Pope Stephen VIII

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Pope

Stephen VIII
Stephen VIII.png
Papacy began14 July 939
Papacy endedOctober 942
Predecessor Leo VII
Successor Marinus II
Personal details
Birth nameStephanus
Born Rome, Papal States
DiedOctober 942
Rome, Papal States
Previous post Cardinal-Priest of Santi Silvestre e Martino ai Monti (5 April 938-14 July 939)
Other popes named Stephen

Pope Stephen VIII (Latin : Stephanus VIII; died October 942) was Pope from 14 July 939 to his death in 942.

Pope Leader of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the bishop of Rome and leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

Contents

Pontificate

Stephen VIII was born of a Roman family, and prior to becoming pope was attached to the church of Saints Silvester and Martin. [1] With his elevation as Bishop of Rome, Stephen gave his attention to the situation in West Francia, or as the Romans still referred to it, Gaul. In early 940, Stephen intervened on behalf of Louis IV of France, who had been trying to bring to heel his rebellious dukes, Hugh the Great and Herbert II, Count of Vermandois, both of whom had appealed for support from the German king Otto I. [2] The Pope dispatched a Papal legate to the Frankish nobles, instructing them to acknowledge Louis, and to cease their rebellious actions against him, under threat of excommunication. Although the embassy did not achieve its stated objective, it did have the effect of removing the support of the Frankish bishops who had been backing Hugh and Herbert. [3]

San Martino ai Monti church building in Rome, Italy

San Martino ai Monti, officially known as Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti("SS Sylvester & Martin in the Mountains"), is a minor basilica in Rome, Italy, in the Rione Monti neighbourhood. It is located near the edge of the Parco del Colle Oppio, near the corner of Via Equizia and Viale del Monte Oppio, about five to six blocks south of Santa Maria Maggiore.

West Francia former country (843-987)

In medieval historiography, West Francia or the Kingdom of the West Franks was the western part of Charlemagne's Empire, ruled by the Germanic Franks that forms the earliest stage of the Kingdom of France, lasting from about 840 until 987. West Francia was formed out of the division of the Carolingian Empire in 843 under the Treaty of Verdun after the death of Emperor Louis the Pious and the east–west division which "gradually hardened into the establishment of separate kingdoms ... of what we can begin to call Germany and France".

Gaul region of ancient Europe

Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of Northern Italy, Netherlands, and Germany, particularly the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2 (191,000 sq mi). According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.

Emboldened by this, Stephen then sought to break up the alliance against Louis by offering Herbert's son, Hugh of Vermandois, the office of Archbishop of Reims. [3] Along with the Pallium (the symbol of office for the archbishop), Stephen sent another legate, with instructions to the Frankish nobility, insisting that they submit to Louis. [4] This time they were informed that if the pope had not received their embassies by Christmas, notifying him of their intent to submit to the king, they would be excommunicated. [3] This time, there was a shift in support to Louis, as a number of the more important nobles declared for him, and by the end of 942, all of the nobility had affirmed their loyalty to Louis, and notified the pope of their intent. [5]

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Reims archdiocese

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Reims is an archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. Erected as a diocese around 250 by St. Sixtus, the diocese was elevated to an archdiocese around 750. The archbishop received the title "primate of Gallia Belgica" in 1089.

Pallium an ecclesiastical vestment in the Catholic Church: a narrow band, seen from front or back the ornament resembles the letter Y and decorated with six black crosses

The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by the Holy See upon metropolitans and primates as a symbol of their conferred jurisdictional authorities, and still remains papal emblems. Schoenig, Steven A., SJ. Bonds of Wool: The Pallium and Papal Power in the Middle Ages (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0-8132-2922-5. In its present form, the pallium is a long and "three fingers broad" white band adornment, woven from the wool of lambs raised by Trappist monks. It is donned by looping its middle around one's neck, resting upon the chasuble and two dependent lappets over one's shoulders with tail-ends on the left with the front end crossing over the rear. When observed from the front or rear the pallium sports a stylistic letter 'y'. It is decorated with six black crosses, one near each end and four spaced out around the neck loop. At times the pallium is embellished fore and aft with three gold gem-headed stickpins. The doubling and pinning on the left shoulder likely survive from the Roman pallium. The pallium and the omophor originate from the same vestment, the latter a much larger and wider version worn by Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic bishops of the Byzantine Rite. A theory relates origination to the paradigm of the Good Shepherd shouldering a lamb, a common early Christian art image — but this may be an explanation a posteriori, however the ritual preparation of the pallium and its subsequent bestowal upon a pope at coronation suggests the shepherd symbolism. The lambs whose fleeces are destined for pallia are solemnly presented at altar by the nuns of the convent of Saint Agnes and ultimately the Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere weave their wool into pallia.

Christmas holiday originating in Christianity, usually celebrated on December 25 (in the Gregorian or Julian calendars)

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.

