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The pope is the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church and the absolute monarch of Vatican City. He is believed by Catholics to fulfill this role as the successor of Saint Peter, and as Vicar of Christ. The office of the pope is called the papacy; his ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes) or Apostolic See (this latter, on the basis that both Saints Peter and Paul were martyred at Rome). Early bishops occupying the See of Rome were designated Vicar of Peter; for later popes the more authoritative Vicar of Christ was substituted; this designation was first used by the Roman Synod of 495 to refer to Pope Gelasius I, an advocate of papal supremacy among the patriarchs. Marcellinus (d. 304) is the first Bishop of Rome whom sources show used the title of pope. In the 11th century, after the East-West Schism, Pope Gregory VII declared the term "pope" to be reserved for the Bishop of Rome. The current (266th) pope is Francis, elected on 13 March 2013 in a papal conclave.
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The Sistine Chapel (Italian: Cappella Sistina) is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in the Vatican City. Its fame rests on its architecture, which evokes Solomon's Temple of the Old Testament, its decoration, frescoed throughout by the greatest Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo whose ceiling is legendary, and its purpose, as a site of papal religious and functionary activity.The Sistine Chapel is most famously known for being the location of Papal conclaves, for the election of a new pope. More commonly, it is the physical chapel of the Papal Chapel. At the time of Pope Sixtus IV in the late 15th century, this corporate body comprised about 200 persons, including clerics, officials of the Vatican and distinguished laity.

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Christ gives Peter the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, by Pietro Perugino.

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Pope Pius XII (Latin: Pius PP. XII; Italian: Pio XII), born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (March 2, 1876 – October 9, 1958), reigned as the 260th pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City, from March 2, 1939 until his death. Before election to the papacy, Pacelli served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio and cardinal secretary of state, in which roles he worked to conclude treaties with European nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Germany. His leadership of the Catholic Church during World War II and The Holocaust remains the subject of continued historical controversy. After the war, Pius XII contributed to the rebuilding of Europe, and advocated peace and reconciliation, including lenient policies toward vanquished nations and the unification of Europe. The Church, flourishing in the West, experienced severe persecution and mass deportations of Catholic clergy in Eastern Europe and China.


  • "War should belong to the tragic past, to history: it should find no place on humanity's agenda for the future." Pope John Paul II
  • "Justice requires that to lawfully constituted Authority there be given that respect and obedience which is its due; that the laws which are made shall be in wise conformity with the common good; and that, as a matter of conscience all men shall render obedience to these laws. " Pope Pius XI

Did you know...

  • ...Pius IX has had the longest reign as Pope?
  • ...That Antipope Felix V was the last historically significant Antipope?
  • ...An apocryphal Pope Donus II used to be listed in the official lists. He was mistakenly inserted after Pope Benedict VI?
  • ...That there used to be a John in the list of popes between Pope John XIV and Pope John XV this pope never existed
  • ...That Antipope John XVII and Antipope John XXIII were thought not to be illegitimate Pope?
  • ...That after Antipope Benedict X the next Pope to take the name Benedict was Pope Benedict XI. Antipope Benedict X is considered by some to be a legitimate pope?
  • ...That Pope Lando was the last pope to use a papal name which had not been previously used until Pope John Paul I did so in 1978 and Pope Francis in 2013?
  • ...There have been 217 popes from Italy, 17 from France, 13 Greeks, 8 from Germany, 6 from Syria, 3 from Spain, 3 from Africa, and one each from Galilee (Palestine) (Saint Peter), 1 from England, 1 from Portugal, 1 from the Netherlands, 1 from Poland and 1 from Argentina?
  • ...When Simon de Brion became pope in 1281, he chose to be called Martin. At that time, Marinus I and Marinus II were mistakenly considered to be Martin II and Martin III respectively, and so, erroneously, Simon de Brion became Pope Martin IV
  • ... That there are 80 Popes who are saints, 10 Popes are blessed, 1 Venerable and 3 Servants of God



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