"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."
of the Catholic Church. His official list of titles is
, "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God." Not quite infallible
. Wears a very Nice Hat
. And Red Shoes (well, only a few did). At any given time - in recent history, that is - probably both
the most loved and the most hated human being around (with a few notable exceptions
). Has the best job security of anyone on the planet (not to mention some of the best physical security, in the form of the bulletproof Popemobile
and the Swiss Guards
). These days, anyway; things were very different in the Middle Ages.
The infallibility thing is generally misunderstood. It doesn't mean that the Pope is incapable of being wrong about anything, or even that he cannot sin - just that he cannot be wrong regarding The Church
, and even then only when he's making an official pronouncement on a matter of revealed faith or morals explicitly in his capacity as the earthly Head of that Church. It's not so much "the Pope's word is law and he is perfect" as "God will stop the Pope saying anything too wrong, because he would lead lots of innocent people astray if he did." He is also infallible when adding Saints to the Canon, but that isn't really what most people (Catholics included) think of when talking about infallibility.
The Pope is elected
via an unusual process that involves smoke from chimneys (the colour is indicative of whether an agreement is reached or not) and locking a bunch of old men in the Sistine Chapel (starve the cardinals into a decision).note
The history of the position is tumultuous, to put it mildly, because the potential power and influence of a Pope attracted the ambition of many power-hungry European families that were willing to commit all sorts of unsavory or ruthless acts to put one of their family members on the pontifical throne, without caring about whether or not said family member would be a good religious leader. This resulted in many popes acting more like powerful kings than leaders of the church; it took quite a few centuries until the papacy was finally separated from these political wheeling-dealings.
The Pope should not be confused with the heads of the Orthodox Church (one of several Patriarchs, who are sometimes called "Greek Popes" erroneously) nor the patriarch of the Coptic Church.
Catholic tradition holds that Saint Peter was the first Pope; of course, there are many theories among historians and the different Christian denominations about how the succession started. The other wiki's article on the subject
is a better place to search for details.
Famous Popes (sorted in reverse chronological order):
- Francis (2013- ): The current guy, real name Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He hails from Argentina (both his parents were Italian immigrants) and was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. A member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), he received a master's in chemistry before joining the priesthood and taught literature and psychology in a Jesuit-run high school early in his career. His election in 2013 marked a number of Papal firsts: first pope from the Americas, first Jesuit pope, first pope since the 15th century to succeed a living pontiff, first (excluding John Paul I, who may or may not count) since the 10th century (when Pope Lando reigned briefly in 914) to choose an original name note , and first non-European pope since the 8th century (Gregory III, a Syrian, died in 741). He's known for his personal humility, austerity (he famously refused a limousine as cardinal and instead commuted in Buenos Aires by bus and subway, lived in a small apartment instead of Church-owned residences—a practice he replicates as Pope, preferring to stay in a room in the Vatican guesthouse rather than the Apostolic Palace—and urged his parishioners to donate to the poor instead of making pilgrimages to Rome), commitment to social justice, and his adherence to doctrine, and is also known for his ability to bridge gaps between his own community (the Jesuits) and others like the Communion and Liberation movement. His papal namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, was assumed in homage to that saint's austere lifestyle, emphasis on ministering to the poor and downtrodden, and efforts to reform the medieval Catholic Church from the state of worldliness and decadence it found itself in at the time. He is also a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples (though he privately supported an Argentinian bill to allow same-sex domestic partnerships), abortion and euthanasia, largely of the same mind as his predecessors. However, he has gone on record to say that the Church has focused too much on opposing same-sex marriage, abortion, and birth control, and that homosexuals should not be discriminated against; it would appear that his position is, "these teachings matter, but if they don't proceed from a genuine love of God and neighbour, they're empty." Recently, he has officially declared all members of organized crime, specifically the Mafiosi, to officially be considered excommunicated from the church.Currently massively popular, that his recent visit to the Philippines actually broke the previous record for largest papal mass set by then Pope John Paul II's visit in 1995 on the same country - estimated to six million compared to five on the previous papal visit. He acted as eparch (bishop) of the Eastern Catholics in Argentina as well. nota bene
- Benedict XVI (2005-2013): Real name Joseph Alois Ratzinger. He hails from Germany (and yes, he was recruited against his will in the Hitler Youth as a kid, it was the Law in Germany back then) and was Archbishop of Munich and Freising. Was very well-known as a scholar and intellectual before his ascension. Conservative and not very good with getting the media to accurately express his views. He affirmed the taboo of condoms, and reconciled (de-excommunicated) four traditionalist Bishops who were illicitly ordained. Among them was Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier, for lack of a Google search. Looks just like Emperor Palpatine according to some, this being the source of one too many Memetic Mutations, and the accusation is not helped by the fact that his previous job was the the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (previously known as the Holy Office, or more importantly, the Roman Inquisitionnote ); his infamous nicknames "God's Rottweiler", "German Shepherd", and "Panzerkardinal" also don't help. He relaxed the rules on when the Tridentine Mass (traditional Latin ritual) can be performed, to the glee of some Catholics and the dismay of others, and the new English translation of the Roman Missal was implemented under his watch. Again, some Catholics rejoiced, some despaired, most (churchgoing ones at least) simply resolved to read the new responses until they were memorized.
