. Some 1200 years before allied bombers devastated the hilltop monastery of Monte Casino in World War II, the Lombards devastated it.

In 754, Pope Gregory launched a strong missionary effort to the German peoples in the person of Boniface (Wynfrith). Boniface was very successful in his work among the Frisians. As a result, the pope consecrated him a bishop. Charles Martel, king of the Franks, who entered the history books, most famously, as the "Little Hammer" who stopped the Moorish Muslims from invading central Europe, became a protector of Boniface and, thus, eased his missionary journey.

In Rome, Pope Gregory addresses infrastructure needs due to flooding and general wear and tear. Many churches and monasteries also were refurbished. Pope Gregory was buried in the Basilica of Saint Peter.

Habemus papam