Today in Catholic History – Gregory II begins his papacy

On 19 May 715, Gregory II began his papacy which would last until 11 February 731. During his papacy, Rome would move closer to the Franks and further away from Constantinople due to both the Iconoclastic controversy and the threats of the Lombards.

Byzantine Emperor Leo III had ordered the destruction of all images of the saints and Christ on the grounds that it was idolatry. But this policy was greatly opposed in the West and even civil conflict between the Eastern and Western parts of the former Roman empire erupted after the decrees of Leo III regarding images reached Rome in 727.

Moreover, at this same time Gregory was looking for help against the Lombard threat in Italy. Unable to obtain assistance from Leo III due to the iconoclasm controversy, Gregory will seek help from Charles Martel land the Franks. This turning of Rome toward the West rather than the East will contribute both to the eventual crowning of Charles’ son, Charlemagne, as the Holy Roman Emperor and the eventual schism between Rome and Constantinople.

Gregory II to Leo III on Holy Images
Gregory II to Charles Martel of the Franks

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