Closer to home, things were a lot more difficult for Stephen. The continuing domination of the Counts of Tusculum was evident throughout Stephen's pontificate, as it was during that of his predecessors and successors (see Saeculum obscurum). Although Stephen was subject to Alberic II of Spoleto, Prince of the Romans, and did not in reality rule the Papal States, Stephen himself was not a member of that family, nor had he any relationship with Marozia, who had dominated Roman and papal politics during the preceding decades. [6] Stephen was however caught up in the ongoing conflict between Alberic II and Hugh of Italy, with Hugh besieging Rome in 940. [7] After a failed assassination attempt against Alberic, which involved a number of bishops, Alberic cracked down on any potential dissent in Rome, with his enemies either scourged, beheaded or imprisoned. If there is any truth to Martin of Opava’s account of the torture and maiming of Stephen VIII by supporters of Alberic (see below), it must have occurred at this juncture, in the aftermath of the conspiracy, and just prior to Stephen's death. [8]

Counts of Tusculum countship

The counts of Tusculum were the most powerful secular noblemen in Latium, near Rome, in the present-day Italy between the 10th and 12th centuries. Several popes and an antipope during the 11th century came from their ranks. They created and perfected the political formula of noble-papacy, wherein the Pope was arranged to be elected only from the ranks of the Roman nobles. The Pornocracy, the period of influence by powerful female members of the family, also influenced papal history.

Saeculum obscurum is a name given to a period in the history of the Papacy during the first two-thirds of the 10th century, beginning with the installation of Pope Sergius III in 904 and lasting for sixty years until the death of Pope John XII in 964. During this period, the popes were influenced strongly by a powerful and allegedly corrupt aristocratic family, the Theophylacti, and their relatives.

Alberic II (912–954) was ruler of Rome from 932 to 954, after deposing his mother Marozia and his stepfather, King Hugh of Italy.

On 17 August 942, Alberic summoned a council in Rome, where he demonstrated his control over the papacy by making use of various papal officials, such as the Primicerius, the Secundicerius of the Notaries, and the Vestararius. [9] Stephen died during October 942, and was succeeded by Marinus II.

The Latin term primicerius, hellenized as primikērios, was a title applied in the later Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire to the heads of administrative departments, and also used by the Church to denote the heads of various colleges.

Notarius

A notarius is a public secretary who is appointed by competent authority to draw up official or authentic documents. In the Roman Catholic Church there have been apostolic notaries and even episcopal notaries. Documents drawn up by notarii are issued chiefly from the official administrative offices, the chanceries; secondly, from tribunals; lastly, others are drawn up at the request of individuals to authenticate their contracts or other acts.

Vestararius

The vestararius was the manager of the medieval Roman Curia office of the vestiarium, responsible for the management of papal finances as well as the papal wardrobe. The vestiarium is mentioned as the papal treasury as early as the seventh century, during the period of Byzantine cultural hegemony in the West called the "Byzantine Papacy", but the vestararius itself is attested to only from the eighth century.

Alternative account

According to the late 13th century chronicler Martin of Opava, Stephen VIII was described as being a German, who was elected pope due to the power and influence of his royal relative, the German king Otto I. Martin states that Otto ignored the will of the cardinals in imposing Stephen upon them, and because Stephen was hated for being a German, he was taken by supporters of Alberic II, who proceeded to maim and disfigure him to such an extent that Stephen was unable to appear in public again. [10] This version of events has largely been discredited; [11] contemporary and near-contemporary catalogues state that Stephen was a Roman. Further, Otto's intervention in and influence over Italian affairs was still over a decade away, and during this period Otto was still trying to consolidate his hold on power in Germany, with major rebellions by the German dukes. Consequently, Otto would have been too preoccupied to concern himself over the papal succession at this juncture. Finally, Stephen's intervention on behalf of the Frankish king Louis IV (who was in conflict with Otto) would not have occurred had Stephen been a relative of the German king, and had Stephen received the papal throne through Otto's intervention. [1] The maiming of Stephen may have occurred, however, in the aftermath of the conspiracy against Alberic in the middle of 942.

Martin of Opava Czech medieval chronicler

Martin of Opava, O.P. also known as Martin of Poland, was a 13th-century Dominican friar, bishop and chronicler.

Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor German king and first emperor of the Ottonian empire

Otto I, traditionally known as Otto the Great, was German king from 936 and Holy Roman Emperor from 962 until his death in 973. He was the oldest son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda.

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References

Notes

  1. 1 2 Mann, pg. 213
  2. Mann, pgs. 213-214
  3. 1 2 3 Mann, pg. 214
  4. DeCormenin, Louis Marie; Gihon, James L., A Complete History of the Popes of Rome, from Saint Peter, the First Bishop to Pius the Ninth (1857), pg. 290
  5. Mann, pgs. 214-215
  6. Mann, pg. 217
  7. Mann, pg. 215
  8. Norwich, John Julius, The Popes: A History (2011), pg. 76
  9. Mann, pgs. 215-216
  10. Mann, pgs. 212-213
  11. Gregorovius, Ferdinand, The History of Rome in the Middle Ages, Vol. VI, pg. 633
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Leo VII
Pope
939–942
Succeeded by
Marinus II