Little Bits of History

The Man Who Would Be Pope

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 23, 2010

Not-Quite-Pope Stephen

March 23, 752: Pope Stephen is elected to the papacy. Yet, he never gets to become Pope. During this period of the Catholic Church, Popes were sought out from the regular priesthood rather than from bishops or cardinals. After being elected unanimously, Stephen was waiting to be ordained a bishop when he suddenly died of apoplexy.

This particular Stephen would have been the second Pope named so, but he is not accorded the designation of Stephen II because he never actually assumed the papacy. At the time, Popes were simply Pope So-and-so and the regnal numbers were not added until the 10th century.

There is no real problem with this poor man’s inability to become the Bishop of Rome, other than the playing with numbers for future Popes of the same name. Following Pope Stephens have had to cope with the designation of II (III) or IX (X) since this elected official never actually assumed the seat of power. He is not on lists of Popes since he never actually got past the election process.

Pope Marinus I was the first bishop to be elected as Pope in 882 and Pope Gregory XVI was the last man elected to the seat without being a bishop first.

“Anybody can be Pope; the proof of this is that I have become one.” – Pope John XXIII

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.” – Pablo Picasso

“I admire the Pope. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can tour without an album.” – Rita Rudner

“I would like to see the Pope wearing my T-shirt.” – Madonna

Also on this day, in 1857 Elisha Otis installed his first passenger safety elevator.

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