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April 2, 2015

Papal Pandemonium: Semifinal #3

Papal Pandemonium 2015
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For more info on Popes, visit New Advent's Catholic Encyclopedia

Two down, one to go! In our second match-up, you picked three more impressive names to take part in the Grand Finale: ZEPHYRINUS, LANDO, and TELESPHORUS.

Voting in this last semifinal closes Friday, April 3 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

To build support for a particular name, click on the Twitter button next to your favorite!

Papal Pandemonium semi 3

Please welcome, one more time, our very own Papal Pedant.

About The Papal Pedant

Pope Eugene VFor the semifinals, I’m excited to welcome commentary from my favorite pundit: Eugene Finerman, a five-time Jeopardy! champion.

When he’s not composing dissertations on the pros and cons of indulgences, he is a mercenary freelance writer at FinermanWorks. Check out his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Let’s get right down to it!

Semifinal #3: Choose your three favorite papal names.

    Zosimus (30%, 10 Votes)

    Urban (42%, 14 Votes)

    Sixtus (39%, 13 Votes)

    Eutychian (15%, 5 Votes)

    Eleutherius (21%, 7 Votes)

    Dionysius (48%, 16 Votes)

    Constantine (24%, 8 Votes)

    Callistus (12%, 4 Votes)

    Boniface (67%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 33

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Support Pope Boniface! Boniface – used 8 times (last: 1404)

Derivation: Latin, good fate

418–422 530–532 607 608–615 619–625
896 antipope 1294–1303 1389–1404

Boniface I fought with Antipope Eulalius, which I really hope was the inspiration for the battle cry of the Salamandastron badgers in the Redwall series.

Boniface VI served for 16 days – the shortest tenure of any consecrated pope.

Boniface VII was an antipope who overthrew and killed John XIII in 974; when John’s compatriots invaded, he raided the papal treasury and fled to Constantinople.

The Papal Pedant says:

“You have entered like a fox. You will reign like a lion. You will die like a dog.” That was a prophecy made to Pope Boniface VIII. This obviously came true because why else would I be quoting it?

The prophet was the former Pope Celestine V, who had been coaxed into abdicating by the apparently selfless Cardinal Gaetani. The weary Celestine wanted a monastic life near his beloved home of Naples. Gaetani promised him as much, and as the next pope–Boniface VIII–he would certainly look after Celestine’s welfare. However, the new Pope decided that a Roman prison could be just as spiritual as a Neapolitan monastery. Celestine really did not appreciate that. You noticed that from his prophecy.

As for his leonine reign, Boniface did impose himself as the judge and arbiter of Christendom. He was not the first Pope to do Kings what to do, but he may have been the worst at it. At least he no longer had to contend with invading German armies; his predecessors had organized the deposition and deaths of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. In achieving that, however, they left Italy prey to invading French armies. The French held Southern Italy and were ominously close to Rome. Yet, Boniface seemed bent on offending France. Whenever he intervened in an international dispute involving France, he never decided in Paris’ favor. France versus Aragon, France versus England, France versus Flanders…and France did notice. As for France’s plan to tax the Church, try taxing an excommunication. Its king was Philip the Fair, which referred to his looks–definitely not his character.

Philip was the great-great-great grandson of Henry II of England, and he may have inherited the same approach to a “turbulent priest.” In 1303, French agents kidnapped the Pope. There was a dispute over what to do what their captive. The “muscle” wanted to kill him; the “brains” wanted to try, disgrace and depose him. Beating him nearly to death seemed a good compromise. What was left of him was rescued after three days. He died soon after.

As for the ensuing scandal, there was none. The next Popes were much tactful toward France. “You want to dissolve and rob the Templers. Mais oui. You want the next Popes to be French. Bien sur! You think that we should relocate to Avignon. Allons-y!”

Boniface VIII was a martyr but generally to his ego.

Support Pope Callistus! Callistus – used 3 times (last: 1458)

Derivation: Greek, most beautiful

217–222 1119–1124 1455–1458

Callistus I (also spelled Callixtus) was a slave. After his Christian master entrusted him with some money, he lost it, and tried to escape. After a long escapade, he was sentenced to work in the Sardinian mines.

He convinced Pope Victor I to release him, and Pope Zephyrinus later appointed him caretaker of the Church’s cemetery. Callistus then succeeded Zephyrinus as the Bishop of Rome. A true rags-to-riches story!

(Oh, yeah: was allegedly thrown down a well to his death.)

The Papal Pedant says:

To his credit, Pope Callistus III practiced nepotism literally. The Spanish-born Alfons de Borja did not have any illegitimate children, so there was no need for him to pretend that his sons were his nephews. No, those two Catalan kids whom he appointed as cardinals actually were his nephews.

Of course, there were complaints of cheap Hispanic labor taking the jobs from their rightful Italian debauchees. But one of those nephews proved brilliant if somewhat ruthless, and certainly memorable. Cardinal Rodrigo Borja was also tactful enough to change the family name to the more Italian-sounding Borgia.

Yes, that is another story… the story of Pope Alexander VI.

