Pope Zachary (d. 752) in 7 Points

Pope Zachary is one of the top 10 Popes of the early medieval periods. Let’s take a look at some high points in his pontificate:

  1. Pope Zachary appointed Saint Boniface (Apostle of Germany) in AD 742 as Papal Legate to the German dioceses.
  2. Pope Zachary condemned the practice of worshipping angels in AD 745.
  3. He is the Pope known for deposing the Merovingian King of the Franks, Childeric III and then granting the crown to Pepin the Short, the father of Charlemagne. Saint Boniface crowned Pepin King of the Franks at Soissons in 752.
  4. Pope Zachary accused the court of Constantinople, along with its Patriarch, and its Emperor Constantine V of heresy. They promoted iconoclasm: the destruction of images of Christ and the saints and banned their production. (Here’s my podcast on iconoclasm in its Byzantine context.)
  5. Pope Zachary built the original church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (“over Minerva”) over an ancient temple to Minerva near the Pantheon. This church would later become a setting for the Dominican Order. It’s (revised) interior is stunning.
  6. Pope Zachary forbade the selling of slaves to Muslims in the city of Rome.
  7. But here is why I really like Pope Zachary: While restoring the Lateran Palace, he relocated the relic of the skull of Saint George to the church of San Giorgio al Velabro (a church I visit annually in Rome).

Here’s a photo of me in San Giorgio al Velabro kneeling by the altar that holds the skull of Saint George.

It looks empty now but a cleric in the church told me that the skull is still in there. Just not visible (if I understood his Italian).

If you’d like to read my bestselling historical fictional account of Saint George’s life, please check out my novel: Sword and Serpent at amazon.com.

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