This information was obtained via ( Popes in a year ):#1 Pope St. Peter
Pope from 30-67 A.D.

Died: 67 A.D.

Give me the scoop on Peter.
St. Peter, first pope and the pearly-gate-keeper in all those jokes about heaven, hardly needs an introduction. It was to Peter whom Jesus said, "On this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18), and it was Peter who consistently appeared in the Gospels as the head of the Twelve Apostles. Plus, he's the only pope who contributed directly to the Bible.

What was he known for?
Peter was, well, just a regular guy (besides the whole first-pope thing). He was a fisherman, so odds are good he was built like a linebacker, and sometimes it took him a try or two to get what Jesus was saying. And yet, we mimic Peter's intense love of the Lord when we pray, "To whom shall we go?"

Peter is seen in Scripture often speaking for the Twelve Apostles, but also walking (and sinking) on water, caring for his mother-in-law, affirming Jesus as the Messiah, and wanting to build tents on mountains (see Matt. 17:4). In statues and art, Peter is most often depicted holding a key, representing Jesus' handing to Peter the "keys to the kingdom" in the Gospel of Matthew.

Fun Fact: St. Peter's actual remains can be seen in the tombs below St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In the mid-20th Century, an excavation below the altar of St. Peter's revealed a marble repository containing bones of a man who lived around the time of Christ and, upon further tests, prompted Paul VI to say they had been "identified in a way which we can hold to be convincing" of being those of St. Peter. Read more here.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
When Peter was pope, the Romans were pretty upset about this new Christian religion. See, worshipping the true God really cramped the Roman style of worshipping the emperor. So, Peter, the rest of the apostles, and the whole Christian Church were constantly on the run from a government that wanted to snuff them out.

#2 Pope St. Linus
Pope from 67-76 A.D.

Died: 76 A.D.

How do we know he was pope?
St. Linus is identified by St. Irenaeus in his work Adversus Haeresis ("Against Heresy") as the second pope and first successor of St. Peter, stating, "The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate."

Give me the scoop on Linus.
Sources are unable to confirm whether this Linus also carried a blankie with him at all times, but he is generally understood to have been the second pope and the first successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome. His feast day is celebrated on September 23, and he's remembered as having been martyred for the faith.

What was he known for?
Other than taking up St. Peter's torch after the Apostle's death, not a whole lot is known about his pontificate. Odds are good that Linus kept the wheels on the bus going round and round by evangelizing and helping the young Church to grow.

Fun Fact: Pope St. Linus may be the same Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21, which would make him one of the only popes other than Peter to be mentioned in Sacred Scripture.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Linus was pope when the Romans tore down the Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D.  Jesus didn't come back and say, "I told you so," but he did prophesy that it would happen in Mark 13:1-2.

#3 Pope St. Cletus
Pope from 76-88 A.D.
Died: 88 A.D.
aka "St. Anacletus"

How do we know he was pope?
Like St. Linus before him, St. Cletus is identified by St. Irenaeus in his work Adversus haeresis ("Against Heresy").

Give me the scoop on Cletus.
Pope St. Cletus was pope for 12 years. Early Church writers sometimes used more than one name to identify him -- Cletus, Anacletus, or Anencletus -- perhaps like one today would use "Jimmy" and "James" interchangeably for the same person. His feast day is celebrated on April 26, and he is traditionally remembered as having been martyred for the faith.

What was he known for?
The tradition of the Church says that St. Cletus was known for ordaining 25 priests during his rule, and was buried near St. Peter in Rome after his death. You can hear his name mentioned in the Roman Canon at Mass between "Linus" and "Clement".

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Right around the beginning of St. Cletus' papacy, the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed and buried after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (79 A.D.).

#4 Pope St. Clement I
Pope from 88-97 A.D.

Died: 97 A.D.
aka "St. Clement of Rome"

How do we know he was pope?
Like Linus & Cletus before him, Clement I is identified by St. Irenaeus in Adversus haeresis ("Against Heresy") as the fourth pope and third successor of St. Peter. Ancient writers Eusebius and St. Jerome also put Clement I fourth in line.

