|Jesus' sandals -- size 7?|
Zachary was a pope for his times, meaning he was a skilled diplomat. Diplomacy is of course tricky work, and part of it involves knowing who counts and who doesn't. Previous popes had to check with the Exarch in Ravenna, the representative of the Roman Emperor in Constantinople, before being invested with papal authority. Zachary recognized that the Lombard king was the rising power in Italy and that the Exarch wasn't holding his ground very well. Instead of kowtowing to the Exarch, Zachary used his influence with the Lombard Kings (Liutprand and then his son Ratchis) to get protection for both the papal territories and Ravenna. Thus, rather than depending on the Exarch, he put the Emperor's man into debt with the Vatican.
When this diplomacy failed with Aistulf, Ratchis' successor, Zachary began to curry favor with Pepin the Short, the new king of the Franks. In fact, Pope Zachary even sent Jesus' sandals to Pepin. As relics go, few would be better than the Lord's own sandals.
A Pope should not be too canny, but he needs to know where the temporal power is. Much has been said and more will be said about Pope Francis' activity during Argentina's Dirty War. No doubt Francis learned much during that ugly, brutal time. We should be pleased that he brings such knowledge to his papacy.