Gregorio Barbarigo was born in Venice to a noble family on September 16, 1625. At the age of 23, he accompanied the Venetian ambassador to Munster for the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia, ending the Thirty Years’ War. While there, he met the apostolic nuncio, Fabio Chigi, who found Gregory to be an exceptional young man, and the two became friends.
In 1655, Gregory was ordained a priest and worked heroically during the plague of 1657. When Fabio Chigi was consecrated as Pope Alexander VII, he did not forget the favorable impression Gregory had made on him in Munster: he appointed him bishop of Bergamo, then three years later named him cardinal, and eventually transferred him to Padua, where Gregory remained for 33 years.
Gregory was famous for his charity. He encouraged learning and founded a seminary for priests, endowing it with an excellent library and its own printing press. Some of the works which were published on this press were sent to Christians in Islamic countries to encourage them in their faith. Gregory also worked diligently towards a reunion with the Greek church and towards carrying out the reforms set forth by the Council of Trent.
As a cardinal, Gregory participated in five conclaves and at one point was considered a serious candidate for the papacy. He died at Padua in 1697 and was canonized in 1960 by Pope John XXIII.
1. Gregory was known for his charity and compassion for the poor. May we never forget the words of Sacred Scripture: “It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fullness of life” (Tobit 12:8-9).
2. Gregory used what means were available in his day for spreading the Word of God. Let us support and utilize the myriad means of communication that we have available today, using it to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all parts of the world.
Other Saints We Remember Today
- St. Harvey (Herve) (6th Century), Abbot, invoked against eye troubles
- St. Botolph (680), Religious
image: Rijksmuseum, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons