About Our Patron Saint Gregory Barbarigo
d. 1697 Feastday: June 18
Gregory Barbarigo, born at Venice of a very old family, obtained his degree in canon and civil law magna cum laude at the College of Padua. While attending the peace congress of Munster at the age of nineteen, he met the papal legate, Fabio Chigi, and with his encouragement decided to become an ecclesiastic, and was admitted to holy orders.
When Fabio Chigi became Pope under the name of Alexander VII, he appointed Gregory bishop of Bergamo, and soon raised him to the college of cardinals, transferring him to the see of Padua. In entering upon his episcopal duties, he strove to model himself on St. Charles Borromeo. It was his life-long endeavour to extirpate vices and cultivate virtues in obedience to the warnings and decrees of the sacred synod of Trent. In both dioceses he enlarged the seminaries.
At Padua especially he improved the library and the press, which published books for distribution among the peoples of the Near East. He strenuously fostered catechetical instruction, and zealously travelled to every village of the diocese to teach and preach. He was distinguished for his works of charity and the holiness of his life. So generous was he to the needy and poor that he even gave away his household goods, his clothes and his bed to help them.
Finally, after a brief illness, he fell asleep peacefully in the Lord on June 18, 1697. Renowned for his merits and his virtues, he was inscribed among the Blessed by Clement XIII and among the Saints by John XXIII. He was beatified on 6 July 1761, and canonized nearly 189 years later on 26 May 1960. He was the first saint canonized by Pope John XXIII, John XXIII is said to have felt a close kinship with St. Gregory Barbarigo, his patron and exemplar, and maintained a lifelong devotion to his work. St Gregory was Bishop of Bergamo, the home town of Pope John XXIII.
Archbishop Scanlan noted, in a letter marking the solemn opening of St Gregory’s church, that Scotland was indebted to St Gregory Barbarigo who, through Pope Innocent XII, provided its first Vicar Apostolic in the person of Bishop Thomas Nicholson; he was a former Regent (Lecturer) in the University of Glasgow, received into the Catholic church in 1682 and ordained a priest in Padua in 1685 by Gregory Barbarigo.