The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) can inspire us to learn more about Pope Francis, our popes throughout history, and all things papal.
WHAT IS A POPE AND WHY DO WE HAVE ONE?
Jesus made Peter the leader of the Apostles (keys of the kingdom). The Pope is Peter's successor.
Jesus sent Peter to Rome, where he lead the church and then was crucified upside-down where the Vatican and St. Peter's now stands. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome.
Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep. The Pope is the Shepherd of the Universal Church
Jesus told his apostles to serve as he did. The Pope is the Servant of the Servants of God.
Jesus told us to be his presence in the world. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. (Christ is the head, not the pope).
Jesus is the bridge between God and people. The Pope is the Supreme Pontiff. (Pontiff is short for pontifex which means bridge builder)
God is our Heavenly Father. The Pope is our Holy Father, the one who shows us how to be holy, and leads us by example.
We have a Pope because Jesus gave us one. The Pope helps to hold us together as one Church, and the Pope expresses that we are one Church. The Pope also works for unity where it does not exist.
PAPAL NAME: What you call yourself
Bishops went by their own names until 533 when Mercurius (named for the Roman pagan god Mercury) was made Bishop of Rome/Pope. He changed his name to John II to avoid honoring a pagan god. The idea caught on quickly, but the last pope to use his own name was Pope Marcellus II one thousand years later in 1555.
HOLY Fathers: Not every pope is a saint, but many are!
(78 saints) (11 blesseds)
How do you say a pope's name when he has been canonized? Pope Saint Pius X, Pope Saint Gregory the Great, etc.
PAPAL WARDROBE: What's a Holy Father to wear?
The little white hat is called a zucchetto. There are other "hats" too, like the bishop's mitre and the triple tiara.
We are used to seeing popes in a white cassoc, but they originally wore red. Pope Saint Pius V, O.P., a Dominican (15661572) kept his white religious habit, and ever since all popes have worn white.
The cape on cassock symbolizes authority. That is why our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI doesn't wear one.
The pope's shoes are traditionally red. This is the only part of the original red dress that remains. They symbolize the blood of martyrdom and the pope's willingness to defend our faith to the death.
Every pope wears a unique ring of the fisherman. It was originally used as a signature seal on Church documents. When a pope dies or resigns, the ring he wore is broken or defaced so that it cannot be used by anyone else.
PAPAL PETS: Some popes have had pets.
Benedict XVI loves cats and has two of them.
Pope Pius XII had finches. One liked to sit on his wrist as he was shaving!
Pope Leo XII had a little dog who moved to England when he died.