- He resigned the papacy on February 28, 2013, making him the first pope to leave office during his lifetime since Gregory XII abdicated in 1415 in order to end the Western Schism and the first to do so voluntarily since Pope Celestine V in 1294. More than one meme has been born from the fact that he left the Vatican in a helicopter, among other things.
- St. John Paul II (1978-2005, canonized April 27, 2014): Real name Karol Jozef Wojtyla. The first East European Pope note , and the first non-Italian in the job in centuries. note Also known, especially after his death, as Pope John Paul the Great. Unusually young (at least in recent history) when chosen (he was fifty-eight years old), partly out of a desire not to have to hold another conclave for a decade (they managed almost three). Had the second-longest papal reign in history — a little over 26 years. Staunchly conservative, he had great publicity and charisma as well as a very large presence, not to mention he traveled through the whole world (hence his nickname "The Pilgrim Pope" and one reporter making a pun on the title "Bishop of Rome"). He created the World Youth Day, an international event for young pilgrims. One such trip to the Philippines, in 1995, saw the largest crowd in history gathered to see him (such record even stood for nearly two decades, until Pope Francis' visit to the same country). Said to have been important in the fall of the various Communist governments; Mikhail Gorbachev once told the Pope that the Iron Curtain never would have fallen without his efforts. Famously was almost assassinated then forgave and visited his assassin in prison. Humor-minded history teachers have likened him to James Bond (without the sex, of course). Also re-invented as a super-hero, The Incredible Popeman (or the Superpope).
- Because of the unusual longevity of his papacy, for the last two decades of the twentieth century, he was simply THE pope. He effectively redefined the institution. When he died, there were people up to thirty years old who couldn't remember another person being Pope.
- In one example of his publicity, he had a music video on MTV as one way to reach out to youth, one of the things he was known for.
- In an interesting bit of trivia, one of the people beatified in his final years was the man he was named after: Karl Josef von Habsburg, the last Emperor of Austria-Hungary. "Karol Jozef" happened to be the Polish version of that name, given by his patriotic father (Wadowice, where he was born, had been in Austrian Silesia until a few months before he was born). It's been said that he did so as a sign of gratitude to his namesake. In fairness, it's not like Karl was not deserving: he was the Only Sane Man among state leaders during World War One—advocating that everyone just give up and go home to rebuild— and Anatole France called him "a saint" decades ago.
- His canonization in 2014, makes him the latest pope to be declared a saint. At his funeral, young people chanted "Santo subito!" (saint immediately) and Benedict XVI put his predecessor on the fast track by waiving the traditional 5-year waiting time before official sainthood inquiries begin. On the flip side of the coin, JPII consecrated and beatified more people than every pope in the last 5 centuries combined. (The Onion had their own theory as to why.)
- He was also good friends with the Dalai Lama.
- In 1996, he made a statement (in a very complicated wording) along the lines of "Evolution is not just a theory, but more. A reality."
