Pope Stephen VIII (Latin: Stephanus VIII) was Pope from 14 July 939 to his death in 942.
Stephen VIII was born of a Roman family, and prior to becoming pope was attached to the church of Saints Silvester and Martin. With his elevation as Bishop of Rome, Stephen gave his attention to the situation in West Francia, or as the Romans still referred to it, Gaul.
The continuing domination of the Counts of Tusculum was evident throughout Stephen’s pontificate, as it was during that of his predecessors and successors (see Saeculum obscurum). Although Stephen was subject to Alberic II of Spoleto, Prince of the Romans, and did not in reality rule the Papal States, Stephen himself was not a member of that family, nor had he any relationship with Marozia, who had dominated Roman and papal politics during the preceding decades. Stephen was however caught up in the ongoing conflict between Alberic II and Hugh of Italy, with Hugh besieging Rome in 940. After a failed assassination attempt against Alberic, which involved a number of bishops, Alberic cracked down on any potential dissent in Rome, with his enemies either scourged, beheaded or imprisoned. If there is any truth to Martin of Opava’s account of the torture and maiming of Stephen VIII by supporters of Alberic (see below), it must have occurred at this juncture, in the aftermath of the conspiracy, and just prior to Stephen’s death.
On 17 August 942 Alberic summoned a council in Rome, where he demonstrated his control over the papacy by making use of various papal officials, such as the Primicerius, the Secundicerius of the Notaries, and the Vestararius. Stephen died during October 942, and was succeeded by Marinus II.