Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Next Pope (after Benedict) - 0 comments

Attention papal historians: while the Pope by Pope series is complete (as long as Benedict is around), I did do some drawings for a just-published book about predicting who the next pope will be. It's a seriously in-depth work by Anura Guruge, that serves as a handbook for the next papal election.

Mr. Guruge has has an in-depth analysis of election trends, who's elegible, and who's likely to be in the running to become the next pope. I did blind contour drawings of five of Anu's top contenders, which was really fun to work on.

You can preview it on Anu's papal blog, or on Google Books. But when you're done with that, you should buy it from Lulu!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Two Hundred Sixty-fifth Pope: Benedict XVI - 7 comments

Benedict is still crafting his papacy, and looks like he'll be doing so for a while.

I, on the other hand, am finished with my sketchy history - any tips on what the next Sketch Experiment should be?

Two Hundred Sixty-fourth Pope: John Paul II - 2 comments

John Paul, born Karol Josef Wojtyla, was the first non-Italian pope in nearly five centuries. He had a long reign, and one that is remembered for its ecumenicalism. He opposed the oppression of communism and the rampant consumerism of capitalism, and held the traditional line on gender and sex isssues.

As a part of the "universal call to holiness," he beatified 1300 people and canonized nearly 500 - a huge increase over his predecessors. In part John Paul was able to do this by abolishing a church office alternately called The Promoter of the Faith or The Devil's Advocate. For centuries the church had used an adversarial legal process to promote saints. One person would argue for the 'client,' and another would be quite literally the Devil's advocate - questioning the saint's character, disproving their miracles, and so forth.

Two Hundred Sixty-third Pope: John Paul I - 1 comments

Pope John Paul I can claim to be many firsts: He was the first to use two papal names, John and Paul. He was the first to add 'the first' to his papal name. He was the first Pope to be born in the twentieth century. He had the eleventh-shortest papal reign.

That's right, Pope John Paul I died on September 28, 1978, just 33 days after taking office! The official cause of death was a heart attack, but there are conspiracy theories aplenty.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Two Hundred Sixty-second Pope: Paul VI - 0 comments

Paul VI was a favorite candidate to replace Pope John, and won election easily. He led the Second Vatican Council to a close, and worked for the rest of his career implementing its new decisions, which included a modified liturgy, a clarified description of church hierarchy, and overtures of brotherhood to other non-catholic Christians.

But Paul might be considered important solely for his stand against birth control. While the church had already spoken against artificial means, the new popularity of 'the pill' caused many to expect new relaxed, standards. Paul began a commission to study the matter, and its decision surprised many people. The lasting effects of this decision - and the dissent that came with it - still plagues the church today.

Two Hundred Sixty-first Pope: John XXIII - 0 comments

After the long reign of Pius XII, the college of cardinals elected a stop-gap pope. To their surprise, this old man made major changes to the church, and became known as one of the best-loved popes in history.

He was born in 1881, and elected in 1958 - when he as already 73 years old. It was a surprise to even him, and he immediately caused a sensation: by visiting sick children in hospitals, and people in prison. His warm nature, good humor, and loving attitude earned the admiration of catholics worldwide.

His real lasting contribution was the calling of the Second Council of the Vatican, known as Vatican II. He died of stomach cancer before the council was completed.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Two Hundred Sixtieth Pope: Pius XII - 3 comments

Pius XII was a fascinating guy! Settle in for a rundown of his nearly twenty-year reign.

Born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, he studied for the priesthood as a boy and rose through the ranks of the church. By 1933 he was papal nuncio and helped broker peace treaties with European governments, including the famous Reichskonkordat. This was an early treaty between the Vatican and the Nazi government, intended to preserve the church's rights operating inside Germany. Like, well, a lot of things with the Nazis, this didn't work out.

When World War II broke out, Pius XII maintained a shaky neutrality. He tried to use the church to guide humanitarian efforts like Benedict XV did in WWI - but this pope is still accused of not doing enough to aid the victims of the Axis and their Holocaust.

Later, in the 50's, Pius took fairly liberal views on the scientific issues of the day. He cautiously endorsed evolution in the 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, and told Catholics that science could very well explain the origin of the human body - but the soul is still created by God. A year later, he effectively did the same for the Big Bang theory, noting that the scientist's universal explosion could be in fact God's Fiat Lux.* Pius was also the first pope to explicitly endorse the Rhythm method as a morally-acceptable form of birth control.

