Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Gregory X, Pope and Confessor

[Pope Blessed Gregory X]Article

He was of an illustrious family, born at Placentia, and at his baptism was called Theobald. In his youth he was distinguished for his extraordinary virtue, and his progress in his studies, especially of the canon law, which he began in Italy, and pursued at Paris, and lastly at Liege. He was archdeacon of this last church, when he received an order from the pope to preach the crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land. Incredible were the pains which he took in executing this commission, and in reconciling the Christian princes, who were at variance. The death of Saint Lewis, in 1270, struck a damp upon the spirits of the Christians in the East, though the prince of Wales, soon after Edward I, king of England, sailed from Sicily, in March, 1271, to their assistance, took Jaffa and Nazareth, and plundered Antioch. A tender compassion for the distressed situation of the servants of Christ in those parts, moved the holy archdeacon of Liege to undertake a dangerous pilgrimage to Palestine, in order to comfort them, and at the same time to satisfy his devotion by visiting the holy places. The see of Rome had been vacant almost three years, from the death of Clement IV, in November, 1268, the cardinals who were assembled at Viterbo not coming to an agreement in the choice of a pope, till, by common consent, they referred his election to six amongst them, who, on the 1st of September, in 1271, nominated Theobald, the archdeacon of Liege. Upon the news of his election, he prepared himself to return to Italy. Nothing could be more tender and moving than his last farewell to the disconsolate Christians of Palestine, whom he promised, in a most solemn manner, never to forget. He arrived at Rome in March, and was first ordained priest, then consecrated bishop, and crowned on the 27th of the same month, in 1272. He took the name of Gregory X, and, to procure the most effectual succour to the Holy Land, called a general council to meet at Lyons, where Pope Innocent IV had held the last in 1245, partly for the same purpose of the holy war, and partly to endeavour to reclaim the emperor Frederick II. The city of Lyons was most convenient for the meeting of those princes whose succours were principally expected for the holy war, and was most unexceptionable, because at that time it acknowledged no other sovereign than its archbishop.

Henry III, king of England, died on the 16th of November, 1272, and Edward I, who had concluded a peace of ten years with the Saracens, in the name of the Christians in Syria and Palestine, returned for England, and on the road at Trapani, in Sicily, met the news of his father’s death. In the same place he received most obliging letters from Pope Gregory X. The fourteenth general council, the second of Lyons, was opened in that city in May, 1274, in which were assembled five hundred bishops and seventy abbots. In the fourth session, the Greek ambassadors (who were, Germanus, formerly patriarch of Constantinople, Theophanes, archbishop of Nice, and the senator, George Acropolita, great logothete, or chancellor) were admitted. The logothete abjured the schism in the name of the emperor Michael Palælogus; and the pope, whilst Te Deum was sung, stood with his cheeks all the time bathed in tears. Saint Thomas Aquinas died on the 7th of March, before the opening of the council, and Saint Bonaventure at Lyons, on the 15th of July. The council was closed by the fifth and last session, on the 17th of July. The more our holy pope was overwhelmed with public affairs, the more watchful he was over his own soul, and the more earnest in the interior duties of self-examination, contemplation, and prayer. He spoke little, conversing assiduously in his heart with God; he was very abstemious in his diet, and most rigorous to himself in all things. By this crucified life, his soul was prepared to taste the hidden manna which is concealed in the divine word, with which he continually nourished it in holy meditation. After the council, he was taken up in concerting measures for carrying its decrees into execution, particularly those relating to the crusade in the East. By his unwearied application to business, and the fatigues of his journey, in passing the Alps in his return to Rome, he contracted a distemper, of which he died at Arezzo, on the 10th of January, in 1276, three years and nine months after his consecration, and four years, four months, and ten days after his election. His name is inserted in the Roman Martyrology, published by Benedict XIV, on the 16th of February.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 15 February 2013. Web. 10 July 2014. <>