121. Pope Lando 913-914

Pope Lando

Pope Lando is very unique in that he’s the last Pope that uses a name that has never reappeared through the rest of Papal history. He’s also the last Pope prior to our current Pope Francis to use a name that was not a previously used Pope name. (Pope John Paul I’s name may slip in on a technicality but he’s actually combining the names of two of his immediate predecessors)
The only known action of Pope Lando was that he donated his own personal funds to rebuild the Cathedral of San Salvatore that had been destroyed during an Arab raid. Ha!I got through his whole bio without mentioning Star Wars once!(crap)


90. Pope St.Gregory III 731-741


Pope Gregory III made a decision about dates that has impacted nearly every one in the western hemisphere. Gregory basically gave us Halloween. Kinda. Sorta. All Saints’Day is celebrated every year in honor of all of those in the Church that have made it into heaven. It’s a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics and is also known as Feast of the Saints and All Hallows Day. The day before it is All Hallows Eve and over centuries the name of that day was shortened to Halloween. Earlier in history,All Saints’Day was celebrated either in April(in some countries),or on May 13th. When Pope Gregory dedicated a new chapel in St.Peter’s,he moved the day from May to November 1st and honored the day for “….the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”. Elsewhere in the world around this time,a Gaelic pagan festival known as Samhain celebrated the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Samhain and All Saints’Day have nothing to do with each other,but due to the time of year and the “dead” theme of both,they naturally started mixing,more so depending on what part of the world you were in. What we know as Halloween today was born in a Christian celebration of those that we know have made it home to Heaven. The other stuff(witches,black cats…whatever)came later from secular sources,much like Christmas with Santa Claus and St.Patrick’s Day with all the weird green beer.
Pope Gregory combated Eastern iconoclasm,which was the total destruction of religious images. In a great act of passive aggression,Gregory accepted a “bribe” of some glorious columns of onyx from an Eastern iconoclast and promptly used them to support several images of Jesus. Gregory also banned the consumption of horse meat(did we really need to tell people NOT to eat it?). Since I really don’t want to end on people eating horse meat,I’ll add that the Syrian born Gregory was the last Pope born outside of Europe until Pope Francis.

56. Pope John II 533-535

John II

Yes,I know,I drew the Pope wearing the helmet of the Roman pagan god Mercury. Blasphemy you say! Well,I have an explanation. Pope John II was born with the name Mercurius,and as the leader of Christianity and also of all things opposed to paganism,he thought it might be a bit tacky to keep his birth name. This decision set the tone for most all Popes for the next 1500 years as it became customary for newly elected Pontiffs to trade their foreign sounding names for more traditional ones. The Pope chooses his new name himself and it is usually that of a former Pope whom he personally admires. Actually it doesn’t even have to be the name of a former Pope. Our current Pope was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio and he chose the name of Francis because of the Saint’s reputation as a both a reformer and advocate for the poor. Albino Luciani combined the names of the two Popes that proceeded him,John XXIII and Paul VI,and he became John Paul I. This was a way of telling the world he intended to carry on with the work that those two men started. Not all Popes since John II took on a new name,Marcellus II in 1555 was the last to keep his birth name,but for the last 500 years the name change is a given and it all comes back to Pope Mercury……I mean John II. C’mon,don’t tell me you don’t think Pope Mercury isn’t an awesome sounding name.

41. Pope St. Zosimus 417-418


The ill-tempered Pope Zosimus was only in office for a little under two years and he did his very best to irritate or exhaust everyone he came into contact with. First things first,he undid the previous Pope’s condemnation of Caelestius. Caelestius was a believer of Pelagianism,which means you want salvation,but you don’t want or need God’s help getting it. Basically. Caelestius didn’t want to be excommunicated so he told Zosimus that he didn’t believe in that anymore and he wanted nothing more than to proclaim the truth. Zosimus believed him,blessed him,sent him on his way and then wrote strongly worded letters to the African bishops that had dared to believe Caelestius was a heretic. Hold on,replied the African bishops,Caelestius came back and kept right on selling his brand of religion. He pulled the big Pope hat over the Pope’s eyes. Zosimus reversed course and immediately condemned Caelestius…..again. No info on whether any strongly worded letters of apologies went out. The next time the African bishops had a problem with a priest,they went over the Pope’s head(whose authority they cleared did not trust),and went to the emperor to fix it. Again,Zosimus wrote strongly worded letters to everyone involved and was going out of his way to reassert his fragile authority when he passed away of natural causes. The Romans threw many parties on the announcement of his death. Ouch. They can’t all be Pope Francis…..

4. St. Clement I 92-99


The first apostolic father of the Church. The last Pope that knew Peter and the apostles and the last Pope mentioned in the Bible. His letter to the church of Corinth was a great unifier for early Christians that were slipping away from the teachings of the Apostles. Banished to a stone quarry by Roman Emperor Trajan,Clement then went about converting both local pagans and his fellow prisoners to the Christian faith. He was a troublemaker;I love it. For his punishment for this,he had a boat anchor tied to his neck and he was thrown into the Black Sea. Yikes. His friends prayed to God over their grief that they may never find his body,but then the water receded enough for his body to be recovered for a proper burial. The anchor(St Clement’s cross),is his symbol,and besides being a hipster doofus tattoo of choice,it represents that in the bleakest or darkest of times,your faith in God will always anchor you to your path.


About me,and about this blog


Gennifer and I meeting Bishop Terry Stieb in preparation of joining the Catholic Church.

My name is Kris Cotner. My wife Gennifer and I joined the Catholic Church in April 2014 and along with a wonderful sense of belonging,it also brought a ton of questions about the history and practices of the Church itself. Among the many wonderful things to learn about,I became fascinated with the Pope and the many,many men,(great and not so great),that have held that title. I thought the best way to learn about them was to put my hobby of drawing to use and try to draw and give some info about every Pope. In order. Every week. From Peter to Francis. Consider it a dummie’s guide to the Papacy. Written by a dummy. I hope to learn much along the way,and with 266 guys to draw,I’ll have plenty of time to learn it.