1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Stephen (Popes)

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STEPHEN, the name of nine popes.

Stephen I., bishop of Rome from about 254 to 257, followed Lucius I. He withdrew from church fellowship with Cyprian and certain Asiatic bishops on account of their views as to the necessity of rebaptizing heretics (Euseb. H. E. vii. 5; Cypr. Epp. 75). He is also mentioned as having insisted on the restoration of the bishops of Merida and Astorga, who had been deposed for unfaithfulness during persecution but afterwards had repented. He is commemorated on August 2. His successor was Sixtus II.

Stephen II., pope from March 752 to April 757, was in deacon's orders when chosen to the vacant see within twelve days after the death of Zacharias.[1] The main difficulty of his pontificate was in connexion with the aggressive attitude of Aistulf, king of the Lombards. After unsuccessful embassies to Aistulf himself and appeals to the emperor Constantine, he, though in feeble health, set out to seek the aid of Pippin, by whom he was received in the neighbourhood of Vitry le Brulé in the beginning of 754. He spent the winter at St Denis. The result of his negotiations was the Frankish invasion of Aistulf's territory and the famous “donation” of Pippin. The death of Stephen took place not long after that of Aistulf. He was succeeded by Paul I.

Stephen III., pope from the 7th of August 768 to the 3rd of February 772, was a native of Sicily, and, having come to Rome during the pontificate of Gregory III., gradually rose to high office in the service of successive popes. On the deposition of Constantine II. Stephen was chosen to succeed him. Fragmentary records are preserved of the council (April 769) at which the degradation of Constantine was completed, certain new arrangements for papal elections made, and the practice of image-worship confirmed. Stephen inclined to the Lombard rather than to the Frankish alliance. He was succeeded by Adrian I.

Stephen IV., pope from June 816 to January 817, succeeded Leo III. He did not continue Leo's policy, which was more favourable to the clergy than to the lay aristocracy. Immediately after his consecration he ordered the Roman people to swear fidelity to Louis the Pious, to whom he found it prudent to betake himself personally in the following August. After the coronation of Louis at Reims in October he returned to Rome, where he died in the beginning of the following year. His successor was Paschal I.

Stephen V., pope from 885 to 891, succeeded Adrian III., and was in turn succeeded by Formosus. In his dealings with Constantinople in the matter of Photius, as also in his relations with the young Slavonic Church, he pursued the policy of Nicholas I. His Italian policy wavered between his desire for the protection of the German king Arnulf against Guy of Spoleto, king of Italy, and fear of offending Guy. Guy was crowned emperor in 891.

Stephen VI., pope from May 896 to July–August 897, succeeded Boniface VI., and was in turn followed by Romanus. His conduct towards the remains of Formosus, his last predecessor but one (see Formosus) excited a tumult, which ended in his imprisonment and death by strangling.

Stephen VII. (January 929 to February 931) and Stephen VIII. (July 939 to October 949) were virtually nonentities, who held the pontificate while the real direction of the pontifical state was in the hands of Marozia and, afterwards, of her son Alberic, senator of the Romans.

Stephen IX., pope from August 1057 to March 1058, succeeded Victor II. (Gebhard of Eichstädt). His baptismal name was Frederick, and he was a younger brother of Godfrey, duke of Upper Lorraine, marquis of Tuscany (by his marriage with Beatrice, widow of Boniface, marquis of Tuscany). Frederick, who had been raised to the cardinalate by Leo IX., acted for some time as papal legate at Constantinople, and was with Leo in his unlucky expedition against the Normans. He shared his brother's fortunes, and at one time had to take refuge from Henry III. in Monte Cassino. Five days after the death of Victor II. (who had made him cardinal-priest and abbot of Monte Cassino) he was chosen to succeed him. He showed great zeal in enforcing the Hildebrandine policy as to clerical celibacy, and was planning the expulsion of the Normans from Italy and the elevation of his brother to the imperial throne when he was seized by a severe illness. He died at Florence on the 29th of March 1058.

  1. A priest named Stephen, elected before him, died three days after, without having received the episcopal consecration.