- In an audience with a monsignor who was devoted to St. Francis and allowed people to bring their pets to Mass, John Paul stated his belief that "the animals possess a soul, and are as near to God as men are." Cue hilarious spin by Vatican officials "Errr, what His Holiness ''really'' meant to say was..."
- In the days before he died, tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray for his health. When he was told of this, Pope John Paul II said "I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you."
- John Paul II has also been credited for helping to end the Cold War, since, as part of the Communist Bloc, Catholicism was technically illegal in his home nation when he became Pontiff. On the other hand, he has also been accused of strengthening the hold of the Catholic Church on Polish society to almost asphyxiating degrees (not for nothing do we say that Poland's politics are "a few ticks to the right" of the rest of Europe).
- He was also known to be a very, very avid technophile.
- John Paul I (1978) : Real name Albino Luciani, former Patriarch of Venice. The first Pope who chose a composite name (to honor his two immediate predecessors), and the first one with an original name (well, quasi-original, given that it's composite) that actually affixed "the First" to it. Threw out tradition right and left: refused to wear jewel-encrusted tiara or be carried around in a chair, insisted on an installation instead of a coronation, wouldn't use royal "we". Taught that God was both Mother and Father. Threatened to expose (actual) Church corruption related to Vatican Bank. Lasted just 34 days. Assassination conspiracy theories abound. Nicknamed "The Smiling Pope" for his sweet and cheerful personality. After a lot of bureaucratic slowness, his cause for sainthood was finally turned in on his 100th birthday, October 19, 2012. He may already have one miracle to his credit.
- Paul VI (1963-78): Real name Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, Archbishop of Milan, who had already been this close to be The Pope due to having been a close collaborator of Pius XII. An intellectual type, he oversaw the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II for short), which introduced numerous sweeping reforms to Church practices, and he also was an advocate for social justice. Also famous for being the first Pope in centuries to travel outside the Vatican more or less regularly, starting with a trip to the Holy Land in 1964. He's also famous for releasing the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reiterated the Church's opposition to artificial birth control (birth control that's not NFP or total abstinence). It was widely accepted, noncontroversial, and obeyed by nearly all Catholics. Is currently recognized as 'Venerable' by the church, and is to be beatified in October 2014 after Pope Francis confirmed a miracle through his intercession.
- St. John XXIII (1958-63): Real name Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, originally a Country Mouse and Impoverished Patrician. Also was the Patriarch of Venice by the time he was elected. Considered more liberal and progressive in his time, compared to his immediate predecessors. 76 years old when elected, he was expected to rule for only a short, uneventful term, but revolutionized the office by his warm down-to-earth approach to the job. He called the Second Vatican Council, which would end up renewing Catholicism as a whole, and was finished by his successor Paul VI. Generally known as "The Good Pope" for his easy smile and gentleness. In what they described as a 'very specific' case, the Vatican waived the requirement for a second miracle and canonized him in April 2014, alongside his successor, John Paul II.
- Pius XII (1939-1958): Real name Eugenio Maria Pacelli, member of a very high class Roman family. In 1920s, he was the Papal representative to Germany, and as such, inadvertently helped thwart the Beer Hall Putsch, as the sole minister in Bavarian state government who was not taken hostage by the Nazis was away from the Beer Hall because he was having dinner with the future pope. Elected pope in 1939, he reigned during World War II. A competent, well-read, stoic, and popular pope, but accusations, made by some historians, that he did not not do enough to save the Jews during the Holocaust have made him a controversial figure after his death. However, several sources, including Israeli scholars, estimate that as many as 860,000 European Jews were saved from death through concealment in Church facilities, issuance of fake Baptismal certificates, public appeals, secret exfiltration networks and other methods he ordered: this means, he didn't speak up in public a lot but did work like crazy behind the scenes. Still, the guy used to be antisemitic, and he once referred to the Munich chapter of the German Communist Party as "chaotic, filthy and full of Jews.", thouygh he later changed his mind and was in good terms with the Roman Jewish community. Known as "the Pope of Fatima" for his devotion to the message of Our Lady of Fatima. Made plans for the Vatican II Council, but died before he could call it. While he was dying, he repeatedly attempted to get up and say Mass, bless pilgrims (in their original languages), and feed his favorite bird that lived near the estate.
