Pope Saint Gregory VII
Reigned from 1073 to 1085.
Born c.1020 in Soana, Italy as Hildebrand; died in Salerno, Italy.
He entered the Benedictine Order.
While chaplain to Pope Gregory VI, he was placed in charge of the Patrimony of Saint Peter and displayed the great administrative and reforming ability which later characterized his pontificate.
Refusing the papacy on Pope Leo IX's death, he was chief counselor to the four succeeding popes.
Finally, despite his protestations, he was nominated and elected.
Rapine, warfare, and corruption followed the decay of the Holy Roman Empire, threatening destruction; simony and clerical disregard of celibacy were rampant.
He determined to carry out the reforms begun by his predecessors; Henry IV of Germany promised him aid.
At the first synod he decreed the suspension of all simoniacal clerics and; ordered the return of all purchased church property.
The corrupt clergy of Italy, France, and Spain protested, and Henry IV broke his word and promoted unworthy clerics.
Gregory replied by decreeing excommunication against anyone conferring investitures in connection with an ecclesiastical office.
Henry was summoned to Rome and his supporters deposed Gregory, who excommunicated him.
His consequent submission to Gregory at Canossa is well known, but his penitence was short-lived and he was again excommunicated.
Henry's antipope, Guibert of Ravenna, was driven from Rome by the pope with the aid of the Normans, but the excesses of the latter caused the Roman people to banish Gregory to Salerno, where he died.
He realized the ideal of the papacy as a temporal power more than any other pope.
Feast, Roman Calendar, 25 May.
New Catholic Dictionary