Feast Day : December 10 (formerly November 28)
Gregory’s date of birth is not known. The son of a Syrian named John, he became a priest in Rome, earning a reputation for holiness and learning. So great was his following that he was elected pope by acclamation, as he was accompanying the funeral procession of his predecessor, St. Gregory II (r. 715–731), on February 11, 731. He was not consecrated for another month, however, as he awaited confirmation from the exarch at Ravenna. Gregory continued his predecessor’s opposition to Iconoclasm and in 731 convened two councils in Rome, both of which condemned the image-breaking heresy. He paid particular attention to images and relics, especially those of St. Peter the Apostle, and built a special oratory in the Vatican basilica of St. Peter’s to honor them. In response, Emperor Leo the Iconoclast seized papal properties in Calabria and Sicily and transferred ecclesiastical jurisdiction over those two provinces (and Illyrium) to the patriarch of Constantinople, long a rival to the pope in Rome. Gregory also followed his predecessor in supporting the missionary activities of St. Boniface in Germany, sending St. Willibald to assist him. The end of Gregory’s pontificate was largely concerned with preventing the Lombards from once again sacking Rome. He completed the rebuilding of the city walls, a task begun by Gregory II, and took other precautions, including enlisting the assistance of the Frankish king Charles Martel. This last decision was to have far-reaching consequences for the meddling of the state in church affairs. Gregory died in November or December 741, in the midst of the Lombard campaign. He was buried in the oratory of Our Lady which he had had built in St. Peter’s.