By Ioannis Tzortzakakis

Pope St. Zachary ascended to the papal throne, succeeding Gregory III, probably, on 3 December 741 until his death in 752. He came from a Greek family living in Calabria. He was the last pope of the Byzantine Papacy, yet strongly opposed the iconoclasm (the destruction of religious objects) of Emperor Constantine V Copronymous. Furthermore, he supported the establishment of the Carolingian line in France.

Pope Zachary built the original church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva and restored the Lateran Palace, moving the relic of the head of Saint George to the church of San Giorgio al Velabro.

In addition, in the Council of Rome of 745, he played a key role in the veneration of three archangels, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, intending to clarify the Church’s teaching on the subject of angels. He is also known for his Greek translation of the Dialogues of Pope St. Gregory I the Great.

Further reading

Jeffrey Richards (1979) Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages, 476-752, Routledge & Kegan Paul Books.

This illustration is from The Lives and Times of the Popes by Chevalier Artaud de Montor, New York: The Catholic Publication Society of America, 1911. It was originally published in 1842.

Francesco Solimena known as Abate Ciccio, The Encounter between Rachtis King of the Longobards and Pope Zachary during the Siege of Perugia, 1700 – 1730, oil on canvas, Pinacoteca di Brera.

The church of San Giorgio in Velabro.

Santa Maria sopra Minerva façade by Carlo Maderno.

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