Thursday, March 14, 2013

Regnal Numbers

In my last post I discussed the total count of popes. The question of regnal numbering is also interesting. (No, I'm not talking about the fact that we traditionally would not refer to "Pope Francis I" until there's a "Pope Francis II").

The existence of popes-elect who died before episcopal consecration, of antipopes, and even of fictitious popes in the historical records has left several sequences of popes confused. I will provide the following lists of confused sequences below with explanations. The number after their name is the number by which they were known during their reign officially, which is usually also the number by which history knows them today. A number in parantheses means "but really they were..." and a number in brackets means "but sometimes they've retrospectively been called..." (If a number is given in both brackets and parentheses, it means I think there is a dispute as to whether they really were a different number from their official regnal number or not depending on whether an earlier man was really pope or not):

St. Alexander I (105-115)
Alexander II (1061-73)
Alexander III (1159-81)
Alexander IV (1254-61)
Alexander VI (V) (1492-1503)
Alexander VII (VI) (1655-67)
Alexander VIII (VII) (1689-91)

Alexander V was an antipope during the Western Schism, the start of the "Pisan line," the attempt of the (unrecognized) Council of Pisa to depose the pope and Avignon antipope...which only ended up creating a third line of claimants. This was all finally clarified, of course, by the Council of Constance, the resignation of Gregory XII, and the election of Martin V unifying the Church once more. However, the next Alexander (the infamous Roderigo Borgia) took the name Alexander VI, rather than V, to avoid being confused with antipope Alexander V historically.

St. Stephen I (254-257)
Stephen II [III] (752-57)
Stephen III [IV] (767-72)
Stephen IV [V](816-17)
Stephen V [VI] (885-91)
Stephen VI [VII] (896-97)
Stephen VII [VIII] (929-31)
Stephen VIII [IX] (939-42)
Stephen IX [X] (1057-58)

The actual regnal numbers used by all the popes Stephen and on current lists is correct. However, at some point in history (centuries after the actual events), Pope-elect Stephen in 752 (who was never consecrated bishop and therefore was not Pope) was added back onto some lists, which then advanced all subsequent numbers by one. Even though it was recognized later, again, that he was not really a pope, this practice of advancing the numbers on earlier lists led later lists to include this "second number" in parentheses after the real number, similar to what is sometimes done with the number of Psalms Catholic versus Protestant.

St. Felix I (269-274)
St. Felix III (II) (483-92)
St. Felix IV (III) (526-30)

The numbers of the second and third popes Felix is advanced by one because an Antipope Felix II was installed after Liberius (for all his other cowardice) bravely refused to sign the condemnation of St. Athanasius. As Wikipedia explains: "Antipope Felix II was installed as Pope in 355 after the Emperor Constantius II banished the reigning Pope, Liberius, for refusing to subscribe the sentence of condemnation against Saint Athanasius. In May 357 the Roman laity, which had remained faithful to Liberius, demanded that Constantius, who was on a visit to Rome, should recall Liberius. The Emperor planned to have Felix and Liberius rule jointly, but when Liberius returned Felix was forced to retire to Porto, near Rome, where, after making an unsuccessful attempt to establish himself again in Rome, he died on 22 November 365." As you can read there, there is quite a lot of confusion after that, related more to the fact that Felix II got confused with St. Felix, even in the Roman Martyrology at one point.

St. Boniface I (418-22)
Boniface II (530-32)
Boniface III (607)
St. Boniface IV (608-15)
Boniface V (619-25)
Boniface VI (896)
[Antipope?] Boniface VII (984-985)
Boniface VIII [(VII)?] (1294-1303)
Boniface IX [(VIII)?] (1389-1404)

I explained about Boniface VII in my last post, which I linked at the beginning of this post. Suffice it to say, Boniface VII may not be an antipope, in which case the numbering as stands is correct. But if he was, then the seventh and eight popes Boniface obviously had their numbers advanced by one.

St. John I (523-26)
John II (533-35)
John III (561-74)
John IV (640-42)
John V (685-86)
John VI (701-05)
John VII (705-07)
John VIII (872-82)
John IX (898-900)
John X (914-28)
John XI (931-35)
John XII (955-64)
John XIII (965-72)
John XIV (983-84)
John XV [XVI] (985-96)
John XVII [XVIII] (XVI) (1003)
John XVIII [XIX] (XVII) (1003-09)
John XIX [XX] (XVIII) (1024-32)
John XXI [XX] (XIX) (1276-77)
John XXII (XX) (1316-34)
Blessed John XXIII (XXI) (1958-63)

Ah the poor sequence of popes John. Very very confused. Their official numbers were right up through XV. Then there was an Antipope John XVI from 997-998, but his number was not reused and so the next popes John took the numbers XVII, XVIII, and XIX. As we've seen, advancement by one due to an antipope is not so confusing or uncommon. 

However, then the real confusion begins. The Boniface VII situation (which included murdering and imprisoning John XIV, remember) had introduced some confusion into the historical records. Hundreds of years later, people thought that there had been another pope named John, briefly, between John XIV and Boniface VII's reign, who has been called "Pope John XIVb" or "John XIV Bis." In reality, this was due to confusion with a certain cardinal-deacon John, son of Robert, who was in the anti-Boniface faction, and the fact that a misunderstanding of the manuscripts caused some to think that John XIV's four month imprisonment before his murder had been a separate pontificate. So when John XXI became pope, he skipped a number after XIX (already advanced incorrectly by one, remember) in order to take the non-existent John XIVb into account, so there never was a John XX (though different sources at different times have referred to both John XIX and John XXI that way)!

Benedict I (575-79)
St. Benedict II (684-85)
Benedict III (855-58)
Benedict IV (900-03)
Benedict V (964)
Benedict VI (973-74)
Benedict VII (974-83)
Benedict VIII (1012-24)
Benedict IX (1032-45; 1045; 1047-1048)
Blessed Benedict XI (X) (1303-04)
Benedict XII (XI) (1334-42)
Benedict XIII (XII) (1724-30)
Benedict XIV (XIII) (1740-58)
Benedict XV (XIV) (1914-22)
Benedict XVI (XV) (2005-2013)

Benedict X was an Antipope elected in an irregular (and, it was decided, invalid) election, because the previous pope had decreed that the election of his successor was only to begin when Hildebrand (later Pope Gregory VII) had returned from a mission to Germany, but they held one before he returned illegally and elected Benedict.

St. Deusdeit [Adeodatus I] (615-18)
Adeodatus (II) (672-76)

St. Deusdeit is also known as Adeodatus I, meaning the second Adeodatus (who is rarely called Deusdeit) is known as Adeodatus II.

St. Martin I (649-55)
Martin IV (II) (1281-85)
Martin V (III) (1417-31)

When the second Pope to take the name Martin was elected, there was confusion over how many Popes had taken the name before. It was believed then that there were three, so the second Pope named Martin was named Martin IV. But, in reality, those believed to be Martin II and Martin III were actually named Marinus I and Marinus II, although they are sometimes still referred to as "Martin II" and "Martin III". This has advanced the numbering of all subsequent popes Martin by two.

Adrian I (772-95)
Adrian II (867-72)
St. Adrian III (884-85)
Adrian IV (1154-59)
[Pope-Elect?] Adrian V (1276)
Adrian VI [(V)?] (1522-23)

As I discussed in my last post, Pope-elect Adrian V was never consecrated bishop. He really shouldn't be counted as pope, therefore, though he's still on the Vatican's list.

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