A Brief History of the Popes

Just as the history of the Church is not neat and tidy so the history of the popes is filled with inspiration and excitement but it also includes periods of scandal and corruption.

This following list of popes covers immense territory. In a sense, it outlines the story of one major branch of Christianity. It includes periods of dynamic growth, as well as periods of heresy and schism.  It is clear however that the vast majority of popes carried out their sacred trust with grace and dignity; others were swept into corruption, division, political intrigue, and scandal.

This page is based on dates listed in the Vatican's official list. The basic information includes the name of the pope and the dates of his particular pontificate."  In the milestone column there are some important developments during that occurred during that pope's reign.  The entries with an asterisk (*) highlight significant events from world history not necessarily issues for the Church.

This is a list of Popes not pontificates.  Pope, Benedict XVI is often listed as the 265th Pope but he is 263 in this list.  It seems that in 752 a man named Stephen was elected to the office but died before he could be consecrated.  Also Pope Benedict IX served 2 or 3 non consecutive terms depending on who is counting.

In most places on this site I do not use the title of Saint but I have left them in here.  This page still remains quite Catholic.  (I even kept the colors of the page that forms the basis of it.)  Additionally Blessed is a title given to some popes in the chart.  Blessed is the title given to someone who has been beatified, the first step prior to being canonization as a saint. 

We see in the time line the beginning of some traditions and the changing of others.  Latin begins to become the liturgical language of the Roman Church under St. Victor I, for example.

No.

Name

Rule

Milestone

1

St. Peter

d. ca. 64

The first disciple called by Jesus; he is also credited with writing two Letters that appear in the New Testament. The first pope to be martyred and the first pope to be named a saint.

2

St. Linus

67-76

 

3

St. Anacletus (Cletus)

76-88

His name is commemorated in Eucharist Prayer I In part of the Roman Catholic liturgy but not in other traditions.

4

St. Clement I

88-97

He is also known as Clement of Rome.  

The first in this list, after Peter,  of which anything historical is known.

5

St. Evaristus

97-105

 

6

St. Alexander I

105-115

Inaugurated the custom of blessing houses with holy water.

7

St. Sixtus I

115-125

The Latin name Sixtus means "sixth", the sixth successor of Peter.  Also called Xysts I.

8

St. Telesphoros

125-136

Inaugurated the seven-week fast before Easter.

9

St. Hyginus

136-140

Along with St. Justin Martyr, Hyginus was well-known for defending the Church.

10

St. Pius I

140-155

The first pope to function as Bishop of Rome.

11

St. Anicetus

155-166

 

12

St. Soter

166-175

Introduced Easter as an annual liturgical feast in Rome.

13

St. Eleutherius

175-189

Served as a deacon to Pope Anicetus.

14

St. Victor I

189-198

Martyred in 201.  The first African pope. Changed the language of the Mass from Greek to Latin.  (Latin masses, however, did not become universal in the west until the latter half of the 4th century.)  First Christian writer to write about theology in Latin.  More concerned about the date of Easter than his predecessors.

15

St. Zephrynus

199-217

 

16

St. Callistus I

217-222

 

17

St. Urban I

222-230

 

18

St. Pontian

230-235

The first pope to abdicate his office.

Exiled by Roman authorities.

Resignation documented only in the Liberian Catalogue, which records his resignation as 28 September 235, the earliest exact date in papal history. (Wikipedia)

19

St. Anterus

235-236

Died a natural death after serving as pope for less than two months.

20

St. Fabian

236-250

One of the most respected popes of the early Church.

21

St. Cornelius

251-253

22

St. Lucius I

253-254

Banished by Emperor Constantius II

Resignation is speculated to explain the succession of Antipope Felix II, although Liber Pontificalis argues that Liberius retained office in exile (Wikipedia).

23

St. Stephen I

254-257

 

24

St. Sixtus II

257-258

This highly venerated martyr was beheaded by order of the Emperor Valerian.

25

St. Dionysius

260-268

His election to the papacy was delayed because of Christian persecution in Rome.

