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Stephen II, Pope

STEPHEN II, POPE

Pontificate: March 752, reigned for four days. Stephen, a Roman priest elected to succeed Pope zachary, who died as the Lombard peril neared its crisis in Italy, was installed at the Lateran but died before his episcopal consecration. Since, in the 8th century, consecration was thought to mark the official beginning of a pope's reign, Stephen is not listed among the popes by his contemporaries or by most medieval and modern historians. However, since modern Canon Law holds that a pope's pontificate begins with his election, the Annuario pontificio from 1961 on, took cognizance of Stephen II and renumbered all subsequent popes of this name with alternate numbers, e.g., Stephen's successor is referred to as Stephen II (III). Recent works tend to accept the validity of Stephen's extremely short pontificate but refuse to accept the renumbering of his successors. Despite the adjustments involved in a double set of numbers for popes of this name, there is no doubt that this man who exercised the pontifical power for even so short a time should be recognized by historians as Pope Stephen II (see popes, list of).

Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692) 1:440. Annales Nazariani, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores (Berlin 1826) 1:2331, 4044. a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) 5:423. h. k. mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages from 590 to 1304 (London 190232) 1.2:290291. r. l. poole, "The Names and Numbers of Medieval Popes," English Historical Review 32 (1917) 465478. r. thi baut, "Noms et chiffres pontificaux," Nouvelle revue théologique 72 (1950) 834838.

[p. j. mullins]

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