- Pius XI (1922-1939) Real name Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti (try saying that three times fast). A brilliant scholar and diplomat. Fired off some beautiful tirades against Hitler and Nazism. Before that as Papal Nuncio to Poland, he became the first representative of the Church in centuries to face down Catholicism's enemies on the battlefield, when he blessed Polish troops in the trenches outside Warsaw during the Polish-Soviet War. Spoke out in favor of fair wages, social justice and even civil rights in America (he'd read Uncle Tom's Cabin) - President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke very favorably of him and often quoted his encyclicals. Brought radio to the Vatican in 1931 with the installation of shortwave, callsign HVJ, which now broadcasts around the world in dozens of languages. Signed the Lateran Treaty with Mussolini's government, which established the Vatican as a sovereign nation and ended the "Prisoner in the Vatican" era.
- Benedict XV (1914-1922) Real name Giacomo della Chiesa, pretty much the Only Sane Man in Europe during World War One, repeatedly calling for peace and doing all he could to help the conditions of the prisoners of war and other refugees. He issued the first ever Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church in 1917. His last concern was the emerging persecution of the Church in Soviet Russia and the famine there after the revolution. Benedict XV was an ardent mariologist, devoted to Marian veneration and open to new perspectives of Roman Catholic Mariology. He also supported the mediatrix theology.
- St. Pius X (1903-1914): Real name, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto. Chosen pope when the Austrian Emperor exercised his right of veto (as Holy Roman Emperor) against the winner of the previous conclave. Upon becoming pope he immediately banned that practice and declared that any monarch claiming to veto a candidate for pope would be excommunicated.note The latest pope to have been canonized so far until John XXIII and John Paul II. Extremely conservative, he condemned the Modernist heresy, and like Pius IX he could be a blunt jerkass at his worst; on the other hand, he also was known for his almost unlimited charity, as when he let the refugees from the Messina earthquake stay around the Vatican until they got official government help. He was also a reform-machine, issuing a new Catechism, giving new guidelines on liturgy and encouraging frequent reception of the Eucharist. Was actually a Country Mouse, coming from a small village where his dad was the local post office worker; his legend says that, as a kid, he'd rather walk barefoot to school than have his parents buying him new shoes needlessly. Said to have succumbed to Death by Despair after not having been able to prevent World War One.
- Leo XIII (1878-1903), real name Count Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci. The oldest Pope, he died at age 93 and had the third longest pontificate. A big devotee of the Virgin Mary, his nickname was "the Rosary Pope". Very concerned for social welfare and justice, his best known encyclical is Rerum Novarum, in which he strongly defends the rights of workers. Also, the first Pope whose voice was recorded, the first Pope ever caught on film, and probably the earliest-born person caught on film EVER (being born under Napoleonic reign in 1810). A rather nice and funny guy, too.
- Bl. (Blessed) Pius IX (1846-78): Born Giovanni Mastai-Feretti. Longest ruling pope ever (32 years) and the last pope to be secular ruler over Rome and its surroundings. Pius IX's reign, during which the Italian government conquered Rome and ended the Church's temporal authority, marked the beginning of a nearly 60-year period in which the popes, referring to themselves as "Prisoners in the Vatican", refused to leave the Apostolic Palace in order to avoid being treated as subjects of the Italian crown. Often known as "Pio Nono", even by non-Italian speakersnote (and allegedly giving name to a Spanish sweet and a Chilean street). Called the First Vatican council, which confirmed the Pope's supremacy over the Church and Papal infallibility. He officially declared the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conceptionnote , based on the Lourdes apparitions. Often accused of being quite the Hot-Blooded Jerkass in person. He is also a Blessed and the first pope to have been photographed.
