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Pope Gregory VII was born Hildebrand in Tuscany, Italy. Little else is known of his early life. Hailed, historically, as one of the greatest of the Church's pontiffs and one of the most remarkable men of all time, his name, Hildebrand, meant “bright flame”. Those who hated him, which were many, interpreted the name as “brand of Hell”.

Hildebrand was a Benedictine monk, for a time living in Cluny, from whence he certainly gleaned the monastery’s ideal of societal reform.

As a cleric, he became chaplain to Pope Gregory VI, and a few years later, under Leo IX was made Cardinal Deacon. A man of outstanding energy and insight, Hildebrand became a power in Rome. It is greatly due to him that the practice of electing popes through a college of cardinals was established.

In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cried out for the holy genius who had helped steer the Church for twenty years, “Hildebrand for Pope! Holy Peter wants Hildebrand, the Archdeacon!” Once before the holy monk had eluded the tiara but this time a proper college of cardinals, seconding the popular cry, induced him to accept an honor duly his.

Hildebrand assumed the name Gregory VII, and threw his energy and zeal into a continued reform, especially fighting simony (the sale of ecclesiastical posts) and clerical incontinence.

He confronted Emperor Henry IV head- on about his practice of choosing men for ecclesiastical positions. On meeting with dogged resistance, the pontiff finally had recourse to excommunication which drastically curtailed the proud monarch’s power, ultimately bringing Henry on foot to the Pope at the Castle of Canossa. Because of Henry’s rebellious obstinacy, Pope Gregory saw fit to leave him out in the cold for three days before receiving and reinstating the royal penitent.

But Henry failed to make any true personal reform and alienated his princes who elected another ruler. Still, he later rallied and went as far as electing another Pope, a Clement III, calling down upon himself another sentence of excommunication.

He also attacked and entered the Eternal City in 1084, which forced Pope Gregory into exile. Henry had his protégée “pope” crown him Emperor. Ultimately repelled by an army fighting for the true pope, the Emperor Henry left Rome, but complications sent Gregory VII again into exile, this time to die.

His last words before his death were a summary of how he had lived, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 28, 2020

In the realm of evil thoughts none induces to sin as much as...

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January 28

 

In the realm of evil thoughts  
none induces to sin  
as much as do thoughts 

that concern the pleasure of the flesh. 

St. Thomas Aquinas


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Thomas Aquinas

Falling to his knees he begged God for the virtue of integri...

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St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas was born about 1225 in the castle of Rocca Secca, into the noble lineage of the family of Aquino. His father, Landulf, was a knight and his mother, Theodora, a countess.

At age five Thomas was sent to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino as an oblate and remained until thirteen. He was studious, meditative and devoted to prayer, and frequently asked the question, “What is God?”

Around 1236, the Abbot convinced Thomas’ father that such a talented lad should go to Naples to study, and there he shone academically. In Naples Thomas came under the influence of the Dominican Order of Preachers, and at nineteen was received into the Order.

His family was indignant because he had chosen a mendicant order. At Theodora’s orders two of his soldier-brothers imprisoned him in a castle. They even introduced a temptress into Thomas’ chamber whom he drove away with a brand snatched from the fire. Falling to his knees he begged God for the virtue of integrity of mind and body.  Falling asleep, he dreamt of two angels who girded him with a white girdle saying, “receive the girdle of perpetual virginity”, and he was never tempted by the flesh again – for which he is called “The Angelic Doctor”. He spent the two years of his captivity praying, studying and writing.

Finally his mother relented. Returning to the Dominicans they found that he had made so much progress on his own, that he was soon ordained. Sent to study in Cologne under St. Albert Magnus, his great size and silence earned him the encomium of “the Dumb Ox” but hearing his brilliant defense of a difficult thesis, St. Albert responded, "We call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world."

Thomas received his doctorate in Theology in Paris, and went on to teach, preach, and write extensively. Between 1259 and 1268 he was in Italy as Preacher General teaching in the school of selected scholars attached to the Papal court. About 1266 he began writing the most famous of all his works, The Summa Theologiae.

In 1269 he was back in Paris, where he was a friend and counselor of King St. Louis IX. In 1272 he was recalled to Italy. On the feast of St. Nicholas the following year he received a revelation that caused him to leave his great Summa unfinished saying, “…all that I have written seems like so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.”

Becoming ill, Thomas died on March 7, 1274 at fifty years of age. He was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope St. Pius V in 1567.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a con...

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Our Lady and the Three Dresses

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

One day, their priest-confessor advised them that, as a preparation for the feast of the purification of Mary, they should recite the whole Rosary every day for forty days. The three nuns obediently complied.

On the night before that holy feast day, the Heavenly Mother appeared to the three nuns as they gathered in the choir. To the first of these three sisters she handed a rich garment, embroidered with gold. Holy Mary thanked her and blessed her.

She then handed to the second nun a much simpler garment, and also thanked her. Noticing the difference in the two garments, the second sister asked, "Oh Lady, why have you brought my sister a richer garment?" Mary Most Holy lovingly replied, "Because she has clothed me more richly with her prayers than you have done."

Mary then approached the third nun with a canvas garment. Being an observant young lady, this sister at once asked pardon for the half-hearted way in which she had prayed her rosaries.

A full year had passed when all three fervently prepared for the same feast, each saying her Rosary with great devotion. On the evening preceding the festival, Mary appeared to them in glory, and said to them: "Be prepared, for tomorrow you shall come to paradise."

The following morning dawned, full of promise. Each nun wondered if this would be her last day in this vale of tears. When evening came, would they retire to their modest cells once more, or did Holy Mary have something else in store for them?

The sisters related to their confessor what had occurred, and received communion in the morning. At the hour of compline (evening prayers) they saw again the most holy Virgin, who came to take them with her. Amid the songs of angels, one after the other sweetly expired.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

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