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Pope question...

Why do when cardinals become pope...why do they change their name?


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC)
(quoted from popechart.com)

There is some speculation that the early Popes may have changed their names to Greek names, as Jesus had done to St. Peter. This is based on the fact that most of the early popes were Italian or Roman and yet have Greek names.

The first known pope, after Peter, to take a new name was John II in 533. His given name was Mercury, the name of a pagan god, and hardly suitable for a pope, so he adopted the name of the martyred John I instead.

There wasn't another papal name change until John XII (originally Octavian) in 955. Name changes became common after that, but not every pope took a new name. Several eleventh-century Johns kept the name John, for example.

It's possible that some very early popes took different names. We know almost nothing about many of the popes (then called bishops of Rome) who served during the church's first centuries, so tidbits like given names could easily have been lost.


So, in part, the tradition started so that they would have suitable greek names instead of pagan names.

And then it seems to have morphed into a gesture of thanks to previous popes who helped them. It's also a nod to popes of the past whose papacy was concerned with similar things.
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC)
(also from popechart.com)

What is the pope's license plate number?

The pope mobile's license plate number is:


SCV in Italian stands for: Stato della Citta del Vaticano ( Vatican City State ). Some Romans joke that it is an acronym for "Se Cristo Vedesse" - if only Christ could see this :-)
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
Okay, that's funny. The license plate number thingie...not the reasons for the name change.
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:47 pm (UTC)
*grin* I thought the license plate thing was a total hoot, which is why I had to share.
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:56 pm (UTC)
LOL! I *love* the license plate alternate translation :-)
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:57 pm (UTC)
I totally had the giggles when I read that. The previous entry on the FAQ is about the Popemobile. Because it's really called the Popemobile! Who knew?
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC)
(from howstuffworks.com)

New Life, New Name
As the newly elected pope accepts his new role, it is tradition for him to select a new name. This papal tradition dates to 533 and the election of Pope John II, whose birth name was Mercurius, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Mercurius is derived from Mercury, a pagan Roman god. Believing that a successor of St. Peter should not carry a name belonging to a pagan religion, Mercurius chose to change his name upon his election to honor a previous pope.

While some that followed John II chose to retain their original name, it soon became commonplace for new popes to choose a new moniker. The name change also symbolizes the new life that the new pope is entering as the head of the Catholic Church. Typically, the new pope selects the name of his favorite Saint or a former pope whom he admires.

John Paul II chose his name to honor his predecessor, John Paul I, who died just 33 days after being elected pope. John Paul I chose his name to honor predecessors Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
Many of them do it out of a sense of respect. It wasn't really "the thing done" until quite recently, relatively. Most cardinals kept their own names, especially in the early days of the Church. However, some had the names of pagan gods as their given names - one in the 500s or so, Mercury, was the first pope to actually change his name. Thought "Mercury" was inappropriate for the leader of Christianity. Later on, other popes changed their names to those of earlier popes out of a sense of tradition or respect.

They ARE allowed to keep their own names as their papal names, though. Most simply don't. They take on the name of a former pope or create a new name. The only name a pope will never take is that of Peter.
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:58 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, there's a "prophecy" (take this with a Very Large Grain of Salt) by a 12th century Irish monk (Malachi? Malachy?) that claims the pope after Benedict XVI will be Petrus Romanus. He will be the last pope, if this guy's right.
Apr. 20th, 2005 05:15 pm (UTC)
Well, there's also something in Revelations which states that the pope during the end of the world will be a Benedict. That's more likely a political commentary on a Benedict contemporary to the writing of that part, you know, basically stating that he was an evil no-good git and that he'd bring about the end of the world. But it's still mildly worrisome, especially in combination with what you just brought up.
Apr. 20th, 2005 07:45 pm (UTC)
If you like scaring yourself, have a glass of wine and read the following links at 2 in the morning. Again, many, many grains of salt should be given all this, even if the information comes from the highly reputable and scholarly Internet ;-)

The Alpha-Omega Report I don't know much about the rest of the discussion, but having read a lot of Malachi Martin's books they represent him accurately. I gotta say, the eclipse/JOtG correlations are a little spooky.

A blogger has researched a little on the Malachy prophecies, and links to their online references.

This text is at several online sites; I don't know who wrote it first. It correlates the last of the prophesied popes with the real popes. Also adds some prophecies from other sources.

(Deleted comment)
Apr. 21st, 2005 02:19 am (UTC)
There isn't? Could've sworn I read that. Maybe it was one of the more apocalyptic Apocrypha...
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 21st, 2005 02:20 am (UTC)
I thought that's what I said: Petrus Romanus will be the last pope. Sorry; guess I wasn't clear enough on who "he" was.
Apr. 20th, 2005 07:38 pm (UTC)
Google is your friend. (j/k)

(I just like hyperlinking to that. Mua ha ha!)
Apr. 20th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
Why didn't I google this question?
...Because I like the discussion that follows.

(Funny site.)
Apr. 20th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC)
Perhaps not by accident, this Pope chose the name of a noted moderate (Benedict XV) who succeeded a noted hardliner (St. Pius X). Maybe that was a hint of moderation for those who have viewed him as the Vatican's "enforcer."

There is a group of conservative Catholic priests called the Society of St. Pius X which promotes a very traditional view of Catholicism, and which was occasionally at loggerheads with JPII.

Back when JPII was elected, I was a very active 14-year-old Catholic and followed the death of Paul VI, the reign of JPI, and the advent of JPII very closely. I had a huge scrapbook and everything. I've always been interested in church history, ours or someone else's. :)
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