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Top 10 Popes Who Died Violently

Pope (from Papa meaning Father) is the term used for the men who have ruled the Catholic Church since its birth at Pentecost. Throughout the history of the papacy there have been a small number of wicked popes, but in contrast there have been many great ones (Pope Saint Gregory the Great, for example, who gave us the calendar we all use today). There has also been a great deal of bloodshed in the history of the Papacy – this list looks at ten cases of that. This list is in chronological order.


Pope St Peter
13 October 64 A.D.

Pope-Peter Pprubens

As one of the original apostles of Jesus, and one of the greatest purveyors of Christianity at the time, the apostle Simon Peter became the ire of Emperor Nero of Rome who despised Christians (going so far as to blame them for the Great Fire of Rome earlier in the year 64AD). An order was sent out by Nero for Peter’s arrest, but he escaped. During his escape, Peter witnessed a vision of Jesus which inspired him to return to Rome and accept his martyrdom. It is said that he asked to be crucified as Jesus was, but to be turned on his head so as not to imitate Jesus’ crucifixion. In this position, he wouldn’t easily be able to suffocate to death as those in an upright position were prone to do, prolonging his death.


Pope St Clement I
99 A.D.

453Px-Clemens I

According to legend, after being banished from Rome and sent to work in a stone quarry, Clement found that his fellow prisoners were suffering from dehydration. After kneeling to pray, he saw a lamb on a hill. He took a pickaxe and struck the ground where the lamb stood, and a stream of water came gushing out. As it goes, upon seeing this many locals and fellow prisoners were converted to Christianity on the spot. As punishment by the guards, an anchor was tied around Clement’s neck and he was thrown into the Black Sea.


Pope St Stephen I
2 August 257


Stephen was only Pope for a scant three years, but was burdened by controversy both within the church, and from outside forces. Within the church, the debate roared on over the subject of rebaptism of lapsed Catholics and the like. Outside the church, though, Emperor Valerian– who had once been an ally of Christians, but later turned away from them– issued two edicts of persecution against the church. Stephen was sitting in his throne, celebrating Mass, when the emperor’s men stormed the room and beheaded Stephen where he sat. The blood-stained throne was alleged to have been preserved by the church until the 18th century.


Pope St Sixtus II
6 August 258

250Px-Altenfelden - Hochaltar - Papst Sixtus Ii. 1858

Not too long after Pope Stephen I was killed, Sixtus II was elected as the new Pope. During this time, Emperor Valerian had made it law that all Christians were required to participate in ceremonies honoring the Roman gods, largely to avoid conflict with the government. As Pope, though, Sixtus was able to avoid this. Unfortunately, not long after the first decree, Valerian sent out another which condemned Christians priests, bishops, and deacons to death. While giving a sermon, Sixtus II was captured by the emperor’s men and put to death by beheading– the first victim of the infamous 258 Persecutions.


Pope John VII
18 October 707

Johnvii 2

Born the grandson of a Senator, and the son of a state official, made John VII the first Pope to be born from a distinguished family line. He was also Pope during the time of the “Byzantine Papacy”, wherein all Popes had to be approved by the Byzantine emperor to ensure that all decisions made would suit the state, though as with other Popes during that time things didn’t always go so smoothly. But it wasn’t the state that would see to his end, but rather the enraged husband of a woman John VII was sleeping with who caught them in the act, and beat the Pope to death.


Pope John VIII
16 December 882

Ist2 4651662-Pope-John-Viii

Some consider him one of the greatest Popes of his times, and others argue otherwise; but neither would disagree that his time was marred by political intrigue. It was only a matter of time before he himself would become the victim of this. There is some speculation as to whether it was a coordinated assassination, or simply done out of jealousy of the churches treasures; but one evening a relative of John VIII visited the Pope, and poisoned his drink. Finding that the poison did not work quickly enough, the relative bashed in John’s head in with a hammer.


