“Pontiff-ication: 15 Papal Trivia Firsts!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday’s billowing black smoke from the Sistine Chapel meant no new Pope; back to the drawing board.  Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was elected Pontiffby the Conclave of Cardinals on April 19, 2005, three days after his 78th birthday.  He went on to serve 7 years and a little over 10months as Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th Bishop of Rome.  Though he had reached an advanced age prior to his elevation, it is worth noting that Cardinal Ratzinger is not the oldest man elected Pope.  It is just as noteworthy that the youngest person to assume the position was a teenager at the time.  (See both in the list below).   

Most of us are familiar with the broad strokes of the Pope and the Catholic Church, i.e., the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church, Romeis considered the home of the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Churchis the world’s largest Christian Church, with over 1.2 billion members, worldwide.  Yet, there are lots of nuggets unknown to most of us non-Catholics, as well as a few not generally known by Catholics.    

By now, virtually everyone with access to print media, TV/cable news, and/or the WorldWideWeb, knows Pope Benedict XVI resigned his Papacy, effective February 28, 2013, and is now Pope Emeritus.  Yesterday, the Conclave of Cardinals met for the first time to cast ballots to elect a new Pope.  According to the procedural regimen of the Catholic Church, the Cardinals in the Papal Conclave will continue to meet daily and vote until one of the Cardinals receives 77 votes; 2/3 of the 115 Cardinalsparticipating in this Conclave.  Once a Cardinalreceives the necessary 2/3 majority vote, white smoke will emanate from the Sistine Chapel, signaling the election of the 266th Pope.

To supplement the burgeoning conversation that is currently underway regarding the Catholic Church, as the Papal Conclaveendeavors to elect a new Pope, I offer the following 15 elements of trivia firsts:

1.      St. Peter is said, according to Catholic tradition, to have been the first Pope, as well as the one who brought Christianityto Rome.  However, there is evidence to indicate Christianity came to Romewell before Peter, and even once there, he did not serve as Bishop or any sort of leader.  Ultimately, Catholics insist that Jesushimself anointed Peter to the position, and they use Scripturalreferences to support their claim.Perhaps the best example is Matthew 16: 18-19“(18) And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  (19) 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.”  New International Version (NIV)

2.      St. Sixtus I (Xystus)First know Pope to have also been the son of a Priest.  During his era, there was no requirement that priests be celibate.

3.      St. Pius I First real Bishopof Rome.  Prior to this the Christian community was governed by a council of elders or deacons.  Pius was the first “Bishop”who exercised sole authority.

4.      St. Victor I First AfricanPope.First Pope to attempt to exert authority outside Rome and neighboring communities.  He threatened excommunication for anyone who refused to celebrate Easteron Sunday and was soundly rebuked for it – at the time, the Bishop of Rome was not justified in telling others what to do in this way,

5.      St. Pontain First Pope to resign.  Pontain was arrested and sentenced to labor in the mines of Sardinia.  Because of his sentence, Pope Pontain abdicated on September 28, 235 AD, to prevent a power vacuum.

6.      St. Innocent I First Popewhose father was a Pope, Anastasius I.  Had Anastasius’marriage not been valid, Innocent would have been an illegitimate child, and therefore ineligible for the priesthood.

7.      St. Gelasius I First Pope to use the title “Vicar of Christ.”  Last Popeof African descent, though born in Rome.

8.      John II First Pope to adopt a new name when elected – but only because his given name was that of a pagan god, Mercurius

9.      Pelagius I First Pope not actually elected; he was simply appointed by the Emperor Justinian.

10.Adrian I Oldest person elected Pope (80)

11.Adrian II Last married Pope.  His wife Setphaniaand his daughter lived in the Vatican palace with him.

12.Boniface VI When Bonifacewas elected Pope, he had already beendefrocked twice because of immoral behavior.

13.Sergius III Sergiusordered the murder of his two immediate predecessors, Leo, and Christopher.

14.John XI First (and presumably only) Pope who was the illegitimate son of a previous Pope (Sergius III).

15.John XII Youngest person elected Pope (18); first and only teenager elected to the position of Pope.

The trend during the past century or so is to elect a Pope within 3 days on average. If that pattern holds, the world will be introduced to the next Pope this week.  The Papal Conclave will resume its efforts again this morning.  Meanwhile, relax and take a quick tour of a few Papalparticulars you probably didn’t know; Pontiff-ication: 15 Papal Trivia Firsts!”

I’m done; holla back!

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