26

St. Felix I

269-274

 

27

St. Eutychian

274-283

 

28

St. Caius

283-296

Also called Gaius

*The Roman Empire is partitioned into West and East.

29

St. Marcellinus

296-304

Second Pope to resign the office.

Said to have been tainted by offerings to the pagan gods during the Diocletian persecution.

Resignation is documented only in the Liberian Catalogue. (Wikipedia)

30

St. Marcellus

308-309

 

31

St. Eusebius

309-310

 

32

St. Melchiades

311-314

*The 313 Edict of Milan legalizes Christianity and puts an end to official persecution.

33

St. Sylvester I

 314-335

During his pontificate, the first ecumenical council (in Nicaea) was held.
*Construction of St. Peter's Basilica begins in 330.
*Seat of the Roman Empire was moved to Constantinople in 331.

34

St. Mark

336

His papacy was cut short by his death within the year.

35

St. Julius I

337-352

He strongly defended the Council of Nicaea's teaching on the divinity of Christ.

36

Liberius

352-366

 

37

St. Damasus I

366-384

He authorized a new Latin translation of the Bible.
*The Edictum de Fide Catholica makes the Roman Catholic Church the official Church of the Empire.  

*Barbarian invasions begin in 375 and continue to 568.

38

St. Siricius

384-399

 

39

St. Anastasius

399-401

 

40

St. Innocent I

 401-417

 

41

St. Zosimus

417-418

 

42

St. Boniface I

418-422

He is the author of this familiar axiom, "Rome has spoken; the cause is finished."

43

St. Celestine I

422-432

The Council of Ephesus was held during his pontificate.

44

St. Sixtus III

432-440

He showed remarkable leadership for building Church unity.

45

St. Leo I
 (the Great)

440-461

He and Pope Gregory (590-604) are the only two popes to be called “the Great,” although some are now calling John Paul II “the Great.” Leo courageously confronted Attila the Hun and neutralized other barbaric invaders.

He is widely thought of as the first Pope in our modern sense of the office.  Many say that he is the first Pope to claim authority over all other Christians.  The claim was largely ignored for the next 200 years by other Christians, including the Celtic Christians, and the four other Apostolic Sees of the East; particularly by the Patriarch of Constantinople.  See Pentarchy.

46

St. Hilary

461-468

 

47

St. Simplicius

468-483

*Rome falls – Emperor Romulus is Exiled 

48

St. Felix III

483-492

 

49

St. Gelasius

492-496

He was first pope to be called "Vicar of Christ."

50

Anastasius II

496-498

 

51

St. Symmachus

498-515

 

52

St. Hormisdas

514-523

 

53

St. John I

523-526

He was first pope to travel to the East (Constantinople).

54

St. Felix IV

526-530

 

55

Boniface II

530-532

He was the first pope of German extraction.

56

John II

533-535

 

57

Agapitus

535-536

Also called Agapitus I

He strongly opposed the Arian heresy, which held that that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God.

58

St. Silverius

536-537

He was the first pope to resign his office.

59

Vigilius

537-555

 

60

Pelagius I

556-561

 

61

John III

561-574

*Muhammad (570-632), the founder of Islam, was born.

62

Benedict I

575-579

 

63

Pelagius II

 579-590

He was the second pope of German extraction.

64

St. Gregory I (the Great)

590-604

The first pope to have been a monk, his name is closely associated with Gregorian chant.

65

Sabinian

604-606

 

66

Boniface III

607

He died of natural causes nine months into his papacy.

67

Boniface IV

608-615

His pastoral style was modeled on Pope Gregory's papacy.

68

St. Deusdedit

 615-618

During his pontificate, Rome suffered the ravages of an earthquake and the plague.

69

Boniface IV

619-625

Known for his compassion for the poor, he distributed his entire wealth to the needy.

70

Honorius

625-638

 

71

Severinus

640

He died two months after his consecration.

72

John IV

640-642

 

73

Theodore I

642-649

 

74

St. Martin I

649-655

He was the last pope to be recognized as a martyr.

