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The Confusion of Papal Numbering

If you enjoyed the post last week about the erratic way kings are numbered, you’ll love a look at how popes are numbered. The Catholic Church has had a pope in charge of all its members for about two thousand years now, and records from the earliest ones are pretty scant. Also, papal records have been wiped out a few times, and then there’s the custom of yanking a pope’s title long after he’s dead. The results can be confusing.

The numbering of popes named Felix has been amended to omit antipope Felix II; however, most lists still call the last two Felixes Felix III and Felix IV.

So the official list includes nightmarish entries like “St Felix III (Felix II)”, or, to give him his Latin name: “Papa FELIX Tertius (Secundus)”. He ruled for nine years in the late 5th century; 30 years later came “St Felix IV”, who is also known as Felix III.

Additionally, there was an antipope Felix V.

So, for those keeping count, there have been five Pope Felixes, only three of whom were actually Pope. Glad we got that straight.

Then we get started on cases where the church lost count or got someone’s name wrong. All in all, it’s a mess in the historical records. Read all about it right here. -via Metafilter

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