Give me the scoop on Clement I.
Batting cleanup for the Church as Pope No. 4, St. Clement was a pretty big deal. He was Jewish by birth, and tradition suggests that he's the same Clement mentioned by St. Paul in Philippians 4:3 ("...along with Clement and my other co-workers..."). St. Clement is traditionally remembered as having been martyred for the faith.

What was he known for?
We mentioned he's a big deal: St. Clement's letter to the Corinthians (yes, thoseCorinthians) is understood to be the oldest ancient Christian writing in existence after the Sacred Scriptures. Clement's letter taught, among other things, that the Christian faith was one, holy, catholic, and apostolic (sound familiar?), that Christians should worship in sacred spaces, and that the offices of bishop, priest, and deacon were completely legit and willed by Christ. His letter was even read at Mass in many parts of the early Church, according to Eusebius' History of the Church (written in the early 300s A.D.), and was written within a few years of when the Gospel of John was put to paper. Or, should we say, papyrus.

Fun Fact: 
St. Clement actually knew some of the Apostles, namely St. Peter (by whom he was ordained) and St. Paul. St. Irenaeus, in the same Adversus haeresis, wrote, "[Clement], as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes."

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Jewish historian Josephus died around the year 100 A.D., near the end of Clement's papacy. Josephus was the guy who said, "yep, they were real" in affirming the existences of both Jesus and John the Baptist, thus giving a valuable non-Christian historical insight into the facts of the early Church.

#5 Pope St. Evaristus
Pope from 97-105 A.D.

Died: 105 A.D.

How do we know he was pope? 
Like his three predecessors, St. Evaristus is identified by St. Irenaeus in his work Adversus haeresis ("Against Heresy") as the fifth pope and fourth successor of St. Peter. Ancient writer Hippolytus also identifies Evaristus as fifth in line.

Give me the scoop on Evaristus.
Honestly, we don't know a whole lot about this pope. The Liber Pontificalis, a sort of "who's who" history book of popes from the early Church, says he was Greek by birth, and that his dad's name was Judah. His feast day is October 26, and he is thought to be buried near the body of St. Peter on the Vatican Hill in Rome.

What was he known for?
By the time Evaristus became pope, the Church had grown so much that the bishops couldn't do all the work on their own anymore. It's understood that during Evaristus' eight-year reign he assigned priests to the seven "titular churches" (parishes) in Rome, and also assigned a similar number of deacons to help him minister to the faithful in the Eternal City.

Fun Fact: Since St. John, the last living member of the 12 Apostles, died around 96 A.D., Evaristus was the first pope to reign without an apostolic presence somewhere in the world. Talk about pressure.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
A nasty guy named Trajan took over rule of the Roman Empire, ushering in what's become known as the Third Roman Persecution around the end of Evaristus' papacy. Since it was mostly Christians he was persecuting, it goes without saying that they didn't like him much.

#6 Pope St. Alexander I
Pope from 105-115 A.D.

Died: 115 A.D.

How do we know he was pope?
Like his four predecessors, St. Alexander I is identified by St. Irenaeus in his work Adversus haeresis ("Against Heresy") as the sixth pope and fifth successor of St. Peter. (not to sound like a broken record...)

Give me the scoop on Alexander I.
Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of scoop on Alexander (other than, you know, keeping the young Church up and running). He is traditionally understood to have been of Roman birth and a martyr for the faith.

What was he known for?
Legends say that Alexander I converted a whole bunch of people during his pontificate, among whom were a Roman governor, his own jailer, and the jailer's daughter. The latter two, Quirinus and Balbina, are now considered saints. Evangelization level: Expert.

Fun Fact: Since the Church was still so young, Alexander I likely contributed to some of Her emerging liturgical traditions, though it's unclear whether that included suggesting Catholics sit no closer than the 10th pew from the front at Mass.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Cai Lun of China is credited with inventing paper (yes, paper!) around the beginning of St. Alexander I's pontificate. Though the process is sped up and much more sophisticated these days, the basic method of making a sheet of paper is still essentially the same.