75

St. Eugene I

654-657

 

76

St. Vitalian

657-672

 

77

Adeodatus II

672-676

 

78

Donus

676-678

 

79

St. Agatho

678-681

He restored friendly relations between Rome and Constantinople.

80

St. Leo II

682-683

He was very pastoral in helping the poor and in advancing the quality of Church music.

81

St. Benedict II

684-685

 

82

John V

685-686

Illness marked his entire pontificate.

83

Conon

686-687

 

84

St. Sergius

687-701

He introduced the singing of the Agnus Dai "Lamb of God" at Mass.

85

John VI

701-705

 

86

John VII

705-707

 

87

Sisinnius

708

He died of natural causes twenty days after his election.

88

Constantine

708-715

He spent one full year in Constantinople to improve relations between Rome and the East.

89

St. Gregory II

715-731

 

90

St. Gregory III

731-741

He promoted missionary efforts to Germany and England.  (Note: Tertullian mansions the gospel having subdued Briton in the second century.)

91

St. Zachary

741-752

 

92

Stephen II

752-757

Some lists include as St Steven II a man who died before he was consecrated.  If this is done this St Steven would be numbers St Steven III.  The Catholic Encyclopedia article calls him Pope Stephen (II) III and describes political intrigue during his term.

93

St. Paul I

757-767

Brother and close advisor of Pope Stephen II, he is the only example of a new pope succeeding his older brother.

94

Stephen III

768-772

 

95

Adrian I

772-795

Peaceful conditions allowed him to build and restore many churches in Rome.

96

St. Leo III

795-816

 
*Charlesmagne is crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor in 800.

97

Stephen IV

816-817

 

98

St. Paschal I

817-824

 

99

Eugene II

824-827

 

100

Valentine

827

He died less than two months after being consecrated.

101

Gregory IV

827-844

 

102

Sergius II

844-847

 

103

St. Leo IV

847-855

 

104

Benedict III

855-858

 

105

St. Nicholas I

858-867

Photian Schism (863-867)

First Pope to wear a crown

106

Adrian II

867-872

 

107

John VIII

872-882

The first pope to be assassinated, poison was the cause of death.

108

Marinus I

882-884

 

109

Adrian III

884-885

 

110

Stephen V

885-891

 

111

Formosus

 891-896

 

112

Boniface

896

He died of natural causes after about fifteen days in office.

113

Stephen VI

896-897

 

114

Romanus

897

Little is known of his short pontificate.

115

Theodore II

 897

He was in office about twenty days.

116

John IX

898-900

 

117

Benedict IV

900-903

 

118

Leo V

903

He was overthrown after less than two months in office.

119

Sergius

904-911

He represents one of the most corrupt periods of the papacy, that is, the porncracy or rule of the harlots.

120

Anastasius

911-913

 

121

Lando

913-914

 

122

John X

914-928

He entire pontificate was filled with political intrigue.

123

Leo VI

928

 

124

Stephen VII

928-931

 

125

John XI

931-935

 

126

Leo VII

936-939

 

127

Stephen VIII

939-942

 

128

Marinus II

942-946

 

129

Agapitus

946-955

 

130

John XII

955-964

 

131

Leo VIII

963-965

Considered an Antipope from 963 to 964
True pope from 964 to 965

132

Benedict V

964-966

At one point, King Otto deported Benedict and reinstated the previous pope, Leo VIII.
*Poland is Christianized beginning in 966.

133

John XIII

966-972

There is confusion about the legitimate claims to the papacy from Leo III to John XIII.

134

Benedict VI

973-974

 

135

Benedict VII

974-983

He increased the frequency of "ad limina visits." Ad limina means to the threshold and refers to Bishops visiting the pope on a regular basis.  This practice still continues today, each diocesan bishops meets personally with the pope to discuss the state of the diocese.

136

John XIV

983-984

Changed name to John since he was unwilling to keep his baptismal name of Peter.

