- Pope Stephen VII
English name=Stephen VII
Pope Stephen VII (December, 928 – February, 931).Stephen was a Roman by birth. He was elected – probably handpicked – by
Maroziafrom the Tusculanifamily, the unquestioned mistress of Rome during this period, as a stop-gap measure until her own son John was ready to assume the throne of Peter. This was what some Catholic sources considered the darkest period of papal history, a period in which clans of the nobility in Rome turned the papacy into a "temporal" fiefdom. Little is known of Stephen's reign, except that he confirmed the privileges of a few religious houses in France and Italy. He may, like several popes in this period, have been assassinated.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: [cite web
title=CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Pope Stephen (VI) VII
He had been consecrated Bishop of Anagni, possibly against his will, by Formosus, and became pope about May, 896. Whether induced by evil passion or perhaps, more probably, compelled by the Emperor Lambert and his mother Ageltruda, he caused the body of Formosus to be exhumed, and in January, 897, to be placed before an unwilling synod of the Roman clergy. A deacon was appointed to answer for the deceased pontiff, who was condemned for performing the functions of a bishop when he had been deposed and for passing from the See of Porto to that of Rome. The corpse was then stripped of its sacred vestments, deprived of two fingers of its right hand, clad in the garb of a layman, and ultimately thrown into the Tiber. Fortunately it was not granted to Stephen to have time to do much else besides this atrocious deed. Before he was put to death by strangulation, he forced several of those who had been ordained by Formosus to resign their offices and he granted a few privileges to churches.
The validity of his papacy is disputed. Like his predecessor,
Pope Leo VI, he was elected while Pope John Xwas still alive and in prison. Thus, if John's removal from office was invalid, then neither the election of Leo nor of Stephen was valid and they weren't genuine popes. In any event, they had brief reigns, are not well remembered, and are not likely to have impacted Catholic policy very much. Stephen's reign was brief and few records remain.
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