Vatican corrects official list of Popes
New historical research has prompted almost 200 corrections to the existing biographies of the Popes, from St Peter to John Paul II.
The discoveries are included in the opening pages of the new edition of the Pontifical Yearbook, the who's who of the Catholic Church published by the Vatican Press. They reflect the most rigorous study to date on the history of the papacy, confirming the uninterrupted succession of the Bishops of Rome. Researchers, however, are uncertain of the exact dates of the first pontificates and, in one case, doubt the exact order.
Including Karol Wojtyla, there have been 264 Popes, but 266 pontificates. Benedict IX reigned three times between 1032 and 1048.
The most interesting corrections to papal history correspond to the chronology of the first two centuries. Exact dates of the pontificates are uncertain. A dozen Popes have been given two possible dates, in keeping with historical calculations.
The family name of one Pope has been corrected, and the listed birthplaces of nine Popes have changed.
Spain has lost claim to a native-born Pontiff. St. Damasus (366-384), whose literary work is testified by the catacombs, and who was considered a native of the Iberian Peninsula, was, in fact, born in Rome.
The corrections result from the enormous work carried out by historian Giovanni Maria Vian, member of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, who was also a scientific adviser of the "Encyclopedia of Popes," published last year by Treccani, Italy's most prestigious literary publishers.
The Pontifical Yearbook 2001 may be purchased online.