#7 Pope St. Sixtus I
Pope from 115-125 A.D.

Died: 125 A.D.
aka "Xystus I"

How do we know he was pope?
(You guessed it...) St. Irenaeus marks St. Sixtus I as the seventh pope and sixth successor of St. Peter in Adversus haeresis ("Against Heresy"), preceded by Alexander and succeeded by Telesphorus.

Give me the scoop on Sixtus I.
Sixtus I was Roman by birth and of Greek descent, but otherwise not much is known about his life. His feast day is celebrated on April 6.

What was he known for?
The Liber Pontificalis (a sort of history book on early popes) has Sixtus I instituting three disciplines into the life of the Church, one of which should be familiar with us today:

  • That only the ordained (bishops, priests, deacons) were allowed to touch the sacred vessels (i.e. the paten and chalice containing the Eucharist)
  • That bishops, when they were summoned to Rome, could only continue ruling their dioceses after presenting a letter from the pope saying so (indicating that the Church recognized SUPER early on that the pope had power to depose bishops if necessary)
  • That the priest and the people recite/chant the Sanctus (aka, the Holy, Holy) at Mass, taken from Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8

Fun Fact: It's thanks to Sixtus I that we've been saying the Sanctus, as a Church, for over 1900 YEARS. That's a lot of Sanctuses.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
"Hadrian's Wall", a Roman fortification across northern England commissioned by the emperor Hadrian, was begun toward the end of Sixtus' papacy (122 A.D.). A good chunk of the wall is still in existence, and remains one of the biggest tourist attractions in the northern portion of the country.

#8 Pope St. Telesphorus
Pope from 125-136 A.D.

Died: 136 A.D.

How do we know he was pope?
St. Irenaeus (seriously, good thing he wrote this stuff down...) identified St. Telesphorus as Pope No. 8 and the seventh successor of St. Peter in Adversus haeresis ("Against Heresy").

Give me the scoop on Telesphorus.
He was born in Terranuova, a little town on the tip of Italy's boot, and had Greek ancestry. Telesphorus is traditionally understood as the first pope to have been a hermit and monk prior to his papacy. St. Irenaeus describes him as having been a "glorious martyr" in the Adversus haeresis, probably under the emperor Hadrian.

What was he known for?
St. Irenaeus also added, in a letter to Pope Victor I, that Telesphorus always celebrated Easter on Sunday instead of during the week, whenever the Jewish Passover was calculated. However, he still said, "it's okay guys" to the churches who didn't observe that tradition, choosing to stay unified with them instead of breaking up the Church unnecessarily.

Fun Fact: Telesphorus is the patron and namesake of the town of Saint-Télesphore, located in the southwest corner of the province of Quebec, Canada.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 126 A.D., Roman emperor Hadrian demolished the old Pantheon and began building a new one in Rome, which just so happens to still exist today. What's more, since the 7th Century it's been a church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs. Joke's on you, Hadrian.

#9 Pope St. Hyginus
Pope from 136-140 A.D.

Died: 140 A.D.

How do we know he was pope?
Having documented every pope (12) up to his lifetime, St. Irenaeus identified St. Hyginus as the eighth successor of St. Peter in Adversus haeresis ("Against Heresy").

Give me the scoop on Hyginus.
He was Greek by birth, according to the Liber Pontificalis, but otherwise little else is known about his early life. Was he among the cleanliest of popes? We'll never know. His feast day is celebrated on January 11 (today!).

What was he known for?
During Hyginus' pontificate, he had to deal with two prominent heretics, Cerdo and Valentinus, coming to Rome and trying to gain followers. Cerdo and Valentinus were both Gnostics, but tried to say, "Hey, our teachings are totally Christian." To which St. Hyginus replied (probably), "No, they're totally not," ultimately excommunicating both men to protect the integrity and avoid confusion within the still-young Church.

