The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

It’s time to play “Name that Pope!”

Incredibly, a grade-schooler in Indiana can name every one of them, in six minutes.

From Today’s Catholic News:

Eleven-year-old John Paul Fitzmaurice has completed a project so difficult that few lay men and women even attempt it.


The Granger boy has committed the names of all 265 popes to memory. From St. Peter to Benedict XVI he can recite them, in order of their ascension to the apostolate of Peter. They roll off his tongue so quickly that it’s hard to keep up with him on a “Popes Throughout History” wall chart. Just 20 seconds into an impromptu recitation, he’s already down to Pope No. 31, St. Eusebius.

The Fitzmaurice family attends Queen of Peace Parish in Mishawaka, where John Paul and his brother, 8-year-old Gregory Benedict, are altar servers at daily Mass.

Father Dan Scheidt has been the pastor at Queen of Peace since 2007. It was his arrival at the parish that precipitated John Paul’s memorization project.

“My cousin told me that Father Scheidt set this challenge when he was at Marian. His challenge was to memorize all the popes, but no one ever did it. I thought, ‘I want to try that,'” he said.


Mom Rebecca home schools John Paul and his younger brother Gregory in both religious education and regular academics. At first, she and John Paul’s father, Mike, thought he was too young to take on such a large project. But in 2009 they agreed and added the project to his daily lessons.

Find out how he did it at the link

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posted June 22, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Ah, but he’ll have to wait until he’s a little more grownup to get to the really fun (as in dysfunctional) parts of papal trivia.
Like the late-9th and 10th centuries, which brought us the pope who died in the bed of a married woman, leaving historians the mystery of whether he had a stroke or was strangled by her husband. The first (and last!) teenaged pope (19 at elevation). The first pope son of another pope. The multiple popes who died under mysterious circumstances, interleaved with popes who were without-a-doubt murdered. The pope who dug up the rotting corpse of his predecessor, propped him in a chair, and conducted an unhinged “trial”.
Yeah, sometimes the “you’ll laugh at this later” is true, even if “later” takes 1,000 years!

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Thomas Collins

posted June 22, 2010 at 11:36 pm

What about the fact that every single pope in the first 300 years of our Church’s history was martyred for the faith? This is still a great,and holy, anointed Churhc despite the foibles and failings of many individuals over time. What about the heroic virtue of every single one of her canonized saints? What about Mary Immaculate, Mother of God, a simple handmaid of the Lord, who will forever be called Blessed? What about the many good works of charity on behalf of the poor and others in need? How about her defense of the most vulnerable among us? These are the trumphs of the Church. She has had her downfalls before, but she has always risen up.

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