Now this pope's death is legitimately questionable! A 'charlatan' named Riccardo Galleazzi-Lisi posed as a doctor, and convinced the pope to allow him constant personal access. For years, Galleazzi-Lisi gave Pius poisonous injections, which rotted his teeth and induced constant hiccups. When he was finally dying, Galleazzi-Lisi took photographs and tried to sell them to magazines - thankfully they declined to buy. And after the pope's death, the false doctor somehow managed to embalm the body in plastic wrap and heavy spices, which accelerated the decomposition. It smelt so bad that the Vatican guards stationed near the body needed to change every fifteen minutes!

Pius's successor, when he was selected, quickly banned Galleazzi-Lisi from the Vatican, forever.

*Fiat Lux? Sounds like a European sportscar, but this actually refers to God's words, "Let there be Light."

Two Hundred Fifty-ninth Pope: Pius XI - 0 comments

Pius, who ruled from 1922 until his death in 1939, pushed hard to integrate Christianity into everyday life. He argued that the claims of the church were so basic, and so life-changing if really believed, that no aspect of society should go unaffected.

There are rumors that Pius' death was a murder. Although his health had been failing for quite some time, he planned to make a speech vehemently denouncing Fascism and Mussolini. Remember: this is in 1939, in the center of Italy. The day before the speech was to be given, his doctor gave him an unidentified injection - and Pius died shortly thereafter.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Two Hundred Fifty-eighth Pope: Benedict XV - 1 comments

Benedict spent most of his pontificate working for peace during World War I. By this point in history, sadly, the Pope held too little influence to make much progress: both sides thought he was unfair in his calls for a truce, and Benedict really had nothing to offer them. His humanitarian efforts were more successful, including setting up an office to help prisoners of war - from all sides of the conflict, of any nationality, race, or religion - contact their families.

In other international matters, he tried to heal the growing rift between the French Republic and the church - going so far as to canonize Joan of Arc. He disapproved of the Communist Revolution in Russia, and worried greatly about the anti-religious sentiment.

Benedict was almost universally well-regarded, in part because of his wide-ranging humanitarian efforts. He died in 1922.

Two Hundred Fifty-seventh Pope: Pius X - 1 comments

Pius held the throne from 1903 to 1914, and spent his time fighting against modernity. He demanded that church music use less Baroque, and more Gregorian Chant. He disapproved of all attempts to reconcile Church doctrine with modern philosophy. He refused to accept Rome's current political state. His pretensions to the now-defunct papal states led to poor relations with Europe's governments, and he died shortly after the beginning of World War I.

He was revered by Catholics after that, and was canonized after WWII.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Two Hundred Fifty-sixth Pope: Leo XIII - 0 comments

Leo worked to heal divisions between the church and the modern world. He encouraged the study of both religion and science, especially promoting Thomas Aquinas. He encouraged laypersons to study the Bible for themselves, and endorsed its infallibility. As the first pope of the twentieth century, we have extensive records of him that we lack for other popes, like sound recordings and motion pictures.

Ruling from 1878 to 1903, Leo had the third-longest reign, and was also the oldest pope so far. He died at 93 years old.

Two Hundred Fifty-fifth Pope: Pius IX - 2 comments

We've reached the photographic era of Popes!

Pius' election was a shocker: he was a dark horse in a heated contest between two strong liberal and conservative parties among the Cardinals. In fact, Prince Metternich of the Austrian Empire actually vetoed the election, but his messenger arrived too late to stop it.

As Pope, Pius swung from extreme liberalism (like freeing all political prisoners) to extreme conservatism (denouncing Communism and the Press). His most important actions were involved in the final loss of the Papal States.

We haven't talked much about the Papal States, so let's do a quick overview. The Church's rising power in the eighth century helped her defend Rome from attacking European forces, which created a sort of de facto territory centered on Rome. This was legitimized in further treaties, then expanded by the Donation of Pippin and concretized by the church's relationship with the newly-created Holy Roman Empire. The Papal States were a good-sized swath of the Italian Peninsula, and over the next millennium they competed with other neighboring italian states for political and economic sovereignty.

In the early nineteenth century Italian nationalism was growing, largely in reaction to France's constant efforts to conquer it. When we join Pius IX, he's faced with revolutionaries inside the Papal States who want to join a unified Italy, threats of domination from the Austrian Hapsburgs, and offers of support from Napoleon III of France. At one point he was cornered by a mob of revolutionaries, and had to escape in disguise. He raised a volunteer army, gathering fighting catholics from all over the world to aid his efforts.