Support Pope Constantine! Constantine (708–715)

Derivation: Latin, steadfast

Constantine traveled to Constantinople in to meet with Emperor Justinian II; along the way, he named bishops in several random towns. It was rare for a pope to go so far from home, so those paysans were keen to take advantage of an unusual opportunity.

This 710/711 visit would not be repeated by a pope until Pope Paul VI went to Constantinople in 1967.

Support Pope Dionysius! Dionysius (260–268)

Derivation: Greek, from the God of wine

The persecution of Christians under Emperor Valerian I was intense; after Pope Sixtus II was martyred in 258, it took the Church more than a year to fill the bishopric. Then Valerian was killed and his son and former co-emperor, Gallienus, issued an edict of tolerance, ushering in the 40-year “Little Peace” of the Church.

His name was probably inspired by a judge who was converted by St. Paul in Acts.

Support Pope Eleutherius! Eleutherius (175–189)

Derivation: Greek, free

Allegedly issued a decree against dietary restrictions, which was intended to separate Catholicism from Judaism and from other Christian sects. This may have been a sixth-century forgery, however, intended to make a similar contemporary law appear to have precedent.

Support Pope Eutychian! Eutychian (275–283)

Derivation: Greek, fortunate

One rumor says Eutychian buried 324 martyrs with his bare hands. Likely not a martyr himself, he was buried in the catacomb of Pope Callistus I.

Eutychian was also the name of a boy in Acts who died after falling out of a window while listening to Saint Paul. Saint Paul proceeded to resurrect him.

Support Pope Sixtus! Sixtus – used 5 times (last: 1590)

Derivation: Greek, polished

115–125 257–258 432–440 1471–1484 1585–1590

Originally written XYSTUS, this name has been awaiting a sixth member for over 400 years (a huge disappointment to my fellow TOCer Chris Miller, among many others).

Xystus II gets a shout-out in the Canon of the Mass.

Sixtus was the middle name of Secretary of State Edmund Muskie.

The Papal Pedant says:

Of the five popes named Sixtus, three received sainthoods and one a chapel. The first Pope Sixtus was the sixth pope after Peter. His successor did not choose to call himself Septimus. So much for the Roman Catalog Church…

Sixtus V must have been a real crank; he made anti-Semitic remarks about King Philip II of Iberia. I really can’t imagine Philip doing summer stock as Tevye.

But let’s talk about Sixtus IV, the one with the Chapel. He was your standard Renaissance Pope; feel free to blush. Sixtus appointed his nephews as cardinals and he arranged his nieces’ marriages into the best families. (Sorry, the nieces were ineligible to be cardinals.)

While plotting his family’s advancement, Sixtus IV tended to skim through the Church’s business. In 1478, Castile and Aragon requested some sort of special commission. Fine, whatever: Sixtus approved it. By 1482, Sixtus had a better understanding of that commission. In fact, he condemned the Spanish Inquisition.

Unfortunately, Spain could ignore him. Had the Pope bothered to read the original request, he would have noted that Inquisition would be independent of Rome. Perhaps his futility kept him safe, however. People who inconvenienced Ferdinand tended to die of food poisoning. The Renaissance was an exciting time.

Support Pope Urban! Urban – used 8 times (last: 1644)

Derivation: Latin, city-dweller or kind

222–230 1088–1099 1185–1187 1261–1264 1362–1370
1378–1389 1590 1623–1644

Urban VII was incredibly popular; he died, however, just 12 days after his election, never having been formally consecrated.

Urban VIII was the last pope to use force to increase the size of papal territory. He also banned the use of tobacco in church (under threat of excommunication, of course).

The Papal Pedant says:

In 1095, Pope Urban II gave one of the greatest speeches in history. Unfortunately, no one knows what he actually said. There are five different versions of what he was purported to say, but none of them was written at the time of the speech. Only one chronicler, Guilbert de Nogent, claims to have heard the speech. One can question his memory, however, because he was writing 13 years later and evidently forgot that he was plagiarizing an earlier account.

The lack of a contemporary transcript is all the more amazing because the Pope was addressing a church council at Clermont, France. True, there were fewer literate people in all of Western Europe than on any street in Constantinople or Baghdad. But the majority of European literates would have been at Clermont that day. Furthermore, the topic of the speech was certainly memorable. In the 11th century, a Crusade was more than just a glitzy term for a clothing drive.

Even without a transcript, we can infer that the Pope had nothing good to say about the Moslems. He apparently offered an unsurpassed benefits package to anyone who went on the Crusade: remission of past sins, pardon for any “excesses” committed º in good faith – on the Crusades, and reservations (with a seating upgrade) for Heaven. By medieval standards, the Pope’s offer was better than stock options.

In March of 1095, the Byzantine Emperor had asked the Pope for help in recruiting a few hundred knights to fight the Turks. A year later, the Byzantine Emperor found himself contending with the Pope’s response: 100,000 Crusaders.

Whatever the Pope said, it evidently was a great speech.

Support Pope Zosimus! Zosimus (417–418)

Derivation: Greek, likely to survive

Zosimus made a critical error when he reversed the excommunication of an African priest. At the time, there was an established appeals process, and African bishops saw the Greek-born Zosimus as meddling in their affairs.

Some historians believe his father was Jewish.

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