Gregory XVI (1831-46)
Pius VIII (1829-30)
Leo XII (1823-29)
- Pius VII (1800-1823): Born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti. Perhaps most famous for presiding over Napoleon's self-coronation, and subsequently being imprisoned by the Emperor of the French. His dignity of bearing during his imprisonment convinced the Congress of Vienna to restore the papal estates which had been seized by Napoleon. Remarkably tolerant of the idea of Democracy, and once remarked that the United States "had done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages." He said this after the American Navy defeated Muslim pirates along the Barbary Coast almost single-handedly, after the major powers of Europe sat back and let the pirates control the seas for over a century.
- Urban VIII (1623-44): Real name, Maffeo Barberini. Pope during the height of the Baroque period in art and patron of famous architects Bernini and Borromini. His name and crest can be seen on numerous monuments in Rome today, including the decorations on St. Peter's Basilica. Member of the powerful Barberini family, whose house is now the Italian National Gallery of Art. Personal friend of Galileo, until there was a falling out over the astronomer's Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo.
- Clement VIII (1592-1605): Real name Ippolito Aldobrandini. The Coffee Pope. When the coffee craze hit Europe, Clement (a scholarly type who must have pulled plenty of all-nighters) became a fan. He was urged to condemn coffee because it came from the Islamic world, but he blessed it instead. Today, you can get mugs with his picture on them.
- Urban VII (1590): Real name Giovanni Castagna. Was elected on on September 15, 1590, but died only 13 days later, making him the shortest-reigning pope in history. Was responsible for the world's first public smoking ban, as he threatened anyone who took tobacco near a church with excommunication.
- Gregory XIII (1572-85): Real name, Ugo Boncompagni. Promulgated the calendar used in the western world to this day and worked hard to put into practice the principles of the Council of Trent.
- St. Pius V (1566-72): Real name, Antonio Ghislieri. Standardised the Mass for about four centuries in the Council of Trent and excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I. Presided over the great naval victory over the Muslims at Lepanto. Probably one of the most Badass Popes due his part in assembling the Christian coalition against the Turks, and that the battle greatly revived the prestige of the politically faltering Church. His nickname was the Hound of God.
- His nickname is also a play on his order—St. Pius V was a Dominican. Domini Canes, a play on that term, means "Hounds of the Lord."
- Marcellus II (1555): Born Marcello Cervini degli Spannochi. Not particularly important in himself, but somewhat significant for three reasons: (1) He is the last Pope so far to use his birth name as his regnal name. (2) He had a very short reign, which was rather unfortunate, as he was noted as a real reformer who could have brought change to the Vatican had he lived. (3) Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina dedicated one of the crowning achievements of Renaissance polyphonic music to him.
- Clement VII (1523-38): Real name Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici. He brought to the papal throne a high reputation for political ability and possessed in fact all the accomplishments of a wily diplomat. However, he was considered worldly and indifferent to the perceived dangers of the Protestant Reformation by the people of the papacy. The glorious sacrifice of the Swiss Guards against the Imperial Landsknechte during the sack of Rome in 1527 allowed him to take refuge in Castel Sant Angelo.
- Adrian VI (1522-23): Real name Adriaan Floriszoon Boeyens. Born in Utrecht, he was the last non-Italian pope until John Paul II was chosen 475 years later. Launched the Counter-Reformation. One of only two popes in the past thousand years (along with Marcellus II 32 years later) to keep their birth name as their papal name.
- Leo X (1513-21): Real name, Giovanni de' Medici. The son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, mainly remembered for promoting the sale of indulgences for money to such an extent that it sparked the Lutheran reformation in the 16th century. Famously called the Reformation "some quarrel of monks". Patronized art and literature in Rome to an extraordinary extent, establishing a papal court that was the envy of Renaissance Italy.