For ten years Pius tried to balance these forces and retain his temporal power, but in September 1870 Rome was finally seized, and Italy was unified. The Pope was given the Vatican, but without the diplomatic and sovereign powers he holds today.

Two Hundred Fifty-fourth Pope: Gregory XVI - 4 comments

Gregory was a super-conservative. He fought against gas lamps and railroads in the Papal States, calling them "Roads of Hell."* His Luddite efforts weren't based on any technological fear, however - he knew that growth in commerce would strengthen the power of Europe's liberal bourgeoisie.

He wrote an encyclical against slavery in 1839, looks almost directed at pre-Civil War America.

Gregory ruled from 1831 to 1846.

*In french this rhymes with "Iron Road," so apparently the Pope thought this was a good joke.

Two Hundred Fifty-third Pope: Pius VIII - 1 comments

Pius only reigned for a year and a half, and rarely enjoyed good health before his death. Despite his constant maladies, there were still accusations of foul play - contemporaries remarked that the body was in good shape, and cause of death was uncertain.

Two Hundred Fifty-second Pope: Leo XII - 1 comments

Leo was an extremely rules-based guy, and we almost could have guessed it by looking at his full name: Annibale Francesco Clemente Melchiore Girolamo Nicola della Genga. That's a mouthful!

He was frugal with the papal finances, but didn't keep close accounting. He threatened Roman dressmakers with immediate excommunication if they sold immodest - low-cut or transparent - clothing. He spoke out against vaccination. And worst of all, he dug up old papal laws to justify his mistreatment of Jews, once again segregating them into ghettos and demanding they wear identifying marks.

Rome counted herself lucky that Leo only reigned for six years, from 1823 to 1829.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Two Hundred Fifty-first Pope: Pius VII - 0 comments

Pius VII also had a long reign, from 1800 to 1823. He supported the growing trend of democratic government (he once said in a homily, "Be good Catholics and you will be good democrats.")

His predecessor (Pius VI) died effectively as a prisoner of Napoleon, and so the beginning of his reign was strange. The French had seized the papal tiara, and so Pius was crowned with a papier mache version.

Pius spent his reign in a continuous kind of shaky diplomacy with the French. They had all the military power, but knew that they needed religion to keep the common people in line. The French managed to keep Pius in line with a combination of threats, bribes, and kidnappings (really! They even kept a canon aimed at his bedroom window).

Two Hundred Fiftieth Pope: Pius VI - 0 comments

Pius had a long reign - nearly twenty-five years from 1775 to 1799. This is the fourth-longest papal reign in history, during which he saw both the American Revolutionary War and Napoleon's invasion of Italy.

Two Hundred Forty-ninth Pope: Clement XIV - 1 comments

Another Clement! This one was educated by the Jesuits, so he also showed them support in Europe. Clement XIV struggled to match the growing power of the Enlightenment, hoping to embrace its love of free thought without its secularism. Like any half-hearted embrace, it convinced no one, and Clement's reign serves as a reference point in the perceived split between "rational thought" and "spiritual authority."

Two Hundred Forty-eighth Pope: Clement XIII - 0 comments

It's pretty astounding how only a few papal names have been in fashion for the last four hundred years or so. It's pretty much all Clement, John, Paul, Benedict, Innocent, and Pius from 1600 until now. I miss the days of Caius, Sylvester, Eleutherius, Telephorus, and Zephyrinus. Heck, even Lando!

Anyway. On to Clement (sigh) XIII. He ruled for eleven years, from 1758 to 1769. He was one of the rare popes to support the Jesuits, who were increasingly reviled in Europe (meanwhile, they were nearly running the place down in South America). He was a modest pope - oh, let's just call him a prude - and mass-produced fig leaves to cover up all the classical nude statues in the Vatican.

Two Hundred Forty-seventh Pope: Benedict XIV - 2 comments

Benedict had the chair for eighteen years, most of them quiet. He got involved in controversy with the Chinese Catholics, in what appears to be a pretty shameless double standard. He agreed with his predecessors that the Chinese must use the Latin name for God (not the Chinese), and must not offer anything to ancestors. Venerating his European saintly ancestors, however, is still acceptable practice.

Two Hundred Forty-sixth Pope: Clement XII - 0 comments

Clement was seventy-eight years old when elected to the papacy. He'd held many of the important managerial positions within the church before that, and the college of cardinals chose him to repair the financial havoc caused by his predecessor.

He was the first pope to act against the Freemasons. He didn't seem to really know what the secret society was about (not even the Pope is in on that secret!), but banned Catholics from joining, writing, "if they were not doing evil they would not have so great a hatred of the light."