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Pope Gregory X

Blessed Pope
Gregory X
Papacy began 1 September 1271
Papacy ended 10 January 1276
Predecessor Clement IV
Successor Innocent V
Ordination 19 March 1272
Consecration 27 March 1272
by John of Toledo
Personal details
Birth name Teobaldo Visconti
Born c. 1210
Piacenza, Holy Roman Empire
Died 10 January 1276(1276-01-10)
Arezzo, Holy Roman Empire
Previous post Archdeacon of Liege (1245-1271)
Coat of arms Gregory X's coat of arms
Feast day 10 January
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Title as Saint Blessed
Beatified 8 July 1713
Rome, Papal States
by Pope Clement XI
Other popes named Gregory
Papal styles of
Pope Gregory X
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style Blessed

Pope Gregory X (Latin: Gregorius X; c. 1210 – 10 January 1276), born Teobaldo Visconti, was Pope from 1 September 1271 to his death in 1276 and was a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. He was elected at the conclusion of a papal election that ran from 1268 to 1271 — the longest papal election in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

He convened the Second Council of Lyons and also made new regulations in regards to papal conclaves. Though briefly annulled by Pope Adrian V and Pope John XXI, these regulations remained in force until the 20th century when Pope Paul VI changed them.

Pope Clement XI beatified him in 1713 after the confirmation of his cultus.


Early life

Niccolo and Maffeo Polo remitting a letter from Kubilai to Pope Gregory X in 1271.

Teobaldo Visconti was born in Piacenza around 1210 and spent most of his ecclesiastical career in the north in the Low Countries. Visconti was appointed as the Archdeacon of Liege in 1245 where he was instructed by the pope to preach the crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land. Around this time, Visconti became acquainted with people such as Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Gui Foucois, Pierre de Tarentaise and Matteo Rubeo Orsini.

Visconti left Liege in 1267 for Paris at the behest of Pope Clement IV who also sent him to England to assist Cardinal Ottobono Fieschi with a difficult assignment. Despite the fact that he had only received the minor orders, he was a good friend to various popes, cardinals and theologians.

Papal election

The election of Visconti came as a complete surprise to him, partially because it happened while he was engaged in the Ninth Crusade at Acre with King Edward I of England in Palestine. Not wanting to leave his mission, his first action as pope was to send out appeals for aid to the Crusaders, and at his final sermon at Acre just before leaving to sail for Italy, he famously remarked, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning" (a quote from Psalm 137).

Visconti succeeded Pope Clement IV in 1271 after the papal chair had been vacant for three years due to divisions among the cardinals. The College of Cardinals was equally split between the French and Italian cardinals who wanted a pope from their country due to the ongoing political situation with Charles of Anjou, the younger brother of King Louis IX of France, who had usurped the throne of Sicily by arms and perpetually intervened in the political affairs of the entire Italian peninsula. The deadlock was finally broken when the citizens of Viterbo, where the cardinals were assembled, removed the roof from the building they were meeting in and locked them in, only allowing them bread and water. More than a year later, the cardinals elected Pope Gregory X.[1] He was considered a strong choice because even though he was Italian, he had spent most of his career north of the Alps and thus had not been embroiled in recent Italian political controversies.


Sometime during his reign as pope, Gregory X wrote a letter against the charges of "blood libel" and persecution against the Jews.[2] He is responsible for the papal bull which was subsequently incorporated into the code of canon law that regulated all conclaves for papal elections until the reforms of Pope Paul VI in the twentieth century. He did this due to the fact that he was mindful of the conclave at Viterbo that elected him, realizing that changes were sorely needed. These rules were in the papal bull "Ubi periculum" on 16 July 1274.

On his arrival at Rome, his first act was to summon the council which met at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 for the purpose of considering the East-West Schism, the condition of the Holy Land, and the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church.