- Julius II (1503-1513): Real name, Giuliano della Rovere. The Warrior Pope, famous for commanding troops at the front, wearing armor and directing siege works. Nephew of a previous Pope, Sixtus IV, who gave Giuliano his cardinal's hat. Bitter enemy of Alexander VI. Also famous for overseeing Michelangelo when the artist painted the ceiling to the Sistine Chapel. Played by Rex Harrison in The Agony and the Ecstasy, opposite Charlton Heston as Michelangelo; and by Colm Feore in The Borgias
- Alexander VI (1492-1503): Formerly Rodrigo Borgia (or Borja), he was from Spain. Bought the vote and appointed a lot of relatives to Church jobs. He let Rome fall into a state of decay, and had a little party called the Banquet of Chestnuts (which, to borrow the words of Stephen Fry, revolved around a night of naked prostitute racing in the Vatican). His son Cesare's transformation of the Romagna district into a tyrannical, yet ordered state inspired a writer by the name of Niccolò Machiavelli. Also fathered a daughter, Lucrezia, widely (but wrongly) rumored to have poisoned her husbands and several lovers (she would've had a much better life had the rumors been true). He was not that far from the norm in those days, to be fair. Also, he handed King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile the Inter Caethera documents that let them start colonizing America. He was subject to a Historical Villain Upgrade for Assassins Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, with Cesare joining him for the latter in said upgrade. In The Borgias, he's played by Jeremy Irons.
- Alexander's descendants include most of the noble and royal families of Catholic Europe. One of his descendants was a Jesuit named St. Francis Borgia; another is actress Brooke Shields, whose paternal grandmother was an Italian princess.
- Innocent VIII (1484-1492): Real name Giovanni Batista Cibo. The Pope of the Burning Times. Wrote Summis desiderantes which blamed all natural and man-made disasters on witches. Appointed Inquisitors to hunt down and kill all witches. (He did not, however, condemn cats, as popularly reported.) The book Malleus Maleficarum came out of this. First pope to openly acknowledge having a mistress. Had 16 illegitimate kids, marrying them off to nobility to start a dynasty. When he was dying, literally drank the blood of three young boys to try to keep himself alive. This is usually portrayed as a primitive attempt at a transfusion.
- Gregory XI (1370-1378) Real Name, Pierre Roger de Beaufort. The last universally accepted French-born Popenote , he was an early opponent of the reformer John Wycliffe but also took action against the most corrupt monasteries. He is far more famous for moving the Papacy from Avignon back to Rome in the winter of 1377-78 in large part due temporal conflicts with Florence and Milan. His death the following March led to a 40 year schism.
- Clement VI (1342-52): Real name, Pierre Roger. Also a French pope. The Black Death reached Europe during his papacy and killed somewhere around half of the continent's population, which devastated Europe for centuries. Miraculously, he never caught it himself. Oversaw some planning to care for the sick, forgave all people who died of the plague of the sins, and defended the Jews against accusations that they caused it. At one point, because so many people were dying that they couldn't bury them all, he had to bless the Rhone River so people could throw the dead bodies into it. In a less awesome moment, he lived a very lavish lifestyle (calling himself "a sinner among sinners") even while so many poor people around him were dying.
- Benedict XII (1334-1342): Real name, Jacques Fourier. The "Accidental" Pope. During Papal Conclaves, it was common for the cardinals to vote for someone who has no chance of actually winning the papacy on the first ballot, solely to gauge the leaning of the other voters. The strategy backfired miserably as 15 of the 16 electors (except Fourier) all independently voted for Fourier on the first ballot ("And the last shall be first" indeed). As pope he did a pretty good job too.
- Clement V (1305-14): Real name, Raymond Bertrand de Got. The French pope who had The Knights Templar condemned for heresy, mainly as a favor to the French king, Philip the Fair, and they both died within the year (allegedly, he and the King were cursed by the last Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, while was burning at the stake). Moved the Papal court away from Rome and eventually settled in Avignon, where the Papacy would stay until 1403.
- Boniface VIII (1294-1303): Real name, Benedetto Caetani. Remembered as the Pope who started the tradition of jubilees, special years of remission of sins and universal pardon, in the year 1300. A strong supporter of the idea that the Pope held supremacy over all Christian monarchs. Said monarchs disagreed strongly, and he was dramatically taken captive by the Chief Minister of the French king shortly before the end of his life. A political enemy of Dante Aligheri, who included a few take thats against Boniface, regarding his post mortem destination, in his Divine Comedy.
