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Saturday, May 25, 2013
St. Gregory VII
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Today the Holy Church remembers the life of St. Gregory VII (1020 - 1085). Born in Tuscany, Italy, Hildebrand became a Benedictine monk in the famous monastery of Cluny in France. At the death of Alexander II, Hildebrand was elected pope and took the name of Gregory VII.

In the eleventh century the bishops were virtually the dependents of secular princes. Gregory, therefore, fought with constancy and courage for the independence of the Church. His fearlessness stands out strikingly in his conflict with Henry IV, Emperor of Germany.

At the time of his ascension, simony and a corrupt clergy threatened to destroy faith in the Church. Gregory took the throne as a reformer, and Emperor Henry IV promised to support him. Gregory suspended all clerics who had purchased their position, and ordered the return of all purchased church property. The corrupt clergy rebelled; Henry IV broke his promise, and promoted the rebels. Gregory responded by excommunicating anyone involved in lay investiture. He summoned Henry to Rome, but the emperor’s supporters drove Gregory into exile. Henry installed the anti-pope Guibert of Ravenna, who was driven from Rome by Normans who supported Gregory; the Normans were, themselves, so out of control that the people of Rome drove out them and Gegory. The Pope then retreated to Salerno, Italy where he spent the remainder of his papacy. 

As Gregory was dying in 1085, he said, "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile."

Image Source:  Photograph of the Pope Saint Gregory VII stained glass window at Saint Meinrad Abbey, Saint Meinrad, Indiana, USA 

Sources: Patron Saints Index.

Collect:

O God, the strength of all who trust in You, it was from You that blessed confessor bishop Gregory drew courage and perseverance in defending the freedom of Your Church. May his example and intercession help us to face all adversity bravely. 

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

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