Stay up to date on Pope Francis news

Pope: A title from the Italian word papa (from Greek pappas, father) used for the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ and successor of St. Peter, who exercises universal governance over the Church (from the Catholic Almanac).

Find biographies, facts, prayers and much more about past and current Holy Fathers here.

Pope Francis

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope John Paul II

Pope Francis

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope John Paul II


About the Pope

How the Church Chooses a Pope

The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, the Patriarch of the West, Vicar of Christ, Servant of the Servants of God.

It all begins in Rome, where the man who will be Vicar of Christ (Christ's representative on earth) is chosen not to rule, but to serve. He is elected Bishop of Rome and pastor and teacher of the universal Church.

Did you know?

The longest the Church has been without a pope was 1268-1271, when Gregory X was finally elected. The elections took so long the faithful finally put the cardinals on a strict diet of bread and water.

The first Roman to be elected pope was St. Anacletus in 76.

The last Roman was Pius XII in 1939.

The first Italian pope was St. Linus in 67.

The last conclave held outside Rome was in Venice in 1800; Pius VII was elected.

A Prayer for the Holy Father

O God, source of all knowledge and goodness, look with favor upon your servant, whom you have chosen to shepherd your Church here on earth. Give him wisdom and courage, strength and health, compassion and knowledge. Keep him close to you as he guides the flock you have entrusted to him. Grant him by his word and example to be a faithful and holy leader and keep him in your care now and all the days of his life. Amen.

How the Church Chooses a Pope, Copyright Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.