Pope Gregory VII,
a remarkable man for all time, is known in Church history as one of the
most enthusiastic and influential pontiffs.
Hildebrand was born in Soana, Tuscany, between 1014
and 1028, to an artisan, Bonito, and his wife Bertha, and began his
religious education in Rome at a young age in his uncle’s
monastery and later became a monk himself.
Cardinal Hildebrand was papal chaplain
and then papal economist restoring economic order to Rome. An important
figure in reform, Cardinal Hildebrand did much to recover the
ecclesiastical properties held by Italian nobles and to restore papal
Cardinal Hildebrand was elected pope
on April 22, 1073, and became Pope Gregory VII
on June 30, 1073.
With reform as the centerpiece of his pontificate, Pope Gregory VII assembled synods and
issued decrees that forbade, under pain of excommunication, clerical
marriage, concubinage, and simony - the buying or selling of
ecclesiastical pardons and offices. He also demanded that newly-elected
bishops take an oath of obedience and visit the Holy See.
In his Dictatus papae, Pope
Gregory VII decreed the supremacy of the Church of Rome over
other churches and over the empire; the supremacy of clerical authority
over lay authority.
The new laws were met with violence. Opposition to
these decrees resulted in struggles with the royal houses of Europe.
These struggles dominated Pope Gregory VII’s