Throughout history many of the Popes have been holy men. Indeed, of the 266 Popes up to Pope Francis, 83 are recognized as Saints and 9 as Blesseds. Included among these are the first 41 Popes. Of the first 32 popes, those who reigned during the age of Roman persecution (which formally ended in 313), fully 28 were martyrs.

Click a name to view a brief biography.

saint Peter

Reigned 30 - 64

Born in Bethsaida, Galilee. Received from Jesus Christ the supreme pontifical power to be transmitted to his successors. Instituted the first ecclesiastical code and the recitation of the "Our Father". Having been arrested, he insisted on being crucified head downwards. Died 29 June 67.

saint Linus

Reigned 64 - 76

Born in Volterra. Elected in 67, he died on the 23rd September 76. He is buried near St. Peter. He created the first fifteen bishops. He forbade women to enter a church with uncovered heads. During his pontificate the evangelists Luke and Mark were martyred.

saint Anacletus (Cletus)

Reigned 76 - 92

Roman Elected in 76, he died in 88, a martyr. He drew up the rules for the consecration of bishops. In the area of the Vatican, near the tomb of St. Peter, he had an oratory built for the burial of martyrs. He was also responsible for rule governing ecclesiastical dress.

saint Clement I

Reigned 88 - 97

Roman. Elected in 88, he died in 97, a martyr. Banished to Pontus by the Emperor Trajan, he was thrown into the sea with an anchor round his neck. He restored the sacrament of confirmation according to the rite of St. Peter. To his time is attributed the use of "amen" in religious ceremonies.

saint Evaristus (Aristus)

Reigned 97 - 105

Greek. Elected in 97, he died in 105. Given the increase in the number of Christians, he divided the city into parishes. He founded the first seven diaconate entrusted to senior priests, and this is considered to the origin of the present College of Cardinals.

saint Alexander I

Reigned 105 - 115

Roman. A disciple of Plutarch, he was elected in 105 and died in 115. To him are attributed the institution of the use of holy Water in Churches and houses and the prescription that hosts to be consecrated be made from unleavened bread.

saint Sixtus I

Reigned 115 - 125

Roman Elected in 115, he died in 125. He is buried in the acropolis of Alatri (Frosinone). He ordered that the corporal be of linen and that sacred vessels be handled only by consecrated ministers. He decreed that the Trisagion be sung before Mass.

saint Telesphorus

Reigned 125 - 136

Greek. Elected in 125, he died in 136, a martyr. He composed the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" and instituted the seven week fast before Easter. He decreed that each priest should celebrate three Masses on Christmas night. He inserted new Prayers into the Mass.

saint Hyginus

Reigned 136 - 140

Athenian. Elected in 136, he died in 140, a martyr. He determined the different prerogatives of the clergy and defined the grades of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. He instituted the use of godparents at baptism to assist the newly born during their Christian life, and decreed that all churches be consecrated.

saint Pius I

Reigned 140 - 142

Born in Aquileia, he was elected in 140 and died in 155, a martyr. He is supposed to have established the date of Easter on the first Sunday after the March full moon. His rules for the conversion of Jews are considered to be important. He opposed Marcus the agnostic.

saint Anicetus

Reigned 155 - 166

Born in Syria, he was elected in 155 and died in 166, a martyr. He decreed that the clergy should not have long hair. He confirmed the celebration of Easter according to the tradition of St. Peter.

saint Soter

Reigned 166 - 174

Born in Fondi, he was elected in 166 and died in 175, a martyr. He can be described as the Pope of Charity. He forbade women to burn incense during the congregation of the faithful. He ratified matrimony a sacrament, valid only if blessed by a priest.

saint Eleutherius

Reigned 174 - 189

Born in Nicopolis (Epire), he was elected in 175 and died in 189, a martyr. He sent Fugatius and Damian to convert the Britons. He abolished some Jewish customs concerning the purity and impurity of food which were still observed by some Christians.

saint Victor I

Reigned 189 - 198

Born in Africa, he was elected in 189 and died in 199, a martyr. He decreed that, in Baptism, any kind of water could be used in an emergency. Memorable was his struggle against the bishops of Asia and Africa so that Easter should be celebrated according to the Roman rite and not according to the Jewish one.

saint Zephyrinus (Zephyrin)

