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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

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