Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/93

This page needs to be proofread.


years of labour a task with which everyone is familiar. As a mis- sionary and organizer, he welded together the peoples that spoke the German language in national unity, and at the same time subordi- nated this unity to Rome. He rendered the greatest possible service to the Church and the peoples of his time: everything said to the contrary later on is mere idle talk. His work proceeded under the protection of Prankish rulers and Roman Popes, and so prepared the way for a union between Church and State and for the major trends of political and ecclesiastical history during the Latino-Germanic Mid- dle Ages. His genius suffered guidance, but he was also able to act as guide towards the city to which all roads lead. The Papacy never had an assistant to whom it owed more. To it he was a pupil, but also a teacher. He served the universal Church, but when he died his last words were in the English tongue. He was a master of politi- cal policy, but when the Frisian sword was lifted to deliver the death blow, the martyr Boniface held the New Testament above his head as a shield.

Pope Zacharias saw that the Church of the Franks had derived new strength from the reform. He was under pressure from the Lom- bards under Aistulf' s command, and he had sundered relations with the iconoclastic East. Accordingly he answered Pepin's question thus: the name "king" belongs to him who is able to be a king. The Prank- ish ruler now felt that his conscience was clean before God and the people. He termed himself a king Dei Gratia, by the grace of God, and was anointed by Boniface. The last Merovingian was sent off to a monastery.

After writing that answer Zacharias died, and now the Lombard danger reached its zenith. Aistulf occupied Ravenna, and his armies appeared outside Rome. Stephen II, a genuine man of the people, walked barefoot with the Cross in his hands at the head of a procession which prayed that the danger might be warded off. The Eastern Emperor was still the Pope's sovereign, and all the possessions of the Church lay within the territories of the old Empire. But the hour was at hand when Stephen had perforce to repeat Gregory Ill's sum- mons for aid. He entrusted a pilgrim with a letter in which he asked Pepin to send an ambassador across the Alps with a request that the Pope visit him. This Pepin did. Under Prankish protection, the