Fun Fact: Though ancient sources can't confirm whether Hyginus was a martyr, he's believed to have died near the Vatican Hill in Rome, and is buried close to St. Peter.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
About a year after Hyginus became pope, Marcus Aurelius was named Caesar of the Roman Empire.

#10 Pope St. Pius I
Pope from 140-154 A.D.

Died: 154 A.D.

How do we know he was pope? 
A second-century document called the Muratorian Fragment -- which also contains the oldest known list of New Testament books -- reads, “in our times, while bishop Pius ... was occupying the chair of the church of the city of Rome.” St. Irenaeus also lists Pius I in Adversus haeresis (surprise, surprise).

Give me the scoop on St. Pius I.
Pius had a brother named Hermas, who was the author of a famous early Christian work called The Shepherd. He may also have known St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John (yes, THE St. John). His feast day is July 11.

What was he known for?
Like his predecessor St. Hyginus, St. Pius had to deal with those pesky heretics, Cerdo and Valentinus, as well as their buddy Marcion. Cerdo and Valentinus were Gnostics, teaching a system that basically pitted matter and spirit against each other (as opposed to matter and spirit being both good gifts of God).

But Marcion was a special kind of heretic. After hearing that Marcion preached the existence of two gods, only one of which was the father of Jesus, St. Pius said, “Not in my house!” (we’re paraphrasing) and excommunicated him.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Around 150 A.D., the earliest known atlas, Geography, was produced by Ptolemy.

#11 Pope St. Anicetus
Pope from 155-166 A.D.

Died: 166 A.D.

How do we know he was pope? Like his predecessors before him, Anicetus is identified as the 10th successor of St. Peter and 11th Bishop of Rome by St. Irenaeus in Adversus haeresis. 

Give me the scoop on Anicetus.
Anicetus was Syrian by birth, according to the Liber Pontificalis (a “who’s who” pope history book), and was likely born around the time St. John died at the end of the 1st Century. His name means “unconquered” in Greek, and he is remembered as a martyr. His feast day is celebrated on April 20.

What was he known for?
St. Anicetus gave the Church a good lesson in how to agree to disagree with a fellow bishop without one side or the other saying, “I’m taking my ball and start my own church.” When his friend, St. Polycarp (the guy who was St. John's disciple), came to town to discuss whether Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday or on the 14th day of the month of Nisan (month on the Hebrew calendar), the two couldn’t come to an agreement, but decided to still remain best buds.

Fun fact: When Anicetus was pope, a man named Hegesippus, who’s remembered as being one of the first legitimate Christian historians, came to Rome. Most Church authors throughout history take Hegesippus’ visit as a sign that the earliest Christians echoed Scott Hahn in saying “Rome Sweet Home” and affirming the authority of Rome’s bishop, the pope. 

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Around the year 160, Romans apparently started making soap from grease, lime, and ashes. Gross.

#12 Pope St. Soter
Pope from 166-174 A.D.
Died: 174 A.D.

How do we know he was pope?
St. Irenaeus identifies St. Soter as the 12th pope and 11th successor of St. Peter in Adversus haeresis (Against Heresy).

Give me the scoop on St. Soter.
Likely born in Campania, Italy (southern Italy, the front part of the boot’s ankle, and the region that gave the world spaghetti), Soter’s name means “savior” or “deliverer”. The Roman Martyrology, a book of early martyrs, doesn’t list St. Soter as a martyr for the faith, but his feast day is celebrated April 22. Interestingly, Soter's feast is the same as St. Caius (or "Gaius"), who would become pope just over a century later.

What was he known for?
It’s generally thought that St. Soter was a 2nd Century version of Pope Francis -- as in, he had a huge love for the poor. He also wrote exhortations to various churches urging all bishops and priests to profess their faith boldly and joyfully. Like Evangelii Gaudium, just not on the Internet.

We know both of these things thanks to a fragment of a letter to Pope St. Soter from St. Dionysius, then bishop of Corinth, who wrote to thank the pope for his alms to needy churches in numerous cities.

