Pope Stephen II (752–57) was the successor of Pope St. Zacharias. When Rome was threatened by the Lombard king Aistulf, Stephen went to Gaul and appealed to Pepin the Short for help. He became the first pope to cross the Alps. Pepin responded and defeated (754 and 756) Aistulf and restored the lost papal territories. Pepin rejected the demands of the Byzantine emperor for the return of the exarchate Ravenna, which claimed temporal sovereignty over Rome. Instead, Pepin, in the so-called Act of Donation, ceded all the territories of the duchy of Rome to the papacy, thus laying the basis for the Papal States. In 755, Stephen renewed the coronation of Pepin and gave him and his two sons the title Patrician of the Romans (Patricius Romanorum). He was succeeded by Paul I. Another Stephen II, elected pope in 752 but who died before his coronation, was officially dropped from the list of popes in 1959.
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