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A papal name or pontificial name is the regnal name taken by a pope. Both the head of the Catholic Church, usually known as the pope, and the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria (Coptic pope) choose papal names. As of 2013 [update] , Pope Francis is the Catholic pope, and Tawadros II or Theodoros II is the Coptic pope. This article discusses and lists the names of Catholic popes; another article has a list of Coptic Orthodox popes of Alexandria.
While popes in the early centuries retained their birth names after their accession to the papacy, later on popes began to adopt a new name upon their accession. This first started in the sixth century and became customary in the 10th century. Since 1555, every pope has taken a papal name.
The pontificial name is given in Latin by virtue of the pope's status as bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church. The pope is also given an Italian name by virtue of his Vatican citizenship and because of his position as primate of Italy. However, it is customary when referring to popes to translate the regnal name into all local languages. Thus, for example, Papa Franciscus is Papa Francesco in Italian, Papa Francisco in his native Spanish, and Pope Francis in English.
The official style of the Catholic pope in English is "His Holiness Pope [papal name]". 'Holy Father' is another honorific often used for popes.
The full title, rarely used, of the Catholic pope in English is: "His Holiness [papal name], 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 Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God".
The official title of the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is "Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa on the Holy See of St. Mark the Apostle, the Successor of St. Mark the Evangelist, Holy Apostle and Martyr, on the Holy Apostolic Throne of the Great City of Alexandria".
Within the Coptic Church, he is considered to be Father of Fathers, Shepherd of Shepherds, and Hierarch of all Hierarchs. Honorary titles attributed to the Hierarch of the Alexandrine Throne also include:
During the first centuries of the church, the bishops of Rome continued to use their baptismal names after their elections. The custom of choosing a new name began in AD 533: Mercurius deemed it inappropriate for a pope to be named after the pagan Roman god Mercury, and adopted the name John II in honor of his predecessor John I, who was venerated as a martyr. In the 10th century clerics from beyond the Alps, especially Germany and France, acceded to the papacy and replaced their foreign-sounding names with more traditional ones.
The last pope to use his baptismal name was Marcellus II in 1555, a choice that was even then quite exceptional. Names are freely chosen by popes, and not based on any system. Names of immediate or distant predecessors, mentors, saints, or even family members—as was the case with John XXIII—have been adopted.
In 1978 Cardinal Albino Luciani became the first pope to take a double name, John Paul I, to honour his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI; he had been elevated to bishop by John XXIII, then to patriarch of Venice and the College of Cardinals by Paul VI. John Paul I was also the first pope in almost 1,100 years since Lando in 913 to adopt a papal name that had not previously been used. After John Paul I's sudden death a month later, Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected and, wishing to continue his predecessor's work, became the second pope to take a double name as John Paul II. In 2013, a new name was introduced into the lineage: on being elected pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio selected the name Francis to emphasize the spirit of poverty and peace embodied by Saint Francis of Assisi.
Often the new pontiff's choice of name upon being elected to the papacy is seen as a signal to the world of whom the new pope will emulate, what policies he will seek to enact, or even the length of his reign. Such was the case with Benedict XVI – it was speculated that he chose the name because he wished to emulate Benedict XV.
Saint Peter was the first pope; no bishop of Rome has chosen the name Peter II, although there is no prohibition against doing so. Since the 1970s, some antipopes, with only a minuscule following, took the name Pope Peter II.
Probably because of the controversial 15th-century antipope known as John XXIII, this name was avoided for over 500 years until the election in 1958 of Pope John XXIII. Immediately after John XXIII's election as pope in 1958, it was not known if he would be John XXIII or XXIV; he decided that he would be known as John XXIII. The number used by an antipope is ignored if possible, but this is not possible if, by the time someone is reckoned as antipope, the name has since been used by one or more legitimate popes (e.g. Benedict X was later reckoned as antipope).
Immediately after a new pope is elected, and accepts the election, he is asked in Latin "By what name shall you be called?"The new pope chooses the name by which he will be known from that point on. The senior cardinal deacon or cardinal protodeacon then appears on the balcony of Saint Peter's to proclaim the new pope by his birth name, and announce his papal name:
Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum dominum,
dominum [baptismal name],
Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem [surname],
qui sibi nomen imposuit [papal name].
