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.