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Interesting Facts About the Papacy

The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has a prominent part in world history. As of today, the Roman Catholic Church already produced 266 Popes beginning from Saint Peter up to the incumbent, Pope Francis who was elected on March 13, 2013.

Interesting Facts About the Papacy

  1. Saint Peter was considered to be the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. In a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples (Matthew 16:13–19), Jesus asks, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples give various answers. When he asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then declares: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Cephas (Peter) (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”. According to Catholic teaching, Peter was ordained by Jesus in the “Rock of My Church” dialogue in Matthew 16:18. He is traditionally counted as the first Bishop of Rome‍—‌or pope‍—‌and also by Eastern Christian tradition as the first Patriarch of Antioch.
  2. The first Pope that is not considered to be a saint by the Catholic Church was Pope Liberius who became pope on May 17, 352 until his death on September 24, 366.
  3. Three early popes were from the Roman Africa Province. These were Pope Victor I (reigned c . 189 to 199), Pope Miltiades (reigned 311 to 314) and Pope Gelasius I (492 to 496) and all of them were Christian Berbers.
  4. The first Pope to resign was Pope St. Pontian (reigned July 21, 230 to September 28, 235). In 235, during the persecution of Christians in the reign of the Emperor Maximinus the Thracian, Pontian was arrested and sent to the island of Sardinia. He resigned to make the election of a new pope possible.
  5. Pope Pius IX is the longest reigning pope who reigned for 32 years while Pope Urban VII is the shortest reigning pope who reigned for 13 calendar days.
  6. The only pope to reign in three different periods was Pope Benedict IX. Deposed briefly from his first term as pope, bribed to resign his second term after several reputed scandals, and also resigned his third term. He is also considered to be the youngest pope ever at the age of 12 when he took the chair of St. Peter. The historian Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote that in Benedict, “It seemed as if a demon from hell, in the disguise of a priest, occupied the chair of Peter and profaned the sacred mysteries of religion by his insolent courses.”. He is also the first homosexual pope.
  7. Since the death of Pope St. John Paul II on April 2, 2005, many have been hailing him as “John Paul the Great.” Three Popes have had “the Great” appended to their names: Pope St. Leo I (reigned 440–61), Pope St. Gregory I (590–604), and Pope St. Nicholas I (858–67). But the Church has never officially pronounced these Popes as “great”; rather, they have been identified as great both by popular acclamation at the time of their deaths and by history itself.
  8. Pope Adrian IV is the only Englishman to have occupied the papal throne.
  9. Pope Pius IX is the secular ruler of the Papal States before it was usurped by the Kingdom of Italy on 1870.
  10. Pope John II was the first pope to acquire a new name after after his election. His birth name was Mercurius. Considering his birth name to be inappropriate—it honored the pagan god Mercury—he took the name John after Pope John I, who was venerated as a martyr.
  11. The first Pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit Pope, and the first Pope from the southern hemisphere was Pope Francis.
  12. Pope Julius II earned the nickname, “The Warrior Pope”. He personally led troops into battle on at least two occasions, the first to expel Giovanni Bentivoglio from Bologna (17 August 1506–23 March 1507), and the second in an attempt to recover Ferrara for the Papal States (1 September 1510–29 June 1512).
  13. Pope Paul VI was the first pope to visit six continents. He traveled more widely than any of his predecessors, earning the nickname “the Pilgrim Pope”, while Pope John Paul II is the most traveled pope in history.
  14. Pope Alexander VI is one of the most controversial of the renaissance popes, partly because he acknowledged fathering several children by his mistresses.
  15. Pope St. Pius X is a smoker and a miracle performer. There are stories of miracles performed by the pope during his lifetime. On one occasion, during a papal audience, Pius X was holding a paralyzed child who wriggled free from his arms and then ran around the room. On another occasion, a couple (who had made confession to him while he was bishop of Mantua) with a two-year-old child with meningitis wrote to the pope and Pius X then wrote back to them to hope and pray. Two days later, the child was cured.
  16. Pope Francis was once a night club bouncer.
  17. Pope Pius XII, who is often criticized for not speaking forcefully against Hitler, supervised a rescue network which saved 860,000 Jewish lives, more than all the international agencies combined.
  18. Some Catholics urged Pope Clement VII to ban coffee, calling it “devil’s beverage.” After tasting the beverage, the Pope is said to have remarked that the drink was “… so delicious that it would be a sin to let only misbelievers drink it.”
  19. In 2000, amid rampant rumors that Pokémon was the work of the devil, the Pope John Paul II gave his blessing to Pokémon calling it “full of inventive imagination” and that it did not have “any harmful moral side effects.”
  20. The papal election from November 1268 to September 1, 1271, following the death of Pope Clement IV, was the longest papal election in the history of the Catholic Church.

 

 

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1 thought on “Interesting Facts About the Papacy

  1. Fantastic! Thank you!

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