So YOU Think YOU Know YOUR Papal History?

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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by Anura Guruge


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This is a different, unusual, “Guruge-special” look at certain aspects of papal history.

There has been so much written and said about the current pope, Francis (#267), but do you know:

— who owned the Fisherman’s Ring that he now wears
(and NO, it was not a prior pope)?

— what pet he had when he was a seminarian in his twenties?
— where he stayed in Rome ahead of attending the conclave
that elected him pope?

— the ailment, other than his lung ‘problem’, that has afflicted
him since his youth?

— the ‘rubber band’ story that would make Gandhi smile?

OK. So that is the kind of slant this book takes, the obscure, unexplored and stuff that requires computer-aided analytics (my forte).

So some other examples:

— what was the very first Canon approved by an Ecumenical Council
(and it will blow you away)?

— who was the first pope, as pope, to attend an Ecumenical Council?
— what is the, unequivocally, the first recorded date in papal history?
— who was the recent pope born on Holy Saturday?
— what conclave had the youngest electorate?
— when was the last time a cardinal died within a conclave?

101 Q&As in total and at least 202, probably close to 300, nuggets of information as I tried, as I did in my prior two ‘101: Facts & Trivia‘ books, to include two, if not more, nuggets of data in each bullet.

This is a book that has been rattling in my head ever since I started doing papal research, in earnest, eight years ago. There is so much depth and breadth, not to mention the sheer volume, when it comes to papal history. I typically can’t go more than 30-minutes at a time when I am crunching through my research without going ‘Wow, fancy that’ or ‘I wonder …’. This book is the result of just ‘101’ of those ‘fancy that’ and ‘I wonder’ moments. [I had started a ‘1,001’ version of this but realized that that was even too ambitious by my standards.] In my mind I already have some of “Popes: 101 Facts & Trivia Vol. II” done. But, it has to wait. My plan is to write two ‘101’ books about sex next! Everybody tells me that sex sells and I know as much about sex, if not more, than I known of popes. Yes, I could write, without too much effort “Sex Lives of Popes: 101 Facts & Trivia” — and I might still do that. But what I have in mind for the next two books will, I think, be more exciting. That said, I tried to sneak in a quick book on the ‘College of Cardinals’ while this book was being proofed. But the two friends, one a retired judge and the other a civil servant in D.C., were too quick for me. They turned it around in less than a week. But, I still got quite a bit done of that book too. Now the challenge is NOT to go back to that BUT to start on the sex books — as soon as I get the paperback version done.

Yep. It is never ending.

So, now for the inevitable demographics:
my 3rd ‘101: Facts & Trivia’ book.
my 9th book on popes.
my 2nd book, published, in 2014.

my 22nd book as the sole-author.


Fragment of the Excel spreadsheet I compiled while doing my research into the 21 Ecumenical Councils.
This was so much fun.
So much data that I was able to extract.

Click to ENLARGE.

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