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Popes And The Tale Of Their Names

Popes And The Tale Of Their Names

Автор Anura Guruge

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Popes And The Tale Of Their Names

Автор Anura Guruge

229 страниц
2 часа
21 авг. 2020 г.


A look at popes and the papacy through the prism of the names associated with the popes -- whether they be birth, priestly, or assumed names. It is the first in-depth exploration of papal names and their meanings with a revised history of papal name changes, a complete account of the rationales for the 125 known instances of assumed names, and a slew of new 'factoids.' The first documented instance of papal name change was when Mercurius, in 533 A.D., opted not to introduce the name of a pagan god into the papal rolls. Marcellus II, in 1555, was the last pope, to date, to have retained his prior name, thereby breaking a 494 year tradition . 'Marcellus', however, is a name derived from 'Mars' – the Roman god of war! The history of papal name changes contains many such intriguing twists and turns, in particular Anacletus, Sixtus I, Zephryrinus and Julis II. This book sets out to highlight them all and thereby plug a hitherto little explored aspect of papal history. Despite the interest in papal names, there has been very little dedicated analysis pertaining to their evolution. Consequently, there are many inaccuracies and omissions. Papal name change could be a much older practice than originally believed. This book is an attempt to rectify the lack of attention hitherto afforded to the story and the glory of papal names. It is a by-product of a computer-aided papal history project undertaken by the author. Web site. This book is not meant to be controversial. The subject matter, though often beguiling, still does not, however, provide sufficient scope to incite bona fide dissension. This book is meant to enlighten, and hopefully entertain. With it, the author hopes to put a stake in the ground vis-à-vis our understanding of papal names.


1st eBook edition. Print version published in 2008. This is the updated 2020 edition which includes Pope Francis who was elected in 2013.

21 авг. 2020 г.

Об авторе

Anura Gurugé is an independent technical consultant who specializes in all aspects of contemporary networking, corporate portals and Web services – particularly if they involve IBM host systems. He has first hand, in-depth experience in Web-to-host, SNA, Frame Relay, Token-Ring switching and ATM. He was the founder and Chairman of the SNA-Capable i·net Forum in 1997. He also teaches graduate and post-graduate computer technology and marketing at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) – Laconia/Gilford and Portsmouth campuses. He is the author of Corporate Portals Empowered with XML and Web Services (Digital Press, 2002). In addition, he has published over 320 articles. In a career spanning 29 years, he has held senior technical and marketing roles in IBM, ITT, Northern Telecom, Wang and BBN. His Web sites are: www.inet-guru.com and www.wownh.com.

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Popes And The Tale Of Their Names - Anura Guruge


Copyright © 2020, Anura Gurugé.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Print version published in July 2008 (ISBN: 978-1434384409)

First published in August 2020.


New Hampshire



Photographic Credits:

All of the images used in the body of this book are from the public domain (e.g., Wikipedia). The cover picture is based on ‘Christ handing the keys to kingdom of heaven to St. Peter’, a fresco painted 1481-1483 on the walls of the Sistine Chapel by Pietro Perugino (1448-1523). The image is from Wikipedia & as with all such images conform to the criteria dictated by Wikipedia & Wikipedia Commons.



my youngest daughter


whose name was inspired by that of a

great Renaissance-era painter of popes

& to my son


who attended a Catholic school

and whose name was inspired

by the 1970s group

Matthews’ Southern Comfort.

John Paul I, the ‘smiling pope’, elected in August 1978. The name he chose, as will be seen at the start of Chapter 1, contained three innovations.

POPE FRANCIS (#267), in April 2014, at the canonization of Popes John XXIII (#262) & John Paul II (#265). He was the first pope to pick a name that had never previously appeared in the annals of popes. Post Francis new popes may follow suit and expand on the repertoire of the hitherto used 82 names.

