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9:24 a.m. - February 28, 2006
Pope Lando! And Others!
A few days ago, the wonderful Loopy said that something cool was happening with her and this here feller who goes by the name of Lando.

Now, while I am happy (but hope they don’t get all lovey-dovey and schmoopie on line, well at least not much – a little I can handle) for them, the first thing I thought of was:

“There was a Pope named Lando!”

(Isn’t my mind wonderful?? I’m not even Catholic!)

Yes, there was a Pope Lando. Unfortunately, he was a short-timer. He was Pope from the middle of 913 to the spring of 914. He probably was a ‘political’ hire – a hack, a crony. The thing is, nothing he did is recorded save one donation he made to his home church in Sabina.

Now how embarrassing is that, to be Pope, and to be totally forgotten. I mean, there were great evil Popes, like John XII, who was the just 18 when he was elected in 955 because his father, Alberic II of Rome, extracted an oath from the local clergy when he was dying. Allegedly, he later converted the Lateran Palace into a brothel, and died when he was schtupping a married woman in 964. He liked to drink and gamble, too.

Now that, that’s a Pope!

By the way, do you think Pope John I walks around heaven with some bling establishing himself as “O. J” – Original John. He probably makes the 22 other John’s elected in his wake bring him his 40’s of mead. Yo.

When Benedict XVI was elected, I was semi-excited in a weird way. Why? Well, Benedict is a definite old-school pope name. I wondered if he was going to try to re-establish the Papal States, raise an army, excommunicate people for fun and profit, start an inquisition, and failing all that, turn tail and flee for Avignon, leaving an anti-Pope in his wake.

(You know, there hasn’t been a decent anti-Pope in years. Sure, there are crackpots, but some old-school Catholic feuding would take our mind off of a lot of other crap going on in the world.)

(Yes, I know I’m going to hell, but at least I’m trying to bring the funny on my way down!)

(For musical effect, “Catholic School Girls Rule” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel, and “Catholic Girls” by Frank Zappa should be on the stereo at this time.)

So I went through the list of Popes in history, and came up with these other wonderful, long forgotten Pope names.

St. Linus (67-76) - He was the successor to St. Peter. Now, back then, the church was rather loosey-goosey with records, so no one knows for sure, but I don’t think he walked around Rome dragging a security blanket. Though there are reports he may have had a bossy older sister, and a rarely seen younger brother that his mother toted around.

St. Anacletus (76-88) - Why him? Well, he’s also knows as Cletus! Yep, Pope Cletus! Yee, haw! Some folk’ll never be elected Pope, but then agin’ some folk’ll. The online record of the Popes has more discussion about where he fit into history, and none about what he actually did. Perhaps because he didn’t do nothin’, just ruled the Church slack jawed and goofy-eyed.

St. Hygenius (138-142) - Oh, some will say that he helped rid the church of some early Gnostics, some will say he didn’t. But most will say he was clean. Very clean.

St. Fabian (236-250) - Oh, that’s just fab-u-lous! And get this, he was elected because a dove flew on his head while they were deciding who the next Pope would be. That’s all it took back in the day. Later sang “Turn Me Loose” and “Tiger” on Roman Bandstand, before being martyred. Some of the preceding sentence is not true.

St. Dionysius (260-268) – Students of Greek Mythology know that Dionysius was quote the party animal. He was the Andrew W. K. of the Greek gods, I believe. (Now how’s that for outdated, yet relevant, pop culture references, kids?) Now this Dionysius – not so much. He actually spent time resolving church doctrine against heresies. What a buzz kill!

St. Zosimus (417-418) - Yes, it’s a pop that almost sounds like a Scooby-Doo sound effect. In the first paragraph about him, a text calls him “impulsive, inept, and unprepared.” So he’d fit in well in Washington these days.

Donus (676-678) - Mmmmm….Donus. That’s all I got.

Valentine (827) - Poor ol’ Pope Valentine. Not only is the day not named after him, he lasted just 40 days as the man in charge. But he got more run than William Henry Harrison, though.

Formousis (891-896 - Now this is an interesting name, as it reminds me of a British beat combo back in the day. (And now…ladies and gentlemen…the next act on the realllly big shooooow, “The Fourmousis!”)

But there were all kinds of shenanigans going on with him. It could be a movie. He had friends and blood enemies, and when he died they exhumed him, put the CORPSE on trial, cut off his fingers of the hand he gave blessings, threw him into a common grave, dug him up again, and then threw him in a river. Someone fished him out, buried it, then a more reasonable Pope exhumed him again and gave him a proper burial. Weekend At Bernie’s has NOTHIN’ on this guy.

I mean, putting a corpse on trial? For one, the aroma, especially if it was the summer in Rome…ooof! The defense must have been a bit…uh…hampered as well.

After that, mainly because no one wanted to touch that name again, and there became a tradition to change your name when you got elected Pope, you get into the typical papal names: Innocent (which seems a tough name to live up to), Pius (another one that puts a lot of pressure on you, really), Urban, and a whole bunch of Clements, Gregorys, Leos and Pauls.

But of course, nothing will top Pope Lando. How could it? And of course, Billy Dee Williams would have to play him in a movie, and since the rules were a bit more lax back then, we could see Lando getting smooth with the ladies, drinking some Colt .45 Malt Ale.


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