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Monday, September 18, 2023

Something About A Pope, A Pope, and a Pope

Grand Central Schism

omne trium perfectum?

John Bellairs's Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies (1966) is part satire, part parody, and part hilarious. It helps to understand some of the source material and appreciate what he's talking about, though.

The book mentions a few popes and fanciful stories about popes, such as the Grand Central Schism and the old canard about Pope Joan. There are further stories Bellairs could have included, such as one of the years with three popes. A dozen times, the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church have elected two new popes in the same calendar year. The most recent was 1978 (Paul VI - John Paul I - John Paul II), but since Bellairs wrote Saint Fidgeta in the 1960s, the most "recent" would have been 1605 (Clement VIII - Leo XI - Paul V).

The Grand Central Schism was Bellairs's name for the Great Schism of 1054 between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. The Western Schism of 1378 came later when three bishops claimed to be the true pope. I could go on here, but Open Culture provided an animated video drawn in the style of a medieval manuscript to make it all the more enjoyable.

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