Pope Stephen VII
August 897


This one is actually a two-fer of sorts. The thing Pope Stephen VII is most famous for is not any particular decree, or acts of benevolence, but rather for putting a corpse on trial. Specifically, his predecessor, Pope Formosus, was put to trial in what would become known as the Cadaver Synod. Upon finding dead Pope Formosus guilty of all charges, Stephen VII had him stripped of his papal vestments, three fingers removed from his right hand, his body thrown into the Tiber river, and all the former Pope’s laws and ordinations annulled. Sadly for Stephen VII, the trial caused a frenzy and he was imprisoned, and later put to death by strangling.


Pope John XII
14 May 964


When people think of the Pope, the more devout will think of them as a benevolent and compassionate leader, or failing that, at least as a pretty nice guy most of the time. Not so with John XII. Shortly after being elected Pope at the age of eighteen, John XII decided the whole celibacy thing wasn’t for him and went about humping whatever he could. Gambling, theft, assassinations, and incest are only a few things he was reported to have partaken in regularly. It’s even alleged that he would toast Satan and Roman gods and demons during sermons and other celebrations. He was briefly deposed by Pope Leo VII after John XII handed the papal lands over to German king Otto I, but was later reinstated. So after all that, it only seems a somewhat ironically fitting end that John XII would be beaten to death by a jealous husband coming home to find the Pope having sex with his wife.


Pope Benedict VI
June 974


It seems Benedict VI never did a whole lot himself, and yet he was destined to suffer for the transgressions of his predecessor, Pope John XIII, who during his time as Pope made several enemies amongst the nobility in Europe. John at one point was captured and exiled, yet managed to return and had several of his enemies hung for their parts in his exile. John went on to die a natural death, but unfortunately Benedict was not as fortunate. Only a year and a half after being elected Pope, a priest named Crescentius I– brother of the late Pope John XIII– was ordered to capture, and later strangle Benedict VI to death.


Pope John XXI
18 August 1277


Along with being Pope for only a very short eight months, John XXI was also a practicing physician and a prolific writer, writing on subjects such as logic, philosophy and medicine. It seems a fitting tribute then that John XXI would be immortalized in Dante’s classic epic poem, the Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia). He is actually the only Pope shown to live in Paradise. But to get to paradise, John XXI met with an unfortunate accident. Shortly after a new wing was added to his Palace in Viterbo, Italy, a section of the poorly constructed roof collapsed in on him while he was asleep in his bed. He died of his injuries eight days later.

  • pedelor

    Nice stuff :x

  • hillerious

    Very interesting. Strangely, being not in any way religious myself, Catholicism is fascinating to me. I have a whole book just on your more gruesome martyrs. I was afraid, this list being in chronological order, that it would be lacking is style, especially a “big bang” finish. I was wrong. Great list in the traditional listverse style.

  • iamthestone

    Interesting list. The human race is truly a compassionate and accepting bunch aren’t we?

  • bythewaywhichonespink

    I didnt know many of these. Just a few.

  • ldux

    Looks like every 5th Pope dies violently happy

  • @woyzeckforever:

    ” top 10 kids raped by Catholic priests” ? Ugh, that’s so demeaning to the poor kids.. better would be top 10 Catholic Assholes and you can include all the sex offenders..heh

  • Julius

    @ JaffaAnonymous: You could have included Pope John Paul I. as a “conspiracy bonus” there are some interesting conspiracies and him concerning the Vatican bank (and/or the soviet union)

    @woyzeckforever: the seminary system doesn’t “create” paedophiles, it’s just that every time a priest touches a child inappropriately it’s a huge scandal, in comparison to most other cases of abuse, which don’t even reach the news… What I wouldn’t discount though is the possibility that pedophiles are attracted to th life of a priest, so that they can fulfill their desires.

  • @Julius: Of course it has to be a huge scandal since these people are supposed to be ‘Men of God’..if they are themselves wallowing in sin, the masses have a right to know..

  • Julius

    @Geronimo1618: Of course the masses have a right to know, it just pisses me off how the media blow everything out of proportion. I was a boarder at 2 catholic schools and I have never been touched inappropriately. i.E. the papers said “scandal! whole school gets searched” when in reality there were rumours that one of the cleaning staff (not even one of the priests) had childpornography on his computer (none was found). All the media is doing is tarnishing the reputation of some of the best schools I know, where they should be doing proper research.
    Child abuse, especially if it’s one somebody you shoul be a trustee/fatherfigure to is terrible and the way the church has handled the situation so far is certainly not the best, but this whole situation has been blown WAY out of proportion.

