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Saint Of The Day On 18 June: Saint Gregory Barbarigo

Gregory knew suffering at an early age when he lost his mother to the plague when he was only two years old

His father, a senator of the Venetian Republic – where the future Saint was born in 1625 – sends him in 1643 together with the Venetian ambassador Alvise Contarini to Münster in Germany, where the peace of Westphalia was being prepared that was to put an end to the bloody Thirty Years’ War.

Here a decisive meeting took place for the young Gregory’s life: that with Cardinal Fabio Chigi, the future Pope Alexander VII. Having completed his studies in Padua, Gregory became a priest at the age of 30.

Alexander VII brought him to Rome and at the outbreak of the plague entrusted him with the coordination of relief for the sick, which Gregory Barbarigo carried out with much love and dedication.

Gregory, bishop and pastor like St Charles Borromeo

The trust of Alexander VII was then renewed by placing him at the head of the diocese of Bergamo in 1657. Years later, in 1664, he would be entrusted with that of Padua.

His ‘style’ will in both cases be that inspired by St Charles Borromeo, a model for Gregory who, first of all, sold all his possessions to give them to the poor.

He visited the parishes of the dioceses entrusted to him far and wide, assisted the dying, spread the Catholic press among the people, stayed in the homes of the poor.

He teaches catechism to children during the day and prays at night.

Also central to his heart is the training of priests, for which he worked hard in the seminary in Padua, which came to be considered one of the best in Europe.

St Gregory in Rome the mission for the Eastern Churches

Another highlight of St Gregory Barbarigo’s commitment is his work for the reunification of the Eastern Churches.

After serving as bishop of Bergamo and before carrying out his ministry in Padua, he spent another period in Rome.

In 1658, Alexander VII created him cardinal.

These were the years in which he participated in several Conclaves.

Innocent XI chose him as his advisor and Gregory worked for reunification with the Eastern Churches. Esteemed by the Popes and loved by the people, Barbarigo died in Padua in 1697 and was beatified in 1761.

He was proclaimed a saint in 1960 by John XXIII, a native of the Bergamo area and one of the signatories, years earlier, of the appeals for his canonisation.

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