- Innocent III (1198-1216): Real name, Lotario de'Conti. His papacy was the height of the Popes' temporal power. He was the last Pope who could give orders to any king in Europe and expect to be obeyed without question. Only thirty-seven years old when he (reluctantly) accepted the decision of the College of Cardinals, he was a highly intelligent and dynamic man who played Medieval Europe like a chessboard. He convoked the Fourth Lateran Council; confirmed the foundation of the Dominican and Franciscan orders; excommunicated King Philip Augustus and laid France under Interdict for rejecting for Philip's rejection of his wife Ingeborg; received England as a Papal fief from King John; excommunicated the entire crusading army of the Fourth Crusade when it sacked Constantinople. Played by Alec Guinness in Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Available as an Action Figure.
- Adrian IV (1154-1159): Real name, Nicholas Breakspear. To date the only English pope, he may or may not have issued the possible papal bull Laudabiliter which might have given the okay for Henry II to invade Ireland.
- Urban II (1088-99): Started the First Crusade at Clermont in France, inspiring his audience to pronounce the words "Deus vult!" ("God wills it!"). (There is a report, much beloved by Larry Gonick, that the two Orthodox priests the Byzantine Emperor had sent to watch the proceedings fainted on the spot from so much air coming out of the unwashed mouths of the Franks).
- St. Gregory VII (1073-1085): Real name, Hildebrand of Sovana. A well-known scholar from the famous Order of Cluny, he was involved in the Investiture Controversy with Emperor Henry IV of Germany, dealing him a spectacular Humiliation Conga by excommunicating the whole Empire along with him and forcing Henry to wait for forgiveness barefoot and almost naked by the palace gates at Canossa, where the Pope was staying. Later double-crossed by Henry and died in exile.
- Benedict IX (1032-1048): Real name, Theophylactus of Tusculum. Possibly the youngest Pope, he served three terms (the only pope to serve more than once), beginning from the age of about 18. His main qualification was being connected to an extremely powerful family. Once installed as Pope, he used his power to satisfy his reportedly insatiable and depraved carnal desires; contemporary reports accuse him of adultery, rape, and bestiality. His first term ended in 1044 when he was forced out of Rome. He returned briefly, only to sell the office of Pope to his godfather. He returned for a third term until finally deposed for good and excommunicated for good measure.
- Sylvester II (999-1003): Real name, Gerbert d'Aurillac, the first French Pope. He had studied science with Arabic scholars, spoke Arabic and introduced a lot of Arabic knowledge in Europe, including, some say, the Arabic numerals (0-9), which replaced the Roman ones (I, II, III, etc.). This gave him a reputation of being a sorcerer in league with the Devil; rumors that his family had until recently been Jewish didn't help (this might well have been true, not that it really matters). It is said that the rattling of his bones in his grave in St. John Lateran heralds the ruling pope's imminent demise. He developed the first clock. The day 31-st December is named after him. The tradition of playing and firing fireworks that day was initiated after the End of the World had not came in the year 1000 and the pope appeared in his window as usual (the belief that the World would End that year was not propagated officially by church, but most people believed it anyway).
- John XI (931-935): Real name, Johannes. Quite probably the only illegitimate son of a prior pope to become one himself (his mother Marozia was The Mistress of Pope Sergius III, although some chroniclers preferred to identify his father as her first husband Alberic I of Spoleto). His acclimation at age 20 or 21 was certainly engineered by his mother who at that point controlled Rome and it's environs, and according to some he officiated at her third wedding.
- Lando (913-914): The last Pope prior to John Paul I to use an original name (which was his birth name, not an adopted name), and, before Pope Francis, the most recent pope to not have his regnal name reused by a subsequent pope.
- Stephen VI (896-97): Real name: also Stephennote . Largely infamous for the Cadaver Synod, where he put his predecessor Pope Formosus on trial for a number of crimes... despite the fact that Formosus had been dead for about a year. He was later incarcerated and soon found dead by strangulation.
- Pope-Elect Stephen (March 23, 752 - March 26, 752): As the dates may indicate, the shortest-reigning Pope. Three days after his election, he died of a stroke. Due to the fact that he was never formally installed (and in fact, as a priest, had not even been ordained a Bishop), this causes a bit of a problem over whether he actually was officially Pope or not, and so depending on whose count you use, Pope Francis is either the 266th or 267th Bishop of Rome.