  • @Julius: Hmmmm…I wonder how do these rumours become media news so quickly e.g. the incident at your school, it was supposed to be an internal affair..right?

  • oouchan

    Love the list! Cracking up on the comment of humping everything in sight. :)

    @woyzeckforever: It would be more than at top 10 sadly. How about church cover-ups? That would be some nice reading. hehe

  • Julius

    @Geronimo1618: somehow the police heard the rumour and they’re under obligation to investigate such claims. And apparently once the police entered my Alma mater some idiot got out his cellphone and called the media..

  • blackmarauder

    All Popes will burn in hell for their immoral covered-up acts anyway?

  • forsythia

    From the looks of the picture I was thinking Pope John VII was violently enveloped and smothered by his own cocoon, pope robe (to later to emerger as a butterfly). But nope, he was a pimp, figures…that bald head is sexay.

    Interesting list, I liked it a lot. :)

  • undaunted warrior 1

    We had a similar case here 2 years ago where 2 teenage girls used to go to the church after school for counsling ( the parents were alkies )

    During these sesions he physicaly abused them and they were to scared to talk.

    To cut a long storie short more skeletons emerged from his cupboard.

    He got a 4 year sentence ( Its a slap on the wrist ) and those poor kids are scarred for life.

  • theoriginalcasualreader


    Perhaps 15, Forsythia has something. This list seems to reflect a sort of metamorphosis of the papacy.

    The first incumbents seem largely to be courageous and inspirational riskers of persecution and martyrdom. Then the office descends into a Dark Age of vice, profilgacy and hell-raising. Finally it gains more and more power and becomes involved with the messy world of international politics, either reactively or actively, even if the possibility to exercise that has fallen away somewhat over the last century or so to the current pious public utterings in favour of peace. (Not that more isn’t going on still beneath the surface, needless to say.)

    This oversimplified progression is not to deny the existence of +saintly+ men to the office at any and every stage. I haven’t checked, but is there a top 10 +great+ i.e. fine, decent popes? If not, perhaps that would be too boring for LV!

  • yano100

    i’m a bit disappointed with some of the popes and disgusted especially the 6th one. They made a joke out of their title and Christianity as a whole. But aside from that i’m still a Christian.

  • yano100

    nice list. .i think the 6th deserves that

  • 5kidswdisabilities

    There have been popes for almost 2,000 years…
    People in power are often targets for assassins. Look at the US. There have only been presidents for 226 years and how many of them have been assassinated?

  • Lifeschool

    hey. I liked the list a lot too; interesting and to the point. Very well done Faffa. Some really interesting comments today too. When I saw the references to the many self-liberated Popes my very first thought was: “Is it any wonder? Thou shalt not do this, thou shalt never do that. It’s like waving a pack of cigarettes in front of a teen and saying ‘these are very bad, these are very naughty’ – perhaps it’s like the ‘forbidden fruit’ thing in Genesis.” And then I realised, temptation aside, that people will do whatever they want to do, it’s just free will in action.

    I agree that media hype spoils the general public perception of whole chunks of society. I am becoming so blasé about the media I don’t know WHAT to believe anymore.

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    Haha I liked number 5, very subtle.

  • bloodwts

    Wow, that’s weird because I just saw Angels and Demons last night. Obi Won’s death is pretty violently and he held the pope’s office temporarily in the movie.

  • ricej1969

    I think that all Catholic priests, bishops and the whole leadership clan should be condemned over the abuses because they covered the abuses up. Moving priests from one parish to another to abuse more kids. Not informing the police of the crimes. They cared more about the priest then the people. You will always have a small amount of priest doing something they shouldn’t be doing but the church is at fault because they did not punish them. I don’t here the Catholic lay people up in arms so they are part of the problem too. Every Catholic should be ashamed and be more outspoken. Also, let the priest get married you dumb a**. Last I heard, God approves of people getting married.

