Spirituality for Today – June 2014 – Volume 18, Issue 11

The 94th Pope
Stephen III

An image of Pope Stephen III, the 94th PopePope Stephen III, the 94th Pope

Pope Stephen III (768-772) – Confusion followed he death of Pope Paul I. It appears that the harsh administration of Pope Paul caused such anxiety over his successor that every faction in Rome offered a candidate for elevation to the papacy. When the dust finally settled, Stephen was elected validly, licitly, and canonically. In order to prevent future chaos, a synod decreed that only local prominent clergy would be eligible to be elected as pope and that laity would no longer be involved in the process.

Pope Stephen spent most of his reign wading through the murky waters of 8th Century political intrigues. A powerful man named Christopher, chief notary of the Holy See, managed Pope Stephen's candidacy and had much influence on the new pope. Desiderius, King of the Lombards, became allied to the pope and soon the king was implicated in the murder of Christopher and his son. The Frankish king, Charles (Charlemagne) opposed Desiderius – not a good thing for Pope Stephen – and the two kings became enemies. Pope Stephen was used and abused by Desiderius. All in all, the papacy of Pope Stephen was filled with political blunders and failures.

He was buried in the Basilica of Saint Peter.

Habemus papam