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Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

February 11
St. Gregory II
(d. 731)


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Born in Rome, Gregory became involved in Church affairs from an early age. It was Pope St. Sergius I who noticed the fine qualities of the pious young man and ordained Gregory a subdeacon. He served under the next four popes as treasurer of the church, then librarian. He was assigned important missions and accompanied Pope Constantine to Constantinople for discussions with Emperor Justinian II. Upon the death of Constantine, Gregory was chosen pope and installed in 715.

Gregory served as pope for 15 years. During that time he held synods to correct abuses, stop heresy and promote discipline and morality. He rebuilt a great portion of the walls of Rome to protect the city against attacks by the Lombards. He restored many churches, and was especially solicitous of the sick and aged. The great monastery near the church of St. Paul was reestablished, as was the abbey of Monte Cassino which had been destroyed by the Lombards 150 years before. He consecrated St. Boniface and St. Corbinian as bishops to go as missionaries to the tribes in Germany. Under Gregory, pilgrims from England increased in numbers to such an extent that they required a church, a cemetery and a school of their own.

It was in his dealings with Emperor Leo III that Gregory's spirit of strength and patience was best shown. Leo demanded the destruction of all holy images and severely penalized those who did not follow his orders. When bishops failed to convince him of his error, they disobeyed and appealed to the pope. On the one hand, Gregory tried his best to change the thinking of the emperor. On the other, he counseled the people to maintain their allegiance to the prince, all the time encouraging the bishops to oppose the heresy.

Gregory II died in 731.



Comment:

Gregory spent his entire career in the papal bureaucracy. He served the Church well, spreading Christianity to Germany and nurturing it in England. He never forgot the needs of the sick and suffering, did his best to ease tensions between Church and State and encouraged loyalty both to the emperor and to the Church’s faith. Every pope has human limitations, but each, like Leo, also brings certain strengths to the office. Our prayer for our pope includes gratitude for his strengths.


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.



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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

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