Popes and the Tale of Their Names

by Anura Guruge



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 1/1/0001

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 160
ISBN : 9781434384409

About the Book

A look at popes and the papacy through the prism of the names associated with the popes -- whether they be birth, priestly, or assumed names. It is the first in-depth exploration of papal names and their meanings with a revised history of papal name changes, a complete account of the rationales for the 125 known instances of assumed names, and a slew of new ‘factoids.’


The first documented instance of papal name change was when Mercurius, in 533 A.D., opted not to introduce the name of a pagan god into the papal rolls. Marcellus II, in 1555, was the last pope, to date, to have retained his prior name, thereby breaking a 494 year tradition . ‘Marcellus’, however, is a name derived from ‘Mars’ – the Roman god of war! The history of papal name changes contains many such intriguing twists and turns, in particular Anacletus, Sixtus I, Zephryrinus and Julis II. This book sets out to highlight them all and thereby plug a hitherto little explored aspect of papal history.


Despite the interest in papal names, there has been very little dedicated analysis pertaining to their evolution. Consequently, there are many inaccuracies and omissions. Papal name change could be a much older practice than originally believed. This book is an attempt to rectify the lack of attention hitherto afforded to the story and the glory of papal names. It is a by-product of a computer-aided papal history project undertaken by the author. Web  site.


This book is not meant to be controversial. The subject matter, though often beguiling, still does not, however, provide sufficient scope to incite bona fide dissension. This book is meant to enlighten, and hopefully entertain. With it, the author hopes to put a stake in the ground vis-à-vis our understanding of papal names.


About the Author

Anura Guruge was born in Ceylon, came of age in Britain (an Anglophile to the core), and has lived in the U.S. since 1985. For over 30 years he tried to make a living in the computer industry and was employed by the likes of IBM, Wang and BBN. Due to a genetic disposition, writing, however, is his weakness. He wrote his first book in 1983, 500 pages in longhand, in pencil, distrusting early PCs and too inept to use a typewriter. It was about a networking architecture, now long obsolete. The book, nonetheless, is still sold on the Internet. Since then, he has written four other dense books on technology and upwards of 350 published articles.


Sometimes when the planets are propitiously aligned, he produces graphic marketing collateral for select clients and creates image-laden Web sites.


He was, when young, Ceylon’s ‘Lactogen Baby’ for eight years – ‘Lactogen’ a Swiss baby milk formula, is still available in certain Third World countries.


He does have a sporadically updated Web site at: http://www.guruge.com/. Spammers are well aware of his e-mail. But his ISP does a grand job blocking spam as well as legit e-mails. So, he has no problem bandying his e-mail: anu@wownh.com. The ‘wownh’ comes from ‘Waiters on Water’ a boat-based meal delivery service.


His first name means a ‘guiding light’ while ‘Guruge’ stands for ‘from the house of the teacher.’ Both his parents were teachers. But he is not sure whether he has ever lived up to this name.


His mother, and since then quite a few others, refer to him as ‘Anu.’ In his 30s, he discovered that the Babylonians paid homage to an ‘Anu.’ His mother is unlikely to have known that. He has never had any desire to change any of his names.