Interesting papal trivia

At the improving Catholic News Service there is an interesting papal trivia post. Check it out HERE.

As with baseball, the accumulation of small pieces of information can be of critical importance in that moment of greatest need!

Here is the second part of the fun-facts:


Piazzoni also provided a list of “lasts”:

— The last pope who was not a cardinal yet when elected was Pope Urban VI in 1378.

— The last who was not even a priest yet was Pope Leo X.

— The last born in Rome was Pope Pius XII, elected in 1939. (He was also the last serving Vatican secretary of state elected.)

— The last African was Pope Gelasius, elected in 492.

— The last native of Dalmatia, an ancient Roman province, was Pope John IV in 640.

— The last Frenchman elected was Pope Gregory XI, in 1370.

— The last Greek was Pope Zachary in 741.

— The last Englishman was Pope Adrian IV in 1154.

— The last Italian was Pope John Paul I.

— The last Dutchman was Pope Adrian VI in 1522.

— The last Palestinian was Pope Theodore in 642.

— The last Pole was Pope John Paul II in 1978.

— The last Portuguese was Pope John XXI in 1276.

— The last Syrian was Pope Gregory III in 731.

— The last Spaniard was Pope Alexander VI in 1492.

— The last German was Pope Benedict XVI, elected in 2005. It had been 950 years since a German — Pope Victor II — had been elected.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    First and last English pope, Adrian IV, Nicholas Breakspear, whose name I voted for the other day (yesterday?)

  2. mamajen says:

    It’s interesting to see how many different countries the previous popes came from, even in the very early days.

  3. MattnSue says:

    “The last pope who was not a cardinal yet when elected was Pope Urban VI in 1378”
    hmm, even more recent than a pope who willfully renounced his role as Roman Pontif. So maybe Chaput does have a chance ;) (not that I’d want to lose my Archbishop)

  4. wmeyer says:

    Time, perhaps, for an American. ;) Cardinal Burke would be a nice choice.

  5. Darren says:

    I am interested in the origin of the name “Breakspear”. Was Pope Adrian’s great great great… …great grandfather a peacemaker? a really bad hunter? did he die in battle because his spear broke? Hmmm…

    Three popes under 25. I can’t imagine that today, but I am sure, if you consider what the average lifespan probably was back in those days, that was more like 50.

  6. The popes under 25 were usually puppets of various factions in Rome and were not good for the Church. Pope Adrian IV is known in Ireland as the pope who gave permission for the invasion of Ireland by the Normans. So the only English pope was not a good moment for the Irish. It is interesting that there have been so many nationalities.

    Fr. Z, I like your earlier suggestion that a pope from the Western world is less likely to have an as-yet-to-be-revealed embarrassing history whereas there are many parts of the Catholic world where the digging for dirt has yet to commence. I am hoping we get a solid, orthodox and even holy pope once he’s not an Englishman. ;)

  7. wmeyer says:

    Three popes under 25. I can’t imagine that today, but I am sure, if you consider what the average lifespan probably was back in those days, that was more like 50.

    The statistical high end of Middle Ages life expectancy was about 40. From this site:

    “For starters, infants and children died at a horrific rate (some say up to 1/3 of all died before the age of 5) and a significant percentage of women died in association with childbirth: 5% perhaps from the birth itself, often dying with the child, and a further 15% from childbed fever–the infections that followed a poorly managed delivery (by our standards).”

    “Following that, if a person made it out of childhood, they could be expected to live into their middle forties, provided they maintained good health and weren’t killed in war.”

  8. Imrahil says:

    With all due respect to the Dutchmen and while
    The last Dutchman was Pope Adrian VI in 1522
    is true, given the two facts that the same Adrian VI had familiary roots in present-day Germany and that the time when the Netherlands split off the Holy Roman Empire and became a nation of their own was later (due to the Reformation and the Spanish rule over the “Low Countries of the House of Burgundy”), it is not true to say that the last German pope before Benedict XVI was Victor II. This, also, was Adrian VI.

  9. Imrahil says:

    Sorry for the inverting mess.

  10. Imrahil says:

    Another interesting info:

    The last Pope who was a priest, but no bishop, was Gregory XVI in 1831. Yes, long time after the last one not cardinal.

  11. jesusthroughmary says:

    The last instance of electing a Pope from outside the College of Cardinals triggered the Great Western Schism, and the last Papal abdication ended it. FWIW.

  12. PA mom says:

    When was the last pope who was a member of a religious order?

  13. Supertradmum says:

    Actually, if one looks at other statistics regarding age limits in the Middle Ages. many people lived to be very old, if they made it past five, not being killed off by childhood diseases.

    The lives of the saints also show us many old and older saints. Anselm died at 76, Albert was at least 74, Lanfranc was 84, Hildegard was 81 or 82, Mechthild was 87 and I could go on and on.

    The revisionist historians want us to believe in evolution and think that the peoples of the Middle Ages were somehow inferior in mind and body. The truth is otherwise. as I learned in a demographics and statistics history class. If one did not die of the Black Death or other diseases, one could live a long time.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    Thanks, that was interesting.