    • Fr Ben

      (Young) Catholic priest here. Not to excuse lame management of abusers and sex-offenders (for which the people involved will have to answer to God), it must be said that vast majority of the reported offenses were perpetrated in the 60s and 70s, during an era where psychotherapy and psychiatry was all the rage as a "new" field of mental health and "rehabilitation". I have nothing against psychiatry, but it must be said that the people in charge of those sex-abusers at the time often followed the advice of those "mind doctors". They would send the offender to a psychiatrist in order to "heal" the guy, then after therapy, move him to another parish– not knowing (as we do now) that this kind of therapy has tremendous limits. As for not informing the police of the crimes, very often, it is the victims themselves who don't want civil authorities to know about the crime, either out of shame, fear, or wanting to be left alone.

      As for attacking celibacy on this matter, it has been proven again and again (you can Google it) that celibacy is not the issue. There are as much (or even more, according to some studies) of sex-abusers among the general population and married people as there are among religious celibates. The vast majority of priests do not abuse people.

      And btw, there are a lot of married priests in the Catholic Church, albeit not those who are of the Roman (latin) rite.

  • Very interesting list, especially for someone who went to 13 years of Catholic school and never a thing about any of these Popes!
    Of course, I went to Catholic school of a completely different era; the era of the Baltimore Catechism, the Latin Mass, women covering their head in church, fish on Friday, and so much more…while there were, and are, some things about certain clergy and how the Church handled them, overall I can only say that the Church has done more good that bad. If you only want to narrow your gaze into the abuse problem, which is much smaller a problem than the Globe or the National Enquirer would have you believe, then you have to ignore all the Hospitals and schools the Church has built all over the world. You would have to ignore all of the food and clothing given away, all over the world. You would have to ignore orphanages set-up and run in countries where the adults have been lost to war and disease, where the children are brought back to health and given to new families in new, safe, countries.
    Or you could keep your narrow view, and ignore everything else.

  • deeeziner

    Item #3–Pope John XII

    The guy doesn’t look like a youthful debaucher. He looks rather trustworthy and knowledgeable. I wonder if the image is true, or if the artist was biased by his employer.

    Artist: “How’s thisa one, el Poppi?”
    John XII: “No! No! You can see too much of my lusty nature in my eyes. Get another canvas! Hell! Get another artist!”

    An interesting read Jaffa, it has left plenty for me to google later.

  • theoriginalcasualreader

    @ 22 segues,

    What you point out is absolutely correct and fair-minded. However, exactly the same issue was contested in a letter to a paper I read over the last few days.

    The correspondent noted, quite correctly, that if a builder makes a bad job of a building and it falls down and injures or kills the occupants and damages their property, no one takes into account in the ensuing law case that he might have built 1000 perfectly sound ones. In the same way a fireman who might have saved 99 lives will still be tried for a capital crime if he murders somebody. It isn’t a case of he’s 99% good so let him go unpunished.

    The same problem exists concerning abuse. Yes indeed, it represents a tiny minority of R.C. functionaries (we hope!), and a fraction of the institution’s overall and usually benevolent activities. But …

    Firstly, generally speaking, those who set themselves the highest standards in the world must expect to be be judged by the harshest standards when they not only fail these standards, but employ them to commit crimes and then hide behind them.

    Secondly, specific to this situation (or many of these cases), and in many ways even more appalling, has been the criminal, yes criminal – I use the word advisedly, cover up by all to (perhaps) the very highest authorities in the R.C. heirarchy. This has at times taken the form of translocation, leading to further abuse of yet more vulnerable and unprotected children by figures they are instructed to trust implicity. I.e. at all events the saintly and unbesmirched authority of those who claim to speak directly for ‘their’ God must be maintained as pure as poss, so b++++r the kids (cynical pun intended). This ungodly action defies definition or forgiveness by those of us who consider confession = forgiveness a self-invented, all-too-frequent cop-out.