137

John XV

985-996

The first pope to formally canonize a saint (St. Ulric in 993).

138

Gregory V

972-999

The first German pope.

139

Sylvester II

999-1003

The first French pope.

140

John XVII

1003

Authorized Polish missionaries to work among the Slavs.

141

John XVIII

1004-1009

Abdicated the papacy shortly before his death to become a monk.

142

Sergius IV

1009-1012

He changed name to Sergius since he was unwilling to keep his baptismal name of Peter.

143

Benedict VIII

1012-1024

He was the first of three laymen from the same family who were consecutively elected to the papacy.

Said to have bought the papacy

Mandated the celibacy of priests.

144

John XIX

1024-1032

He succeeded his older brother Benedict VIII to the papacy.

Also said to have bought the office.

145

Benedict IX

1032-1044

The nephew of his two immediate predecessors.  One of the youngest popes, he was the only man to have been Pope on more than one occasion and the only man ever to have sold the papacy.  He had few qualifications for the office other than powerful connections.  The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him "a disgrace to the Chair of Peter." 

Second term 1045-1046 deposed by Council of Sutri
Third term 1047-1048 deposed and excommunicated

146

Sylvester III

1045

Considered an antipope in some lists

147

Gregory VI

1045-1046

Accused of simony for bribing Benedict IX to resign.

Abdicated or deposed at the Council of Sutri

148

Clement II

1046-1047

Appointed Pope by Hennery II of Germany 

149

Damasus II

1048

He died of malaria early in his papacy.

150

St. Leo IX

1049-1054

*East-West Schism becomes 'final' in 1054

151

Victor II

1055-1057

 

152

Stephen IX

1057-1058

 

153

Nicholas

1058-1061

He changed procedures for electing a pope, only allowed cardinal electors.

154

Alexander II

1061-1073

He was known as a reformer pope.  Oversaw the suppression of the 'Alleluia' during the Latin Church's celebration of Lent.

In 1065 called for a crusade against the Moors in Spain.

155

St. Gregory VII

1072-1085

He expanded the reformist agenda of Alexander II.

156

Blessed Victor III

1086-1087

 

157

Blessed Urban II

1088-1099


*The first university with the authority to grant degrees is established in Italy in 1088.
*The Crusades, a series of attacks by Western Christians against the Muslims to take control over Jerusalem, continues for the next 92 years.

158

Paschal II

1099-1118

 

159

Gelasius II

1118-1119

 

160

Callistus  or
Calixtus II

1119-1124

First Lateran Council

161

Honorius II

1124-1130

 

162

Innocent II

1130-1143

He convened the Second Lateran Council in 1139.

163

Celestine II

1143-1144

 

164

Lucius II

1144-1145

 

165

Blessed Eugene II

1145-1153

He proclaimed the Second Crusade in 1145.

166

Anastasius

1153-1154

 

167

Adrian IV

1154-1159

He was the first and only English pope.

168

Alexander III

1159-1181

He imposed penance on King Henry II for the murder of St. Thomas of Becket (1172).

169

Lucius III

1181-1185

Spent most of his pontificate outside of Rome.

170

Urban III

1185-1187

 

171

Gregory VIII

1187

He was elected at age 87 and died two months later.

172

Clement III

1187-1191

He was preoccupied with plans for launching the Third Crusade.

173

Celestine III

1191-1198

 

174

Innocent III

1198-1216

He was the highpoint of the medieval papacy and exercised considerable political and spiritual power.

Ordered 2 Crusades

Decreed Transubstantiation.

Forbade the reading of the Bible in the vernacular.

Instituted the Inquisition.  

*In 1215, King John issues the Magna Carta.

175

Honorius III

1216-1227

He approved rules for the new Franciscan, Dominican, and Carmelite orders.

176

Gregory IX

1227-1241

He canonized Francis of Assissi in 1226, Anthony of Padua in 1232, and Dominic in 1234.

177

Celestine IV

1241

He died of natural causes about two weeks after being elected.

