Thursday, 14 March 2013

Of course what's most interesting about the new Pope ...

... is his name.

Yes, I know all the stuff about being the first Jesuit, first from the Western hemisphere, first from the Southern hemisphere, all matters, but for all you ecclesiastical trivia-hunters out there, this is the best bit, isn't it?

Full disclosure: I was saying in a meeting on Monday that my personal wish for the new Pope was a new papal name, knowing that we haven't had a new papal name since the oddly Star Wars-ish Pope Lando, who was elected just a few months short of 1100 years ago. (Unless you count the composite John Paul.)

In other words, ever since the emergence of the papacy in something like its modern shape in the 11th century, Popes have always wanted to present themselves through their names as being part of a succession. So I thought I was as unlikely to be granted this wish as I am to be granted my wish one day to be a subject of King Henry IX. Hurrah!

But here's the thing. Pope Francis is being referred to across the media as Pope Francis the First. Uh? He won't be Francis I unless and until Francis II comes along. Queen Victoria, for example, isn't called Victoria I. Perhaps it is simply that we expect papal names to take the form 'Pope Someone the Somethingth' and without the second part it doesn't sound complete - as if the number has become a kind of surname.

Or perhaps the media know something we don't ... are there plots afoot, murder being planned, and Francis II is already waiting in the wings? Where's Dan Brown when you need him?

In the hope that that is not the case, and in a lonely act of defiance: I shall continue to refer to him simply as Pope Francis. Join my struggle.

1 comment:

  1. They also keep making comparisons to Francis of Assisi. But being a Jesuit surely the new pope would prefer Francis Xavier? After all the Franciscans have not had the most harmonious relationship with the papacy.