Pope St. Gregory the Great

Today is the feast day of St. Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church.

During a trip to Italy this Spring, two of my deacon brothers and I joined Monsignor Tom Fucinaro at St. Peter’s for Mass. (from left Deacon Doug Marsh, Deacon Tom Valasek, myself and Msgr. Fucinaro)

His body is entombed underneath the altar, behind the gold grate.

It was a special privledge for us to do so. St. Gregory is one many popes that was a deacon when he was elected, rather than a bishop or even a priest.

You might find it interesting that from 432 – 684 thirty-seven men were elected pope. Of those the breakdown was:

  • Only three of them were priest or bishops at the time of election
  • Thirty-four were deacons when they were elected

Like Gregory, a deacon elected pope is immediately ordained a priest, and then immediately ordained a bishop. It can even be during the same liturgy that both ordinations occur.

For Gregory it took only about three hours for him to be elected pope, be ordained twice, and then assume the office of the papacy.

Today it is at least theoretically possible for a deacon to be elected pope, but it hasn’t happened for a very, very long time. In fact, even a layman can be elected pope. If he was, he would be ordained a deacon, priest & bishop, all in succession and probably during the same Mass.

It’s not terribly likely though – usually the cardinal electors choose someone that is actually in the Sistine Chapel during the balloting (though they do not have to).

Pray for us, Pope St. Gregory the Great!

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Categories: Catechetics, Papal, Saints | Leave a comment

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