101. Pope Gregory IV 827-844

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Pope Gregory IV was remembered as the peacemaker Pope. Well,he tried to be the peacemaker Pope but none of his efforts amounted to much more than irritating virtually everyone. Holy Roman emperor Louis gave one of his sons some land which made his other sons indignant. One thing led to another and before you know it Europe was plunged into a very bloody family squabble. Pope Gregory IV traveled over the Alps to try anything he could to stop this war,but every time he visited one camp,it would infuriate the others(including his very own Bishops)who thought the Pope was taking sides. All of his efforts amounted to nothing and he returned to Rome while the warring parties themselves divided up Europe without his help. Gregory IV was known for his intelligence,fairness and for declaring All Saint’s Day(and by extension Halloween)an official celebration throughout all of Christendom where before it may have been only celebrated locally.

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90. Pope St.Gregory III 731-741

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Pope Gregory III made a decision about dates that has impacted nearly every one in the western hemisphere. Gregory basically gave us Halloween. Kinda. Sorta. All Saints’Day is celebrated every year in honor of all of those in the Church that have made it into heaven. It’s a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics and is also known as Feast of the Saints and All Hallows Day. The day before it is All Hallows Eve and over centuries the name of that day was shortened to Halloween. Earlier in history,All Saints’Day was celebrated either in April(in some countries),or on May 13th. When Pope Gregory dedicated a new chapel in St.Peter’s,he moved the day from May to November 1st and honored the day for “….the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”. Elsewhere in the world around this time,a Gaelic pagan festival known as Samhain celebrated the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Samhain and All Saints’Day have nothing to do with each other,but due to the time of year and the “dead” theme of both,they naturally started mixing,more so depending on what part of the world you were in. What we know as Halloween today was born in a Christian celebration of those that we know have made it home to Heaven. The other stuff(witches,black cats…whatever)came later from secular sources,much like Christmas with Santa Claus and St.Patrick’s Day with all the weird green beer.
Pope Gregory combated Eastern iconoclasm,which was the total destruction of religious images. In a great act of passive aggression,Gregory accepted a “bribe” of some glorious columns of onyx from an Eastern iconoclast and promptly used them to support several images of Jesus. Gregory also banned the consumption of horse meat(did we really need to tell people NOT to eat it?). Since I really don’t want to end on people eating horse meat,I’ll add that the Syrian born Gregory was the last Pope born outside of Europe until Pope Francis.