Zachary was born in Calabria to a Greek family in the eighth century. It is thought that he was a deacon in the Roman Church during the council of 732 because his signature is said to be on the decrees of that council. When Pope Gregory III died on November 29, 741, Zachary was unanimously elected to replace him. Zachary was the last pope to announce his election to the patriarch of Constantinople.
Zachary was a warm, loving and gentle man, according to his biographer. He loved the clergy, the people, and he loved serving God. He was very zealously opposed to slavery and the iconoclasm (the destruction of religious objects) of Emperor Constantine Copronymous. Some highlights in his life include negotiating peace in Italy and his support of the establishing the Carolingian line in France. He also supported Boniface’s mission in Germany and is said to have had maps of the Christian world painted on the walls of the Lateran. He translated the dialogues of Gregory the Great from Latin into Greek.
Zachary died on the Ides of March in the year 752.
Zachary restored many Roman churches and the Lateran palace. During some restorations, the head of the martyr, St. George, was found and Pope Zachary had it taken to the Church of St. George in Velabro. He was very troubled by slavery. When the merchants from Venice bought slaves at Rome in order to resell them, he would buy them himself so that Christians would not become the slaves of heathens.
Dear Saint Zachary, we pray that you will intercede for our dear Pope, Benedict XVI. Like you, he is a gentle and wise soul and we are so thankful for this holy Vicar of Christ. Please pray for him, Saint Zachary, that the Lord will protect him and that he will have a long and healthy life. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Louise de Marillac (1660), Widow, Foundress of the Daughters of Charity
St. Longinus (1st Century), Centurion who pierced the side of Our Lord
photo: Contemporary byzantine fresco in Santa Maria Antiqua