The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Constantine (708-715)
At an unknown date between 708 and 715 (II)

(2) 1. GREGORIO (ca. 669-731)

Birth. Ca. 669, Rome. Son of Patrician Marcello and Onesta. He may have been a member of the Savelli family. He is also listed as Gregorio iunor.

Education. He was raised and educated at the Lateran patriachium, the office complex, with annexed schools and colleges, where was exercised the patrimonial and ecclesiastical administration of the papacy. He spoke Greek and Latin and had a profound knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures. Three sources say that he was a Benedictine monk (1).

Sacred orders. He received the subdiaconate from Pope Sergius I, and held the in the patriarchium the important office of sacellario, and was entrusted with the care of the "Bibliotheca".

Cardinalate. Deacon cardinalis of the Holy Roman Church at an unknown date between 708 and 715 (2). He accompanied Pope Constantine in the journey he made to Constantinople and Nicea in 710. There he played an important role in the negotiations that solved the conflict between the papacy and the Byzantine Empire caused by the Council of Quinisesto, celebrated by Emperor Justinian II in 691-692. During his stay in Constantinople, Deacon Gregorio seems to have enjoyed the appreciation of the emperor himself, answering his arguments on various topics. He was vir castus, divine Scripture eruditus, fecundus loquella et constans animo, ecclesiasticarum rerum defensor et conrariis fortissimus impugnator (3). He was extremely charitable with the poor, the children and the widows.

Papacy. Consecrated pope on My 19, 715, forty days after the death of his predecessor Pope Constantine. Took the name Gregory II. His first efforts were directed to the maintenance of the city of Rome. He undertook the restoration of the walls of the city, which had been in poor conditions for a long time. He encountered resistance on the part of the lay authorities who ruled the city. Rome was still part of the Byzantine Empire, represented by a duke, although the civil and political authority of the popes had grown considerably in recent decades, and they probably exercised public functions outside the strictly ecclesiastical field. Pope Gregory II proceeded to the restoration of some large churches, which are also affected by their age and poor maintenance. He renovated the roof of the basilicas of S. Paolo fuori le mura, S. Lorenzo fuori le mura, and S. Croce in Gerusalemme, replacing the rotten beams, and rebuilding the parts already collapsed. He also restored the religious life in some long abandoned monasteries at the basilicas of S. Polo fuori le mura and S. Maria Maggiore, entrusting the monastic communities there the celebration day and night of the office in the contiguous basilicas. During his pontificate, Anglo-saxon monk Boniface (Winfrith), apostle of Germany, went to Rome in two occasions, 719 and 722; and during the latter, on November 30, was consecrated bishop by the pope. Pope Gregory II continued renewal of the papal liturgy started at the end of the previous century, including the establishment of the Mass of the Thursday of Lent. These initiatives were intended to restore the dignity of the great church buildings and worship in Rome, also in view of the increasing number of pilgrims visiting the city and its sacred memories, which largely came from the barbarian kingdoms of Western Europe, where the cult of the apostle Peter and the reverence for the pope, his successor and vicar, had spread since the previous century. Pope Gregory II received in Rome in 716 the duke of the Bavarians, Theodo, the first pilgrim of his people, who came to request the creation of an ecclesiastical province dependent on Rome in his duchy.

In 719. The pope received the visit of Saxon monk Winfrith, who asked for guidelines and support for the evangelizing mission that he intended to take in Germany, which still pagan. On May 15 of that year Pope Gregory II gave him authority and ecclesiastical powers; the pope also gave the monk the name of the Roman saint Boniface. Later, on November 30, 722, during a second trip of Boniface to Rome, the pope consecrated him bishop of Germany, receiving from him the oath of allegiance to the papacy normally provided by the suffragan bishops. To guide his organization, Pope Gregory II gave Boniface a libellum containing rules of ecclesiastical law according to Roman tradition. The pope also wrote several letters to the Christians of Germany and Thuringia, inviting them to help Boniface and respect his decisions. He also wrote to the Frankish prince Charles Martel and asked him to protect the mission of Boniface. In France, Pope Gregory II was also in good relations with Duke Eudes of Aquitaine, to whom he sent in 720, as a sign of blessing, three sponges used in the papal table, that the duke used as talismans in the clashes occurred at Toulouse with the Saracens, who were trying to from Spain to expand into southern France. Pope Gregory II had initially good relations with the Lombard kingdom, as can be seen by the return to the Church of Rome of the territorial patrimony of the Alps Cozie by Lombard King Liutprando. However, the political situation in Italy became complicated early. In the Byzantine provinces of central-northern Italy (Veneto, Exarchate, Pentapolis) the authority of the imperial government, already weakened by the violence committed by Emperor Justinian II to the detriment of local populations and the application heretical tendencies of the emperors, was further compromised by the Arabic advance in Asia Minor, which culminated in the siege placed in Constantinople, which lasted from August 717 to August 718. Probably in connection with these events, the Lombards, who controlled most of the Italian peninsula, occupied Classe, port of Ravenna, and the castles of Narni and Cuma. This was part of the Patrimony of the Roman Church in Campania: Pope Gregory then turned to the duke of Benevento, Romualdo, offering him to redeem the castle with 70 pounds of gold. Unable to obtain the restitution, however, the pope demanded the intervention of the duke of Naples, Giovanni, who together with the rector of the Patrimony, Teodino, recaptured the castle with an army, restoring it to the pope, who still wanted to pay the ransom promised the Lombard duke (4).

Economic problems were also at the base of the clash between Pope Gregory III and Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian. Newly liberated Constantinople from the siege of the Arabs, they are devoted to the reorganization of the empire also dealing with the Italian provinces, which also imposed heavy taxes, perhaps to punish the insubordination shown by the population to the imperial government. On that occasion, the pope opposed the payment of taxes on the patrimony and on the peasants of the Roman Church, perhaps inciting fiscal disobedience in the whole province of Italy and in the city of Rome. The reaction of the Byzantine government was violent, even if indirectly at first, some members of the imperial aristocracy like Duke Basilio, Cartulario Iordanes, and Subdeacon Giovanni Lurion - backed by Duke Marino of Rome, and by Exarch Paolo, agreed to kill the pope, but were unable to find a favorable opportunity. When the conspiracy was discovered, the Romans themselves put to death the conspirators, while the duke was away from Rome. In 725, Exarch Paolo tried to remove Pope Gregory II from the papacy, sending to Rome a new duke, supported by an army raised with difficulties in Ravenna; but on this occasion came to light the weakness of the Byzantine government in Italy. The Romans left the city to face this army, and had the help of the Lombards of Spoleto and other Lombard duke neighboring the Roman territory. The expedition of the exarch was rejected, while an agreement between the regional powers of central Italy was outline, seeking to defend the autonomy of the pope in Rome and his ability to take political initiatives against the most oppressive aspects of the Byzantine government. This situation was complicated and worsened in the following year 726, when Emperor Leo III the Isaurian forbade the worship of sacred images in Constantinople as idolatrous manifestations that compromised the purity of the faith and the ecclesiastical ritual, starting their systematic destruction (iconoclasm ). Whatever the motives - religious and political - of this imperial decision, it was wrong to go against a devotional practice established in Western Christendom no less than in the east; also the iconoclastic struggle constituted a heavy imperial intervention in a matter purely ecclesiastical, which brought back in Rome the memory of all the violence and harassment that the popes had suffered in the previous century, because of their opposition to theological policy of the emperors of Byzantium. Invited by the emperor to adhere to the iconoclastic provisions, with the promise of an amnesty for the previous tax rebellion and the threat of deposition if he refused, Pope Gregory II responded decidedly condemning the imperial measures as heretical and writing letters to "Christians" to warn them to guard against new impiety looming. It is unclear whether as a result of these papal admonition, or on their own initiative, the populations of the provinces of the Byzantine of Venice and Pentapolis, rose up in arms against the imperial decrees, revoked and cursed the Exarch Paolo and his supporters and elected their own dukes replacing officials appointed by the Byzantine government, the defense of the life of the pope was explicitly part of their program. In Ravenna and in the same Roman territories, the situation was less clear, because there were also supporters of the imperial policy. In 727, Duke Esilarato with his son Adriano, members of a family of Roman nobles, who had old grudges against Pope Gregory II, tried to raise the population Campagna, the southern Lazio, against the pope and to cause his murder, but were captured by the Romans and put to death. Following, Duke Pietro was blinded by the Romans. In Ravenna, citizens unrest led to the killing Exarch Paolo. The insurgents also designed to elect an emperor in Italy and bring an army to Constantinople to replace Emperor Leo III the Isaurian. Pope Gregory II strongly opposed to this project. The emperor's heretical doctrines and decrees relating to worship did not affect the concept of the pope concerning the institutional authority of the Byzantine Empire, which was still the holder of sovereignty in the Italian provinces, in which order the Roman Church was part, although its pastoral horizons were wider. It is also likely that the pope saw with concern the weakening of imperial authority in Italy because it seemed poised to benefit the Lombards.