Reigned 199 - 217

Born in Rome, he was elected in 199 and died in 217, a martyr. He decreed that young people of 14 years and over should receive Holy Communion at Easter. His pontificate was characterised by bitter theological struggles. He excommunicated Tertullian. He introduced the use of paten and of chalices of cut glass.

saint Callixtus I

Reigned 217 - 222

Born in Rome, he was elected in 217 and died, a martyr, in 222. He was responsible for the excavation of the famous Catacombs on the Via Appia where 46 popes and about 200,000 martyrs are buried. He was beaten to death with clubs and his remains thrown into a well where "Santa Maria in Trastevere" now stands.

saint Urban I

Reigned 222 - 230

Born in Rome, he was elected in 222 and died, a martyr, in 230. He converted St. Cecilia to Christianity. In 230, on the site of her martyrdom in Trastevere, he had a church built where her remains now lie. He consented to the acquisition of property by the Church.

saint Pontian

Reigned 230 - 235

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 28th August 230 and died on the 28th September 235. He ordered the chanting of the psalms and the recital of the "Confiteor" before death and the use of the salutation "Dominus vobiscum". He was deported and condemned to work in the mines in Sardinia. He died of suffering on the little island of Tavolara.

saint Anterus

Reigned 235 - 236

Born in Magna Grecia, he was elected on the 21st December 236. Like others he suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Emperor Maximus, a barbarian from Thrace. He ordered that the acts and relics of the martyrs be gathered together and kept in churches in a place called the "scrinium".

saint Fabian

Reigned 236 - 250

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 10 January 236 and died a martyr on the 20th January 250. At the moment of his election a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, alighted on his head. During his pontificate the exodus from Rome to flee the persecution of Decius was such that it gave rise to the hermetical life of the anchorites.

saint Cornelius

Reigned 251 - 253

Born in Rome, he was elected in March 251 and died a martyr in June 253. During his pontificate the first schism took place with the election of the Antipope Novation, later excommunicated during a Council held in Rome. Exiled in Civitavecchia he died there having refused to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods.

saint Lucius I

Reigned 253 - 254

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 25th of June 253 and died a martyr on the 5th March 254. Of an ascetical nature, he forbade men and women not related by blood to live together; he decreed that clergy should not live with deaconesses even if given lodging for reasons of charity.

saint Stephen I

Reigned 254 - 257

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 12th May 254 and died a martyr on the 2nd August 257. During his pontificate the struggle against the schismatic followers of the Antipope Novation flared up again. He was beheaded, during a religious function, on his pontifical chair in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus.

saint Sixtus II

Reigned 257 - 258

A Greek, he was elected on the 30th August 257 and died a martyr on the 6th August 258. Of a meek disposition, he settled the disputes that had arisen under Cornelius, Lucian and Stephen. He effected the translation of the mortal remains of St. Peter and St. Paul. During the martyrdom of Cyprian was pronounced the exclamation "Deo Gratias".

saint Dionysius

Reigned 259 - 268

Born in Turio, he was elected on the 22nd July 259 and died on the 26th December 268. At that time the Barbarians were storming the gates of the Roman Empire. He was elected a year after his predecessor because of persecutions. He reorganised the parishes of Rome, and obtained liberty for the Christians from Gallienus.

saint Felix I

Reigned 269 - 274

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 5th January 269 and died on the 30th December 274. He asserted the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of two natures in one person. He suffered the persecution of Aurelian. He began the custom of burying martyrs under church altars and of celebrating Mass on their tombs.

saint Eutychian

Reigned 275 - 283

Born at Luni, he was elected on the 4th January 275 and died a martyr on the 7th December 283. He ordered that Martyrs" remains should be covered with the "Dalmatic" which was similar to the cloak worn by the roman Emperors. today it is a sacred vestment worn by deacons at solemn religious functions. He instituted the blessing of the crops.

saint Caius

Reigned 283 - 296

He was born in Salona (Dalmatia). Elected on the 17th December 283 he died a martyr on the 22nd April 296. His martyrdom was not at the hands of his uncle, Diocletian. He decreed that no one should be ordained bishop until he had passed through the orders of hostarius, reader, acolyute, exorcist, subdeacon, deacon and priesthood.