178

Innocent IV

1243-1254

He was first pope to approve the use of torture in the Inquisition to obtain evidence of heresy.

179

Alexander IV

1254-1261

He canonized Clare of Assisi.

180

Urban IV

1261-1264


*The highpoint of Gothic architecture, the massive Chartres Cathedral in France, is consecrated in 1260.

181

Clement IV

1265-1268


*St. Thomas Aquinas begins writing the SummaTheologica, which unifies faith and reason.

182

Blessed Gregory X

1272-1276

This conclave met for three years to elect a new pope.

183

Blessed Innocent V

1276

He was the first Dominican pope, the papal custom of wearing a white cassock probably originated with this pope.

184

Adrian V

1276

He died only five weeks after his election.

185

John XXI

1276-1277

He was the first and only medical doctor to be pope.

186

Nicholas

1277-1280

He was the first pope to make the Vatican Palace his residence.

187

Martin IV

1281-1285

 

188

Honorius IV

1285-1287

 

189

Nicholas IV

1288-1292

He was the first Franciscan to be elected pope.
*The Crusades formally end in 1291.

190

St. Celestine V

1294

He was one of the very few popes to resign from the papacy.

With no administrative experience, Celestine fell under the control of secular politicians. To protect the church, he resigned. He was the first pope to establish canons for resignation.

191

Boniface VIII

1294-1303

 

192

Blessed Benedict XI

1303-1304

 

193

Clement V

1305-1314

His papacy began the period known as the Avignon popes.

194

John XXII

1316-1334

He was the second of the Avignon popes.

195

Benedict XII

1335-1342

 

196

Clement VI

1342-1352

He advanced the practice of indulgences, the abuse of which would contribute to the Protestant Reformation 200 years later.
*The bubonic plague kills one-third of Europe's population between 1348 and 1350.

197

Innocent VI

1352-1362

 

198

Blessed Urban V

1362-1370

 

199

Gregory XI

1371-1378

Persuaded by Saint Catherine of Siena to return the seat of the papacy to Rome, he was the last of the Avignon popes.

200

Urban VI

1378-1389

He was the last non-cardinal to be elected pope. The years 1378-1417 are known as "the Great Western Schism," a period of crisis when rival popes claimed papal authority.

201

Boniface IX

1389-1404

 

202

Innocent VII

1404-1406

 

203

Gregory XII

1406-1415

Resigned end the Great Western Schism.

Abdicated during the Council of Constance which had been called by his opponent, Antipope John XXIII.

204

Martin V

1417-1431

His election to the papacy marked the end of the Great Western Schism.

205

Eugene IV

1431-1447

He was unsuccessful in trying to reestablish union between Latin and Greek Churches.

206

Nicholas V

1447-1455

He was the first of the Renaissance popes and a strong patron of the arts.

207

Callistus III

1455-1458

He was the first Spanish pope. He reopened the case of Joan of Arc and declared her innocent of witchcraft.
*The Gutenberg Bible is printed (a version of the Vulgate).

208

Pius II

1458-1464

He canonized Catherine of Siena.

209

Paul II

1464-1471

He reneged on promise to reform the Church.

210

Sixtus IV

1471-1484

He built the Sistine Chapel.

211

Innocent VIII

1484-1492

 

212

Alexander VI

1492-1503


*Christopher Columbus lands in America.

213

Pius III

1503

He died only seventeen days after his consecration as pope.

214

Julius II

1503-1513

He commissioned plans for the new St. Peter's Basilica.

215

Leo X

1513-1521

The Protestant Reformation began during Leo's pontificate.

216

Adrian VI

1522-1523

He was the first pope of the Catholic Counter-Reformation.

217

Clement VII

1523-1534

Clement is the pope who refused to grant King Henry VIII a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

218

Paul III

1534-1549

He convened the Council of Trent and worked for Church renewal.
*In 1543, Copernicus disputes that Earth is the center of the universe.

219

Julius III

1550-1555

 

220

Marcellus II

1555

He died of a stroke less than one month after election to papacy.