    I think I might “borrow” that list for my bulletin letter for next weekend.

    Very cool!


  15. Matt R says:

    PA Mom, both Blessed Pius IX and Leo XIII were Secular Franciscans, and Gregory XVI was a Benedictine of the Camoldese congregation.
    Br Tom, I recently wrote a history paper on Eamon de Valera after the 1916 Rising, and a second one on William Marshal, first Earl of Pembroke, and Magna Carta (his father-in-law conquered Leinster after helping Dermot put down a rebellion). Interesting to note that the Normans caused the ‘Irish problem’ in perpetuity for the English, not to mention 800+ years of hell on Earth for the Irish, but became more Irish than the Irish themselves and were deeply invested in the Irish home rule/independence movement.

  16. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Sudden realization —

    Even though people say, “Most of the popes have been Italian,” Italy wasn’t a political entity for most of the popes. They were from the Papal States, or from some independent Italian city-state or duchy or kingdom, or from a city attached to the Holy Roman Empire but located geographically in Italy. Or they were from the Roman Empire.

    So most of the Popes haven’t been Italian at all.

  17. Jordanes says:

    The last Palestinian was Pope Theodore in 642.

    Just to clarify, Pope Theodore I was not a “Palestinian” in the contemporary sense. Ethnically he was a Greek, but he and his family were residents of Jerusalem (his father was a bishop, in fact) in the Holy Land, which was then commonly known as Palestine. But this was prior to the Muslim invasion and conquest of the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire, so Theodore I was not a Palestinian Arab — in those days, most people in Palestine spoke Greek.

  18. Caeremoniarius says:

    Worthy of mention:

    Last father/son pairing of Popes: St Hormidas & St Silverius (514 and 536, respectively)
    Last married: Adrian II (867)
    Last to die without episcopal consecration (he in fact died a deacon): Adrian V (1276)
    Last to keep his own name: Adrian VI (1522)

  19. Caeremoniarius says:

    Pardon me: I had meant “Hormisdas”…

  20. JonPatrick says:

    RE The Pope who was a Cardinal but never made bishop – are there still Cardinal Priests and Deacons today, or was that another thing abolished after Vatican 2?

  21. Rob in Maine says:

    Re: Leo Decimum

    As people have been asking me “Who do you think will be the next Pope?” I’ve been cheerfully responding, “Me! Any Catholic man can be Pope. Once I’m installed I’ll say a Mass for you.”

  22. Giuseppe says:

    JonPatrick, there are still Cardinal-Bishops, Cardinal-Priests, and Cardinal-Deacons. The expectation is that any Cardinal will be consecrated a bishop, but there have been recent exceptions granted upon request by elderly theologians who are appointed Cardinal-Deacons. There are only 6 Cardinal-Bishops: they are some of the most senior dudes. Carinal-Bishops are given suburbicarian sees, Carinal-Priests are given a church in the Rome area, and Carinal-Deacons are given a deaconry in the Rome area. They are essentially the Roman bishops, priests, and deacons who elect the bishop of Rome.

    If a Carinal-Deacon wants to, he can petition to be elevated to Cardinal-Priest later on if an opening becomes available. The cool thing about being a Carinal-Deacon is that the top Carinal-Deacon announces the ‘habemus papam’.

  23. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Rob in Maine,

    while any Catholic male can be Pope (though Dr Peters would say with good arguments that he would then be bound to take care for his wife in a way that excludes further marriage consumption), the Cardinal electors are officially exhorted to elect a Roman priest, unless someone else is absolutely the man for the job. (Don’t know where that exactly is, but it is somewhere.)

    As history shows, this includes extern Cardinals who have a mere title in Rome; but as to others, even were they diocesan bishops, I’m not so sure that this practice can be dismissed as irrelevant…

  24. jesusthroughmary says:

    To clarify the above regarding the ranks of cardinals, the cardinals are almost without exception ordained as bishops. The ranks of cardinals, Cardinal-Bishop, Cardinal-Priest, Cardinal-Deacon, do not refer to the Cardinal’s Sacrament of Holy Orders but to which (for simplicity’s sake, I will use the word) honorary place the Cardinal is given in the Roman clergy. The Cardinals who are created Cardinal-Deacon are made honorary deacons at various ancient Roman parishes, Cardinal-Priests are made honorary pastors of Roman parishes, and Cardinal-Bishops are made the titular bishops of the Seven Suburbicarian Sees.

  25. Giuseppe says:

    Very clearly explained!
    Almost Benedict-like in its clarity!

  26. oldcanon2257 says:

    By the intercession of Saint Pius V and Saint Pius X, may it please God that soon an additional fact will be added to the above list of “FAMOUS LASTS” to say, “The last Sri Lankan (or American) was Pope Pius XIII, elected in 2013.”

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  28. Kathleen10 says:

    Father Z. I was looking for our future Pope’s name on your list. It needs to be “Peter” to fulfill the Malachy prophesies, does it not? [I wouldn’t bet on that “Malachy” list.]

  29. Kathleen10 says:

    Oh. Rats. Why am I always out of the loop on these things?

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