Pope Gregory VII

Pope Gregory VII (Latin: Gregorius VII; c. 1015 – 25 May 1085), born Hildebrand of Sovana (Italian: Ildebrando da Soana), was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 22 April 1073 to his death in 1085. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church.

Pope Saint

Gregory VII
Bishop of Rome
ChurchCatholic Church
SeeHoly See
Papacy began22 April 1073
Papacy ended25 May 1085
PredecessorAlexander II
SuccessorVictor III
Ordination22 May 1073
Consecration30 June 1073
Created cardinal6 March 1058
by Pope Nicholas II
Personal details
Birth nameIldebrando di Soana
Bornc. 1015[1]
Sovana, Tuscany, Holy Roman Empire
Died25 May 1085 (aged 6970)
Salerno, Duchy of Apulia
Previous post(s)Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria Domnica (1058–73)
Feast day25 May
Venerated inCatholic Church
by Pope Gregory XIII
Canonized24 May 1728
by Pope Benedict XIII
PatronageDiocese of Sovana
Other popes named Gregory

One of the great reforming popes, he is perhaps best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy, his dispute with Emperor Henry IV that affirmed the primacy of papal authority and the new canon law governing the election of the pope by the College of Cardinals. He was also at the forefront of developments in the relationship between the emperor and the papacy during the years before he became pope. He was the first pope in several centuries to rigorously enforce the Western Church's ancient policy of celibacy for the clergy and also attacked the practice of simony.

Gregory VII excommunicated Henry IV three times. Consequently, Henry IV would appoint Antipope Clement III to oppose him in the political power struggles between the Catholic Church and his empire. Hailed as one of the greatest of the Roman pontiffs after his reforms proved successful, Gregory VII was, during his own reign, despised by some for his expansive use of papal powers.[2]

Because this pope was such a prominent champion of papal supremacy, his memory was evoked on many occasions in later generations, both positively and negatively, often reflecting later writers' attitude to the Catholic Church and the papacy. Beno of Santi Martino e Silvestro, who opposed Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy, leveled against him charges such as necromancy, torture of a former friend upon a bed of nails, commissioning an attempted assassination, executions without trials, unjust excommunication, doubting the Real Presence of the Eucharist, and even burning the Eucharist.[citation needed] This was eagerly repeated by later opponents of the Catholic Church, such as the English Protestant John Foxe.[3] Twentieth century British writer Joseph McCabe describes Gregory as a "rough and violent peasant, enlisting his brute strength in the service of the monastic ideal which he embraced."[4] In contrast, the modern historian of the 11th century H. E. J. Cowdrey writes, "[Gregory VII] was surprisingly flexible, feeling his way and therefore perplexing both rigorous collaborators ... and cautious and steady-minded ones ... His zeal, moral force, and religious conviction, however, ensured that he should retain to a remarkable degree the loyalty and service of a wide variety of men and women."[5]