Pope Stephen VII was another stop-gap elected by Marozia,the ruler of the Papal States. Marozia had previously appointed Leo VI to the Papacy and now she’s chosen another elderly Pope to buy time until her son(by Pope Sergius III!)was old enough to fill the chair of St Peter(scandal!). Although he was not properly elected,Stephen was nonetheless a superstar in his own right,having belonged to one of the oldest,most prominent families in Rome,descended from great soldiers,statesmen and one emperor. Barely anything is known about Stephen other than his strict moral code and his wrath when his priests did not follow it. One Greek writer stated that this Pope was the first to not have a beard. I’ve drawn several beardless Popes already so this is information that could’ve been useful YESTERDAY(to quote Adam Sandler)
In 2002,Pope John Paul II banned the veneration of angels that are not officially named in the Bible. The Vatican was trying to protect people from falling into the trend of the new age nonsense of creating new angels and making weirdo angel cults based around them. There are only three Angels named and if it’s not Gabriel,Michael or Raphael,it’s best to steer clear,no matter what some goofy lady on Oprah(or Joseph Smith)says. Some thirteen hundred years earlier,Pope Zachary was making the same plea to people who were worshipping and sending prayers to an angel named Uriel. Zachary declared that Uriel did not exist and forbade this new obsession called “angelolatry”. When he wasn’t protecting people from shady superstitions,the Greek born Zachary was also acting as an early abolitionist of slavery. Venetian slave traders brought their slaves through Rome on to the way to Africa to sell to Muslims. Our Pope stepped in,bought all the slaves himself and promptly gave them all their freedom. The wise Pope Zachary also advised the Franks on who should be their proper King. Putting in a good word for the new King Pepin would set the table for the Papacy and of Christendom for the next four hundred years. The future would see Rome break free from the emperor in Constantinople,the beginnings of the Papal States and Pope Leo III crowning Pepin’s son Charlemagne as the King of the Holy Roman Empire.
Pope John VII was a Greek from a prominent Byzatine family which included a senator(his grandfather)and his father,Plato,who was the viceroy of Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill was one of the oldest parts of Rome and was the site of the cave where Romulus and Remus were raised by Wolves according to Roman mythology. This supposedly was where Rome got its name when Romulus killed his brother and founded the city on the banks of the Tiber river. John stayed close to home at Palatine Hill because of his parents and later on used it’s Church,The Church of St. Maria Antiqua(Ancient Church of St Mary)as the seat of the Bishop of Rome. He commissioned many frescoes and mosaics to decorate the Church and dedicated it “with a broken heart to a most loving and incomparable mother, and to the kindest of fathers”. The Church was abandoned after an Earthquake in the 8th century. A new Church was built on top of its ruins later on. The buried Church and all of it’s art treasures were rediscovered in the early 20th century and much has been salvaged and restored. The most interesting piece of art was an image of a crucified Jesus that doesn’t look like the Jesus that we’ve all known and loved for nearly 2000 years. This Jesus actually has short hair and barely a hint of a beard. No descriptions of Jesus actually exist so it’s always interesting when someone goes against the norm and suggests a different look. Apparently this was Pope approved at the time.
Pope John VII had a short Papacy and he,like his Papal predecessors,butted heads with the emperor of Constantinople,but nothing of consequence happened during his term. When he passed away he was buried in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the old St.Peter’s. This is appropriate since when his Church was unearthed they found an engraving of his signature and it was signed “John,Servant of Mary”