Madonna di Vallicella with St. Gregory, Maurus, Domitilla and Other Martyrs

St. Maurus

January 15

A nobleman of Rome he died 584.  He is represented as an abbot with crozier, or with book and censer, or holding the weights and measures of food and drink given him by his holy master. Sometimes he is depicted as above, dressed similarly to John the Baptist. He is the patron of charcoal-burners, coppersmiths etc. and in Belgium he is the patron of shoemakers; he is also  invoked against gout, hoarseness etc. He was a disciple of St. Benedict, and his chief support at Subiaco. By St. Gregory the Great (Lib. Dialog., II) he is described as a model of religious virtues, especially of obedience.

St. Gregory the Great
Pope and Doctor of the Church

March 12 [Hist.] September 3 [Trad.]

c. 540-604

 Son of a wealthy patrician, Gordianus, he was born and educated at Rome. He was prefect of Rome when the Lombard invasion of Italy was threatening Rome in 571. Long attracted to the religious life, about 574 he converted his home in Rome into St. Andrew's Monastery under Valentius, became a monk there, and founded six monasteries on his estates in Sicily. After several years of seclusion at St. Andrew's, he was ordained by Pope Pelagius II and was made one of the seven papal deacons in 578. He served as papal nuncio to the Byzantine court, 579-85, was recalled in 586, resumed his monastic life, and became abbot of St. Andrew's. He set out to evangelize England but was brought back to Rome by Pope Pelagius when plague struck Rome, 589-90. Pelagius was stricken and died, and Gregory was elected Pope and consecrated on September 3, 590. He restored ecclesiastical discipline, removed unworthy clerics from office, abolished clerical fees for burials and ordinations, and was prodigious in his charities. He administered papal properties wisely and justly, ransomed captives from the Lombards, protected Jews from unjust coercion, and fed the victims of a famine. In 593, he persuaded the invading Lombards under Agilulf to spare Rome, and he negotiated a peace with the Lombard King-----an unprecedented move that effectively set aside the authority of the Byzantine Emperor's representative, the exarch. This was the beginning of a series of actions by which Gregory resisted the arrogance, incompetence, and treachery of Byzantine authorities by which he appointed governors of the Italian cities, providing them with war materials and denouncing the heavy taxes levied on the Italians by Byzantine officials. He thus started on its course the acquisition and exercise of temporal power by the papacy. He was responsible for the conversion of England to Christianity by his interest in that country and his dispatch of St. Augustine of Canterbury and forty monks from St. Andrew's there and helped to secure Justinian's acknowledgment of papal supremacy. He sent missionaries to Germany, among them St. Corbinian and St. Boniface in 719, whom he consecrated bishop.  He was untiring in his efforts to ensure that the papacy was the supreme authority in the Church, and denouncing John, Patriarch of Constantinople, for his use of the title Ecumenical Patriarch [he himself preferred as his own title "Servant of the Servants of God," a title used by Popes to this day, fourteen centuries later]. He was an eloquent preacher and was mainly responsible for the restoration of a Rome devastated by the invasions, pillages, and earthquakes of the century before his pontificate. He wrote treatises, notably his Dialogues, a collection of visions, prophecies, miracles, and lives of Italian Saints, and Liber regulae pastoral  [on the duties of bishops], and hundreds of sermons and letters. Whether he was the compiler of the Antiphony on which the Roman rchola cantorum was based and several hymns attributed to him is uncertain, but he did greatly influence the Roman Mass. The custom of saying thirty successive Masses for a dead person goes back to him and bears his name, and to Gregory is due Gregorian Chant. He actively encouraged Benedictine monasticism, and his grants of privileges to monks often restricting episcopal jurisdictions was the beginning of later exemptions that were to bring religious orders directly under papal control. He is the last of the traditional Latin Doctors of the Church, is justly called "the Great," and is considered the founder of the medieval papacy. He died in Rome on March 12 and was canonized by acclamation immediately after his death.


and St. Domitilla and Companions:

May 12

and St. Papianus

A Christian Roman matron of the imperial family, she lived towards the close of the first century. She bore two sons, who, while children, were adopted as his successors by Domitian and commanded to assume the names Vespasianus and Domitianus. It is quite probable that these two lads had been brought up as Christians by their pious mother, and the possibility thus presents itself that two Christian boys at the end of the first century were designated for the imperial purple in Rome. Their later fate is not known, but Domitilla was banished for her faith, after her husband was Martyred in 96 to the island of Pandataria in the Tyrrhenian Sea. She had a niece of the same name who was Martyred by being burnt to death. It is thought that her two companions, who were her servants shared her fate of banishment and she is almost always shown with them by her side.

Of St. Papianus, we were unable to locate any information.

Rubens painted two versions, the second we do not have a copy of, but St. Maurus is depicted with different garb, more like St. Papianus who is the figure in the front. The artistic portrayal of St. Gregory the Great, who was a most beloved Pope, is perhaps, after St. Peter, among the best of masterpiece works and quite numerous. This is our favorite of the several images of the Saint that we are privileged to have in our collection. The image alone is worth a special page.

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