Zachary, Pope, St.
ZACHARY, POPE, ST.
Pontificate: Dec. 3, 741 to March 15, 752. Nothing is known of his early life except that he was the son of a Greek, Polychronius, of Calabria. His pontificate was marked by charity for the clergy and poor of Rome, but especially by vigorous diplomatic relations with the lombards, the Byzantine Empire, and the franks. Under Zachary's predecessor, gregory iii, the papacy had continually suffered the depredations of the Lombard King Liutprand. In line with his new political orientation, Zachary repudiated the alliance of the papacy with the duke of Spoleto against Liutprand and, instead, personally met with the king on two occasions, persuading him to return the four cities he had taken from the Duchy of Rome and to desist from attacking ravenna. Thus he achieved peace with the Lombards.
In accord with his desire to maintain friendly relations with Byzantium, Zachary immediately dispatched envoys to the church of constantinople and to the iconoclastic Emperor constantine v Copronymos to inform them of his election and to exhort the emperor to restore the use of sacred images. His envoys shrewdly withheld their letters from the usurper Artabasdus, who at that time had seized Constantine's throne while he campaigned against the Saracens. They finally presented their letters in November 743, after the rightful emperor had regained his throne; and he replied with a gift to Rome of two large estates in south Italy.
Zachary's close association with the Frankish church began immediately, as he received boniface's renewed expressions of loyalty and submission to the Chair of Peter and confirmed for him the establishment of the bishoprics of Würzburg, Buraburg, and Erfurt. He also confirmed Boniface as a papal legate to a Frankish council in 742. Until his death Zachary corresponded with Boniface and the Frankish bishops and rulers, fostering ecclesiastical and moral discipline and extending papal jurisdiction among the Franks; e.g., in 743 a Roman synod confirmed the acts of the earlier Frankish council and dealt with a question of impediments to marriage referred by the Franks to his predecessor. Again in 745 Zachary held a council at Rome in which he confirmed the condemnation for heresy of aldebert and Clement, previously condemned by a Frankish council under Boniface. Four years after carloman entered a monastery (747) and left his brother pepin iii as sole ruler in France under a figurehead merovingian, Childeric III, Pepin inaugurated a new era in church-state relations when he obtained the support of Zachary for the deposition of Childeric and for his own coronation (751). History has remembered Zachary for his part in creating the Carolingian-Papal alliance; in his own time he was noted for his Greek translation of the Dialogues of Pope gregory i the Great.
Feast: March 5.
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[m. c. mccarthy]