221

Paul IV

1555-1559

He is the pope who created the Index of Forbidden Books.

222

Pius V

1559-1565

He reconvened the Council of Trent, after it had been suspended for ten years.

223

St. Pius V

1566-1572

He enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent and published the Roman Catechism.

224

Gregory XIII

1572-1585

He adopted the Gregorian calendar, which is still in use today. He also was a strong supporter of the missions in India, China, and Japan.

225

Sixtus V

1585-1590

He reorganized the Roman Curia, which then remained unchanged until Vatican II.

226

Urban VII

1590

He died of malaria, one week after his election.

227

Gregory XIV

1590-1591

 

228

Innocent IX

1591

 

229

Clement VIII

1592-1605

He was the fourth pope elected within a period of 1 1/2 years.

230

Leo XI

1605

In poor health when elected pope, he died less than one month after the election.

231

Paul V

1605-1621

Known for his positive accomplishments in Church renewal, ironically, he is best remembered as the pope who censured Galileo for teaching the Earth revolves around the sun.  This is not quite the story see Galileo.

232

Gregory XV

1621-1623

He introduced the idea of electing a pope by secret ballot. He also canonized Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, and Francis Xavier.

233

Urban VIII

1623-1644

He is the pope who consecrated the new St. Peter's Basilica.

234

Innocent X

1644-1655

 

235

Alexander VII

1655-1667

He allowed missionaries in China to use Chinese rites.
*In 1666, Newton discovers the Law of Gravity.

236

Clement IX

1667-1669

 

237

Clement X

1670-1676

 

238

Blessed Innocent XI

1676-1689

He is widely admired for positive contributions to preaching and catechesis.

239

Alexander VIII

1689-1691

 

240

Innocent XII

1691-1700

Known and respected as a reformist pope, especially in simplifying administrative procedures.

241

Clement XI

1700-1721

He is the pope who made the feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) a universal holy day of obligation.

242

Innocent XIII

1721-1724

 

243

Benedict XIII

1724-1730

 

244

Clement XII

1730-1740

 

245

Benedict XIV

1740-1758

He is the author of the first papal encyclical, The Duties of Bishops.

246

Clement XIII

1758-1769

 

247

Clement XIV

1769-1774

 

248

Pius VI

1775-1799

He denounced the French Revolution and was later imprisoned by Napoleon.
*The American Declaration of Independence is signed in 1776.

249

Pius VII

1800-1823


*In 1804, Napoleon declares himself emperor of France.

250

Leo XII

1823-1829

He called a Holy Year in 1825 to strengthen the bond between the papacy and Catholics.

251

Pius VIII

1829-1830

He approved the decrees of the First Council of Baltimore.

252

Gregory XVI

1831-1846

He was the last monk to be elected pope.

253

Pius IX

1846-1878

His thirty-one year pontificate is the longest in history. He called the First Vatican Council, which defined papal infallibility and supremacy.
*The American Civil War takes place between 1861-1865.
*Charles Darwin publishes his theory of evolution.

254

Leo XIII

1878-1903

Known for his efforts to bring the Church into open dialogue with the world, Leo XIII is considered the first of the modern popes. His encyclical "Of New Things" continues to be the standard of the Church's commitment to social justice.

255

St. Pius X

1903-1914

His papal motto was, "To restore all things in Christ." He is widely admired for lowering the age for First Communion to age seven.
*In 1908, Henry Ford introduces the world's first automobile.

256

Benedict XV

1914-1922

He is remembered as a peacemaker both within the Church and among the countries who participated in World War I.

257

Pius XI

1922-1939

Pius XI is the first pope to use the radio as a means of pastorally reaching the world.

258

Pius XII

1939-1958

His papacy was indelibly marked by the times--namely, World War II and the following cold war period. He devoted his energy to world peace, fighting Communism, and to Marian piety.
*In 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launches the first satellite.

259

John XXIII

1958-1963

Perhaps the most beloved of all popes, John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council whose impact includes expanding the role of the laity, liturgical renewal, collegiality of bishops, and ecumenism.
*Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring ushers in the ecology movement.