By The Same Author

(as of August 2020)

SNA: Theory and Practice

Reengineering IBM Networks

Integrating TCP/IP i-nets with IBM Data Centers

Corporate Portals Empowered with XML and Web Services

Web Services: Theory and Practice

Popes and the Tale of Their Names

The Next Pope

The Next Pope 2011

The Last 9 Conclaves

The Last 10 Conclaves: 2013 to 1903

The Election of the 2013 Pope

Pope Names for the 2013 Conclave

Pope John XXIII: 101 Facts & Trivia

Popes: 101 Facts & Trivia

Pope Francis’ U.S. Visit – 2015

The Conclave (published in 2020)

Electing the Next Pope (published in 2020)

Comet ISON, C/2012 S1 (ISON)

Comet ISON, C/2012 S1 (ISON): Quick Reference

Comet ISON for Kids

Comets: 101 Facts & Trivia

Comets (two editions published in 2020)

Devanee’s Book of Dwarf Planets

Matthew’s Book of 4 Vesta the would be Planet

Orgasms: 101 Facts & Trivia

Teischan’s ABC Book of Great Artists

A Pup is NOT a Toy

Quick & Easy Meditation

Brain Meditation – For True Productivity & Serenity

Quick Guide to Brain Meditation

Central Pain Syndrome – Chronic, Confounding Pain Such As That Of Fibromyalgia

A ‘Think’ A Day, Keeps Alzheimer’s At Bay (two versions: Big & Thin)

THINK A Day – 2019

Anu’s Camera Crib Sheet.

All available online (worldwide).

518-printed page comprehensive handbook

on papal conclaves.

Table of Contents



I. Background & Context

II. The History Of Papal Names

III. Trends In Papal Names

IV. The Names

V. Rationales For Choosing The Assumed Names

Appendix A: Meanings Of The Names

Appendix B: Master List Of Popes In Chronological Order

Appendix C: The Names At A Glance

Select References


"What's in a name?

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."


"Sticks and stones will break my bones,

but names will never hurt me."

—English proverb

... Names are everything. ...

—Oscar Wilde

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.

—Chinese proverb

THE CONCLAVE TO ELECT a new pope to succeed the iconic John Paul II convened on Monday, April 18, 2005. The devout, but in particular the cognoscenti, pondered as to which one of the supposed papabile cardinals would emerge as the latest Vicar of Christ. But an equal, if not greater number, many not even Catholics, were more intrigued as to the name by which the new pope wished to be known by. The chosen name would have significance: it would provide an immediate measure of the new pope’s inclinations and intentions.

Papal names now possess a magic; they have become evocative. It is possible to wager real money on the name that will be assumed by a new pope. Prior to Benedict XVI’s election in April 2005, some Internet-savvy folks were even registering potential domain names that might correspond to the new name. Suffice to say that a writer from Florida had purchased www.benedictXVI.com prior to the election.

Despite this inescapable interest in papal names, there has been very little dedicated analysis pertaining to their evolution. Consequently, there are inaccuracies and omissions. For a start, papal name change could be a much older practice than originally believed. This book is an attempt to rectify the lack of attention hitherto afforded to the story and the glory of papal names.

This book is a by-product of a larger, computer-aided papal history initiative I have been working on for the last few years – essentially as my latest hobby. Maintaining papal names, facts and figures in database form enabled me to sort and analyze data at whim—hence the detailed statistics and ranking provided throughout the book.

This book is not meant to be controversial, provocative or sensationalistic. The subject matter, though interesting, sometimes even beguiling, still does not, however, provide sufficient scope to incite bona fide dissension. Consequently, this book is meant to enlighten, and with luck, hopefully entertain. With it, I hope to put a stake in the ground vis-à-vis our understanding of the history of papal names to date. It should provide a solid starting point for others who wish to expand and elaborate on my initial work.

This book, in essence the outcome of a hobby, was by nature a one-man effort – with my wife, Deanna, & a few others doing the best they could to tidy up my English. During 30 years as a professional writer, I gained a hard-earned reputation for veracity. But I flirt with fallibility on a daily basis. Given that this is a brand-new field for me and that I am opting to self-publish this book, there is a fairly good chance that there will be some unintended errors and oversights. I apologize for them in advance. If you see any of these, or want some clarification, please contact me at: anu@wownh.com.

I hope you find the information in this book of use and that you enjoy the story that I lay ahead of you. My motto, as it appears on my Web site www.guruge.com, is Think Free, Or Die. In the spirit of that, if some of what is contained in this book gives you food for thought I will be delighted. Grace, and may peace be with you.

— Anura Gurugé

Lakes Region, New Hampshire, U.S.A.

Spring 2008


It is hard to believe that I wrote the print version of this book 12-years ago. It was my first ‘pope book’ – though I had written five, rather tedious (but relatively successful) ‘high-tech’ books prior to that. Much to my relief & delight this book was well received. It encouraged & inspired me to write eleven further ‘pope books’.

