Pope Stephen IV (V) was one of the popes whose reign was extremely short. He is recorded on the Bible Timeline with World History between 816 – 817 AD. He was the elected pope from the death of his predecessor, Pope Leo III, in June of 816 AD up to his own death six months later. He was the son of a Roman named Marinus. He descended from a noble family which produced three popes, including himself, Sergius II, and Adrian III. All his life, Stephen was groomed to be a pope as he grew up in the Lateran Palace under the papacy of Pope Adrian I; Pope Leo III later ordained him as sub-deacon.
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The senior priests immediately elected him as pope as soon as the news of Leo’s death reached them on the 12th of June, 816 AD, and Stephen’s consecration occurred ten days later. Since his rather hasty election was done by the senior priests so that no one—not even the Charlemagne’s heir and now Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious—would interfere with their choice of pope. Nonetheless, they were eager for Louis to acknowledge their choice of a pope (and for the emperor to continue as the Pope and the Church’s protector), so Stephen’s first task upon his consecration was to assure Louis of the Romans’ loyalty. He compelled the Romans to take an oath of loyalty to Louis. Stephen also sent the emperor a letter to inform him of his election.
Coronation of Louis the Pious
Bernard, King of Italy, accompanied Pope Stephen to meet Louis the Pious in the city of Rheims. They were warmly received upon their arrival in October, 816 AD. Just like his predecessor Pope Leo III and Charlemagne, Pope Stephen anointed Louis as the Holy Roman Emperor and placed Emperor Constantine’s alleged golden crown upon his head during the mass. He also proclaimed the emperor’s wife Ermengarde as Augusta during the same ceremony.
Louis returned the courtesy and sent gifts to the Pope including a part of an estate he owned called Villa Vendopera. Stephen also asked the Emperor to pardon the exiled men who attempted to mutilate Pope Leo III and for them to accompany him on his return to Rome. The Holy Roman Emperor granted his request and Stephen’s entourage reached Rome before the end of November.
Pope Stephen died on the 24th of June, 817 AD and was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Picture By Unknown – http://fr.encarta.msn.com/media_941564606_741538794_-1_1/Grandes_Chroniques_de_France _couronnement_de_Louis I_er_le_Pieux.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8148925
Mann, Horace K. The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. 2. Vol. II. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1906.
Miranda, Salvador. “Stephen (IV) V.” The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church – Biographical Dictionary – 815. Accessed September 13, 2016. http://www2.fiu.edu/~mirandas/bios815.htm.
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