The pope is arguably one of the most powerful people on Earth. Billions of people today look up to him for spiritual guidance, and he directs one of the largest organizations in the history of our planet, the Catholic Church. His influence is so great that, whether you favor him or not, his influence over the lives of many is undeniable. But how did he get into that position? Why does one man have such influence over so many people?
To understand this, we need to go back a couple thousand years. The Catholic Church started with Peter. He was the first pope. Ever since then, the pope has changed every few decades (either due to the pope stepping down or passing away). This has led to a chain of popes leading straight from Saint Peter directly up to Pope Francis (as of this writing). However, there is much more to the Catholic Church than just the pope. The number of traditions and customs can be quite staggering. After two thousand years, it is probably no surprise that it would have so many. Today, we are going to dive head first into the history of this vastly influential institution as we read 25 Intriguing Facts And Stories About Popes And Papacy You Might Not Know!
Featured Image: wikipedia
President Johnson once exchanged gifts with Pope Paul VI. Johnson received a 15th century painting. The pope received a bust of Johnson.
Despite what some may believe, a pope doesn't have to first be a cardinal or a priest. Any baptized male can be elected. However, the last non-cardinal, non-priest elected was Urban VI in 1378.
Pope Gregory IX thought cats were the incarnation of Satan. This led to a massive killing of cats, which caused a massive increase in the rat population, which caused a massive outbreak of the black death.
An antipope is someone who is considered by some people to be the legitimate pope in opposition to the rightful pope.
In 1440, the Pope made a land deal with the city of Florence, but a small piece of land was accidentally left out of the contract. The people promptly declared independence, and the Republic of Cospaia was born. It maintained independence for nearly 400 years.
In 2000, the Pope gave his support to the world of Pokemon in order to counteract the controversy that it was "the work of the devil."
Pope Benedict IX is the only man to have been pope more than once and also the only pope to have ever sold the papacy.
Some people wanted Pope Clement VII to ban coffee because they thought it was the "devil's beverage." After tasting some coffee though, the Pope said it would be a sin to only let unbelievers drink something so delicious.
Pope John Paul II was educated in an underground university during the Nazi invasion.
Pope Benedict XII was elected by accident. This is because back in the day, the cardinals would all vote for a random candidate during the first round of voting to see who everyone else was leaning towards. However, they all voted for the same person.
In 1269, the cardinals took almost 3 years to elect the pope. To speed up the process, the villagers in Viterbo refused to send the cardinals anything more than bread or water.
In spite of being criticized for not speaking against Hitler, Pope Pius XII oversaw one of the largest rescue operations in history. It was responsible for saving the lives of nearly 1 million Jews.
Pope Francis was once a nightclub bouncer.
If you think Pope Francis is pretty cool, check out our list of 25 Interesting Facts About Pope Francis You Probably Didn’t Know.