Gregory II

Pope from 715. Born to a noble Roman family, he served as the first papal librarian known to us by name, during the pontificate of Sergius I. His first task as pope was to repair the walls of Rome destroyed by the Lombards. Then among other duties he commissioned Boniface to convert the Bavarians, consecrating him a bishop in 722. This positive mission bore fruit as Gregory interested Charles Martel the Frankish leader in the mission. The defense of Rome against Muslim advance and Lombard intrigue, the reception of important pilgrims, and the encouragement of the Bavarian mission, as well as the growing alienation of the papacy from Byzantium—all mark the importance of Gregory’s eighth-century pontificate. The rift with the Eastern Church opened when Gregory condemned the policy of Emperor Leo III in two famous letters about 726, and in a council at Rome (727) proclaimed that images should be maintained. The two letters are now considered authentic, apart from errors of translation and interpolation. G. Ostrogorsky concludes that since the letter to Patriarch Germanus is unquestioned, Gregory’s attitude of opposition is clear. Since Leo III acted with caution by not promulgating any iconoclastic laws until 730, perhaps Gregory reacted as strongly to Leo’s tax policies in Italy. Gregory II was known in the West as Gregory the Younger.