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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

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