Fun fact: The letters of St. Soter were so solid, they were apparently read at Mass in many places as a teaching document, along with the Pope St. Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Around the end of Soter’s pontificate, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius suppressed a revolt by Avidius Cassius, the governor of Syria, after Avidius declared himself emperor. Apparently that was a big no-no, since shortly thereafter Avidius was assassinated by Roman officers.

#13 Pope St. Eleutherius
Pope from 174-189 A.D.

Died: 189 A.D.
aka "Eleuterus"

How do we know he was pope?
St. Eleutherius was the last of the popes listed in St. Irenaeus’ Adversus haeresis (Against heresy), since it was he who appointed St. Irenaeus as bishop of Lyon, France.

Give me the scoop on Eleutherius.
Greek by birth, the meaning of his name - “freeman” - suggests he might’ve been a freed slave. Eleutherius served as a deacon in Rome under his two predecessors, St. Anicetus & St. Soter, until being appointed “Pope E." Let’s be honest, even native Greek speakers probably struggled with that name. He was first honored as a saint by the 9th Century hagiographer (aka “saint biography writer”) Ado, and his feast day is celebrated May 26.

What was he known for?
He was known mostly for battling the Montanist heresy and appointing St. Irenaeus to lead the Church in Lyon. Montanism - or “the New Prophecy” - was initially just kind of weird, rather than being outright heretical; Montanist prophets basically declared prophecies and ecstasies loudly, but without really teaching anything against the first.

As Montanism began to actually teach error, and since the Church was still technically illegal, Eleutherius couldn’t just elbow the Roman sitting next to him and say, “Get a load o’ these guys.” Instead, he had to have a plan to both quiet them down and deal with the problem. Thankfully, Irenaeus volunteered as tribute to send a letter to churches being affected by the burgeoning heresy.

Historian Eusebius records that the Church took a “ prudent and most orthodox” viewpoint (always a good decision). It seems to have worked, too. When was the last time you met a Montanist?

Fun fact: St. Eleutherius’ remains are housed in the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome, and were apparently moved there in 1591 upon request of Camila Peretti, sister of Pope Sixtus V.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius died (180), paving the way for his son, Commodus, to become crowned next. Commodus’ reign (180-192) was distinct in that it was nearly all peaceful and devoid of persecutions for the fledgling Christian religion.

#14 Pope St. Victor I
Pope from 189-199 A.D.

Died: 199 A.D.

How do we know he was pope?
The Liber Pontificalis (“Book of Popes”) lists Pope St. Victor I as following St. Eleutherius as Bishop of Rome. Church historian Eusebius, writing around 325 AD, also confirms Victor as 14th pope.

Give me the scoop on St. Victor I.
Pope St. Victor I is traditionally remembered as the first African pope, though we’re unsure of his date of birth. St. Jerome (writing in the 5th Century) mentions that Victor wrote several letters teaching the universal Church, thus using his authority as bishop of Rome.

One of those letters may have been correcting a false teaching proposed by a heretic named Theodotus, who attempted to preach that Christ was adopted by God and simply endowed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism. St. Victor, though he didn’t have the Nicene Creed to go off of, knew that Christ was instead “begotten, not made; consubstantial with the Father." As a result, he laid the doctrinal smackdown and excommunicated Theodotus for teaching error.

What was he known for?
Pope Victor I was known for having a bit of a fiery personality, and also for seeking to unite the Church on when it celebrated Easter. Here’s the backstory: Most of the Church celebrated Easter on Sunday, the day of the week on which Christ rose from the dead. Others, however, celebrated Easter on the 14th day of Nisan, a month in the Hebrew calendar, which could fall on any day of the week. You'll recall St. Polycarp's disagreement with Pope St. Anicetus on this front.

