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The Papacy - A Historical Perspective

561-604 A.D.

John III : 561-574 A.D.

61. Born in Rome. Elected July 17, 561 - died July 13, 574.

During his pontificate, Italy was invaded by the Longobards.

John III helped the Italian people during the disastrous barbarian invasion, headed by Narses, in defense of their land and against the cruelties of the invaders.

He saw to the completion of the SS. Apostoli church and consecrated it on the day of the St. Philip and St. James.

He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes. His pontificate lasted 13 years.

Benedict I : 575-579 A.D.

62. Born in Rome. Elected June 2, 575 - died July 30, 579.

He was elected after almost a year of vacancy of the See.

He tried in vain to restore order in Italy and France, which were both devastated by barbaric invasions and internal disorders.

He confirmed the Fifth Council of Constantinople.

He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes. He was a Pope for 4 years and 1 month

Pelagius II : 579-590 A.D.

63. Born in Rome and of Gothic descent. Elected November 26, 579 - died February 7, 590.

He was elected without the Emperor's approval. It was the first step for the Holy See in detaching itself from Imperial authority, as deliberated by Justinian.

He decreed that priest must recite the Divine Office every day and he started putting the date of indiction on documents.

He died victim of a terrible plague which left victims to die yawning and sneezing.

He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes. He was a pontiff for almost 11 years.

St. Gregory I : 590-604 A.D.

64. Born in Rome. Elected September 3, 509 - died March 3, 604.

He reaffirmed the civil authority of the Pope: the beginning of Temporal Powers.

At the time of the plague, an angel appeared to him on the castle that has since been called Castel Sant' Angelo.

He created a young choir for the purpose of embellishing the church ceremonies with chants. These were called "Gregorian Chants" , after his name, and they are still sung today during solemn functions.

Gregory the Great was a devoted and humble Pope. He liked to call himself "the servant of the servants of God".

He is buried in the Clementine Chapel in the St. Peter's Basilica. His pontificate lasted 13 years and 5 months.

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