260

Paul VI

1963-1978

He continued the work of Vatican II and became the first pope to travel around the world by airplane.

261

John Paul I

1978

He was the first pope to take a double name. Death of natural causes ended his short pontificate of 33 days.

262

John Paul II (The Great)

1978-2005

The first Polish pope in history is also the most traveled pope in history. His extensive writings and speeches cover just about every major issue from freedom to materialism, to the modern search for meaning and the sacred, to world peace to social justice among all countries--rich and poor.

263

Pope Benedict XVI

2005-2013

Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927. 

Theologian and musician

First Pope to retire since Pope since Gregory XII.

Resigned citing health issues.

264

Francis I

2013-present

Born Jorge Bergoglio

First Jesuit pope

first pope from South America

Based on:

http://www.faithfirst.com/html/popeJohn/timeline/timeline.html 8/20/11
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_popes 8/20/11
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_resignation 3/3/13

 

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Magna Carta The English charter (one of several versions) that was the first to limit the power of the matriarchy and guarantee certain rights to the common people.

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Index of Forbidden Books was a list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church. The Pauline Index was published by Pope Paul IV in 1559. The list was revised over the years with the Tridentine Index authorized at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent which was largely a response to the Protestant Reformation. The final (20th) edition appeared in 1948, and it was formally abolished on 14 June 1966 by Pope Paul VI.

The purpose of the list was to protect the faith and morals of the faithful by preventing the reading of immoral books or works containing theological errors. Books thought to contain such errors included some scientific works by leading astronomers such as Johannes Kepler's Epitome astronomiae Copernicianae, which was on the Index from 1621 to 1835. The various editions of the Index also contained the rules of the Church relating to the reading, selling and pre-emptive censorship of books, including translations of the Bible into the "common tongues".

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Roman Curia Curia is Latin for court more in the sense of a royal court than a court of law. Wikipedia says it is "the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope." Over time it has been more than that as we note that as part of the English reformation a 1534 Act of Parliament forbade appeals to it from England.

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holy day of obligation In the Catholic Church, Holy Days of Obligation or Holidays of Obligation, less commonly called Feasts of Precept, are the days on which, as canon 1247 of the Code of Canon Law states,

On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

Moreover they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.

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First Lateran Council  It was convoked by Pope Callixtus II in December, 1122, immediately after the Concordat of Worms. The Council sought to: (a) bring an end to the practice of the conferring of ecclesiastical benefices by people who were laymen; (b) free the election of bishops and abbots from secular influence; (c) clarify the separation of spiritual and temporal affairs; (d) re-establish the principle that spiritual authority resides solely in the Church; (e) abolish the claim of the emperors to influence papal elections.

All of this was meant to be the end of the Investiture Controversy but there continues to be uneasy relations between secular powers and the church in many places.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_the_Lateran 8/27/11

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Second Lateran Council (1139) Called the Tenth Ecumenical Council by Roman Catholics. It was held by Pope Innocent II to resolve the schism, which had arisen after the death of Pope Honorius II in February 1130 and the setting up of Petris Leonis as the antipope Anacletus II.  That part did not work as Anacletus II was succeeded by Gregorio Conti one of two antipopes called Victor IV.

Important canons:

Canon 4: Injunction to bishops and ecclesiastics not to cause scandal by wearing ostentatious clothes but to dress modestly.
Canons 6, 7, 11: Repeated the First Lateran Council's condemnation of marriage and concubinage among priests, deacons, subdeacons, monks, and nuns.
Canon 10: Excommunicated laity who failed to pay the tithes due the bishops,
Canon 14: Prohibition, under pain of deprivation of Christian burial, of jousts and tournaments which endangered life.
Canon 20: Kings and princes were ordered to dispense justice in consultation with the bishops.
Canon 27: Nuns were prohibited from singing the Divine Office in the same choir with monks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Council_of_the_Lateran 8/27/11