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March 31, 2015

Papal Pandemonium: Semifinal #1

Papal Pandemonium 2015
Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 2 3 Results

For more info on Popes, visit New Advent's Catholic Encyclopedia

We’ve finally winnowed our papal field to 27 names! There are no more “easy wins”; all of our semifinalists have earned their place in this round.

Same as before: the top three names will advance to the Grand Finale. Voting in this first semifinal will close Wednesday, April 1 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Before we get to that…

Introducing: The Papal Pedant

Pope Eugene VFor the semifinals, I’m excited to welcome commentary from my favorite pundit: Eugene Finerman.

Eugene won five games in 1987, finishing third in his TOC to Bob Verini. He then handed Frank Spangenberg his first-ever loss (on Super Jeopardy!), and was a “fan favorite” candidate in The Battle of the Decades.

Eugene knows an absurd amount of historical facts, and isn’t afraid to share them. (I believe the Editorial desk at The New York Times is sick of getting “correction” emails from him.) His anecdotes – christened as those of The Papal Pedant – are highlighted in the green boxes below.

When he’s not lecturing wayward journalists on the finer points of the medieval mendicant orders of monks, he is a mercenary freelance writer at FinermanWorks. Check out his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, back to the show. Here are your options for the next three days.

Click on the Twitter icon to tweet your support for a given name!

Papal Pandemonium semi 1

Semifinal #1: Choose your three favorite papal names.

    Vitalian (10%, 4 Votes)

    Sisinnius (12%, 5 Votes)

    Simplicius (39%, 16 Votes)

    Pius (27%, 11 Votes)

    Linus (37%, 15 Votes)

    Innocent (29%, 12 Votes)

    Hilarius (71%, 29 Votes)

    Deusdedit (27%, 11 Votes)

    Cornelius (17%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

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Key: ✝ = canonized (“Saint”), * = beatified (“Blessed”)

Cornelius (251–253)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: Latin, war horn

Elected against his will, Cornelius was, unsurprisingly, martyred.

The Papal Pedant says:

Cornelius? Now there is a suspicious name. In the third century, a Pope Cornelius would be the equivalent of Pope Astor or Dupont. Cornelius was the name of a patrician family, and in the 3rd century the Papacy was no job for an aristocrat.

The Romans may have had no morals but they did have etiquette. You could not call yourself a Cornelius if you were not a member of the family. Even if Cornelius were the consequence of an indiscretion with a maid, he still would not have been allowed the noble nomenclature. So Cornelius might have been martyred for his breach of decorum rather than his Christianity.

Deusdedit (615–618)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: Latin, God has given

Deusdedit is said to be the first pope to use a seal made of lead on his correspondence. According to The Catholic Encylopedia, one is still preserved; it has “the Good Shepherd in the midst of His sheep, with the letters Alpha and Omega underneath, while the reverse bears the inscription: Deusdedit Papæ.”

I have been unable to find visual evidence of this seal on Google. Alas.

Hilarius (461–468)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: Latin, cheerful

Exerted pressure on Gaul and Spain to fall in line with church doctrine. Anglicized name is Hilary.

Innocent – used 13 times (last: 1724)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: Latin, innocent

I II III IV V*
401–417 1130–1143 1198–1216 1243–1254 1276
VI VII VIII IX X
1352–1362 1404–1406 1484–1492 1591 1644–1655
XI* XII XIII
1676–1689 1691–1700 1721–1724

Innocent I was probably the son of his predecessor, Anastasius I.

Linus (67–76)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: Greek, flaxen-haired

Linus was the second pope, after Saint Peter.

The Papal Pedant says:

The Church really cannot decide whether or not Linus was martyred. There is no evidence of that; at the time (67-73) Rome was much more interested in oppressing the other monotheistic group. And Linus was conspicuously not a member of it. (He was the second Pope but the first foreskin.) Yet, it seems rather insulting to think that Linus did not merit a martyrdom. So, the Church has conferred an honorary one on him.

Pius – used 12 times (last: 1958)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: Latin, pious

I II III IV V
140–155 1458–1464 1503 1559–1565 1566–1572
VI VII VIII IX* X
1775–1799 1800–1823 1829–1830 1846–1878 1903–1914
XI XII
1922–1939 1939–1958

Other than Peter, Pius IX was the longest-serving pope, at 31 years, 7 months, 23 days. Pius VI and VII rank fourth and sixth on that list.

Pius XII, the pope during World War II, has a controversial legacy, one that has been both praised and despised by Jews at various times.

The Papal Pedant says:

Twelve have been named Pius; only three apparently were – at least to qualify as saints. (The second Pius had children and wrote pornography, so you can see how his canonization process might be slow.)

Pius V is a saint, however. During his reign (1566-1572), the former inquisitor gave Spain permission to wipe out the Dutch Protestants. (Without the Pope’s permission, the Dutch did defend themselves.) But the Pope did not like the idea of hurting animals and forbid bullfighting. This was one Papal directive that Spain ignored.

In 1712, Pius V was declared a saint. PETA might agree even if Protestants don’t.

Simplicius (468–483)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: Latin, simple

When Odoacer deposed the last Roman Emperor in 476, he left Simplicius in control of Rome’s administration.

The Papal Pedant says:

By the fifth century, the Papacy finally was a safe job. The Church Councils could give you an ulcer, and it was impossible to keep track of all the theories about the Trinity; but it still was a good job.

By contrast, the position of Emperor had never been safe and now was not prestigious. The emperors were figureheads of their military commanders, most of whom were German mercenaries. This remnant empire was ruled from Ravenna. At least the Adriatic port was defensible; Rome had been sacked too often.

In the first eight years of Simplicius’s reign, there had been six emperors – an assortment of ciphers. One was executed, two actually died of natural causes, and the other three were simply ousted. In 476, the German mercenaries finally decided to rule Italy for themselves. For the next sixty years they did a good job, better than any Italian government has since. They respected the Pope, and he was prudent enough to return the compliment.

Sisinnius (708)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: unknown, possibly Persian

Pope for 20 days, he suffered from a severe case of gout. Why he was elected when he couldn’t even feed himself is a big question.

Vitalian (657–672)  Twitter_logo_white

Derivation: Latin, alive

Vitalian worked to ease tensions with the Byzantine throne; he was successful, and he welcomed Emperor Constans II as his guest in Rome for 12 days.

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