Sure, everyone has heard of Pope Francis or Pope John Paul, but there are quite a few pontiffs in the shocking history of the Catholic Church that your teachers never dared to tell you about. Read on to learn more about these interesting, trailblazing, or outright controversial popes.
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Pope Pius XXL: At 450 feet tall, Pope Pius XXL, affectionately known as Mega-Pope, was notable for being the second-biggest Bishop of Rome in the history of the Church. In 1958, Mega-Pope succumbed to internal injuries suffered while defending Vatican City from Godzilla.
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Popes Gabriel and Howard Jacobs: True pioneers of the papacy, married San Francisco couple Gabriel and Howard Jacobs simultaneously became the first married popes, gay popes, and popes to share the supreme office with a partner in 2015.
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Pope Mohammad Atta: Most Sunday school students are understandably not privy to the fact that before becoming the ringleader of the infamous terrorist attacks on 9/11, Muhammad Atta served as pope for 10 years before his resignation.
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Pope Molinari I: Known colloquially as the Papa Infantile, Molinari—the first and only baby pope—was martyred by crucifixion on Aug. 2, 1049.
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Pope Benedict XVI: Now here’s a pope that your teachers don’t want you to know about! He was a member of the Nazi Youth and pushed for the sainthood of a pope who was silent throughout the atrocities of the Holocaust. Look it up.
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Pope Randy: The Mobile, AL-based plumber brought some much-needed blue collar charm to the papacy from 1971 to 1983 with his advocacy for copper pipes and regular sewer line inspection. However, the cardinals deeply resented Pope Randy after he charged them $250 for unclogging a drain in the papal apartment.
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Pope Arbol XIV: The first of the Dozen Tree Popes who reigned during the Dark Ages, Pope Arbol XIV would be all but forgotten had it not ushered in an age of decadence based on issuing the controversial encyclical of Pontificiis Summam Lucem, declaring the divine right of all popes to perform photosynthesis.
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Pope Pop XI: Bet they didn’t tell ya about ol’ Pop Pop. He loved blessing his 1.3 billion followers almost as much as a good burger from the Vatican City Five & Dime. His principal offense—and the one for which he was excommunicated—was leaving us too soon at the age of 83. Miss you, Pop!
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Pope John Paul Jones: Following his tenure as America’s first well-known naval commander, Pope John Paul Jones directed the Catholic Church from the high seas before eventually dying of interstitial nephritis in his apartment.
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Pope Melissa VII: Ascending to the role of pontiff after doing a great job as Alpha Theta Phi chair, Pope Melissa oversaw the construction of the Vatican softball field before resigning in disgrace after being caught sleeping with the captain of the rugby team.
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Pope God: Hold onto your hats for this open pope secret! In 782, God briefly stepped in as pope, claiming He missed the day-to-day hustle and bustle of running a religion. After spending a few decades in the Vatican to keep up His chops, God retired back into the Kingdom of Heaven just in time for the crusades.
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Pope Autozone IV: A short-lived promotional tie-in pope that was criticized for its mishandling of the Church’s molestation crisis.
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Dan: You probably don’t read about him in Sister Kathleen’s class, but this is Dan. Through a bureaucratic mixup, Dan was acting leader of the Vatican for three months while Francis III received Dan’s Italian work visa to tour the country with his grindcore band. A statue of his likeness sits outside San Marco cathedral in Florence.
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Pope Willy “Quicksilver” Longman: Striking fear into the hearts of many an outlaw, bandit, and general wayward no-good conman, His Holiness Pope Willy “Quicksilver” Longman was celebrated far and wide as the Bishop of Rome as well as the fastest gun in the West.
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Pope Dentis II: Distinguished by his enormous, 3-foot-long teeth, Sergio prioritized missionary work and forbearance during his tenure as Supreme Pontiff in 1903, but came under fire after accidentally impaling an infant in a baptismal font on one of his massive canine teeth.
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