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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VIII: August. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

August 25

St. Gregory, Abbot and Confessor

[Administrator of the Diocess of Utrecht.]  HE was born in the territory of Triers, and was a prince of royal blood; for his grandmother Adela, his father Albric’s mother, was daughter of Dagobert II., king of Austrasia. This lady, after the death of her husband, built the monastery of Palens, near Triers, and putting on the religious habit, was chosen the first abbess. Her sister Irwina, who had also renounced the world, died abbess of Horre. Gregory returning one day from school, when he was fifteen years of age, was desired by his grandmother to read to the nuns at Palens. St. Boniface, who was travelling from Friesland into Hesse and Thuringia, passed that way, and was present on this occasion. Gregory was desired by the abbess, after he finished his lecture, to explain the instructions which he had read in favour of those who did not understand Latin; but this he said he was not able to do, probably because he was not sufficiently acquainted with the Teutonic language. Wherefore St. Boniface rising up did that office for him, and added many pathetic exhortations to virtue, probably both in the Latin and Teutonic languages. Gregory was so moved by his discourses that he resolved upon the spot to forsake the world and attend that holy man wherever he went. His friends do not seem to have opposed his inclination; for St. Boniface took him with him, and would be himself his master and instructor. He seems to have placed him for some time in the monastery of Ordorf for the convenience of finishing his studies; but he took him very young wholly to himself, made him his constant attendant, and always loved him as his son. The disciple was a faithful imitator of his spirit and great virtues, assisted him in his missions, and accompanied him in his journeys to Rome and other places. St. Boniface a little before his martyrdom sent him to Utrecht to govern a monastery lately founded there. He had before appointed Eoban bishop of that church. SS. Boniface and Eoban received together the crown of martyrdom in 754; after which Pope Stephen III. and Pepin obliged St. Gregory to take upon him the care of that church. Beka, Heda, Snoius, Baronius, and Molanus call him bishop of Utrecht; but Mabillon, the Bollandist, and Antony Pagi 1 demonstrate that he never received the episcopal consecration, and that though he administered the diocess during twenty-two years, to his death, he never was more than priest, as appears from his life written by St. Ludger.  1
  When the murderers of his two brothers were sent to him by the civil magistrates to be put to what death he should think fit, according to the barbarous custom of the country in that age, which left the punishment of the assassins to the direction of the relations of the deceased person; the saint gave every one of them a suit of clothes with an alms, and dismissed them with good advice. By his zealous preaching and prudent care he rendered the church of Utrecht the most flourishing in all that country. His eminent spirit of mortification and prayer, his invincible meekness and silence under all injuries, his humility and his patience under three years severe sickness crowned him with the glory of the saints, to which he passed on the 25th of August, in 776. His relics were religiously kept at Utrecht, and examined in the episcopal visitations in 1421 and 1597. See his life written by his disciple St. Ludger, bishop of Munster, in Mabillon, sæc. Ben. 3, and the dissertations of Stilting the Bollandist, t. 5, Aug. p. 241. Also Fleury, l. 44, n. 9, t. 9, and Batavia Sacra, p. 88.  2
Note 1. Critica Historico-Chronologica in Annales Baron. [back]