saint Marcellinus

Reigned 296 - 308

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 27th May 308 and died a martyr on the 16th January 309. Since his pontificate came after the throne had been vacant for four years he had to deal with the difficult problem of pardoning those who had abjured during the persecutions. He decreed that a Council could not be held without the authorization of the pope.

saint Eusebius

Reigned 309 - 311

Born in Cassano (of Greek origin), he was elected on the 18th April 309 and died a martyr on the 17th August 309. During his pontificate the polemics about the apostates continued, bringing the Church almost to the point of schism. He succeeded in maintaining a position of firmness and pardon. He suffered martyrdom in Sicily.

saint Miltiades

Reigned 311 - 314

Born in Africa, he was elected on the 2nd July 311 and died on the 2nd January 314. During his pontificate the emperor Constantine, after the vision "in hoc signo vinces", issued his decree of tolerance for the Christian Faith. Blessed bread dates from this time. He constructed the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

saint Sylvester I

Reigned 314 - 336

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 31st January 314 and died on the 31st December 335. He was the first Pope to wear the Tiara. He celebrated the first Ecumenical Council at Nicea where the "Creed" was formulated. He instituted Sunday as a holyday in memory of the Resurrection. He created the "Iron Crown" with a nail from the Holy Cross.

saint Mark

Reigned 336 - 337

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 18th January 336 and died on the 7th October 336. He decreed that the Pope should be consecrated by the Bishop of Ostia. He instituted the "Pallium" which is still in use. It is made from the wool of a previously blessed lamb and is decorated with black crosses. During his pontificate the first calendar of religious feast days was established.

saint Julius I

Reigned 337 - 352

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 6th February 337 and died on the 12th April 352. He ordered that the Oriental Church should celebrate Christmas on the 25th December instead of uniting it with the Epiphany on the 6th January. He is considered to be the founder of the Archives of Holy See since he ordered that all official acts be preserved.

saint Liberius

Reigned 352 - 366

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 17th May 352 and died in the 24th September 366. The polemics with the Arians continued and these led to the election of the Antipope Felix II. He laid the foundations for the Basilica of St. Mary Major, tracing out the perimeter after a snowfall on the 15th August.

saint Damasus I

Reigned 366 - 384

Born in Spain, he was elected on the 1st October 366 and died on the 11th December 384. He was a learned Pope. He authorized the singing of the psalms by alternate choirs (Ambrosian Rite) instituted by St. Ambrose. He introduced the use of the Hebrew term "alleluia". He fixed the canon of Sacred Scripture, which he had retranslated from the original languages by St. Jerome.

saint Siricius

Reigned 384 - 399

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 15th December 384 and died on the 26th November 399. He was the first, after St. Peter, to assume the title of Pope (Papa) from the Greek "Father". It is maintained also that it is an anagram from from the initials of the words "Petri Apostoli Potestatem Accipiens". He upheld the necessity of celibacy for priests.

saint Anastasius I

Reigned 399 - 401

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 27th November 399 and died on the 19th December 401. He resolved the schism between Rome and the Church of Antiochia. He strenuously fought the followers of immoral practices, maintaining that the Divinity was also hidden in material things. He decreed that priests should remain standing during the Gospel.

saint Innocent I

Reigned 401 - 417

Born in Albano (Rome), he was elected on the 22nd December 401 and died on the 12th March 417. During his pontificate Rome was sacked by the Goths of Alaric. He established the observance of the Roman rite. He persuaded Honorius to prohibit gladiatorial contests in the arenas.

saint Zosimus

Reigned 417 - 418

Of Greek extraction (Masturaca), he was elected on the 18th March 417 and died on the 26th December 418. He had a strong personality and insisted on the rights of the Church against foreign interference. Of very strict morals, he ordained that illegitimate children could not be raised to the priesthood. He sent vicars apostolic to the Franks.

saint Celestine I

Reigned 422 - 432

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 10th September 422 and died on the 27th July 432. He called the Third Ecumenical Council which condemned the followers of Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople. He sent St. Patrick to Ireland. Mention is first made in this period of the "pastoral staff".

saint Sixtus III

Reigned 432 - 440

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 31st July 432 and died on the 19th August 440. He enlarged and embellished the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. Lawrence. He was the author of several epistles and upheld the jurisdiction of Rome over Illyria against the Eastern Emperor who wanted it dependent on Constantinople.

