Friday, April 22, 2005

A Brief History of Popes named Benedict

The New Pope, who shall heretofore be known only as Cap'n OldSkool, has chosen the name Benedict. But what of the 15 other Benedicts? Well, since inquiring minds could really care less, here is your Trivial Pursuit: Potentate edition.

And as always, the Anglican General's Warning: The following contains gross amounts of papal satire, popery, and random potentate badwords. This article not recommended for consumption; I'm the Archer of the Forest and I approved this message...

The first, chosen in 579, is so obscure that the only trace of his pontificate is apparently some document showing he granted an Italian estate to a local Abbot. Hmmm...papal favors, imagine that.

The second Benedict, we are told, was a great singer — an unusual resume for a Pope. The third had to fight off an invasion by the Saracens.

Numbers four to nine are generally conceded to mark the darkest period in Papal history — one was deposed, one was killed after allegedly murdering someone, one was bribed into resigning after it was discovered he had illegitimate children.

The tenth was literally the "anti-Pope" during the pontificate of Nicholas II in the 11th Century, but Benedict the 11th made peace with the French...making peace with the French, hmmm, should have been named Pope Sissyface I

The 12th...we'll save the best for last;

the 13th was pretty much nondescript; the 14th was colorful to say the least (during an argument with the French ambassador, he once seized the man, shoved him into the Papal chair and said "Be Pope yourself!").

And the 15th, who ascended in 1914, tried to keep the Vatican neutral during the first World War and publicly pleaded with world leaders not to fight — becoming in the process the first and probably last Pope to correspond with an American president. There is little doubt the new Pope is trying to evoke that Benedict, and the Saint of the same name, and even the word itself (benedictum) meaning, simply, “blessing.”

But then there was Benedict the 12th and one almost wishes there was still a place for his earthy self-deprecation at the Vatican. Elected in 1342 — on the first ballot, and when the Popes still ruled more or less in hiding at Avignon, France — he was Cardinal Jacques Fournier, and he evidently wasn't too happy about his new job. To his fellow cardinals he said in latin "you have elected a j@ck@ss."

So, there you have it, a brief history of Bishops of Rome names Benedict. Somehow I don't think any of them got what the real Saint Benedict was saying, "As often as anything is to be done...call the whole community together and explain what the business is; and after hearing the advice of the members, let them ponder it and judge was is the wiser course of action. The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Spirit often reveals what is better to the younger." -From the Rule of Benedict

1 comment:

Ryan said...

That's pretty clever! You should ask Paula sometime in Church History II to show you the action figure Pope my class bought her.

-R