Sunday, January 31, 2010

Biographies of the Popes

1. Recently I've been posting biographies of the early popes. I've attempted to give the most reliable and concise but rich account, and filter through all the conflicting data according to the instruction of St. Paul the Apostle [1 Thess 5:21]: "Test everything; retain what is good." May the Lord make good use of me, a poor sinner, to spread the truth about the history of the Church and her princes, and those who usurped the throne of her princes. Amen.

2. If all of the alleged acts of the pontiff in question are apocryphal, I say something to the effect, "What he did as pope is unknown," without mentioning the specific writings or actions attributed to the successor of St. Peter. I'll probably give concise biographies for all the popes. This is the info I try to fill in, but much of it is missing for the early popes: father, mother, nationality, date of birth, place of birth, education, career prior to becoming pope, election details, date pontificate began, date pontificate ended, acts, writings, date of death, place of death, cause of death, place of burial, feast day, and miracles, if any are recorded. I hope to do many evaluations, as well (e.g., see my post on controversial popes for scholarly evaluations on a plethora of maligned pontiffs). I synthesize data from the old Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) and the New Catholic Encyclopedia (2003). I also use the generally excellent resource The Oxford Dictionary of the Popes by the late Anglican scholar J. N. D. Kelly, which, on occasion, falls for calumnies against various controversial popes (e.g., in the cases of St. Marcellinus and St. Liberius).

The numbering below will eventually be a little different because of my humble opinion that Leo VIII and Sylvester III were antipopes (pace the latest Annuario Pontificio, which is not so firmly decisive).

Here's my progress so far (15 popes):
3. St. Anacletus the Martyr (76-88)
5. St. Evaristus (97-105)
6. St. Alexander I (106-115)
8. St. Telesphorus the Martyr (125-136)
10. St. Pius I (142-155)
11. St. Anicetus (155-166)
19. St. Anterus (235-236)
22. St. Lucius I (253-254)
27. St. Eutychian (275-283)
28. St. Gaius (283-296)
100. Valentine (827)
112. Boniface VI (896)
114. Romanus (897)
118. Leo V (903)
123. Leo VI (928-929)

Antipopes: (1 antipope)
[119]. Christopher (903-904)

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