saint Leo I

Reigned 440 - 461

An Italian from Tuscia, he was elected on the 29th September 440 and died on the 10th September 461. He is called "the Great" because of his energetic work in maintaining the unity of the Church. He called the 4th and 5th Ecumenical Councils and defined the mystery of the Incarnation. Alone prevented the "Scourge of God" (Attila).

saint Hilarius

Reigned 461 - 468

Born in Cagliari, he was elected on the 19th November 461 and died on the 29th February 468. In his political thought he followed his great predecessor. He decided that a certain level of culture was needed in order to become a priest, and that popes and bishops should not nominate their successors. He instituted an apostolic vicariate in Spain.

saint Simplicius

Reigned 468 - 483

Born in Tivoli, he was elected on the 3rd March 468 and died on the 10th March 483. During his pontificate occurred the fall of the Western Empire and the schism which led to the founding of the Churches of Armenia, Syria and Egypt (Copts). He regulated the distribution of offerings to pilgrims and for new churches.

saint Felix III (II)

Reigned 483 - 492

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 13th March 483 and died on the 1st March 492. He tried to restore peace in the disturbed Eastern church. Established conditions for return of those who were rebaptized by Arian Vandals in Africa. He has been erroneously taken for Felix II, a holy martyr.

saint Gelasius I

Reigned 492 - 496

Born in Rome of African origin, he was elected on the 1st March 492 and died on the 21st September 496. He instituted the Code for the uniformity of ceremonies and rites. Because of his charity he was called the "Father of the Poor". He maintained the supremacy of the Church over secular powers. He inserted the "Kyrie eleison" into the Mass.

saint Symmachus

Reigned 498 - 514

Born in Sardinia, he was elected on the 22nd November 498 and died on the 19th July 514. He consolidated Church property referring to it as permanent benefices for the use of the clergy. He ransomed all the slaves giving them their desired freedom. To him is attributed the first construction of the Vatican Palace.

saint Hormisdas

Reigned 514 - 523

Born in Frosinone (Rome), he was elected on the 20th July 514 and died on the 6th August 523. During his pontificate St. Benedict founded the Benedictine Order and the celebrated Abbey of Monte Cassino, destroyed by bombs in 1944. he decreed that Bishopric should not be bestowed in privilege.

saint John I

Reigned 523 - 526

Born in Populonia, he was elected on the 13th August 523 and died on the 18th May 526. He crowned the Emperor Justinian. He died in prison in Ravenna having been imprisoned by the barbaric King Theodoric invader of Italy. He was the first pope to go to Constantinople.

saint Felix IV (III)

Reigned 526 - 530

Born in Benevento, he was elected on the 12th July 526 and died on the 22nd September 530. Arbitrarily nominated pope by Theodoric for his own ends, he showed such loyalty towards the interests of the Church that the King of the Goths repudiated him and had him exiled. Liberty of cult was restored to the Christians on Theodoric's death.

saint Boniface II

Reigned 530 - 533

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 22nd September 530 and died on the 17th October 532. Of Gothic origin, he was considered a "barbarous foreigner". As a result a rival faction elected Pope Dioscoros. The ensuing struggle ceased only on the death of Dioscoros. He had the monastery of Monte Cassino built on a temple of Apollo.

saint John II

Reigned 533 - 535

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 2nd January 533 and died on the 8th May 535. He was the first Pope to change his name since Mercurius was the name of a pagan god. Through an edict of Atalaric the pope was recognised as the head of the bishops of the whole world.

saint Agapetus I

Reigned 535 - 536

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 13th May 535 and died on the 22nd April 536. He was induced by the King of the Goths to go to Constantinople to check the Emperor Justinian's ambitions in Italy. He was poisoned there by the Emperor's wife Theodora, who was of the Eutychian belief.

saint Silverius

Reigned 536 - 537

Born in Frosinone, he was elected on the 1st June 536 and died a martyr on the 11th November 537. The Byzantine armies of Justinian, under the command of Belisarius, captured Rome. The Pope was exiled to the isle of Ponza where he was assassinated, having been forced to renounce the Papacy.

saint Gregory I, O.S.B.

