Pope Stephen V

Pope Stephen V (Latin: Stephanus V; died 14 September 891) was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from September 885 to his death.[1] In his dealings with Photius I of Constantinople, as also in his relations with the young Slavic Orthodox church, he pursued the policy of Pope Nicholas I.


Stephen V
Bishop of Rome
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy beganSeptember 885
Papacy ended14 September 891
PredecessorAdrian III
Personal details
Died(891-09-14)14 September 891
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Stephen

Early lifeEdit

His father Hadrian, who belonged to the Roman aristocracy, entrusted his education to his relative, Bishop Zachary, librarian of the Holy See. Stephen was created cardinal-priest of Santi Quattro Coronati by Marinus I.


Stephen V was elected to succeed Adrian III on the account of his holiness on May 17, 885, but was not accepted by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles III the Fat. However, he was consecrated in September 885 without waiting for the imperial confirmation. The emperor sent a legate to overthrow him, but when he found what unanimity he had been elected, he let the matter rest.[1]

Stephen was called upon to face a famine caused by a drought and by locusts, and as the papal treasury was empty he had to fall back on his father's wealth to relieve the poor, to redeem captives, and to repair churches.

Methodius of Thessaloniki was succeeded by his disciple, Gorazd.[2] However, due to the influence of the German clergy, Stephen forbade the use of the Slavonic liturgy.[3] Most of the Slavs then fell under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.[4]

To promote order he adopted Guy III of Spoleto "as his son" and crowned him emperor in 891. He also recognized Louis the Blind as king of Provence. Since Archbishop Aurelian would not consecrate Teutbold, who had been canonically elected bishop of Langres, Stephen himself consecrated him. He had also opposed the arbitrary proceedings of the archbishops of Bordeaux and Ravenna, and resisted the attacks which Patriarch Photius I of Constantinople made on the Holy See. His resistance was successful, and Emperor Leo VI sent him into exile. When writing against Photius, he begged the emperor to send warships and soldiers to enable him to ward off the assaults of the Saracens on papal territory,[5] and southern Italy[6] and from 885 to 886 the Byzantines reoccupied southern Italy from the Muslims.[7]

In 887/8 Stephen wrote that Christian slaves of Muslims, who were mutilated by their captors, could become priests. He also excused them if they murdered during their captivity.[8]

Stephen, who received many English pilgrims and envoys bringing Peterspence, was buried in the portico of Saint Peter's Basilica.


  1. ^ a b Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Stephen (V) VI" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ Seven Apostles of Bulgaria, Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Ed. David Farmer, (Oxford University Press, 2004), 474.
  3. ^ Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2000), 144.
  4. ^ Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, 143.
  5. ^ Roger Collins (1 Jan 2009). Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: A History of the Papacy. Basic Books. p. 170. ISBN 9780786744183.
  6. ^ Francis Dvornik. The Photian schism: history and legend. CUP Archive. p. 229.
  7. ^ Greville Stewart Parker Freeman-Grenville; Stuart Christopher Munro-Hay (26 January 2006). Islam: An Illustrated History. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 46. ISBN 9781441165336.
  8. ^ David Thomas; Barbara Roggema; Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala (21 March 2011). Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History. Volume 3 (1050-1200). BRILL. p. 48. ISBN 9789004195158.


External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Pope
Succeeded by