Abbot; b. about 707 or 708; d. 775 or 780
Gregory of Utrecht, Saint, Abbot; b. about 707 or 708; d. 775 or 780. Gregory was born of a noble family at Trier. His father Alberic was the son of Addula, who, as widow, was Abbess of Pfalzel (Palatiolum) near Trier. On account of the similarity of names, and in consequence of a forged last will, Addula has been frequently confounded with Adala (Adela), daughter of Dagobert II of Austrasia—thus falsely making Gregory a scion of the royal house of the Merovingians. He received his early education at Pfalzel. When, in 722, St. Boniface passed through Trier on his way from Frisia to Hessia and Thuringia, he rested at this convent. Gregory was called upon to read the Sacred Scriptures at the meals. St. Boniface gave an explanation and dwelt upon the merits of an apostolic life, in such warm and convincing terms that the heart of Gregory was filled with enthusiasm. He announced his intention of going with St. Boniface and nothing could move him from his resolution. He now became the disciple and in time the helper of the great Apostle of Germany, sharing his hardships and labors, accompanying him in all his missionary tours, and learning from the saint the secret of sanctity. In 738 St. Boniface made his third journey to Rome; Gregory went with him and brought back many valuable additions for his library. About 750 Gregory was made Abbot of St. Martin's, in Utrecht. In 744 St. Willibrord, the first Bishop of Utrecht, had died but had received no successor. St. Boniface had taken charge and had appointed an administrator. In 754 he started on his last missionary trip and took with him the administrator, St. Eoban, who was to share his crown of martyrdom. After this Pope Stephen II (III) and Pepin ordered Gregory to look after the diocese. For this reason some (even the Mart. Rom.) call him bishop, though he never received episcopal consecration. The school of his abbey, a kind of missionary seminary, was now a center of piety and learning. Students flocked to it from all sides: Franks, Frisians, Saxons, even Bavarians and Swabians. England, though it had splendid schools of its own, sent scholars. Among his disciples St. Liudger is best known. He became the first Bishop of Munster later, and wrote the life of Gregory. In it (Acta SS., August, V, 240) he extols the virtues of Gregory, his contempt of riches, his sobriety, his forgiving spirit and his almsdeeds. Some three years before Gregory's death, a lameness attacked his left side and gradually spread over his entire body. At the approach of death he had himself carried into church and there breathed his last. His relics were religiously kept at Utrecht, and in 1421 and 1597 were examined at episcopal visitations. A large portion of his head is in the church of St. Amelberga at Sustern, where an official recognition took place September 25, 1885, by the Bishop of Roermond (Anal. Boll., V, 162). A letter written by St. Lullus, Bishop of Mainz, to St. Gregory is still extant (P.L., XCVI, 821).