Course:Carey HIST501/Project 3/Stephen II

From UBC Wiki

Short biography

Pope Stephen II was born on 751 in Rome, Italy. He was born to a wealthy aristocratic Italian family, the Orsinis who were one of the landed gentry.[1] He and his brother Paul were educated into the priesthood at the Lateran palace (Pope's residence in Rome).[2] He served as a deacon in Rome when Pope Zacharias died. Another Stephen was originally chosen to succeed Zacharias but he died before we was consecrated as the bishop of Rome. A few days later, Stephen Orsini was chosen as the next pope and his papacy began on March 26, 752.[1]
This illustration is from The Lives and Times of the Popes by Chevalier Artaud de Montor, New York: The Catholic Publication Society of America, 1911. It was originally published in 1842. Before Pope-elect Stephen was removed from most lists of popes, Stephen II was referred to as Stephen II.
Stephen II's papacy began during a tumultuous time for the Roman church as it faced growing threat from the Lombards to the north. The Lombards threatened to invade Rome and the rest of Italy. Stephen asked for military aid from the emperor of the Byzantine empire (successor of the eastern Roman empire) who were originally the defenders of Rome and the papacy. However, Byzantium was plagued by their own wars/conflicts and could not send any military aid. This forced Stephen to travel to Gaul (present day France) and crowned Pippin III (king of the Franks) the king of the Romans. In response, Pippin crossed the Alps and came to Rome's aid and defeated the Lombards. After the Lombards' defeat, Pippin gave all the lands he conquered from the Lombards to the church in Rome. This act called the donation of Pippin became the starting point for the papal states which were ruled by the pope.[3] The rest of his papacy was spent trying to establish his rule over the papal states and determine its exact boundaries.[4] He died while in office on April 26, 752 in Rome. He was succeeded by his brother pope Paul I.[1]

Short term impact

  • Stephen II was known for his love of the poor and built hospitals for them near the church of St. Peter.[4]
  • He worked to restore the veneration of religious and sacred images which was rejected by Constantine V who was an iconoclast. He corresponded with Constantine V with the aim of changing the emperor's position with not much success. He did however restore these religious images to the ancient churches in Rome.[4]
  • Stephen was able to secure military protection for Rome and the papacy.[1]

Long term impact

  • Severed military ties with the Byzantium empire (Eastern Europe) and moved military ties to western Europe (Franks). This created less dependence and ties to the Eastern Roman Empire which would lead to more divisions between East and West. This is just the beginning of the separation between the eastern and western parts of the church that will eventually culminate in the Great Schism.[5]
  • Established precedence of papal support for kings by anointing King Pippin.[1]
  • Received the papal states which establishes the pope as an Earthly prince. The papacy ruled the papal states and was influential in the economic and political affairs of the Italian peninsula up to 1870.[6]
  • Established a long term relationship between the Frankish (eventually the French) throne and the papacy. This relationship and the ceremony whereby the French monarch is anointed by the pope (or his representative) will last until the last French king (Louis XVI, 1789) before the French Revolution.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Pope Stephen II". Pope History. Retrieved Oct. 20, 2021. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. "Pope Paul I". New Advent. Retrieved Oct. 21, 2021. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. "Stephen II (or III)". Encyclopedia Brittanica. Retrieved Oct. 21, 2021. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Stephen (II) III". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved Oct. 21, 21. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Shelley, Bruce L. (2020). Church History in Plain Language, 5th Ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Academic. p. 216.
  6. "Papal States". Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 22, 2021. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)