I am 96% confident of these two lists.
They are more accurate than any other list I have seen.
Most of you have probably seen at least a picture of this imposing, ~6′ tall marble tablet listing the names of the popes buried in St. Peter’s, under the Latin inscription SUMMI PONTIFICES IN HAC BASILICA SEPULTI (Supreme Pontiffs buried in this Basilica).
This tablet, in St. Peter’s is to the right of the entrance to the sacristy – that being the rather large ‘annex’ to the left of the main Basilica (when facing it). You reach it from the left aisle under the huge monument to Pius VIII (#254), pictured below.
The Vatican’s marble tablet lists 148 popes up to and including John Paul II (#266).
This 148 number is optimistic.
The actual number of popes now believed to be buried within the precincts of St. Peter’s is 137, possibly 138 or maybe 139 — and that includes the original Stephen (II) (#92), a bona fide pope albeit for four days, who is indeed buried there though NOT listed in the marble tablet.
WHY THE DISCREPANCY?
The problem is that the list on the tablet does not reflect some bodies that were transferred away from St. Peter’s after they had been initially buried there.
St. Sixtus I (#7) is a good example. There is a wonderful story about what happened to the body of Sixtus I (which I recounted in my first book). Tradition maintains that Sixtus I was martyred (though this was unlikely) and buried under what is now St. Peter’s Basilica. It is also said that in 1132 Innocent II (#165), at the bidding of the residents of Alife [Italy], granted them Sixtus I’s relics. But the mule carrying the relics from Rome refused to go beyond Alatri [Italy]. So, the relics were interned at the Alatri Cathedral with Alfie just getting a finger bone.
But, his name appears on the marble tablet, thus making us rethink that old adage about things chiseled in stone – in this case, ‘soft,’ most likely Carrera, marble.
Here is THE list of the 13 popes that appear on the marble tablet but have since been translated to other locations:
1. St. Sitxus (#7) –> Alatri Cathedral, Italy
2. St. Anicetus (#11) –> Palazzo Altemps, Rome
3. St. Sorter (#12) –> San Martino ai Monti, Rome
4. St. Eleutherius (#13) –> Santa Susanna, Rome
5. Vigilius (#59) –> Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti, Rome
6. St. Paschal I (#99) –> Santa Prassede, Rome
7. John XVIII (XIX) (#142) –> St. John Lateran or San Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome
8. Honorius IV (#191) –> Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome
9. Eugene IV (#208) –> San Salvatore in Lauro, Rome
10. Callistus III (#210) –> Santa Maria de Monserrato degli Spagnoli, Rome
11. Pius II (#211) –> Sant’Andrea della Valle, Rome
12. Alexander VI (#215) –> Santa Maria de Monserrato degli Spagnoli, Rome
13. Pius III (#216) –> Sant’Andrea della Valle, Rome
So that is -13 [i.e., minus 13].
However, that has to be offset by 2 popes that are not on the marble tablet, but are indeed buried at St. Peter’s. These two are: Stephen (II) (#92) & John XI (#126).
Then we have Leo VIII (#132). Nobody knows where he is buried. Some suspect that he is indeed buried at St. Peter’s. So he gets the benefit of the doubt.
We also have the same problem with the pope hat succeeded him, Benedict V (#133). Again nobody can determine where he was buried. However, in his case, people are not as sure whether he is buried at St. Peter’s.
So here is how the numbers reconcile. 148 on the tablet. But we know 13 were translated away. So that is 148-13 which gives us 135. Then we have to ADD Stephen (II) and John XI. That takes us up to 137.
Whether we then add Leo VIII and Benedict V dictates whether we go with 138 or 139.
OK? Get the drift. Study the list.
We also need to take into account that today’s magnificent Basilica, in its current grandiose form, now the second largest in the world, hasn’t always been there.
Initially, c. 60 AD, it was an open field, on top of a mound, on the outskirts of Rome. There was no building or structure. We have to take it on faith that those that succeeded St. Peter (#1) were buried close to him.
