Spirituality for Today – April 2014 – Volume 18, Issue 9

The 92nd Pope
Stephen II (III)

An image of Pope Stephen II (III), the 92nd PopePope Stephen II (III), the 92nd Pope

Pope Stephen II (III) (752-757) – A clarification is necessary regarding Pope Stephen, a priest was elected to be Pope Stephen II, but died before he could be consecrated as a bishop – the pope is the Bishop of Rome. After the death of the aged Stephen, another priest was elected and took the name Stephen. The first Stephen, however, was kept in the list of popes by the Vatican until 1960. Thus, every pope that takes the name of Stephen will do so with a dual designation. Just for the sake of not requiring repeated explanation, one might hope that no further Stephens will come along.

The Lombard king, Aistulf, adopted an expansionist policy having captured Ravenna and other imperial territories as his own. Rome was threatened by these actions and the pope appealed to the Frankish king, Pepin III for help. Pepin III responded by handily defeating the Lombards and establishing a treaty between the Lombards and Rome. It did not take long for the impetuous Lombards to break the treaty and recapture previously held territories. Once again, the pope appealed to Pepin III and once again, the king of the Franks thoroughly thrashed Aistulf and the Lombards and won a number of territories for the pope to administer. History records these lands as the Papal States and, henceforth, recognizes the pope to be both a spiritual and a temporal ruler. With the death of Aistulf, the pope designed the election of a favorable leader of the Lombards that resulted in the acquisition of more land for the Papal States. Thus, Pope Stephen II (III) moved switched the imperial relationship from the East to Western Europe and established the Papal States (a very debatable development in the history of the Church).

Pope Stephen II (III) is buried in Saint Peter's Basilica.

Habemus papam