There was a bit of tension and controversy, since the churches celebrating the “quartodeciman” practice (14th day; “quarto” = 4; “deci” = 10) did so because it was the practice of St. John the Apostle. Wanting to unite the Church, but apparently not wanting to deal with sass, Victor threatened to excommunicate those who didn’t cooperate and celebrate Easter on Sunday. Thankfully, St. Irenaeus wrote the pope a letter saying, “Hey. Chill.” because there was no doctrinal issue at stake. The pope reconsidered, and the Church was united in its celebration of Easter soon after Victor’s pontificate.

Fun fact: Pope St. Victor I is credited with helping release a future pope, St. Callixtus I, from slavery. Taking advantage of a period of peace between Christians and the Roman Empire, Pope St. Victor was a catalyst in the pardon of many Christian prisoners from the mines of Sardinia, thanks to the Christian mistress (Marcia) of the Roman emperor Commodus.

What else was going on in the world at the time? 
Galen, the prominent Greek doctor and philosopher, published The Art of Curing, a work on pathology, and Pharmacologia, a work on medicines.

#15 Pope St. Zephyrinus
Pope from 199-217 A.D.
Died: 217 A.D.
pronounced: zeff-urr-EYE-nuss

How do we know he was pope?
The Liber Pontificalis (“Book of Popes”) lists Pope St. Zephyrinus as the 15th Bishop of Rome and 14th successor of St. Peter. Church historian Eusebius, writing around 325 AD, confirms the same.

Give me the scoop on Zephyrinus.
Most of what we know about Zephyrinus is from the Roman theologian Hippolytus. The good: Hippolytus was very thorough and detailed. The bad: Hippolytus had an axe to grind with the good pope (and, as it turned out, the next 3 popes, too).

Hippolytus not only called the pope dumb, but he accused Zephyrinus of modalism, a heresy which says the Father and Son are two names for the same person (as opposed to, you know, the Father and Son being two distinct persons). In reality, it appears Zephyrinus simply wasn’t educated in theology, instead preferring administration of the Church's daily duties, so he prudently refrained from speaking specifically on the subject either way. We don’t know when St. Zephyrinus was born, but he died December 20, 217.

What was he known for?
Zephyrinus is known for a couple things. First, he gave the Church its 16th pope - St. Callixtus I. Callixtus was the pope’s archdeacon (basically the 3rd-Century equivalent of a secretary of state), but seems to have also been Zephyrinus’ counselor and main man for all things theology.

Second, Zephyrinus reconciled the leader of a notorious heresy back to the Church. A priest named Natalius had been bribed into leading a group of heretics, but reportedly had many visions telling him to steer clear. According to Eusebius, Natalius finally wised up after being scourged by an angel one night. The next morning, he donned sackcloth and ashes (still fashionable for penitents back then) and “with great haste and tears” threw himself before Zephyrinus, who forgave him and welcomed him home (depicted above).

Fun fact: St. Zephyrinus was buried in the newly-created cemetery he'd appointed Callixtus to run. The cemetery, now known as the Catacomb of Callixtus, still exists today in Rome, though its relics were all moved to churches around Rome by the 9th Century.

What else was going on in the world at the time? 
In the year 202, a Roman law banned female gladiators. Maybe the boys were just scared they'd lose.

#16 Pope St. Callixtus I
Pope from 217-222 A.D.
Died: 222 A.D.

Pronounced: kal-ICKS-tuss aka "St. Callistus I"

How do we know he was pope?
Both the Liber Pontificalis (“Book of Popes”) and Church historian Eusebius list Pope St. Callixtus I as the 16th Bishop of Rome and 15th successor of St. Peter, noting that he reigned for just five years.

Give me the scoop on Callixtus I.
We don’t know when he was born or where, but Callixtus was a slave of Carpophorus for the first part if his life. Carpophorus, a real piece of work, exiled his young slave to the mines of Sardinia, but after a while Callixtus was freed. He soon became archdeacon and Number Two to his predecessor, Pope St. Zephyrinus.