St. Anacletus (#3), c.76/79 – c.88/92, had a monument (possibly a chapel) built over St. Peter’s tomb. That was the first structure.
In the fourth century, at the behest of Emperor Constantine the Great a small Basilica was built on this site – the so called Old St. Peter’s or the Constantine Basilica. St. Leo ‘the great’ I (#45), in 461, was the first pope to be buried in this Basilica.
In the sixteenth century, Julius ‘the warrior pope’ II (#217), of the Sistine Ceiling fame, commissioned Donato Bramante, the great Italian architect, to build a bigger, grander Basilica around the by now dilapidated old structure. In time the incomparable Michelangelo Buonarroti, having finished the ceiling, designed the imposing timeless dome. Bramante had to do away with nearly all the papal tombs that were located in the old Basilica. Many of the remains were transferred to new locations within the new Basilica.
THE DEFINITIVE LISTS
Please click the pictorial icons below for THE definitive lists of where the popes are buried. They are both relatively small PDFs; i.e., under 150KB.
The color coding in the ‘Final Burial’ column, in the WHERE ALL THE POPES ARE BURIED list, is used to demarcate the different locations, with the most popular of the locations assigned a specific color to facilitate identification.
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Randy contacted me, online, maybe 6 years ago asking me how he can reach into the Vatican. We have collaborated since then,
Randy has done amazingly well. His baseball collection is now legendary.
He received this recently and I just got his e-mail, with the picture, within the hour.
Quite the signature.
Well done Randy. You ARE the MAN.
The Sublime ‘Raphael’, One Of THE Greatest, Died This Day BUT Might Have Also Been BORN This Day, April 6!
We are NOT sure whether he was born April 6 or March 28.
But we do know that he DIED on April 6, 1520 — way, way too early. April 6 that year was Good Friday. It is said that he died, prematurely, from having had too much sex! What a way to go — though I kind of doubt whether that was what really killed him.
One of my TOP 5 favorite artists and how could be NOT be.
I am very partial to the ‘School of Athens’ and it might even feature on the cover of a future book.
But, let’s take few minutes off today to just savor the work, life and spirit of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.
What a MAN. What a talent.
SOME of his work that has struck a chord with I.
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Google Did do One Google Doodle,
but NONE for his birthday!
Prior to his (controversial burial (because he had been labelled a HERETIC by the Vatican)) burial, three fingers and a tooth were removed from his remains. One of these fingers, the middle finger from Galileo’s right hand, is currently on exhibition at the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy — FROM Wikipedia.
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Click PLAY button to ENJOY.
How could I NOT share this with you. Happen to see it, like most of this type of stuff, in the U.K. “Daily Mail” which I read a few times a day. Mainly in hope of news such as this that never makes it to CNN or MSNBC.
Hilarious. Wish it was done to the real thing though I would have to guess, at his advanced age, they are probably hard to locate.
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If you Italian is a bit rusty what it says is:
“In Christ appeared the grace, mercy, tenderness of the Father: Jesus and Love made flesh
— Father Francis”
Posting the Catholic Press Photo, “Pope’s Christmas Card,” has been one of my cherished annual traditions since 2008, one that I eagerly look forward to as soon as we enter December.
I used to post them on my then widely read “Popes and Papacy” blog. Though it is still active I don’t update it much. So this year I am starting by posting the card here.
The Rome-based Catholic Press Photo, established over 40 years ago, now led by Alessia Giuliani, the daughter of one of the founders, has been a good friend. This gives me a chance to highlight their excellent work. Enjoy their pictures … especially those of the cardinals.
This year’s card comes with good wishes from Alessia, Monica, Giancarlo e Emanuela.
The 2010 Card for a bit of Nostalgia.
++++ Search ‘Catholic Press Photo’ at the ‘Popes and Papacy’ blog.