Already during the rebellion of the provinces to the iconoclastic decrees some castles and cities of the Byzantine Emilia and Pentapolis had given themselves over to the power of Lombard King Liutprando, while Lombard troops occupied the castle Sutri, on the borders of the duchy of Rome. Pope Gregory II urgently sent ambassadors, letters and gifts to the monarch demanding the release of Sutri, which the pope finally obtained in the form of a donation to the apostles Peter and Paul. Along with the recovery of Cuma, this "donation of Sutri" of 729 is traditionally regarded as the initial step of the temporal government of the papacy on lands belonging to the Byzantine Empire. But it seems more likely that the devotional reasons proffered by King Liutprando ceding the castle - the donation to the apostles - did not really entail the establishment of a temporal government of the papacy because when receiving the donation, the pope had to act as representative of the Byzantine government , and as bishop of Rome he had to act within the Byzantine political and institutional framework,especially as the lay leaders of the province, the exarch and the duke of Rome, had both been physically removed by the rebels. The interest of Pope Gregory II in the integrity of the Roman duchy coincided in this case with the interests of the Empire. Moreover, the political situation in Italy became complicated rapidly. King Liutprando tried to profit from the instability caused by the rebellion of the Byzantine provinces and to exercise a closer control over the Lombard duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, whose dukes had ruled for decades in a substantially autonomous manner. At the same time, landed in Naples a new exarch sent by Emperor Leo III the Isaurian, he was the eunuch Eutyches, who was given the secret task of eliminating the pope, which Eutyches tried to do by sending an emissary to Rome in search of accomplices. The mission failed for the loyalty of the Romans to the pope, and it seems that the emissary of the exarch was put to death by the pope himself. Exarch Eutyches then sought to undermine the solidarity between the pope and the Lombard dukes of central Italy, especially those of Spoleto and Benevento, which had been decisive in the failure of the expedition against Rome of Exarch Paul, but instead, the Lombards and Romans consolidated their alliance in defense of the pope. Beyond religious reasons, involving the defense of orthodoxy, the political alliance between the Lombard dukes of central Italy with the pope, was perhaps to protect their independence against the royal power. The exarch was then obliged to propose to King Liutprando himself an agreement to consolidate their respective spheres of sovereignty: the Empire would support the imposition of royal authority on the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, and King Liutprando would help the exarch recover control of Rome and the other Italian provinces.