Being enthusiastic and a talented organizer, Callixtus is thought to have arranged the creation of more parishes (known as “titular” churches) in Rome, and was in charge of a cemetery that’s still around today. He knew the family of St. Cecilia (patroness of music), and thanks to their donation built two titular churches there as well, now know as Santa Maria in Trastevere. It was here that tradition says Callixtus was martyred, having been thrown down a well by a pagan mob.

What was he known for?
Callixtus I was a merciful and compassionate guy. He made some people mad -- mainly Hippolytus and Tertullian -- by admitting believers who had committed adultery and fornication into the Church after they had done proper penance. It apparently wasn’t yet settled that we don’t just say, “Hey bro, you had your chance” to grave sinners. In any case, Callixtus put it to rest, invoking Jesus’ promise to Peter that the bishops held power to bind and loose (Matt. 18:18), no matter the severity of the sin.

Fun fact: Callixtus was the first pope to have to deal with what we now know as an “antipope”. Thanks to his spat with Callixtus and Zephyrinus, Hippolytus was mad enough to set up a breakaway church, where he "reigned" as antipope for the next several years. Callixtus I, in response (probably) said, “Have fun with that.”

What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 222, Roman Emperor Elagabalus and his mother were assassinated during a revolt. He was succeeded by 13-year-old Alexander Severus.

#17 Pope St. Urban I
Pope from 222-230 A.D.
Died: 230 A.D.

How do we know he was pope?
The Liber Pontificalis (“Book of Popes”) lists Pope St. Urban I as the immediate successor of Callixtus I and 16th successor of St. Peter. Church historian Eusebius, writing around 325 AD, confirms the same.

Give me the scoop on Urban I.
There isn’t a lot of scoop to be had, because little is known for certain about St. Urban I's life. He's mentioned in the legendary Acts of St. Cecilia and in the Liber Pontificalis as having baptized hundreds and being a solid preacher. However these stories are pretty much just that - legendary - and have little historical value. St. Urban died on May 23, 230.

What was he known for?
It’s likely that St. Urban was a pro at converting people to the faith. We can deduce this, because during the early 200s there was a significant uptick in Roman Catacombs (burial sites) being built. That proves that the Church’s numbers grew quite a bit during that time, thanks mostly to Emperor Severus Alexander saying, “You guys are cool,” and letting the Church go peacefully about its business during his reign.

Fun fact: St. Urban I had to deal with the same anti-pope, Hippolytus, as his predecessor for his whole papacy (a not-so-fun fact). We’re guessing they probably didn’t hang out much.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Around the year 225, the Roman Catacombs began to be decorated with Christian paintings for the first time.

#18 Pope St. Pontian
Pope from 230-235 A.D.
Died: 235 or 236 A.D.
Pronounced: PAUNCH-uhn

How do we know he was pope?

The Liber Pontificalis (“Book of Popes”) lists Pope St. Pontian as the immediate successor of Urban I. Church historian Eusebius, writing around 325 AD, confirms the same and lists him as the 17th successor of St. Peter.

Give me the scoop on Pontian.
Pontian was a Roman by birth, and his father’s name was Calpurnius (according to the Liber Pontificalis). The majority of his time as pope was easy-breezy, but that changed in 235. The new emperor, Maximinus Thrax, who apparently didn’t like legitimate OR illegitimate popes, exiled both Pontian and Hippolytus (the antipope) into slavery on the island of Sardinia. Pontian realized he wouldn’t make it off the island in this lifetime, so he resigned his office on September 28, 235 and died soon thereafter.

What was he known for?
St. Pontian is best known for making the most of a, shall we say, less-than-ideal situation. Pontian's greatest act was helping to convert Hippolytus and bring him back into communion with the universal Church, ending an 18-year schism. The two men presumably had a lot of time to chat while exiled, so the conversation must inevitably have come around to the unfortunate separation. After their reconciliation, both men died in Sardinia. Their remains were eventually returned to Rome, and together they're honored as saints.