Reigned 590 - 604

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 3rd September 590 and died on the 12th March 604. He reaffirmed the civil authority of the pope, thus beginning the "temporal power". On the decline of the plague in Rome an angel appeared to him on a castle that was from then called Castel Sant"Angelo. He sent missionaries to the English, and instituted Gregorian Chant.

saint Boniface IV, O.S.B.

Reigned 608 - 615

Born in Abruzzo, he was elected on the 25th August 608 and died on the 8th May 615. He consecrated the pagan temple of Agrippa, called the Pantheon, to the memory of the Virgin and of all the Saints, thus instituting All Saints Day on the 1st November. He sanctioned moral and material improvements for the lower clergy.

saint Adeodatus I

Reigned 615 - 619

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 10th October 615 and died on the 8th November 618. With heroic abnegation he tended lepers and the plague stricken. He was the first to use seals of lead for Bulls and pontifical decrees. His is the oldest pontifical seal preserved in the Vatican.

saint Martin I

Reigned 649 - 654

Born in Todi, he was elected on the 5th July 649 and died on the 16th September 655, a martyr. He condemned the Eastern bishops who enjoyed the protection of the Byzantine Emperor. Imprisoned and exiled, he died of suffering and hardship on the island of Cherso. In this period began to be celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Virgin.

saint Eugene I

Reigned 654 - 657

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 10th August 654 and died on the 2nd June 657. His election took place a year before the death of Martin I. He was strongly opposed to the intrigues of the Emperor and informed the other countries of Europe of the sad end of his predecessor. He decreed the observance of chastity for all priests.

saint Vitalian

Reigned 657 - 672

Born in Segni, he was elected on the 30th July 657 and died on the 27th January 672. He sent Apostolic Nuncios to Gaul, Spain and England. He was the first pope to regulate the liturgical use of the organ, using it during religious ceremonies. In 671 the Lombards were converted to Christianity.

saint Agatho

Reigned 678 - 681

Born in Palermo, he was elected on the 27th June 678 and died on the 10th January 681. He maintained strong relations with the English Bishops and encouraged Ireland as a centre of culture. He organised the Sixth Ecumenical Council. He received the title of "Healer" because of the many miracles he worked.

saint Leo II

Reigned 681 - 684

Born in Sicily, he was elected on the 17th August 682 and died on the 3rd August 683. He celebrated the sacred functions with great pomp in order to make the faithful more aware of the majesty of God, and introduced the sprinkling of the people with Holy Water during religious functions.

saint Benedict II

Reigned 684 - 685

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 26th June 684 and died on the 8th May 685. He restored the privilege of Sanctuary, no longer respected by the different fighting factions who even penetrated churches in their search for their enemies. He succeeded in liberating the Church from the interference of the Emperor, introduced by Justinian.

saint Sergius I

Reigned 687 - 701

Born in Antioch, he was elected on the 15th December 687 and died on the 8th September 701. Nominated after two antipopes, he strove to extinguish the schism which had arisen in Rome itself and succeeded in terminating that of Aquileia. He introduced into the liturgy the use of the "Agnus Dei".

saint Gregory II

Reigned 715 - 731

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 19th May 715 and died on the 11th February 731. In answer to the edict of Constantinople which forbade the cult of images, ordering their destruction, the Italian provinces rose against the army of Leo III; the iconoclastic sect was rejected by Italy.

saint Gregory III

Reigned 731 - 741

Born in Syria, he was elected on the 18th March 731 and died on the 28th March 741. He sought the help of Chralres the Hammer, King of the Franks, against the Lombards. From this fact derives the title of "Moist Christian" Assumed by the Kings of France ever afterwards. Gave support to St. Boniface in his work for the conversion of Germany.

saint Zachary

Reigned 741 - 752

Born in Calabria, he was elected on the 10th December 741 and died on the 22nd March 752. He strongly opposed Rachis, Duke of Friuli, who wanted to occupy all Italy. The latter, afterwards, became a monk. He consecrated Pipin the Short as King of the Franks. This is the first investiture of a sovereign by a Roman Pontiff.

saint Paul I

Reigned 757 - 767

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 29th May 757 and died on the 28th June 767. He encouraged a deeper union with the Greek Church. He visited the prisons and freed those prisoners condemned for debts. He managed to stave off both Greek and Lombard threats with the help of Pepin and the Franks.

