Gregory VII was one of the most famous of the successors of St. Peter. Born Hildebrand in Tuscany, about the year 1013, he was professed in the Order of St. Benedict in the little monastery of St. Mary on the Aventine, where the Priory of the Knights of Malta now stands.
He was elected Pope in 1073 and immediately called for all priests to lay down their lives rather than betray the laws of God to the wills of princes. At this period there were three great evils afflicting the Church: simony, concubinage and receiving investiture from lay hands. Against these three corruptions Gregory never ceased to contend.
He excommunicated those who were offending and for this he was personally attacked at Mass on Christmas, wounded, and thrown into prison. He was rescued the next day by the people. He had similar difficulties with Henry VI, Emperor of Germany, whom Gregory also excommunicated. The aging pontiff was obliged to flee when Henry VI set up an antipope and attempted to attack Gregory at the castle of St. Angelo. On May 25, 1085, in the twelfth year of his pontificate, Gregory died in exile in Salerno, where his body is buried in the Cathedral.
(Adapted from Fr. Butler”s Lives of the Saints and The New Roman Missal by Father Lasance)
Commentary: Nine hundred years have passed since St. Gregory died, and we see similar conflicts within the Church. Let us learn to suffer these contradictions until our Lord returns the Church to normalcy.