| 23 March 752|
752 AD, Rome, Italy
26 March 752
Pope Stephen II
March 26, 752 AD
| Pope Anastasius III, Pope Innocent XII, Pope Innocent VIII, Pope Clement XIII, Otto II - Holy Roman Emperor|Pope-elect Stephen Wikipedia
Pope-elect Stephen (d. 25 March 752) was a Roman priest elected pope in March 752 to succeed Zachary; he died of a stroke a few days later, before being consecrated a bishop. Therefore, he is not listed as a pope in the Annuario Pontificio.
In 745, Pope Zachary had made him a cardinal-priest, with the titulus of San Crisogono, the same titulus later held by Cardinal Frederick of Lorraine, who became Pope Stephen IX.
The regnal numbering of popes named Stephen has changed over the centuries. Regnal numbering was not used for popes until the 10th century, and any numbering attached to earlier popes has been applied posthumously.
Until the 10th century, from 752 to 942, eight men who bore the name Stephen, including this priest Stephen, were elected pope, but only seven reigned as pope. The Annuario Pontificio attaches to its mention of Pope Stephen II a footnote mentioning Pope-elect Stephen: "On the death of Zachary the Roman priest Stephen was elected; but, since he died three days later and before his consecratio, which according to the canon law of the time was the true commencement of his pontificate, his name is not registered in the Liber Pontificalis nor in other lists of the popes."
The first pope to take the name "Stephen" after regnal numbering became customary was called Stephen IX during his lifetime and signed all his documents "Stephanus Papa Nonus", Latin for "Pope Stephen IX".
Later canon law, in force until 1 October 1975, considered the moment when a man became pope to be the moment he accepted his election as pope, and this Stephen was then anachronistically called Pope Stephen II. Some writers, but not all, consequently increased the numbering of later Popes of that name, making them Popes Stephen III-X. This Pope-elect Stephen's name was removed from the list of popes in the Annuario Pontificio in 1961.
Divergent usage led to the use of a dual numbering for these popes, so that they are sometimes referred to as Popes Stephen II (III)–IX (X). This practice is found in the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Annuario Pontificio and the Encyclopædia Britannica.