Saint Zacharias (or Zachary), pope (741-752), from a Greek family of Calabria, appears to have been on intimate terms with Gregory III, whom he succeeded (November 741).
Zacharias was a wise and subtle diplomat. Finding that his predecessor's alliance with the Lombard Duke of Spoleto was not protecting Papal cities against the Lombard king, Zacharias turned to Liutprand directly. Contemporary history (Liber pontificalis) dwells chiefly on Zacharias' great personal influence with Liutprand, and with his successor Ratchis; it was largely through his tact in dealing with these princes in a variety of emergencies that the exarchate of Ravenna was rescued from becoming a Lombard duchy.
A correspondence, of considerable extent, and great interest, between Zacharias and Saint Boniface, the apostle of Germany, survives, and shows how great was the influence of this pope on events then passing in France and Germany; he encouraged the deposition of the last Merovingian king of the Franks, Childeric III, and it was with his sanction that Boniface crowned Pepin the Short as king of the Franks at Soissons in 752. Zacharias is stated to have remonstrated with the Byzantine emperor Constantine V Copronymus on the part he had taken in the iconoclastic controversy. He died March 14, 752, and buried in St. Peter's Basilica. His successor was Stephen who died soon after, before consecration and is not considered a valid pope. He was then succeeded by another Stephen who became Stephen II.
In the effort to Christianize Rome, Zacharias built the original church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva over an ancient temple to Minerva near Pantheon. He also restored the Lateran Palace, moving the relic of the head of Saint George to the church of San Giorgio al Velabro.
The letters and decrees of Zacharias are published in Jacques Paul Migne, Patrolog. lat. lxxxix. p. 917-960.
Preceded by: Saint Gregory III
Pope of the Roman Catholic Church 741 to 752
Succeeded by: Stephen
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