saint Leo III

Reigned 795 - 816

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 27th December 795 and died on the 12 June 816. With the crowning of Charlemagne in St. Peter's on the night of Christmas 800, was reconstituted the Empire of the West known as the Holy Roman Empire. He founded the Palatine School from which was derived the University of Paris.

saint Stephen IV (V)

Reigned 816 - 817

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 22nd June 816 and died on the 24th January 817. He tried to avoid internal riots and rebellion by the institution of an oath to the Emperor subject to the latter's loyalty to the pope. At Reims he crowned as Emperor Ludovico, Kin of the Franks, and his wife Ermengarda.

saint Paschal I

Reigned 817 - 824

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 25th January 817 and died on the 11 February 824. On his election he was given the islands of Corsica and Sardinia by Louis the Pious. He did tireless work for the discovery of the catacombs, bringing about the translation of more than 2300 martyrs.

saint Leo IV, O.S.B.

Reigned 847 - 855

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 10th April 847 and died on the 17 July 855. He was the first pontiff to put the date on official documents. He confirmed the Venetians in their right to elect the Doge. He built walls around the Vatican Hill and the Leonine City.

saint Nicholas I

Reigned 858 - 867

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 24th April 858 and died on the 13th November 867. After grave disagreements with the Emperor Louis II he united with him to form an army against the Saracens. He strenuously defended the liberty of the Church against Photius, who usurped the Patriarchal throne at Constantinople. He appointed the 15th August as the Feast of the Assumption.

saint Adrian III

Reigned 884 - 885

Born in Rome, he was elected on the 17th May 884 and died on in September 885. As soon as he was on the throne he confirmed what had been decided by his predecessors against Photius. Having been invited by Charles the Gross to visit France, he died during the journey at San Cesario.

saint Leo IX

Reigned 1049 - 1054

Born in Lorraine, he was elected on the 12 March 1049 and died on the 18th April 1057. He was freely elected by the clergy and people of Rome. When he arrived at Rome he wished to enter bare footed as a sign of humility. He excommunicated Michael Cerularius who was responsible for the schism of the Greek Church from the Latin.

saint Gregory VII, O.S.B.

Reigned 1073 - 1085

Born in Tuscany, he was elected on the 22nd April 1073 and died on the 25th May 1085. A Council called by him issued a "Dictatus Papae": only the pope is universal; no one can judge him; he alone can dispense from a vow. Henry IV, who had been excommunicated, made his way to Canossa, wearing only a rough habit, to receive pardon.

blessed Victor III, O.S.B.

Reigned 1086 - 1087

Born at Monte Cassino, he was elected on the 24th May 1086 and died on the 16th September 1087. Four days after his election he fled to Monte Cassino. Being proclaimed a second time, he was brought to Rome by force and consecrated. He excommunicated the Antipope Clement III and took up residence on the fortified Tiber island.

blessed Urban II, O.S.B.

Reigned 1088 - 1099

Born in France, he was elected on the 12th March 1088 and died on the 29th July 1099. The conclave had to be held at Velletri because Rome was in the hands of the Antipope Clement III. He declared war on the infidels and was the inspirer of the first Crusade. He instituted the "Truce of God", a brief pause in battle to bury the dead.

blessed Eugene III, O.Cist.

Reigned 1145 - 1153

Born in Montemagno (Pisa), he was elected on the 18th February 1145 and died on the 8th July 1153. He was forced to flee from Rome several times. he sent the previously decided Crusade on its mission. He completed the institution of the Sacred College. He began the construction of the Papal Palace.

blessed Innocent V, O.P.

Reigned 1276 - 1276

Born in Sutron (Savoy), he was elected on the 22nd February 1276 and died on the 22nd June 1276. Total seclusion was enforced on the conclave that elected him. By baptizing the three ambassadors sent to him by the Great Khan he extended Christianity to far off Mongolia.

blessed Gregory X

Reigned 1271 - 1276

Born in Piacenza, he was elected on the 27th March 1272 and died on the 10th January 1276. After almost three years of vacancy because of disagreements at the conclave of Viterbo, the people removed the roof of the conclave and put the cardinals on bread and water until they should come to a decision. He called the 14th Ecumenical Council.

saint Celestine V, O.S.B.

