Pope Names

Jimmy Akin put out an ebook last year without publicity that he wrote on the lark. That ebook concerned a study of papal names and was simpply called “Pope Names” which describes itself as “The Definitive Guide to the History of Papal Naming, Why Popes Choose the Names they Do, and What Name the Next Pope will Choose.” This ebook is rather timely now.

I read it last night and found it a very informative and interesting read. While part of the history of pope names and why popes choose their names I was somewhat familiar with, there were a lot of details I was unaware of. Jimmy’s analytical mind has taken a lot of information and presented it in an accessible way. A book on pope names could sound rather boring, but this is far from that. There are some very interesting repercussions concerning how papal names have been chosen throughout history and how it developed. For example it is mostly in the last millennium where popes choose to go by a regnal name instead of their own name.

The analysis goes into details such as what names have been chosen most and how far a pope will reach back for a papal name. In more recent time we have more explicit information on why a particular pope choose a particular name since they announced their reasoning. Still we can discern plenty of trends and specific reasons why popes choose their names in the past and this book goes through those various reasons.

As for what name the next pope will choose, this book does not intend to narrow that down to just one prediction. He was weighted various names and given his prediction as a percentage of likelihood. I believe most of this analysis makes good sense as for example the pretty-much zero chance of the next pope taking on the name “Innocent”. It will be quite interesting to see how his more heavily weighted selections will turn out.

This book is a quick and enjoyable read and includes several appendices with of course lists of both chronological and alphabetical pope names, along with, for example ,lists of most popular pope names. There is even a list of Antipopes.

Now despite Jimmy’s predictions I am certain the next pope will be Zosimus II. Well maybe not.

Since the requirement for election as a pope is to be a baptized male, during interregnums is is fun for Catholic males to think about what their regnal name would be if selected. If selected I will of course choose Hilarius II. How could I resist such a pun. Besides the first Pope Hilarius is a saint.

You can get this book from a variety of online stores Kindle/iBooks/Nook via this page.

About Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is a former atheist who after spending forty years in the wilderness finds himself with both astonishment and joy a member of the Catholic Church. A retired Navy Chief who now makes his living as an application developer.

  • Brian

    How do you pronounce “Zosimus”? Just wondering.

    • http://www.sff.net/people/john-c-wright/ John C Wright

      It rhymes with “Xosimus”


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