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Random Fun Facts: Papacy

The responsibility of our Apostolic office impels us to promote the study of Holy Scripture in accordance with the teaching of our predecessors, Leo XIII and Pius X.  We shall never desist from urging the faithful to read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles, so as to gather thence food for their souls.  Ignorance of the Bible means ignorance of Christ.  ~Pope Benedict XVI

Being astounded by Fun Facts, I decided to share my findings with everyone.  Sometimes I come across this information online, via television, books, word-of-mouth, etc.  You get the point.  This material is basically what I find interesting and it’s caught my attention for one reason or another, usually at random.  Enjoy!

Vatican Conclave Rituals
Cardinals walk in procession to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, at the beginning of the conclave 2/18/05

Random Fun Facts!

Since we are in transition of electing a new Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, to replace Pope Benedict XVI, I thought this information was appropriate.  Below does not outline all the details for the Papacy but are just a few interesting facts.


  • Shortest conclave took a few hours
  • Longest conclave lasted 3 years
  • Modern conclaves install cell phone jammers in the floors
  • Any part of the conclave who communicates with the outside world while in session is excommunicated
  • The conclave is indeed locked together until a Pope is elected, originally done so to resolve deadlocks


  • Elected Cardinals need to be under 80-years of age before the death or resignation of the Pope to be eligible to vote
  • No more than 120 Cardinals may vote
  • A two-thirds supermajority vote is required to elect the new pope, and this also requires acceptance from the person elected
  • Women are not eligible for the papacy, they also cannot be ordained
  • In 1996, John Paul II promulgated a new Apostolic Constitution, called Universi Dominici Gregis (The Lord’s Whole Flock)
  • The Universi Dominici Gregis governs the election of the pope
  • Popes used to be appointed by heads of government or the wealthy
  • The voting takes place in the Sistine Chapel
  • Cardinal Dean also known as Cardinal Bishop reads the oath aloud in full, the other cardinal electors state while touching the Gospels, they “do so promise, pledge and swear.”
  • Voting comprises of 3 phases: the pre-scrutiny, the scrutiny and the post-scrutiny
  • Cardinals are encouraged to disguise their handwriting when casting votes
  • Once all of the ballots have been opened this begins the final post-scrutiny phase
  • If there is no election in the 1st scrutiny, the cardinals immediately proceed to the next scrutiny- the papers from both scrutinies are burnt together at the end of the 2nd scrutiny
  • Color of the smoke signals the results to the people assembled in St Peter’s Square- (Dark smoke signals not a result in an election / White smoke signals that a new pope was chosen)
  • As of 2005, bells ring after a successful election, to augment the white smoke
Annulus Piscatorius Papacy Ring Fisher of menAunt Heather Piper
The Papacy ring, the Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring


  • Cardinal Camerlengo takes possession of the Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring
  • If the newly elected is a bishop, he takes office immediately
  • If not a bishop, he must be first consecrated as one before assuming office
  • If a priest is elected, the Cardinal Dean consecrates him bishop
  • If a layman is elected, then the Cardinal Dean first ordains him deacon, then priest, and then consecrates him as bishop
  • Only after becoming a bishop does the pope-elect take office
  • Since 533, the new pope has decided on the name by which he is to be called at this time
  • The Pope is the apostolic successor of Saint Peter


  • There are roughly 1.18 billion Catholics in the world
  • 1 in 5 people in the global population are Catholic
  • World’s largest church
  • 50% of the world’s Catholics live in North & South America
  • 24% of the world’s Catholics live in Europe
  • 15% of the world’s Catholics live in Africa
  • 11% of the world’s Catholics live in Asia
Last Judgement by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (March 6, 1475 February 18, 1564)
Last Judgement by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni who lived from March 6, 1475-February 18, 1564



  • A adult man
  • In the Latin Rite church
  • Unmarried
  • Must not have unconventional sexual tendencies, such as homosexuality
  • Must be chaste- morally pure in thought or conduct
  • Received the Sacrament of Confirmation not less than three years before
  • Must not have any encumbrances- debt or caring for children or infirm relatives
  • Young enough to be ordained and serve as a priest before the mandatory retirement age of 75
  • No significant mental disorders
  • No significant health disorders.


  • Must be an ordained priest
  • Unmarried


  • A Catholic man in good standing
  • Exceptional priest
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