How Many Popes Have There Been?

This week, our country is hosting a very special visitor. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, better known as Pope Francis, began his United Stated trip in Washington, D.C. yesterday, after touring Communist-led Cuba.

The pontiff has 18 scheduled stops in three states over six days. While in our country, he will meet with the president, address Congress, speak at the United Nations in New York and take part in a Vatican-sponsored conference on the family in Philadelphia.

He is the fourth pope ever to visit the United States.

That last sentence got me wondering…How many popes have there been? Let’s find out (in what could be the shortest answer to a Wonder Why Wednesday question ever)…

How Many Popes Have There Been In The History Of The Catholic Church?


Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope, is the 266th pope in the history of the Catholic Church. The first pope was St. Peter, the apostle. Since St. Peter, there has been a continuous line line of apostolic succession spanning almost 2000 years.

Here are some fun pope facts:

– The youngest pope ever was either Pope Benedict IX, who was elected pope somewhere between age 11 and 20, or Pope John XII, who was 18.

– The oldest pope ever at the time of his election was Clement X, who was 79 years, 290 days young when he became pope in 1670.

– Benedict IX was the only pope to serve more than one term as pope, having served 3.

– In 236 A.D., a man named Fabian, who was not even a candidate at the time, was selected as pope after a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, landed on his shoulder.

– The longest deliberation on choosing a pope lasted two years and nine months, between 1268 and 1271. During that time, the cardinals meeting in Viterbo, a town outside Rome, could not agree on who to choose. Eventually they were forced to do so by the king of France and other rulers.

– The first pope to change his name was a man named Mercury. He was elected in 533 and didn’t think it was a good idea to be named after a Roman god so he changed his name to John II.

– The shortest term as pope goes to Urban VII, who died after just 12 days in office, in 1590.

РIf you become pope, you have a 1-in-3 chance of becoming a saint. Out of the 265 former popes, 81 are saints.

Click here for a list of all the popes.



Sources: Fallible Blogma, Wikipedia, Huffington Post, Yahoo!

Photo credit: Wikipedia