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Pope Saint Gregory III
Pope Saint Gregory III

Pope Saint Gregory III

Feast Day
Dec 10, 2012
Fought the Iconoclastic Controversy
<p>Pope Saint Gregory III was the Pope from February 11, 731 to November 28, 741.&nbsp; His pontificate like that of his predecessor was troubled by the iconoclastic controversy (the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols) in the Byzantine Empire.&nbsp; He was the son of a Syrian named John, and was elected Pope by popular acclamation. He did not receive the approval of the Byzantine exarch in Ravenna, the last pope to seek the exarch&rsquo;s ratification of a papal election. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Upon his accession as Pope, Gregory immediately appealed to the Byzantine Emperor Leo III to moderate his position on the Iconoclastic controversy.&nbsp; When Pope Gregory&rsquo;s representative was arrested on the orders of the emperor, Gregory called a Synod in November 731, which condemned Iconoclasm outright.&nbsp; Leo responded by trying to bring the Pope under control, although the fleet he sent to enforce the imperial will, was shipwrecked in the Adriatic Sea.&nbsp; Failing, he appropriated papal territories in Sicily and Calabria, transferring ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the former Praetorian Prefect, to the Patriarch of Constantinople.&nbsp; His attempt to force the Duke of Naples to enforce an imperial decree to confiscate papal territory in the duchy failed, as the Duke was supportive of the Pope&rsquo;s stand. &nbsp;</p> <p>Pope Gregory demonstrated his opposition to Iconoclasm by emphasizing his veneration of icons and relics.&nbsp; He repaired numerous beautiful Churches, adorning them with icons and images of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and many Saints.&nbsp; He ordered in the heart of St. Peter&rsquo;s Basilica and Iconostasis, situated between six onyx and marble columns.&nbsp; He also built a new oratory in St. Peter&rsquo;s Basilica, which housed relics of several saints.&nbsp; He was also an enthusiastic supporter of monasticism; he established the monastery of St. Chrysogonus and rebuilt the hospice of Saints Sergius and Bacchus near St. Peter&rsquo;s. &nbsp;</p> <p>Pope St. Gregory also promoted the Church in northern Europe.&nbsp; He supported the continuing mission of St. Boniface in Germany, elevating him to the rank of Archbishop of Germany in 732.&nbsp; In 732, Gregory banned the consumption of horsemeat, both domestic and wild, comparing it as an &ldquo;abomination&rdquo; since it was associated with pagan ritual feastings.&nbsp; He was very conscious of the ongoing Lombard threat, and undertook and completed the restoration of the Walls of Rome. &nbsp;</p> <p>Pope Gregory III died on November 28, 741, and was unsuccessful at stopping the Lombard advance of his time.&nbsp; He was succeeded by Pope Zachary, and was buried in St. Peter&rsquo;s Basilica, in the oratory he had built at the start of his pontificate. &nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><strong>Practical Take Away</strong></span></p> <p>Pope St. Gregory III was a Pope in the early Church, and faced many problems that the early church faced.&nbsp; He was confronted with the Iconoclastic controversy, the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols, and stood up against it.&nbsp; He wanted the Church to be decorated with Icons and Statues of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the great Saints, and did so.&nbsp; He brought that practice into the forefront, as he built and remodeled many churches.&nbsp; He taught that it was not the worship of these icons the Church was promoting, rather a means to draw us into a deeper spirituality. &nbsp;</p>