Fun fact: Pope St. Pontian was the first pope to resign his office instead of vacating it with his death, making him the first of 11 popes to freely abdicate the Chair of Peter in the nearly 2,000-year history of the Church.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 232, the Roman and Persian armies clashed after Persia invaded Mesopotamia. The Romans ultimately withdrew, but the two armies ended up signing a truce after suffering heavy losses in both camps.

#19 Pope St. Anterus
Pope from 235-236 A.D.
Died: 236 A.D.

Pronounced: AUNT-air-uss

How do we know he was pope?
The Liber Pontificalis (“Book of Popes”) lists Pope St. Anterus as the immediate successor of Pontian. Church historian Eusebius, writing around 325 AD, confirms the same and lists him as the 18th successor of St. Peter.

Give me the scoop on Anterus.
Possibly born a slave, and with a twin brother named Eros, Anterus was the son of a man named Romulus. He was elected on November 21, but died soon after, on January 3. Though it’s not certain, Anterus likely died a martyr, given the hostile environment in Rome at the time. It is known for certain that Anterus was buried in the Cemetery of St. Callixtus on the Appian Way, though his remains were moved at some point to the Church of St. Sylvester, near the Pantheon in Rome.

What was he known for?
Anterus was the leader in the clubhouse for “shortest papacy”, having reigned a mere 43 days before dying in office. Surprisingly, he now doesn't even crack the Top 10!

Fun fact: Thanks to his grave being discovered in 1854, we have pieces of an epitaph that made up the slab covering his tomb. The inscription, written in Greek, proves the prevalence the language had in the Church up to that point.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Considering how short Anterus’ papacy was, Christmas was probably the only exciting thing during those 43 days.

#20 Pope St. Fabian
Pope from 236-250 A.D.
Died: 250 A.D.

Pronounced: FAY-bee-uhn

How do we know he was pope?

The Liber Pontificalis (“Book of Popes”) lists Pope St. Fabian as the immediate successor of Anterus. Church historian Eusebius, writing around 325 AD, confirms the same and lists him as the 19th successor of St. Peter.

Give me the scoop on Fabian.
Fabian’s elevation to the papacy was nothing short of miraculous (more on that in a minute), and he was blessed to rule in peace for the majority of his time in the Chair of Peter. This allowed him, with the help of Roman officials, to return the bodies of Sts. Pontian (Pope #18) and Hippolytus to Rome for a proper Christian burial.

Fabian was also responsible for assigning St. Cyprian as the bishop of Carthage and leader of the Church in Africa. Incidentally, St. Cyprian is the reason we know St. Fabian was such a holy guy, since the former wrote to Fabian’s successor saying so. At the end of his papacy, a renewed Roman vitriol was ushered in by new emperor Decius (not a holy guy), resulting in another persecution of the Church and, ultimately, Fabian’s martyrdom by beheading. Fabian is commonly depicted with St. Sebastian because of their shared feast day (A week ago! January 20). His remains lie in the church of St. Sebastian Outside the Walls in Rome.

What was he known for?
We can thank St. Fabian for informing us of the origin of Sacred Chrism, that sweet-smelling oil used at priestly ordination, baptism, the sacrament of Confirmation, and the consecration of altars. Fabian wrote in his Second Epistle to the Bishops of the East:

“Our predecessors received from the Apostles and delivered to us that our Savior Jesus Christ, after having made the Last Supper with his Apostles and washed their feet, taught them how to prepare the Holy Chrism.”

Those words indicate that the Chrism originated from none other than Christ himself (hence the name).

Fun fact: 
According to Eusebius, Fabian was practically a stranger to papal electors when a successor to St. Anterus was being chosen. Not only did he travel from the countryside for the festivities, Fabian was a layman to boot. Eusebius writes that Fabian “was on the mind of none” as a possible choice for pope. Nevertheless, a dove flew in the room and settled on his head, causing the electors to take it as a divine choice and unanimously pick Fabian on the spot. Good thing he wasn’t afraid of birds.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
Fabian’s third year in office (238) was particularly tumultuous for the Roman Empire, becoming known as the Year of Six Emperors.

Coming Soon....#21 Pope St. Cornelius