- If he is included in the list of Popes, he is Pope Stephen II, and all later Popes named Stephen have their regnal numbers increased by one (for instance, the above-mentioned Pope of the Cadaver Synod would be identified as Stephen VII).
- Honorius I (625- 638): If you're looking for the evidence that popes aren't quite infallible, look no further. Honorius was sympathetic to the Monothelites - who believed that Jesus, despite having two natures (human and divine), had only one will (divine) and not two (also human and divine). While today it doesn't seem to be a big deal, back in the seventh century that was enough to enrage exactly everybody. Honorius got anathematized after his death for his negligence.
- St. Gregory I the Great (590-604): One of the four great Latin Fathers of the Church (along with St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome). Thoroughly reformed and strengthened the church. Started missions in England to convert the pagan Anglo-Saxons, whom he famously called "non Angli, sed Angeli" ("not Angles, but Angels"). He also reformed Catholic liturgy and the music to be used during Masses. "Gregorian chanting" is named after him (although it is a later invention).
- John II (533-535): Worth a mention for being the guy who started the tradition of Popes taking a new name upon getting the job since he thought his birth name (Mercurius, the Roman god Mercury) would be inappropriate.
- Gelasius (492-496) Apparently that was his real name. Prolific writer and strict traditionalist who stressed the importance of a single central Church authority. Legend has it that he was black, because he came from Africa. More likely, he was born in the part of the Roman Empire that extended into northern Africa.
- St. Leo I (440-461): Most famous for successfully convincing (possibly by citing a serendipitous plague-outbreak) Attila the Hun not to sack Rome.
- Zosimus (417-418): Alphabetically the last of the popes.
- St. Innocent I (401-417). Tried to mediate between the visigoths and the emperor of Rome to avoid the looting of 410, without succeeding. The effort makes him a nice guy.
- St. Sylvester I (314-335). Died during New Year's Eve, which caused the day to be named after him in some countries. In Brazil, there's a running race held on his homage every New Year's Eve.
- St. Linus (c.67-76): The second Pope, and according to some early Christian writings, may have been mentioned in the Bible in Paul's second letter to Timothy. Not nearly as famous as his predecessor...
- St. Peter (c.30-67): An Apostle of Jesus and traditionally the first pope. Originally named imʕōn (Simon), was nicknamed Kêfâ ("rock") by Jesus, translated into Greek as Petros, hence "Peter". Said to have fled Nero's Rome, but saw a vision of Christ and asked, "Domine, quo vadis?"("Lord, where are you going?") and was answered, "I am going to be crucified again." Immediately, he returned to the City; and was crucified upside down, according to his legend, because he felt that he was not worthy to be martyred the same way that Jesus died. Because of this an upside-down cross in Catholic and Christian tradition is called "The Cross of St. Peter" and represents submission and humility before God. note
Popes Who Never Existed
- Due to numbering errors, mistakes on the part of the historians of the times and in one case the pope-elect himself, there are some papal names (and numbers) assigned to people who never existed, or are simply wrong names for popes.
- The most famous of these is probably John XX. Pope John XXI thought he was being clever by skipping a number to acknowledge a short-reigning Pope John XIV (who supposedly shared the number with the previous Pope). As it turns out, the history book was writing about two periods of time in the same pope's reign.
- Earlier still was John XVI, an antipope who was installed as pope by a coalition of Italian noblemen in concert with the Byzantine emperor after Gregory V was forcibly deposed. The next pope to take the name John numbered himself John XVII, however, and successive popes continued the trend, meaning that there was never a legitimate pope named John XVI.
- The others are Popes Donus II, and Martin II and III. The Popes Stephen have some odd numbering issues (see Pope-Elect Stephen above), but no nonexistent popes.
- Pope Joan (see below).
Popes Who Haven't Existed Yet
- No pope since the first has taken the name "Peter". The Prophecy of the Popes, a famous document that is either a prophecy from the 12th century or a hoax from 1595 (the latter is generally considered more likely), states that "Peter the Roman" will be the final pope. If you see a "Pope Peter II" in a work, it's a good sign that The End of the World as We Know It is near.
The Pope In Fiction