+ Gregory was born in Syria, making him the last pope born outside of Europe until the election of Pope Francis in 2013.
+ At the time he was elected bishop of Rome in 731, he was serving as the priest in Roman church dedicated to Saint Chrysogonus. Nothing more is known of his early life.
+ Gregory III’s papacy was marked by clashes between orthodox Christians and iconoclasts (heretical Christians who rejected the use of sacred images).
+ Near the end of his papacy, Italy was being ravaged by invading tribes of Lombards and, to help defend the people, Gregory made an alliance with King Charles Martel, establishing a connection between the papacy and French crown that would last for centuries.
+ Pope Gregory supported the missionary efforts of Saint Boniface in Germany and Saint Willibald in Bohemia, and he bestowed the pallium on Egbert of York and Saint Tatwine of Canterbury, marking special ties between the pope and the bishops of those cities.
+ Pope Saint Gregory III died on Novembrer 28, 741.
The pallium (mentioned above) is a vestment worn by the pope and metropolitan archbishops. A small circular band with pendants hanging down in the front and back, it marked with six black crosses. The pallium, which is made from the wool of lambs blessed on the Memorial of Saint Agnes (January 21), represents the “yoke”—the burden—that bishops carry and is a special symbol of the connection between the Holy Father and the archbishops of the Church. It is presented by the pope to new archbishops in a special liturgy held each year on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29).
“That faith which Christ commended in the prince of the apostles remains forever unshaken. And, just as Peter’s faith in Christ endures, so does Christ’s foundation upon Peter. The structure of truth persists; blessed Peter retains his rock-like strength and has not abandoned the helm of the Church which he took over.”—Pope Saint Leo the Great
Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Gregory the Third to preside over your whole people and benefit them by word and example, keep safe, we pray, by his intercession, the shepherds of your Church along with the flocks entrusted to their care, and direct them in the way of eternal salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For a Pope)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.