I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Father,
Lord [baptismal name],
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church [surname],
who takes to himself the name [papal name].
On average the papal name repeats 3.29 times. The number of all popes to the present is 264; Pope Benedict IX was elected pope three times, therefore the number of pontificates is actually 266.
|1.||John||21||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X · XI · XII · XIII · XIV · XV · XVI · XVII · XVIII · XIX ·XX · XXI · XXII · XXIII · XXIII||John XVI was an antipope. No pope or antipope ever used the name John XX.|
|2.||Gregory||16||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X · XI · XII · XIII · XIV · XV · XVI|
|3.||Benedict||15||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X · XI · XII · XIII · XIII · XIV (2) · XIV · XV · XVI||Benedict X and XIII were antipopes; two antipopes took the name Benedict XIV.|
|4.||Clement||14||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X · XI · XII · XIII · XIV|
|5.||Innocent||13||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X · XI · XII · XIII|
|5.||Leo||13||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X · XI · XII · XIII|
|7.||Pius||12||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X · XI · XII|
|8.||Stephen||9||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX||Stephen II succeeded pope-elect Stephen (in some lists marked as Stephen II), who died before he could be consecrated as a bishop.|
|9.||Boniface||8||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX||Boniface VII was an antipope|
|9.||Urban||8||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII|
|11.||Alexander||7||I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII||Alexander V was an antipope|
|12.||Adrian||6||I · II · III · IV · V · VI|
|12.||Paul||6||I · II · III · IV · V · VI|
|14.||Celestine||5||I · II · III · IV · V|
|14.||Nicholas||5||I · II · III · IV · V|
|14.||Sixtus||5||I · II · III · IV · V|
|17.||Anastasius||4||I · II · III · IV|
|17.||Eugene||4||I · II · III · IV|
|17.||Honorius||4||I · II · III · IV|
|17.||Sergius||4||I · II · III · IV|
|21.||Callixtus||3||I · II · III|
|21.||Felix||3||I · II · III · IV · V||Felix II and V were antipopes|
|21.||Julius||3||I · II · III|
|21.||Lucius||3||I · II · III|
|21.||Martin||3||I ·II ·III · IV · V||No popes or antipopes ever used the names Martin II or Martin III. Marinus I and Marinus II were mistakenly thought to be named "Martin(us)", causing the confusion.|
|21.||Sylvester||3||I · II · III|
|21.||Victor||3||I · II · III|
|28.||Adeodatus||2||I · II|
|28.||Agapetus||2||I · II|
|28.||Damasus||2||I · II|
|28.||Gelasius||2||I · II|
|28.||John Paul||2||I · II|
|28.||Marcellus||2||I · II|
|28.||Marinus||2||I · II|
|28.||Paschal||2||I · II|
|28.||Pelagius||2||I · II|
|28.||Theodore||2||I · II|
|38.||Francis||1||Pope Francis is the current pope.|
An antipope is a person who, in opposition to the legitimately elected pope, makes a significant attempt to occupy the position of Bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th centuries, antipopes were supported by important factions within the Church itself and by secular rulers.
Baldassarre Cossa was Pisan antipope John XXIII (1410–1415) during the Western Schism. The Catholic Church regards him as an antipope, as he opposed Pope Gregory XII whom the Catholic Church now recognizes as the rightful successor of Saint Peter.
The Council of Constance was a 15th-century ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418 in the Bishopric of Constance in present-day Germany. The council ended the Western Schism by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining papal claimants and by electing Pope Martin V.
The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, the Roman pontiff or the Sovereign Pontiff, is the bishop of Rome, head of the worldwide Catholic Church and head of state or sovereign of the Vatican City State. According to Catholics, the primacy of the bishop of Rome is largely derived from his role as the apostolic successor to Saint Peter, to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus, giving him the Keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the church would be built. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013.
Pope Paul VI was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council, which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements.