    Apologists writing in that same paper and others like it have gone to great lengths to put the same arguments of the Church’s good works, the tiny minority of offenders, forgiveness by God of transgressors who repent, God’s own judgement, their shame for the Church they love, etc. What has been conspicuously absent, almost without exception, from these letters is any mention of the victims, or the obligation of criminal prosecution. It should never be forgotten that in civil law knowingly covering up a crime is also a crime. By that token, sadly and disgracefully, the Church, setter of the highest moral standards, is giving sanctuary in its bosom to untried criminals, both direct and accomplice.

    Religious functionaries and authorities, in disestablished countries at least, should not, and must not ever be apart from the common law, let alone above it, no matter what the cost to them and their institutions. That, I believe, is the major and critical issue at stake, and the reason for what many are trying to label an obsessive and unfair, blinkered witch-hunt by anti-Catholics.

    To end on my hypothetical builder and fireman and the Church itself. Of course, everybody’s complete life and every institution’s overall actions deserve a fair and balanced assessment. But that must be considered at a proper time and place where it doesn’t serve to palliate vile and criminal acts.

  • superbloop

    Note to self: Do not call self Pope John. Pope John Paul, sure, but Pope John is risky.

  • Cyn

    5. Can I use a signature?

    No. Do not put signatures at the end of your comments – we can see from the comment what your username is and we don’t allow readers to use the comments for advertising. Furthermore, links posted in comments are not indexed by Google or other search engines so you can’t improve your site rank by doing this.
    ~ ~ ~
    a reminder from that read me first bit seen above the comment box. thanx.

  • theoriginalcasualreader

    Perhaps I might add that the perpetrators themselves, sick-minded and possibly when young also victims of a chronic chain of abuse, may deserve and need certain understanding, perhaps even compassion if appropriate, and whatever treatment can be provided … once in captivity. Those options should ideally be open to all who +excusably+ commit crimes anyway.

    However, the number one rule that over-soft liberalism so often forgets is: Concern and action to help, protect and compensate victims first and forement at all events. Not to say avoidance of the possibility of further victims.

  • @theoriginalcasualreader: The medieval papacy was fraught with problems (such as the pornocracy) – but while almost all of our wicked popes come from that era, the majority of the medieval Popes were good – but their lives aren’t as interesting to read about as the bad ones hence the prevalence of them on lists like this :)

  • @Cyn: Thanks for posting that link – it is not visible any longer because everyone has to be registered to comment – I will add it back to the comment box for everyone.

  • theoriginalcasualreader

    @ jfrater,

    That’s exactly as I suspected. Whoever saw a large crowd gathering to stare morbidly at a driver who braked to a perfect halt, or at an aircraft that simply landed without problems? It’s occurred to me that the old saw, +No news is good news+ should be turned on its head as +Good news is no news+!

  • @theoriginalcasualreader: I like that very much – it is certainly true.

  • Arsnl

    @theoriginalcasualreader: But should the child of that fireman be punished for the crimes of his father? Or should the people he saved be discriminated but their savior has done something wrong? Like you said you can notice you cant compare an institution with a person. It would be better to say is the fireman has a cancer. Should that cancer be protected in the hope it wil cure itself or should it be extirpated.
    Ps to keep a long story short (you and i should have done this): paedophiles in jail; people who cover it up under investigation.
    Also a question: why does the catholic church insists on celibacy so much?

  • Arsnl

    Also isnt incorrect to regard the early popes as the heads of the catholic church. The catholic church didnt even exist back then.
    And i found another reason why the black sea is terrible.

  • tomtraubertsblues

    Number one didn’t die violently at all. How is he number 1?
    Good list though.

  • liberalgal8006

    I don’t think the media has over exposed the abuse scandals at all. Even one child abused is one too many. But the amount of people who have come forward after living through such abuse, after being scared because of the thought no one would believe a person of such status would do such a thing is too much to deny that there is a major problem. Whether it is celibacy and not allowing Catholic Priests to marry or something that is actually teahing them to be paedophiles, it doesn’t matter. The church’s continued for decades to cover up acts of abuse on children.
    These people should be treated no different than anyone else. Catholicism leads to people thinking they can do no wrong and that they are so much better than other people, and not that people are equal. But look at the astonishing statistics of alcholism and sexual child abuse amongst the group. I am a Sociologist and a researcher, I use proper statistics in my class and publishings on such accounts.

  • @tomtraubertsblues: (37):
    –he is in the number 1 spot because the list is in chronological order…..
    and i would argue that having a roof collapse on you, then surviving for more than a week is, at the very least, violent enough to warrant inclusion on this list…..

  • ianz09

    Speaking of Popes who died a violent death:

  • Mike Sean

    “When people think of the Pope, the more devout will think of them as a benevolent and compassionate leader”

    lol, no I don’t think they do.. Not when the pope tells his African followers that condoms cause aids. These days, I think the pope would have to have more than an immaculate history of good works.

  • jaffaanonymous

    @woyzeckforever and @blackmarauder: Out of line, guys. I know people are pissed about what’s going on, rightfully so, but come on now.

    @8 @Julius: I thought about it, but decided against it because it might start a flame war (which, funnily enough, I hadn’t considered the recent events might do as well) so I figured I’d let folks bring it up on their own.

    @theoriginalcasualreader: I see your point, but honestly what I think it shows is more of a progression from Bible-based mythos to a more real-world view of people in power. The men early on are more set in legend, while later on there are more accounts of what truly happened. As far as a list of ‘good’ popes; while it wouldn’t be boring per se, I think good deeds are less likely noted down as feverishly as bad ones.

  • jaffaanonymous

    @superbloop: Probably a good idea, there.

    @Arsnl: Well, like I said in the first post, some schools of thought regard them as popes. Not all do, for the same reason you cited.

    @tomtraubertsblues: What @oliveralbq said covers it, haha.

    @ianz09: Hahaha! YES!

  • Lifeschool

    @Arsnl: “why does the catholic church insists on celibacy so much?” – you know what – I was wondering the same thing. It seems so outdated these days doesn’t it? I mean, If one of these guys falls in love – isn’t that a perfectly natural god-lovin’ thing to do?

    I know it has something to do with ‘mortal sins of the flesh’ and staying pure in the service of God. I.e, giving up everying to stay loyal only to HIM – or some such.

    • Fr. Ben

      Jesus, whom according to the Catholic Faith is God who became man, chose celibacy.

      As a priest, I can tell you, we don't so much choose celibacy as we choose to give ourselves entirely to God (and the service of His Church) as a sort of calling. Marriage is a good thing, and sexual intimacy with your spouse as well, but the person who embraces celibacy for religious purposes feels a kind of "longing" to belong entirely to God, like Jesus did. We give up the beautiful vocation of marriage to make ourselves more available to Him. And as I pointed out in reply to another comment, there are a lot of married priests in the Catholic Church— just not in the "Latin" rite (which is the rite that we see more often if Western Europe and the Americas).

      Finally, celibates are not more prone to be sex-offenders than other people. Plenty of studies have proven that.

  • The idea of the list is good – to contrast wicked popes with the great ones.
    However we only see that the first four are great and not the rest… If they have died because of a silliness of some kind it does not make them necessarily great.
    I would prefer a list based on achievements of each one. So, Apostle Peter is a good one to start with, then St. Clement… Then for instance St. Martin (+655) who died in exile for the fight against monothelite heresy. Etc.

  • theoriginalcasualreader

    @ jaffanonymous, 42,

    “I think it shows … more of a progression from Bible-based mythos to a more real-world view of people in power. The men early on are more set in legend, while later on there are more accounts of what truly happened.”

    Surely the progression is both different and infinitely more complex than that. Presumably the earliest Christians were the ones who came closest in succession to the actual words and messages of Jesus as spread by those who knew him personally. (Even so, we may perhaps argue endlessly whether what he really intended was ever interpreted accurately.) It is reasonable to state that what has followed has been a mixture of Chinese whispers, fraud, interpretation and re-writing to serve given ends, often venal. Latterly – very latterly indeed, attempts are being made to arrive at some sort of historic-cum-geographic mythbuster understanding via in situ archaeology, modern technology and science.

    Without doubt the original growth of Christianity was feared as potentially subversive, or at least as challenging the established order. So its early practicioners were themselves often victims of +real world people in power+ such as Roman rulers.

    Read you Chaucer to discover just how far – and often shamefully – Christianity was deviating from its origins by his time, rather than approaching any sort of ‘truth’. (Enough fragments of the +true cross+ on sale to construct how many crosses?) Indeed much taken for granted as contemporary with Jesus was written long, long afterwards, much as the Nordic sagas were eventually written down after being passed on by word of mouth for generations.

    How can there be accounts of what +truly happened+ when no (what we today call) evidence exists for most of the supernatural essence on which the Bible rests? (I.e. Jesus being the Son of God, God existing and speaking to people of those times, Humans being immortal, the miracles of Jesus. Were the latter duplicated under identical supervised conditions?) Or, assuming I’m mistaken there, on what concrete evidence does the arrival at a greater historical truth as time went on actually depend? Thomas the doubter asked for such evidence at the time and was given the bum’s rush!

    Arriving at what truly happened? – Ah, like the Mother of Jesus resembling and arrayed like a Spanish noble lady, and himself fair-skinned with light-coloured hair and Nordic-looking, perhaps blue-eyed, as portrayed even now throughout much of the Christian world?

    Indeed, a great deal of the institutional splintering of Christianity has taken place because people felt the then Establishment was betraying its simple origins and pure message to humanity.

  • nicoleredz3

    There’s only one thing to say, forgive my language, but “Holy shit!”…

    Good list!

  • theoriginalcasualreader

    @ jaffanonymous, 42,

    I think I may have totally misunderstood you (I hope to an extent justifiably!) at my 46. in that case I owe you a giant apology and have wasted useful time writing a spurious post! Serves me right. (Isn’t Easter supposed to be a good time for self-castigation?)

    It has since occurred to me that you are far more likely to be referring to our perception of early popes and other leading Christian figures as legendary, and their later and modern counterparts as the ones which have been reported to us (more) truly and accurately. I think it was your phrase +Bible based ethos+ that threw me.

    Anyway, assuming I’m now on track, and you didn’t mean such a naíve comment, I’ll partly excuse myself as having been up most of last night finishing something urgent, and quit with an embarrassed, +Sorry!+.

  • astraya

    We should make a movie out of this, and call it “Dead Poeps’ Society” (or something like that.

  • jaffaanonymous

    @iliodor, re 45: The list wasn’t intended to compare ‘wicked’ or ‘great’ popes in any way. Simply telling the ways that some have died in violent ways, in chronological order, with no other subtext involved. It was a response to a previous list, 25 factlets or something, that stated that several popes had died in such a way. I was curious, so I researched it. That’s all, no slant intended.

    @theoriginalcasualreader: I think you did misunderstand me, twice-over actually, haha. All I was saying, to put it in plain words, was that the earlier stories are more based on legend while later ones are more accounted for in historical records. For instance, compare #9, Pope St Clement I, story to #4 Pope Stephen VII, and research them a bit to see how I mean.

    In the case of Pope St Clement I, you’ll see that the form and actions of his story is similar to other tales in the bible– vision of a lamb, striking a hill and water miraculously appearing– and as such fits with the mythology more than our modern understanding of how the world works.

    In the case of Pope Stephen VII, you’ll find documents, various accounts, and other same-such things to support this story. It is less mythological in nature, and as such fits with our ability to comprehend its actual existence.

    What I wasn’t saying was that earlier Popes tried to be more Christ-like, or were better (“greater”) christians than the later ones. Not the case, just that as history was written down by more people, we were able to get more solid accounts of what actually may have happened. No more, no less.

    Does that make sense? I don’t want to confuse things any more, haha.

  • What I got from this is we’re all too nice to popes.

  • thats really cool. Maybe you should put one martyrs or bishops that would be a cool continuations to this blog

  • This list, and the comments it generated are both amusung and worrying. Good on you!

  • craierahl

    Just a clarification: were both Popes John VII and XII beaten to death by enraged jealous husbands? That seems a bit odd.. Perhaps it was only John XII (#3) who died that way, which makes #6 inaccurate?

  • jaffaanonymous

    @craierahl: Nope. Both. It confused me too, but you can double-check for yourself if you’d like.

  • arthur2shedsjackson

    Why not list the Top 10 Popes who were also Dads?
    Or the Top 10 Popes who sould indulgences?
    Or the Top 10 Popes who…pick your favorite vice?

    Seriously, it wouldn’t take much to unmask these bozos in funny hats for the human vermin that they are. Might as well get a few lists out of it.

  • mrsmarvel

    I’m thinking it’s best not to take the name of John if you become Pope. Seems unlucky.

    I really don’t understand the dates on some of the early popes. If Christianity was still in its infancy (I don’t know when the Catholic church was founded) did they actually elect retroactive popes? Seems like Pope St Peter would have been very old to have been pope in 64AD. If he was 20 when Jesus was killed, he’d have been 84 when he himself died. That’s incredibly old for that time period. Is that possible?

  • GTT

    Seems like I missed a good list while I was happily enjoying my Easter break!

    I just love how any mention of Cristianity inevitably leads to a discussion on priest pedophiles…

    @liberalgal8006: I would love to see your published statistics…

  • I am a Protestant Christian who doesn’t understand Catholicism AT ALL. I mean, most of their practices were put into place after voting on them at several different ecumenical councils, including the First Council of Nicaea. Where in the Bible does it say that as a Christian you must confess your sins to a MAN (Priest, Cardinal, Pope, whatever) and that man will forgive you for your confessed sins based on the power that was given to him by God??? That goes against everything the Bible teaches and negates what Christ did for us on the cross! He died for our sins so that we could have a DIRECT and INTIMATE relationship with HIM; we don’t need to go through anyone else!

    I could go on an on about this all day, but this really isn’t the place for it. I will say this list was incredibly well-written and interesting, my feelings about Catholicism aside! :)

  • ricej1969

    You are so right, vintageobsessive (58). Unfortunately, the Catholic church have been deceiving their followers since the beginning. They add so many rituals and rules that it is almost a cult. Catholicism is a religion when it should be a relationship with God. I believe that some in the church are saved but so many Catholics are going to be surprise when they die and meet their maker and God will say “I don’t know you”. The Catholic church has done and continues to do wonderful charity work but they has lost sight of their first love. Which means that they are not doing those things because they love God but because that is what they just do. I am talking about the church as a whole not individual people in the church.

  • Steelman


    Ummm, yes it did. Read your history. Read the letters of the early Church leaders such as Polycarp, Ignatius, Origen, etc.. They all refer to the Church, its hierarchy and its authority.

  • Steelman


    At least you’re honest and say that you “don’t understand Catholicism”, but then you (and ricej1969) make the same mistake as any bigot and turn such ignornance into slander and ignorant remarks.

    As for ecumenical councils, you might want to check out Acts 15:4-21 for the first council to take place. Quite biblical – why don’t Protestants do this very Scriptual thing??

    As for confession, read John 20:21 – before Jesus grants them the authority to forgive sins, Jesus says to the apostles, “as the Father sent me, so I send you.” As Christ was sent by the Father to forgive sins, so Christ sends the apostles and their successors forgive sins.

    Then in John 20:22 – the Lord “breathes” on the apostles, and then gives them the power to forgive and retain sins. The only other moment in Scripture where God breathes on man is in Gen. 2:7, when the Lord “breathes” divine life into man. When this happens, a significant transformation takes place.

    So you see, confession and the ability to absolve sin is quite Scriptual.

  • @Steelman [61]: No, the only thing I “see” is your attempt at interpreting scripture in a way that justifies your practices. No man has the ability to forgive sins, period.
    While you are attempting to find scriptural references to your beliefs, find the scripture that instructs us to sprinkle water on infants to baptize them. Or find the word “trinity” in the bible. Or show me where the bible tells us to use rosary beads or say “hail Mary’s”…

  • lame

    what are the proofs for all of these?
    I found some of the death quite the same.

  • Woyzeck

    How can somebody "become the ire" of someone else?

  • djC

    lol Battle Popes!!

  • artetsMeall


  • pola

    well some of them don’t deserve to be pops they were pervert