In 729, King Liutprando went with an army to Spoleto, where he received the submission of the local duke and that of Benevento; he then advanced toward Rome camped outside the city walls, in Campo di Nerone. Pope Gregory II went to speak with the king, appealed to his religious sentiments, certainly deep, obtaining guarantees for his safety and authority. The monarch went to visit the tomb of St. Peter depositing in it as a sign of devotion the royal insignia. He also strove to reconcile the pope with the exarch, probably within an overall plan to restore order in Italy. Whatever the contents of the agreement, the pope gave concrete demonstration of loyalty to the Empire, when a certain Tiberio Petasio rebelled in the castle of Monterano, in northern Lazio, proclaiming himself emperor and obtaining the support of some residents of nearby castles. The revolt worried the exarch, who was still without military means, but it was quickly suppressed by the Roman army, led by Church officials, sent by the pope against Monterano. The rebel leader was killed and his head sent to Constantinople. It seems that the behavior of Pope Gregory II in this episode induced the emperor to withdraw the instructions for the pontiff's removal. However, the iconoclastic dispute was not over. In January 730, Emperor Leo III deposed Patriarch Germanus of Constantinople, defender of the cult of sacred images, replacing him with a priest, Anastasius, who favored the imperial doctrine. As usual, the new patriarch sent the pope the synodic letter communicating him his election and expounding the doctrine of faith. After examining the text, Pope Gregory II refused to recognize the patriarchal dignity of Anastasius and wrote to the emperor urging him to give up those miserable maneuvers. Pope Gregory II also wrote two other letters to Emperor Leo III on the question of iconoclasm. They contain, in addition to a theological discussion on the legality of image worship and the clarification of responsibilities and respective limits of imperial authority and that of the priesthood, some original statements that have been interpreted as a symptom of detachment of the papacy from the Byzantine Empire accompanied by the already mature awareness that the Western Christian barbarian kingdoms constituted the geographical and spiritual context in which the authority of the vicar of the apostle Peter could succeed and be recognized without strife. In one of the letters was hinted the possibility that the pope left Rome, too exposed to the violence of the Byzantine emperor, and went to the more remote West to complete the work of evangelization that he required. Pope Gregory II did not have time to know the imperial reaction to these new initiatives.

Death. February 11, 731, Rome. Buried in porticu pontificum, under the pavement in the atrium of St. Peter's basilica. His tomb was destroyed during the demolition of the old basilica and the construction of the new one in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Sainthood. His cult was first recorded in the Martyrology of Ado in the 9th century. Inscribed in the Roman Martyrology, his feast is celebrated on February 11; and on February 13, together with Pope Saint Felix IV, pro clero Romano.

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 1, 32; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium ab initio nascentis Ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX P. O. M. Alphonsi Ciaconii Ord. Praed. & aliorum opera descriptæ : cum uberrimis notis. Ab Augustino Oldoino, Soc. Jesu recognitae, et ad quatuor tomos ingenti ubique rerum accessione productae. Additis Pontificum recentiorum imaginibus, & Cardinalium insignibus, plurimisque aeneis figuris, cum indicibus locupletissimis. Romæ : P. et A. De Rubeis, 1677, I, col. 503-512; Cristofori, Francesco. Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Tipografia de Propaganda Fide, 1888, p. 265 and XXXVIII; Delogu, Paul. "Gregorio II, santo." Enciclopedia dei papi. 3 vols. Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 2000, I, 647-651; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 146, no. 1; Kelly, John Norman Davidson. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 86-87; Le Liber pontificalis. Paris : E. de Boccard, 1981, 1955. 3 v. : facsims. (Bibliothèque des Écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome). Notes: Reprint of the 1955 edition./ Includes indexes./ Vol. 3: "Additions et corrections de L. Duchesne publiées par Cyrille Vogel ... avec L'Histoire du Liber pontificalis dupuis l'édition de L. Duchesne une bibliographie et des tables générales, I, 396-414; Montini, Renzo Uberto. Le tombe dei papi. Roma : Angelo Belardetti, 1957. Note: At head of title: Instituto di studi romani, p. 30, no. 89; Petruzzi, Caterina. "Gregorio II, papa, santo." Mondo vaticano. Passato e presente. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, p. 566-568; Reardon, Wendy J. The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2004, p. 58; Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab conditio Ecclesia. Ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Graz : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1956. 2 v. Reprint. Originally published : Lipsiae : Veit et comp., 1885-1888. Original t.p. included : Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia : ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Editionem secundam correctam et auctam edidit Philippus Jaffè ; auspiciis Gulielmi Wattenbach; curaverunt S. Loewenfeld, F. Kaltenbrunner, P. Ewald, I, 249-257.

