Daily Archives: June 1, 2011

First African Pope

For over 400 years, until Pope John Paul II, we had only Italian popes. Did you know though, that we have had lots of non-Italian popes throughout the centuries?

Of course, St. Peter, the first pope, was Jewish and a Galilean by birth.

The first African pope was Pope St. Victor I. A north African by birth, he was elected to the see of Peter in 189 and died in 198. He was noted for settling a difference between the Western and Eastern Churches on the date for Easter. The West always celebrated it on a Sunday, whereas the East was celebrating it on the 14th of Nissan. It was established during his pontificate that Easter would be on a Sunday throughout the Church.

I recall during the time of the conclave that elected John Paul II that there was a good deal of speculation that there would be an African pope. I still expect that we may see the day in the not to distant future when this will occur, given the growth of the Church on that continent.

Quote for the Day

“Not only ‘see in his hands the print of the nails,’ with the apostle Thomas, not only put your finger into the place of the nails, not only put your hand into his side, but enter with your whole being through the door of his side into Jesus’ heart itself.” — St. Bonaventure, OFM