The youngest pope : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

Who was the youngest pope ever elected in the Catholic Church

-- Patrick J Bourke (, August 21, 2001


The youngest pope was 12 years old. His name was Benoît IX, elected in 1032

-- Enrique Ortiz (, August 21, 2001.

I also found this:

Dear Mr. Carraway,

The youngest pope of all time is John XII. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, he was elected at the age of 18, while Philip Hughes says he was consecrated at the age of 16. Since we don't know the date of his birth, we can't be certain.

Pope John XII was almost certainly one of the worst popes who ever sat on the throne of Peter. His Father, Alberic, Prince and Senator of all the Romans, had used his influence to get some decent popes elected, but in an astounding break from tradition, just before he died, he made the Roman nobles promise they would elect his son, Octavius, as pope. Alberic had great aspirations for his family. He wanted to keep the papal states in the family, and to check the power of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. who aspired to rebuild Charlemagne's Empire. When Alberic died, John became both the spiritual and temporal ruler of Rome.

John XII had little taste for religion, and, according to Hughes, the older he got, the less he seemed to care. He loved hunting and fast women, many of whom were paid for through the church's treasury

His political skills were also completely lacking. He betrayed his alliance with Emperor Otto I of Germany to side with the enemy they had been fighting, Berengar of Italy. Furious, Otto marched on Rome, elected an anti-pope, and John fled. Eventually, Otto left, and John returned to take bloody vengeance on those who had betrayed him.

This pope's life story is rather complicated, therefore, if you're interested in furthering you knowledge, I recommend the Catholic Encyclopedia article on him, as well as Chapter 5 of Volume 2 of Philip Hughes' A History of the Church to the Eve of the Reformation (Warning-- the file is over 3 MB long! You might have to be patient.)

We should remember that a pope's personal character does not disprove the doctrine of papal infallibility. Papal infallibility is only exercised when a defined doctrine is issued. And the personal character of the pope, his ability to reason, and all his other psychological dispositions are not what protects the doctrine from error. It is the Holy Spirit who protects the doctrine from error. Many do not have faith in the Spirit and wonder "how can the Spirit prevent a pope from issuing error? How can the Spirit stop a pope from being wrong?" This shows a profound lack of faith in God. Our Lord promised that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and that the Gates of Hell, that is, of error, would never prevail against it. If we truly believe that God cannot deceive nor be deceived, and that he can do anything, then we must conclude that he has mysteriously preserved the Church from error-- in spite of popes like John XII. If the pope is wrong about a matter of faith, we can be certain that the Holy Spirit will not allow this error to be promulgated, nor will it distort the teachings of the Church. Time and again, history shows that the personal errors of the popes have never been issued by the Magisterium.

God Bless, Suzanne Fortin

Which answer is the correct one?. Let the experts do their homework.

-- Enrique Ortiz (, August 21, 2001.

Other interesting facts about Popes:

Interesting facts about the Pope

St. Peter was the first Pope. There have been 264 Popes in the almost 2000 year history of the Church. The list is provided in the previous pages. The word "Pope" is from the Greek word pappas which means "Father."

The title "Servant of the Servants of God" began to be applied to the successor of St. Peter in the time of St. Marcellinus (304 A.D.). The title "Vicar of Christ" means "Representative of Christ." The Pope signs his name Joannes Paulus PP II. This is the Latin for John Paul II. The "P.P." stands for Papa Pontifex. Papa means "father." Pontifex comes from the Latin words Pons (a bridge), and facere (to make or to build). So, the Pope is a bridge builder between earth and heaven.

Eighty-one Popes have been canonized, or declared to be saints. Seven have been beatified, or declared "Blessed." This is a step toward canonization. There have been 38 anti-popes.

The longest pontificate was that of Pius IX (1846 - 78) - 32 years. The shortest was that of Stephen II (752 A.D.) - only one day. The oldest Pope was Adrian I (772 A.D.) who was elected at the age of 80. The youngest pope was Benedict IX (1032 A.D.), 12 years old. He was elected pope three times.

The most frequently taken names by men elected pope: John, 23 times; Gregory, 16 times; and Benedict, 15 times. Forty-three names were used only once.

Pope Marcellus II, 1555, was the last pope to keep his baptismal name. Pope John Paul I, 1978, was the first pope to choose a double name. Pope John Paul II is the first Polish pope, and the first non- Italian pope in 455 years (Adrian IV, 1522 - 23, was from Holland).

-- Enrique Ortiz (, August 21, 2001.

Sorry: I forgot to give the source for my last posting:


-- Enrique Ortiz (, August 21, 2001.

Thank you for all your work on this! I have two questions:

1) What is an anti-pope?

2) Did the election of popes work differently in the past? You said that Pope Benedict IX was elected three times, and I believe that now a pope is elected and stays pope until he dies. Can he retire?

Thanks so much for helping me to learn about this!


-- cksunshine (, August 21, 2001.


Hello, CK and Enrique.
The (old) Catholic Encyclopedia says that Benedict IX was not 12 nor 16, but more likely 20 when chosen to be pope. The age of 20 is bad enough. But "12" is so ridiculous that I have to attribute it to being an anti-Catholic myth, Enrique.
Although it's not fun to read, CK, I'd recommend that you look into the messy situation of Pope Benedict's life and reign in the Encyclopedia article. You'll probably get some feel for why someone would have referred to his being "elected" more than once. A pope can resign [I believe that a few have done so], but no duly elected pope can be deposed. The Church did not always have cardinals nor the present method of electing a pope, but there always was a way of choosing a new Bishop of Rome after St. Peter.

An "anti-pope" is a false claimant to the chair of St. Peter. Believe it or not, there are one or two anti-popes right now. I recall reading about them several years ago. They are such crackpots that no one (not even the goofy anti-Catholic media of today) pays any attention to them.
Many of the (roughly 30) major anti-popes of past centuries actually had the backing of some cardinals. (There hasn't been a serious anti-pope since the 1400s.) You can read a bit about them by going to this brief Catholic Encyclopedia article.

St. James, pray for us.
God bless you.

-- (jgecik@amdg.ihs), August 21, 2001.

Thanks John for the answers and the links. I was out of commission for a couple of days, so I was not prompt at getting back to this thread, but now have had a chance to read them. Thank you!!


-- cksunshine (, August 25, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