Webgraphy. Biography by Paul Delogu, in Italian, Enciclopedia dei papi, Trecanni; biography by Horace Mann, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; biography, in English, Encyclopaedia Britannica; his image and biography, in English, Wikipedia; his image and biography, in English,; biography by Joseph Brusher S.J., in English, Popes through the ages; images and biography by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, in English; biography, in English,; biography, in Italian, Dizionario biografico degli italiani, Treccani; images and biography, in Italian, Santi e beati; Il ruolo di papa Gregorio II (715-731) nel processo di ricezione del concilio Trullano o Quinisesto (692) by Ester Brunet, Università di Torino, in Italian; La lotta dell'iconoclasmo. Roma e Bisanzio - Parte II, by Giorgio Falco, La Santa Romana Repubblica, Ricciardi, Milano-Napoli 1986, p. 148-166; his statue and biography, in German; his engraving, Fondazione Marco Besso, Rome; engravings, Araldica Vaticana; his engraving,; his engraving, iStockphoto; inscription, atrium of St. Peter's basilica, Vatican City; Pope Gregory II and St. Boniface, stained glass window, The Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross, Crediton, Devon, England; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; .his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek.

(1) They are Chacón, Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium, I, col. 503; Cristofori, Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa, p. 265; and "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926, p. 146, no. 1. None of the other sources consulted mention this.
(2) Cristofori, Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa, p. 265, says that he was cardinal priest of an unknown title in 712?.
(3) Duchesne, Le Liber pontificalis, I, 396.
(4) Interpreted by some scholars as the first case of exercise of papal authority over territories under the jurisdiction of the Byzantine state, the recovery of Cuma was probably not merely an initiative to defend the possession of a territorial patrimony of the Roman Church, if anything, it confirms the importance of these assets had for the papacy, which drew both their income in kind for the supply of clergy and charitable institutions in Rome, as well as monetary funds, indispensable for the activities of the ecclesiastical government. The acquisition by the papacy of judicial powers in the territories under imperial sovereignty will arise at a later time, albeit not by much.

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(3) 2. MICHELE (?-ca. 720)

Birth. (No date or place found).

Education. He was an erudite man who possessed great intelligence and eloquence.

Cardinalate. Presbyter cardinalis of an unknown title at an unknown date between 708 and 715 (1). Apocrisiarius in the pontificates of Popes Constantine and Gregory II. He went to Constantinople, sent by Pope Constantine, to congratulate Byzantine Emperor Anastasius on his assumption to the throne, to confirm the true faith and to reconcile with the Church several penitent bishops. At the death of Pope Constantine, his successor Pope Gregory II confirmed him in his mission. He deposed Ioannes, pseudo patriarch of Constantinople, and with the universal approval of the clergy and the people, installed Germanus in that see. He then returned to Rome

Death. Ca. 720, Rome. Buried (no information found).

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 1, 32; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium ab initio nascentis Ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX P. O. M. Alphonsi Ciaconii Ord. Praed. & aliorum opera descriptæ : cum uberrimis notis. Ab Augustino Oldoino, Soc. Jesu recognitae, et ad quatuor tomos ingenti ubique rerum accessione productae. Additis Pontificum recentiorum imaginibus, & Cardinalium insignibus, plurimisque aeneis figuris, cum indicibus locupletissimis. Romæ : P. et A. De Rubeis, 1677, I, col. 503; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 146, no. 3.

(1) He may be the same as Cardinal Michele, of unknown title, 731.

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