Pope Gregory XII, born Angelo Corraro, Corario, or Correr, was the Roman claimant to the headship of the Catholic Church from 30 November 1406 to 4 July 1415. Reigning during the Western Schism, he was opposed by the Avignon pope Benedict XIII and the Pisan popes Alexander V and John XXIII. Gregory XII was forced to abdicate in 1415 to end the Schism.
Pope Nicholas II, otherwise known as Gerard of Burgundy, was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 January 1059 until his death. At the time of his election, he was bishop of Florence. During his Papacy, Nicholas II successfully expanded the influence of the papacy in Milan and southern Italy. He was also responsible for passing papal election reforms which resulted in greater papal influence in electing new Popes.
The College of Cardinals, or more formally the Sacred College of Cardinals, is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church. As of 11 July 2021, its current membership is 221. Cardinals are appointed by the pope for life. Changes in life expectancy partly account for the increases in the size of the college.
The Western Schism, also called Papal Schism, The Vatican Standoff, Great Occidental Schism and Schism of 1378, was a split within the Catholic Church lasting from 1378 to 1417 in which bishops residing in Rome and Avignon both claimed to be the true pope, joined by a third line of Pisan popes in 1409. The schism was driven by personalities and political allegiances, with the Avignon papacy being closely associated with the French monarchy. These rival claims to the papal throne damaged the prestige of the office.
A papal conclave is a gathering of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a bishop of Rome, also known as the pope. The pope is considered by Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Catholic Church.
A papal renunciation occurs when the reigning pope of the Catholic Church voluntarily steps down from his position. As the reign of the pope has conventionally been from election until death, papal renunciation is an uncommon event. Before the 21st century, only five popes unambiguously resigned with historical certainty, all between the 10th and 15th centuries. Additionally, there are disputed claims of four popes having resigned, dating from the 3rd to the 11th centuries; a fifth disputed case may have involved an antipope.
Pope Peter II is a hypothetical papal name and, in recent times, a common name for Convlavist group leaders styling themselves as popes.
Pedro Martínez de Luna y Pérez de Gotor, known as el Papa Luna in Spanish and Pope Luna in English, was an Aragonese nobleman, who as Benedict XIII, is considered an antipope by the Catholic Church.
The Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, a faith with ancient Christian roots in Egypt. The current holder of this position is Pope Tawadros II, who was selected as the 118th pope on November 18, 2012.
Sedeprivationism is a doctrinal position within traditionalist Catholicism that holds that the current occupant of the papacy is a duly-elected pope, but lacks the authority and ability to teach or to govern unless he recants the changes brought by the Second Vatican Council. The doctrine asserts that the since this Council, the popes are popes materialiter sed non formaliter, that is "materially but not formally". As such, sedeprivationists teach that Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI have not attained fullness of the papacy.
The history of the papacy, the office held by the pope as head of the Catholic Church, according to Catholic doctrine, spans from the time of Peter to the present day. However the first bishop of Rome to be contemporaneously referred to as Pope is Damasus I (366–84). Moreover, many of the bishops of Rome in the first three centuries of the Christian era are obscure figures. Most of Peter's successors in the first three centuries following his life suffered martyrdom along with members of their flock in periods of persecution, and do not seem to have recognized any supreme hierarchy to be passed on within the church.
Antonios I Naguib is the Coptic Catholic Patriarch emeritus of Alexandria, and a Cardinal.
The selection of the pope, the bishop of Rome and supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, prior to the promulgation of In nomine Domini in 1059 varied throughout history. Popes were often appointed by their predecessors or by political rulers. While some kind of election often characterized the procedure, an election that included meaningful participation of the laity was rare, especially as the popes' claims to temporal power solidified into the Papal States. The practice of papal appointment during this period would later result in the jus exclusivae, i.e., a right to veto the selection that Catholic monarchs exercised into the twentieth century.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is opposed to the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy. While not denying that some form of primacy could exist for the Bishop of Rome, Orthodox Christians argue that the tradition of Rome's primacy in the early Church was not equivalent to the current doctrine of supremacy.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church: