Today in Catholic History – Pepin the Short is Crowned by Pope Stephen II

On 28 July 754, Pope Stephen II anointed Pepin the Short as King of the Franks and Patricius Romanorum [Patrician of the Romans] in the Basilica of Saint Denis in Paris. Pope Stephen would also anoint Pepin’s sons Carloman and Charles – later known as Charlemagne.

This anointing ceremony would become part of the ceremony for the crowning of French Kings until the French Revolution in 1789.

The title of Patricius had originally belonged to the representative of the Byzantine Empire in the West. However, the Byzantines were no longer able to protect Rome from the invading barbarians, so Pope Stephen looked to the rising power of the Franks for help.

When Pepin pledged to protect the Pope from the power of the Lombards who were moving against Rome, a thankful Stephen traveled to France to anoint Pepin. In 756 Pepin would attack the Lombards and the land he captured from them would be given to Pope Stephen as the “Donation of Pepin” beginning the Papal States and the temporal authority of the papacy.

The crowning of Pepin would strengthen Pepin’s claim to the French throne against the rival Merovingians and begin a long history of close links between the French throne and the papacy. The crowning will also show the turn of Rome to the West and mark the growing split between East and West eventually leading to the schism of 1054.

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