In 741, St. Gregory III, pope. He was a Syrian, an educated and charitable man, whose acclamation as successor to Gregory II in 731was confirmed by the Byzantine ruler of Ravenna. The year before, in Constantinople, Emperor Leo the III had forbidden the veneration of holy images. Gregory sent messengers to Leo protesting his decree, but they were rebuffed. Gregory then summoned a synod, which approved the excommunication of anyone condemning the veneration of images or destroying them. In retaliation, Leo seized all the papal estates in southern Italy, asserted the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople over Illyricum, and sent an army in a failed attempt to capture Gregory and bring him to Constantinople. Gregory encouraged the missionary and organizational work of St. Boniface (June 5) in Germany and sent St. Willibald to help him (July 7, formerly June 7).
In 1591, seven martyrs executed in London for their Catholic faith, and in 1610, also in London, St. John Roberts, executed at Tyburn with Blessed Thomas Somers, a diocesan priest. John Roberts was born in Wales, studied at Oxford, taught school, and then went to Douai, where he was received into the Catholic church. He studied at the English College at Valladolid, and joined the Benedictine monastery of San Benito there. He went to England five times as a missionary, but each time was arrested and deported. He helped found the English monastery at Douai, which was eventually transferred to Downside. In 1610 he returned to England during a time of plague and a persecution resulting from the Gunpowder Plot. He put up a spirited defense at his trial, but was condemned to death. A Spanish lady arranged a joyful dinner for him and twenty other Catholic prisoners at Newgate prison, then washed the feet of all the martyrs-to-be. The next day they were hanged, and their heads were then displayed on London Bridge.
In 1880, in Turin, Blessed Marcantonio Durando. His poltically prominent father was a champion of the Italian unification; his mother was a devout Catholic. He joined the Vincentians, and after six years of preaching parish mission, became head of the Vincentian house in Turin. There he re-established the Daughters of Charity, and formed a large network of charitable groups in the region.
Our daily martyrology was written by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB. Copyright © 2008 by the Monastery of the Ascension, Jerome, ID 83338.