Popes in a Year
#97 - Pope Stephen IV
Pope from June 22, 816 - January 24, 817
Lived: 770 - January 24, 817
Give me the scoop on Stephen IV.
Stephen IV was part of the Roman nobility, and had worked for both Adrian I and St. Leo III before being elected himself. Stephen, who had been ordained a deacon by Leo, was chosen and consecrated on June 22, 816. His short papacy, lasting barely 7 months, was a stark contrast to the fact that the Church had only seen two pontiffs in the 44 years prior. The few actions he was able to complete included the releasing of exiles sent away during Leo III’s reign and granting the
to Theodore, the bishop of Orleans (France). Stephen, renowned for his virtues, died on January 24, 817.
What was he known for?
Stephen IV’s most notable action as pope involved the new Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne’s son, Louis the Pious. Immediately after being elected, Stephen demanded that all Romans pledge their allegiance to Louis, after which he traveled to France to place the crown -- which apparently belonged to Constantine the Great -- on the emperor’s head. Louis showed his thanks by giving the pope numerous gifts, as well as re-upping the pact between the Franks and the papacy.
On one of Stephen’s trips back to Rome, he stopped in the city of Ravenna and reportedly exposed the sandals of Christ for veneration by the faithful. Whether they more closely resembled Chacos or Birkenstocks has been lost to history.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 816, Formosus was born in Italy. He would become pope at the end of the 9th Century, but has become infamous for being the star of the “Cadaver Synod” in which his remains were exhumed, put on trial for by the successor to his successor, Pope Stephen VII, then thrown into the Tiber River. And we thought reality TV was dramatic.
Coming Tomorrow...Pope St. Paschal I
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope Stephen (IV) V -
Pope Stephen IV -
Cadaver Synod -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, May 16 at 2:00AM