Reigned 1294 - 1294

Born in Isernia, he was elected on the 29th August 1294 and died on the 19th May 1296. A man of exceptional rectitude and simplicity, he renounced the papacy when he realized that he was a mere instrument in the hands of the lords of those troubled medieval times. He decreed that the newly elected pope has the right to refuse his election.

blessed Benedict XI, O.P.

Reigned 1303 - 1304

Born in Treviso, he was elected on the 27th October 1303 and died on the 7th July 1304. He settled a difficult dispute with the kingdom of France. He was bitterly persecuted by a group of conspirators and died after eating a poisoned fig, a fruit of which he was particularly fond.

blessed Urban V, O.S.B.

Reigned 1362 - 1370

Born in France, he was elected on the 6th November 1362 and died on the 19th December 1370. He brought the Papacy back to Rome but, after three years of tumults and disorder, had to return to Avignon. He added the third crown (signifying Imperial power) to the tiara. The other two crowns signify Royal power and Spiritual power.

saint Pius V, O.P.

Reigned 1566 - 1572

Born in Bosco, he was elected on the 17th January 1566 and died on the 1st May 1572. In order to prevent the spread of heresy he promoted culture among the people. He excommunicated Elizabeth of England. He was the inspirer of the Christian victory over the Saracens at Lepanto. He decreed the use of the Roman Missal.

blessed Innocent XI

Reigned 1676 - 1689

Born in Como, he was elected on the 4th October 1676 and died on the 12th August 1689. He abolished the right of legal immunity and eliminated nepotism. He opposed the arrogance of Louis XIV of France. Against the Turks he urged the Polish King John Sobiesky who defeated them at Vienna. He instituted the feast of the Holy Name of Mary.

blessed Pius IX, O.F.S.

Reigned 1846 - 1878

His name was Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti and he was born in Senigallia. He was elected on the 21st June 1846 and died on the 7th February 1878. He celebrated the 21st Jubilee (1875) but without opening the Holy Doors. He proclaimed the Infallibility of the Pope when he speaks "ex cathedra". On the 20 September 1870 Rome became the Capital of Italy.

saint Pius X

Reigned 1903 - 1914

His name was Joseph Sarto and he was born in Riese. He was elected on the 9th August 1903 and died on the 20th August 1914. He brought to a conclusion the codification of Canon Law. He began the publication of the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis", which quotes the unabridged version of laws and documents. He decreed the elevation of the Host and Chalice.

saint John XXIII

Reigned 1958 - 1963

His name was Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli and he was born in Sotto il Monte (Bergamo). He was elected on the 28th October 1959 and died on the 3rd June 1963. With the Bull "Humanae Salutis" he called the 21st Ecumenical Council known as Vatican II (11th October 1962). Themes: liturgical life, social relations, the Church and the modern world.

saint Paul VI

Reigned 1963 - 1978

Giovanni Battista Montini was born in Concesio, Lombardy, Italy, on 26 September 1897. As priest and then bishop he served in the Secretariate of State of Pope Pius XII, then as Archbishop of Milan, before being elected pope on the 21 June 1963. He continued the Second Vatican Council begun by St. John XXIII, and all of its documents were signed by him. Vilified by dissenters for his 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae, and his teaching confirming that only men can be ordained to the priesthood, his reign is noted for upholding the Church’s doctrinal, sexual and social teaching, and for the promulgation of the post-conciliar liturgical books. Themes:  Conciliar teaching and practice. Doctrinal and moral teaching.

saint John Paul II

Reigned 1978 - 2005

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born in Wadowice, Poland, on 18 May 1920. Having served as a priest and professor of moral philosophy in Krakow, he was made first its auxiliary bishop, then its archbishop.  Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal and he was elected the first non-Italian Pope in 450 years on 18 October 1978, after the 34-day reign of Pope John Paul I.  Having grown up under the destructive forces of Nazism and Communism, he is noted for his evangelization of youth and his moral doctrine concerning human life. He wrote doctrinally rich encyclicals on many topics, including the Persons of the Trinity, the Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin, Life, Economics and Morality. He will be remembered, as well, for providing the moral force that undermined, and then brought down, the Soviet Union.  Themes: Evangelization, Dignity of Human Life, Marriage and Sexuality.