Gregory IV of Rome

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Gregory IV of Rome was the Archbishop and Pope of the Church of Rome from 827 to 844. At a time of increasing attacks by Vikings, Saracens, and Avars in western Europe, Pope Gregory attempted to mediate the quarrels within the Carolingian dynasty as it began to disintegrate after the death of Charlemagne.


Gregory was born in Rome about the year 795 the son of John, a Roman patrician. He was ordained a priest during the pontificate of Pope Paschal I and was elected to the papacy in October 827 after the very short papacy of Pope Valentine. However, his consecration, that took place on March 29, 828, was delayed until he had received confirmation of his election from Emperor Louis.

In his attempts to mediate the quarrels of the Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious and his sons, Gregory raised the ire of the Frankish bishops for intervening in their areas, to which he asserted the right of primacy for the successor to St. Peter, which he said was superior to that of the emperor. The bishops, in rebuttal, insisted that the strength of all the bishops outranked the leadership of the pope. Nevertheless, Gregory's mediation attempts were futile.

Gregory returned to Rome to deal with the internal affairs of the church and defending, in 836, against Lothar, who as King of the Lombards began stripping possessions of the Roman church. After the death of Louis in 840, Pope Gregory attempted to mediate again, unsuccessfully, the renewal of the conflict among Lothar's brothers as Charlemagne's empire was broken up in the subsequent Treaty of Verdun.

In the conduct of church affairs Gregory was more successful. In 832, Gregory appointed Ansgar Archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen and the "Mission to bring Christianity to the North", and conferred on him the pallium, the symbol of metropolitan jurisdiction over Scandinavia. He pursued a program of restoration of ecclesiastical buildings in Rome, completely rebuilding the Basilica of St. Mark and the atrium of the Basilica of St. Peter as well as many other churches in the city. It was during his pontificate, in 843, that iconoclasm ended in the Eastern Empire with the death of the iconoclast emperor Theophilus in 842 and the restoration of the icons under empress Theodora as regent for her son, emperor Michael III. This followed the deposition of the iconoclast patriarch John VII, who was succeeded by Patr. Methodius I.

Gregory IV died on January 25, 844 and was buried in the Basilica of St. Peter.

Succession box:
Gregory IV of Rome
Preceded by:
Pope of Rome
827 - 844
Succeeded by:
Sergius II
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