(Died 741)

Pope St. Gregory III was born in Syria. He was so respected that he was elected pope by those attending the funeral procession of his predecessor, Gregory II, on Feb. 11, 731. In an instant this humble man found himself to be the chief shepherd of the Catholicism. He jumped into a conflict between the emperor and the church.

Emperor Leo II attacked the veneration of holy images. Because Leo II thought the honor paid to Jesus, Mary and the saints by keeping statues and icons was idolatry, he condemned them and wanted them destroyed.

Gregory was unable to get a written document through to the royal court, so he called a synod that approved strong measures against anyone who would try to destroy images of Jesus, Mary, or the saints. In return Leo sent ships to kidnap Gregory and bring him to Constantinople. Many people in Rome must have tried to get Gregory to move — but he trusted in God. A storm destroyed Leo’s ships. The only thing Leo could do was capture some of the papal lands.

As a result, Leo gained some territory, but the church kept its tradition of images to remind the faithful of Jesus’s sacrifice, Mary’s love and the exemplary character and trials of our beloved saints.

Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: U. (2019, Dec. 9). Pope St. Gregory III. UCatholic.