This, back in 2008, was my first foray into self-publishing. I have published around 28-books hence! In those early days I was not a fan of eBooks. The rendering (i.e., display) of eBooks used to be painful. My books were heavily & tightly formatted with lots of images & complex tables. I just could not get them to render in eBook form. Well, much water as flowed under the bridges of Rome in the last 12-years. eBook technology has improved as have my prowess in creating them. Smile.

Hence, this eBook 12-years after the print version.

Yes, of course, I updated it to include Pope Francis who was elected in 2013.

Other than including Francis, I really did not alter any of the 2008 content! It was still good & had stood the test of time. I looked & there really was no need. So, I was not going to make changes just for the sake of change. Maybe, with luck, I will get a chance to update this after the next conclave. Prior to that I am being urged to write another ‘Next Pope’ book given that I, miraculously, managed to identify ‘Francis’, in print, in my 2011 book, a full 2-years ahead of his election.

Oh, the format & pictorial content of this eBook is different to the print book. I also have resorted to the use of color – something I could not do with my black-&-white books. So, this eBook looks & will feel very different to the print book.

I hope you find this book informative, useful & entertaining. My goal was to make it as such. I tried. Thank you. Enjoy.

—Anura, August 2020


>  Number of recognized popes: For consistency with a number of online lists of popes, in particular the one found on Wikipedia, this book recognizes 266 popes – with Benedict XVI being the 266th pope. This number is one higher than what others use as their official number. This discrepancy exists due to the four-day long papacy of the original Stephen II. This Stephen was acknowledged as a legitimate pope by the Vatican for 400 years – up until 1961. But he was then struck from the list because he had died prior to being consecrated as the Bishop of Rome. Older references still include him. There are also those who feel that he should be included given that he was an elected and acknowledged pope per the practices of his time. At the start of Appendix B there is an explanation as to how and why the current papal count can vary between 263 to 266 depending on how one treats Stephen II and the three terms of Benedict IX. The inclusion of Stephen II in this book should not cause any problems or misunderstandings since his inclusion is consistently stated throughout the book.

>  Sequence numbers: Sequence numbers, denoted by ‘#,’ are extensively used throughout this book to provide easy identification of the popes: e.g., Pius IX (#256). The papal name lists in Appendix A and B both include these sequence numbers for quick reference. They also serve as a convenient index as to determine the relative orderings of the 266 popes. For example, when one sees John XIV (#137), John XV (#138) and John XVII (#141), it is easy to see that John XV immediately succeeded John XIV, while John XVII is separated from XV by two intervening popes. The start and end dates for all of the papacies are listed in Appendix B. Using sequence numbers is much less intrusive and cumbersome than  identifying popes by their dates: e.g., Felix III (483-492).

>  The context of the term ‘name’: In most instances the terms ‘name’ and ‘papal name,’ as used in this book, refer to an elemental [i.e., basic or unqualified] name: e.g., ‘John,’ ‘Sixtus,’ ‘Pius,’ etc. Unless otherwise specified, or abundantly clear from its context, these terms, when applied to the 36 repeated papal names, do not refer to the qualified name [i.e., name plus ordinal] of a specific pope. So ‘name’ in general would mean ‘John,’ ‘Sixtus,’ ‘Pius,’ etc., rather than John XXIII, Sixtus II or Pius VI.

>  Navigating this book: This book can be read, conventionally, chapter by chapter from start to finish. But it does not have to be. Each chapter and, in essence, each section is self-contained and can be read, comprehended and savored independently. Thus, it is indeed possible to use this book in ‘lucky dip’ mode. If read in this manner, the numerous lists and tables found throughout the book could serve as guideposts. There is also a select index that should help those who want to pursue a particular reference or theme.

>  Abbreviations such as ‘N,’ ‘SE,’ etc. occurring in the context of geographic references, e.g., ‘N Rome,’ refer to compass directions. ‘N’ – north, ‘E’- east, ‘SE’ – southeast, etc.

>  Names of popes in ‘bold’: The first appearance of a pope’s name in a given section of a narrative will be bolded for added attention.

>  Use of colors & highlighting: Used extensively and sometimes arbitrarily for emphasis. The intent should become increasingly clear as you go along.

>  Use of italics: Used liberally & definitely more than the norm, though not, albeit, that capriciously! Italics are primarily used: (1) for (added) emphasis,

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