Council objectives

His main objective as pope was to convene the council but he had a comprehensive programme for the council:

  • Reconciliation with the Orthodox Church to end the schism between the East and West.
  • Preparation of a new crusade and donations of a tithe of all churches for it.
  • Establishment of measures to end abuses in the church.
  • Regulation of papal elections through the constitution "Ubi periculum maius".

Death and burial

His health had worsened after he left Lyons in April 1275 due to the hernia that plagued him and so he was forced to regularly stop on the way back to Rome. A severe rise in his temperature and the presence of the hernia led him to a final halt in December 1275. His condition rapidly decline and led to his death on 10 January 1276 in Arezzo. He is buried inside the Cathedral Church of Arezzo.

He was succeeded by Pope Innocent V, a close collaborator of the pontiff throughout his pontificate. His cardinal-nephew, Vicedomino de Vicedominis was said to have been elected as pope in the conclave after the death of Pope Adrian V on 5 September 1276 as Gregory XI but died the next day, however it is debated as to whether or not this actually happened.

File:Tomb of Pope Gregorius X.JPG
The incorrupt body of Pope Gregory X.

Beatifications and canonizations

Throughout his pontificate, Gregory X only canonized one individual. He confirmed the cultus of Franca Visalta in September 1273. He commenced the cause of canonization of King Louis IX of France in 1272 that bestowed on the late king the title of Servant of God.


Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, Agostino Paravicini Bagliani says that the popular belief that St. Pius V (1566-72) was the first Pope to wear the white cassock is inaccurate. Instead, writes Bagliani, the first document that mentions the Pope’s white cassock dates from 1274. “The first pope to be solemnly invested with the red mantle immediately after his election was Gregory VII,” the scholar added, noting that traditionally “from the moment of his election the Pope put on vestments of two colors: red (cope, mozzetta, shoes); and white (cassock, socks).”[3] [4]

Diplomatic communications with Mongols

As soon as he was elected in 1271, Pope Gregory X received a letter from the Mongol Great Khan Kublai, remitted by Niccolo and Matteo Polo following their travels to his court in Mongolia. Kublai was asking for the dispatch of a hundred missionaries, and some oil from the lamp of the Holy Sepulcher. The new Pope could spare only two friars and some lamp oil. The friars turned back soon after the party left for Mongolia. The two Polos (this time accompanied by the young Marco Polo, who was then 17 years old) returned to the Mongol Empire and remitted the oil from the Pope to Kublai in 1275.[5]

The Mongol Ilkhanate leader Abaqa sent a delegation with over a dozen members to the 1274 Council of Lyon, where plans were made for possible military cooperation between the Mongols and the Europeans. After the Council, Abaqa sent another embassy led by the Georgian Vassali brothers to further notify Western leaders of military preparations. Gregory X answered that his legates would accompany the Crusade, and that they would be in charge of coordinating military operations with the Il-Khan.[6] However, these projects for a major new Crusade essentially came to a halt with the death of Gregory X on 10 January 1276. The money which had been saved to finance the expedition was instead distributed in Italy.[7]


Pope Clement XI beatified him in 1713 and he was made the patron of the Diocese of Arezzo and Franciscan tertiaries. His cause of canonization resumed in 1944 under Pope Pius XII and remains open with the requirement of a miracle attributed to his intercession needed for his canonization.

Pope Gregory X in popular culture

Teobaldo Visconti is a central character in the 1982 American-Italian miniseries Marco Polo, where he was portrayed by American actor Burt Lancaster.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Wright, David. 2005, April 18. "Inside Longest Papal Conclave in History." ABC News.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Vatican newspaper examines history of red, white papal garb". Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "L'Osservatore Romano". Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Medieval Expansion of Europe, p. 113
  6. ^ Richard, "Histoire des Croisades", p.465
  7. ^ Riley-Smith, "Atlas des Croisades", p.69
  8. ^ Marco Polo at the Internet Movie Database
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Clement IV
Succeeded by
Innocent V

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