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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  March 2016

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION March 2016

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (March 15): pope St. Zachary (Zacharias)

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 06:32:13 +0000

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Zachary (Zacharias; r. 741-752) was the last Greek whose tenure as pope has been recognized by his successors in Rome, the unsuccessful John XVI being merely an antipope (though allowed to retain his ordinal number as a pope of this name).  Fluent both in Greek and in Latin, he is presumed to have been of Italian origin, though whether he was born in Rome or in southern Italy is not known.  

When Zachary was elected to succeed Gregory III it was not thought necessary to seek permission from the exarch in Ravenna.  Like his two immediate predecessors, Zachary had repeated dealings with the Lombard kings, who at this point were vigorously expanding their realm at the empire's expense.  When after some temporary successes with kings Liutprand and Ratchis his policy of remonstration and partial recovery failed utterly with king Aistulf, in return for Frankish protection of the papal territories Zachary cooperated with Pepin the Short in the latter's accession to the kingship in Francia.  Though a perhaps more likely possibility is Stephen II (III), Zachary may have been the pope who presented the so-called Sandals of Jesus (multiple pieces of a single boot?) to Pepin the Short who in turn in 762 donated them to the abbey of Prüm in the Eifel.  Here's a view of these relics:
http://tinyurl.com/2avhcf
And here's a discussion of them, including a notice of their scientific examination for pollen samples, etc. in 2007:
http://tinyurl.com/2nx7ql
Much the same, in German (probably the original language of the preceding text):
http://tinyurl.com/2n7hhd
John I Tzimiskes claimed to have discovered the Sandals of Christ at Gabala / Jabala in what is now Lebanon in 975, only a few years after the marriage of the princess Theophanu to the future Otto II.  Was he making certain that the empire of the Romans could match that of the Franks in this particular regard?

In another action concerning an important relic, Zachary installed in the basilica now known as San Giorgio al Velabro a head (or part of one) said to have come from Cappadocia and venerated as that of St. George.  Here's a view of the cranial relic of St. George now kept there:
http://www.stgeorge.org.mt/images/july_2003/Picture1.jpg

Zachary encouraged the work of St. Boniface and other Insular missionaries on the continent.  His translation into Greek of St. Gregory the Great's _Dialogues_ contributed enormously to Gregory's stature as a figure of the universal church.  In Rome Zachary built the first church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva and added to the decoration of Santa Maria Antiqua.


Some period-pertinent images of pope St. Zachary:

a) as depicted (grayscale image) in a lifetime portrait in fresco in the Chapel of Theodotus (a.k.a. that of Sts. Quiricus and Julitta) in Rome's chiesa di Santa Maria Antiqua:
http://www.heiligenlexikon.de/Fotos/Zacharias.jpg
That photograph is said to have been taken when the fresco was discovered (early twentieth century?).  Since then, as the next two photographs show, much of the detail has been lost.
In this distance view in color (taken after the restoration of 2005-2008) the portrait is at far left in the lower register of figures on the rear wall:
http://tinyurl.com/hwadjzw 
Detail view (Zachary at left; at right, St. Julitta):
http://tinyurl.com/juclkep

b) as depicted (right margin at top) in a hand-colored woodcut in the Beloit College copy of Hartmann Schedel's late fifteenth-century _Weltchronik_ (_Nuremberg Chronicle_; 1493) at fol. CLXIIIv:
https://www.beloit.edu/nuremberg/book/6th_age/left_page/66%20%28Folio%20CLXIIIv%29.pdf

Best,
John Dillon
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