Interesting Facts 

Bishop of Ostia's role - Pope Mark (336) decided that the Bishop of Ostia, the port-city of Rome,  should consecrate Popes.  At this period in history, the electee was either a deacon or a priest of Rome, and so consecration to the episcopacy inaugurated his papacy. Today, the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia is the Dean of the College of Cardinals and retains the right to consecrate the Pope if he is not already a bishop.

Bishop Electees - Prior to the election of Marinus I in 882, the Popes had been chosen from among priests and deacons. Upon consecration to the episcopacy they became capable of being Pope and were, therefore, in that moment of consecration made both bishop and Pope. Bishops were not chosen because they were considered wedded to their diocese, and so the transference of a bishop from one diocese to another was considered uncanonical. Marino was already a bishop, however, so instead of being consecrated he was enthroned. After this time the practice of electing bishops occurred more and more frequently, so that it has become the norm. Since a bishop is already capable of being Pope, the electee becomes Pope in the moment of his acceptance of his election.

Counting Popes -  In 752 the man elected to succeed Pope Zachary took the name Stephen II. However, since he died before being officially consecrated, by the canon law of the day he was not considered the Pope yet. Soon thereafter, a different Stephen took the name Stephen II . Almost a thousand years later the official numbering was changed. The short-lived Stephen II is still NOT listed among the Popes, but his name is accounted for by the renumbering of the listed Stephens, so that the official Stephen II is now Stephen II (III). This numbering change in the official list was applied to all the Stephens, down to Stephen IX (X) in 1057. However, since there have been no new Stephens since the renumbering, no Pope has had to decide which number of Stephen to take next.

Eastern Catholic Popes - A number of Eastern Catholics of Greek or Syrian origin have been elected Pope. The last Pope to be from the East, however, was Pope Zachary (741-52).

Election Reforms - Over the centuries the Popes instituted various election reforms aimed at limiting or removing the external influences of emperors, kings, Roman nobility and clerical factions, who sought to elect their candidate or demanded their consent for election validity. Many reforms did not last, of course, especially concerning the issue of "investiture" (secular princes requiring their consent for the election of bishops in their territory). However, the free process that the Church has come to take for granted is the result of the continual struggle to free the papacy from secular or  ecclesiastical electioneering. See also History of Papal Electoral Law

Papal Names - Most of the early Popes kept their own names upon election. However, when the Roman priest Mercury was elected in 533 he took the name John II, so the Church would not have a Pope named after a pagan god. Thus began the practice of taking a new name which today is taken for granted.

Recent Conclaves - The record of recent Conclaves, the last 100 years, shows that the College elects a new Pope on average on the 3rd day in the afternoon, after about 8 ballots.

Pius X, 1903: 4 days, 7 ballots
Benedict XV, 1914: 3 days, 10 ballots
Pius XI, 1922: 5 days 14 ballots
Pius XII, 1939: 2 days, 3 ballots
John XXIII, 1958: 4 days, 11 ballots
Paul VI, 1963: 3 days, 6 ballots
John Paul I, 1978: 2 days, 4 ballots
John Paul II, 1978: 3 days, 8 ballots
Benedict XVI, 2005: 2 days, 4 ballots
Francis, 2013: 2 days, 5 ballots


Next: History of Papal Electoral Law
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